You may think you’re looking at a Leica, and you would be partially correct. During the Second World War the Red Army carried back to the Soviet Block the contents of many factories that were in Germany, including photographic technology, equipment, and parts. Even colour film technology was removed from Agfa’s plant. So when you see not only Fed and Zorki cameras they are infact direct clones of Leica model cameras. Often being manufactured at less cost but suffered from one thing…quality control.
Maker: FED (ФЭД)
Model: Fed-2 (ФЭД-2)
Type: 35mm Rangefinder
Lens: Interchangeable, M39 Screwmount
Year of Manufacture: 1955-1970
What really set this camera apart for me is the film loading, unlike my Lieca IIIc of the same era being able to remove the entire back of the camera, although I still prefer the door style back, is a life saver. Saves frustrations, and no need to cut down the leader. The combined viewfinder and rangefinder also makes the camera just that bit easier to use. This is a solid chunk of metal you won’t forget that you have it in your hands. Over all the use of the camera is top notch, everything is laid out well and the big heavy shutter sound, shutter speed dial, and film advance is grab-able and works exactly how I’d expect it to work, having some experience with the older Leica style cameras.
Like all Russian cameras of the era the quality control out of the plant was terrible, so you’ll often find a lemon. But don’t fear, these cameras are pretty easy to attempt to repair yourself, often just using a screwdriver, gun oil, and a sharpie (good if you have pinholes in the shutter curtain). And failing that you can always get another one fairly cheap and keep the other one for parts. This was the mark of Russian quality, not that it doesn’t break, but when it does break you can repair it yourself.
The Low Down
If you like the style of camera of those early Lieca’s but don’t have the budget for one the Fed-2 is a sound option, just make sure that you can test the camera out first before committing. Plus not only are the cameras fairly cheap the optics are as well. Jupiter and Industar lenses are actually fairly decent with unique looks. However with the ability of many newer compact system cameras (like the Olympus Digital PENs and Sony NEX series) the prices are starting to climb. The Feds are the camera to get for that classic rangefinder look and are often of better quality than the Zorki line. Worth a solid look and comes highly recommended by anyone who has used them.
All Photos shot in Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario
ФЭД-2 (Fed-2) – ЮПИТЕР-8 2/50 (Jupiter-8 2/50) – Ilford Delta 100 – Ilford Perceptol (1+1) 17:00 @ 20C