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Friday, January 31, 2014

FED 3

The FED 3 was produced in the Soviet Union from 1962 to 1980. The long production run can be accounted for by the incorporation of a number of design enhancements that were lacking in earlier Leica-copy cameras. In addition to a solid, well-made feel and uncluttered look, the camera by 1964 had a rapid advance lever. There was also a removable back, a fixed take-up spool, and shutter speeds from 1 to 1/500 seconds. A variety of Leica-thread-mount (LTM) normal lenses were supplied with the camera over the years; mine came with an Industar 3.5/50. The viewfinder/rangefinder is reasonably bright, but lacks paralax correction or a bright-line frame. Lateral adjustment of the rangefinder on this camera is done very easily with an adjustment screw from the camera front after the removal of a small cover screw.

While a lot of thought went into the FED 3 design to make it better than its predecessors, there are a couple small feature changes which many users would have liked. A rewind crank would have speeded things up, though that may have been purposefully omitted in the interest of robustness. From a functional standpoint, the omission of strap lugs may be more significant, and that is compounded by a never-ready case with the top section riveted to the back of the case. One way to sling the camera more handily around your neck is to cut around the rivet/snap to separate the back from the rest of the case; there's an illustration at Matt Denton's site of that procedure.

Perhaps the best reason for getting one of the LTM cameras is the availability of some very nice and inexpensive Soviet-era lenses, most of them copies of Leitz and Zeiss designs. I received as a gift from a generous on-line friend the highly regarded 2.8/55 Industar-61. I also obtained a recently-serviced 3.5/35mm Jupiter 12 in trade for my old Dolly Super Sport. The latter wide-angle lens is one of my favorites for 35mm work, and I already had a very nice accessory viewfinder which I had used with my other FSU camera, a Kiev IIa.

I've been impressed with the FED 3's operation in the short time I have worked with it. The film advance is quite smooth and snaps back well. The shutter appears accurate, and it seems somewhat less noisy than earlier models. The camera's controls are easily accessed. Like most of these Soviet era cameras, the FED 3 shutter demands that the shutter be cocked with the film advance prior to setting or changing the shutter speed. I did see small amount of light leakage evident along one edge of the film I put through the camera. According to a note a saw by Rick Oleson, the light may be coming in over the edge of the shutter curtain. I added a little light seal along the shutter curtain channel, but haven't yet tested the effectiveness of that fix. I later learned that an easier fix might just be to put on a lens cap before rewinding the film.

Some examples from the FED 3 fitted with the Jupiter 12 lens:









A copy of the FED 3 Owner's Manual may be viewed on line.

2 comments:

Jim said...

Yes, with so many delightful working cameras lying about it is hard to find the energy to fix the forlorn ones.

Julio F said...

The FED 3 is one of the best ergonomical designs of the Soviet set. The Industar-61 is excellent.

That looks like a nice area for landscapes, especially if you can get good clouds.