|Fed-2 (C) John Margetts|
A brief history: the Fed was originally conceived as a training project for boys in a Ukrainian children’s home. The idea was to teach the boys basic engineering by making quality cameras – the model selected being the German Leica II. They are often decried as being poor copies of the Leica but I don’t think they are either poor or copies. The Fed 1 was essentially a copy of the Leica II redesigned to allow it to be made on less sophisticated machine tools by trainee engineers. The Fed 2 (the camera this blog article is about) is a complete redesign so it is more accurate and meaningful to say that it is inspired by the Leica II rather than a copy of it.
|Fed-2 top plate|
On the left end of the top plate is the rewind knob. This pulls out to make rewinding the film easier. At the base of the rewind knob is a lever to adjust the diopter level of the viewfinder. This excellent device means I can use the camera without wearing my glasses.
Blog (C) John Margetts, 2015
Next along is the speed selector dial. This is set by lifting the dial and rotating to the required speed. There is a central post with an engraved dot to mark the selected speed. This is a big improvement over the usual Soviet system as the shutter on this camera can be set either before or after the film is advanced. The usual advice for Soviet cameras is to only change the shutter speed after winding on the film. Actually, as far as I am concerned, I always advance the film immediately after taking a picture – I do this so that the camera is always ready – so I am always going to set the shutter speed after advancing the film.
Also on the top-plate, in line with the lens, is an accessory shoe. There are no flash contacts here – 1956/8 is much too early – so a ‘cold’ shoe in flash terms.
The rear of the top plate has the camera serial number. This does not match the usual Soviet system of starting the serial number with the year of manufacture so dating the camera by this number is not straight forward. The front of the top plate is engraved with the model name in Cyrillic – ФЭД-2 or FED-2 in Latin script – and ФЭД is repeated on the top near the rewind knob.
The front of the camera is simple. There is the M39 (also called LTM) lens mount offset to the left of centre. At the top of the mount, the rangefinder cam slightly protrudes. In fact, this is in the way of screwing in the lens and it is essential to set the focus on the lens to its nearest point (1 metre in this case) to make fitting the lens practicable.
To the right of the lens mount is the flash PC socket. In later versions of the Fed -2 this PC socket gets moved onto the top plate – this is one of the ways of determining the type of Fed-2 you have. This camera has no shutter delay lever – again, added to later versions of the Fed-2. What I do appreciate is the presence of a strap lug at either end of the camera.
The base of the camera has a fixing cam at either end. Turning both half a turn allows the back/base to be removed to allow fitting and removing of the film. The base also has a tripod bush (the old standard of 3/8 inches Whitworth so none of my tripods will fit unless I ‘borrow’ a 1/4 inch slug from one of my Zeiss Ikon cameras to fit into the 3/8 inch thread).
The lens that came with this camera is an Industar-26M which is a 50 mm, f/2.8 Tessar type lens. I suspect this is the original lens for the camera – it is certainly of the correct type and date. The lens focusses from 1 m to infinity and has apertures available from f/2.8 to f/22. There is also a depth of field scale which is invaluable if, like me, you use hyperfocal focusing (at f/22, everything from 1.5 m too infinity will be in focus if you set the focus at 3 m). The lens is coated – as is to be expected in the late 1950s – signified by a red п – on the lens bezel.
In use, this is a capable and pleasant camera. The shutter is as quiet and vibration free as a cloth focal plane shutter is going to be and much more gentle than either my Zenit E or Zorki 4. The viewfinder eye-piece is rather small and is surrounded by a milled steel ring which is bad news for modern plastic spectacles. On the plus side, there is a dioptre adjustment for the viewfinder so I can use this camera without wearing my glasses. Also, the viewfinder is not as bright as it could be. It is tinted green/blue to give maximum contrast with the yellow rangefinder spot which is really clear and makes the rangefinder easy to use.
On the negative side, I have had a serious problem with loading the film. On the face of it, loading is really easy – you insert the end of the film beneath a brass strap on the (brass) take-up spool and then wind-on. Unfortunately, my first film slipped out of place after I had replaced the back. When I thought I was advancing the film, the film was winding around the sprocket shaft rather than around the take-up spool Once there was five or six frames around this shaft the camera completely jammed. This was quite easy to sort out but involved opening the back of the camera with the film in place and cost me half a roll of film.
Despite the seller assuring me that the rangefinder had been correctly adjusted prior to sale, it is clearly not. When the lens is focussed at infinity, the rangefinder split image will not coincide. As adjusting this is fairly simple, I might have a go myself, but I am not really bothered as I usually use hyperfocal focusing rather than precise focusing. On the other hand, it would be nice to have the camera as it should be.
Examples from the test film to follow.
3 April 2015
Test film was a disaster! One picture from a 24 exposure cassette. I am hoping that this is me leaving the lens cap on (I certainly did that for some shots) and I am trying a second film with the lens cap left at home.
|Fed 2 test film|
Apart from the appalling light differences from left to right (entirely down to me) this shot is quite good. Focus is good, contrast is good, exposure is good. With an older focal plane shutter there is a likelihood of the two shutter curtains not moving smoothly together leaving differently exposed strips. Hopefully with the second film I will be able to report more thoroughly on this camera.
|Fed 2 – with three very clear pin-holes|
|Fed 2 – pin-holes not so clear but still there|
|Fed 2 – clear pin-holes|
|Fed 2 – pin-holes with the film not wound on for some time|
|Fed 2 – pin holes with the film wound on fairly quickly – so smaller spots.|