My favorite vintage rangefinder camera, the Russian
FED - 2
How I became a FED enthusiast - a little intro
I was taking a late afternoon walk on the streets of Budapest, when I passed by a used camera shop.
At arount that time I had been getting quite a bit fed up with the intricacies of my Olympus C-3000
digital camera - it was slow, cumbersome to operate due to most functions only accessible via a menu
system, etc. -, and was contemplating returning to 'traditional' photography. I had a manual camera,
but needed film and various accessories. So I stopped at the shop just to see what was on offer.
Well, there were some weird looking picture taking machines on the shelves. Bellows cameras of grand-
father age, cameras from the 50's and 60's, and more recent SLRs made in the former eastern block
countries. The shop was soon closing, and this time I went home without buying anything. However, a
seed had been sown in my subconscious and next morning I woke with the mental image of a camera I had
seen in the shop window. It was a nice blue FED-2 offered at an affordable price.
I decided that I must have it and rushed to the shop to buy it before someone else laid a hand on it.
(Later I learned, that my urgency wasn't ill founded - collectors don't mess around when they see
a good deal. With time I became a bit of a collector myself and found out the hard way that if I
postpone a purchase because I cannot quite make up my mind, it is often too late by the time I decide
to buy. On occasion, even a couple of minutes delay can leave you (awfully) disappointed.)
I also bought a roll of B&W film for my new 'toy' and took pictures of whatever attracted my attention
on my walks in town. Being it autumn, the light was nice and soft, perfect for outdoor photography.
I liked the feel of the camera; the substantial weight of the all-metal body and the simplicity of the
controls, which together gave it a 'no-nonsense' appearance. It was also small enough (and I guess,
old-fashioned enough) not to be intimidating to people I aimed it at, and yet easy to hold steady.
("Ok, big deal", you might say, "this is well known of the Leica-s of which the FED is only a copy."
True, but wait. Firstly, not many of us had a hands-on experience with a costly Leica. (Even many of
those who have it, only look at it through the glass of their display cabinet.) Secondly, I'm going to
show you things you can do, or try to do, to a substantially more affordable FED. With a Leica, you
would be at the risk of a hart attack.)
When I developed the film in my makeshift lab in the bathroom and had a close look at it, I was
positively surprised at the quality of the images produced by an old, inexpensive lens. Not that
I expected much (I didn't even attempt using a color film), but the results were better than envisaged.
Having had such an encouraging experience with my first FED, I jumped onto the Internet to see if I can
find some info on it. Boy, was there something to read! Then, I learned that there are many fans of
Russian cameras and an abundance of information (and pictures, too!) of FED-s, Zorki-s, Zenit-s and
the like. Before I knew it, I was also hooked and enjoy reading about, using, and restoring older,
fully manual cameras ever since.
Budapest, June 2005
What you will find at this site
As I said in the previous section, a lot has been written about Russian cameras (including FED-s)
and there are many nice-looking and educational(?) pictures on the Net. So much so that by now it is
difficult to say something drastically new on the topic. Nevertheless, I feel a - perhaps somewhat
selfish - urge to add my bit to the discussion. I will try to concentrate on previously less talked
about issues as much as I can, but I cannot promise that I will be always original.
Having said that, these are the topics I plan to cover:
- some basic information on the camera and hints on usage.
- my two cents worth of history stuff.
- drawing attention to some of the features that make one FED-2 different from another FED-2. I also
cover camera cases (ERCs).
(This is by no means a full account of the various types ever made. These are just differences
I noticed on the actual examples I possess. A much more complete catalogue of the various types
and features can be found elsewhere.)
- complete disassembly and re-assembly of a FED-2.
Not least, I include links to relevant sites that I found informative, so that you can broaden your
search and discovery in a meaningful way.
Why does this site look so plain?
1) I just prefer simplicity. Content over bells-and-whistles. Sure, one can make a web site look more
colorful, varied, dynamic with animation and stuff. Been there, done that. But I find that for what
I am trying to pass on here, a simple hyperlinked document style will do just fine.
2) Life is short and there is still much to do. I can either spend my time on toying around with
fonts and widgets and not say much at all (but that in fifteen different colors), or get the message
out in plain English before I get sidetracked with something else.
I hope it will be a welcome change from pages that look like a Christmas tree. Less load on your network
If you find the text hard to read, try to change the font size in your browser. (Usually under the View
menu, or equivalent.)
These pages were designed with the monitor set to 1024 x 768 pixel mode and True Color (32 bit).