Monday, July 16, 2012

FED 2

Fed 2B Type I
Viewfinder: coupled rangefinder
Shutter speeds: B, 1/25-1/500
Lens:  39mm mount Coated 50mm f3.5 Industar-10 Tessar design (4 elements in 3 groups)
Weight: 1 lb 5 oz (604g)
Shutter: double cloth curtain







The best I can tell the FED 2 that I have was made somewhere between 1955 and 1957.  Altogether there were 12 types and 17 sub-types of the FED 2 made during its production run from 1955 to 1970.  Like many photo products made in the USSR the FED 2 suffered from the prejudices that many in the West had against the USSR.  And it didn't help that in an effort to get hard currency the USSR tended to dump large quantities of products on the West which had not been subjected to rigorous quality control. Still I believe that an honest appraisal of the FED 2 would show that it was among the best rangefinders of its time.  I even found one guy who argues that it was the best rangefinder of its time.

Now I don't want to give another account of the merits of the FED compared to other cameras of its type. Nor do I want to repeat the long and sometimes interesting history of the FED series.  Instead I will provide some links to info that I found interesting and after that concentrate on my experience with the FED 2.

FED 2  PENULTIMATE  RANGEFINDER
FED CAMERAS A SHORT HISTORY
FED 2 at Matt's Classic Cameras

I bought my FED 2 last summer, however other than to run a roll of film through it to make sure it was working I hadn't used it much.  I know I remember being impressed by how sharp some of the images were. Lately I decided to spend a little more time with some of the cameras I do have and to stop looking for more at least for a while.  The FED 2 came up first.  One thing that is striking about this camera is that although it is as old ad me it still functions quite well.  The shutter still seems accurate and the controls are fairly smooth.  The FED 2 also feels comfortable in my hands and has enough weight to feel solid but not enough to be a bother.

With the collapsible Industar 10 lens the FED 2 is small enough to easily carry in a pants pocket. Unlike most the other cameras that I have encountered from the USSR the FED 2 has lugs should you decide to attach a camera strap.  Focusing at least in my example is easy with the bright contrasty rangefinder spot. The rangefinder seems to be usable in even fairly dim light.  I have to admit that I am surprised that the rangefinder still seems to be in good alignment after all these years.


Just felt the urge to stick an image in at this point.













There is no lever for the film wind, however the knob turns easily.  To load the film it might be best to get the FED 2 manual and read about the standard way to do it. I didn't do that and came up with a non-standard way to do it that doesn't involve removing the thing that the film winds onto.  I just slide that leader under the thing that appears to be there to hold the film down and then wind.  It seems to work okay for me, however I may discover eventually that there is a benefit to doing it the way it says in the manual. After the film is loaded you need to set the film counter manually.  You want to make sure that the film is fully wound before you set the shutter speed.  That is because winding the film cocks the shutter.  And you never want to mess with the shutter speed unless the shutter is cocked.  It is said that all kind of bad things can happen if you set the shutter speed without the shutter being cocked.  Fortunately I have never found out since the process of winding the film and cocking the shutter before changing the speed seems pretty natural to me.  If you think that might be a problem for you than you might want to avoid the Russian cameras since the cock before setting the shutter speed is common in all of them.

Although I think one of the strong points of the FED 2 with the Industar 10 is its B&W images, this color one is one of my favorites so far from the FED 2.











If you need glasses to read then you will need them to set the controls on the FED 2.  At least I do.  In a pinch I can see the shutter dial, however the aperture settings on the Industar 10 are very difficult for me to see.  One wonderful feature on the FED 2 is the diopter correction lever.  It is located at the base of the film rewind knob and is a godsend if you have less than perfect vision. And speaking of the film rewind knob it is about the only thing that I really don't like on the FED 2.  It is kinda small and hard for me to get a grip on.  Still it does eventually get the job done.

So I definitely would recommend a FED 2 to anyone interested in the classic rangefinders. I am already seeing the benefit from spending more time with my cameras because I think I kinda missed what a fine camera the FED 2 is at my first brief encounter with it.

A good test of if a camera can become a good American is to see what kind of picture it can take of corn.  I think this former commie camera passed that test.











FED 2 Gallery.