This old camera: FED 2

Surprised I never wrote about just this camera by itself. (Tongue and cheek comparison written for KEH here.) About this lens. Case is pretty spiffy also.

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What is it?

A Russian camera.

  • Sidebar: Let me get the one solid minus out of the way. Like many Russian cameras, you are always one step away from mangling the camera’s innards. All that is required is forgetting to wind on before changing the shutter speed… Once. You have been warned. As a perk they would still make for inexpensive shelf decoration.

Why do I have it?

Went on a Russian camera bender a while back. So weird. So inexpensive. While I still have a few Russian cameras this is the only remaining member of the first round vintage German rangefinder knock-off variety. The others:

Kiev 4: Broke the mess out of the first one day one. (See earlier sidebar regarding shutter speed and mangling camera innards.) So what. Bought another for peanuts and scored a better lens. Never warmed up to it. Shot about 2 rolls through it and that was about it. Sure it is capable in the right hands, but I got better results with the FED 2.

Zorki 4: Had better luck taking photos with this than the Kiev 4. But in hand it does not feel as solid as the FED 2.

How much do I like it?

I eventually sold the Leica M3 I compared it to in the KEH blog post, but still own the FED. While the M3 is clearly superior the FED 2 provides a simple, solid rangefinder experience.

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Now that lens. The Industar 10. A wonderful 50mm, f/3.5, good looking, collapsible, wonder that performs way better than it has any business doing. I love everything about it.

And the ever-ready case is just the cherry on top.

Very compact. Without its case and with the lens collapsed I have fit this camera in the front pocket of dress pants.

No type of automation. A plus because it is up to you. You load. You reset the counter. You control everything.

Sunny 16 friendly. My favorite way to use this camera is during the day with 400 speed film. Just set the aperture to f/16, focus to infinity, and the shutter speed to 500 and you have yourself a fine point and shoot. From there I just adjust the aperture by guesstimate depending how much light there is. Surprisingly high hit rate.

When you do have to focus it is a breeze. While not having a massive focus patch like the M3 the FED 2 is still easy to focus. Especially easy with the Industar 10’s focus lever.

Controls. If you love knurling you will love this camera. Every surface feels solid if not particularly elegant. Very industrial feeling as the lens name would suggest.

Has things I would not expect like a diopter, an easy to use rewind knob around the shutter. Another perk is easy film loading. Like the other knock-offs above the whole back comes off making film loading a breeze.

Lastly these things can be had for $50 or less if you are willing to take a chance and clean copies cost barely any more. A no brainer in my book if you are looking for some basic all manual film fun.

Just remember. Always wind on before adjusting the shutter speed and everything will be alright.

Well that about does it. Samples below. Happy shooting.

-ELW

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