FED is a Soviet small-format rangefinder camera, the first model under this brand. In everyday life, it is often called "FED-1" or "FED-Zorkiy", although officially it did not have such an index. The FED is almost an exact copy of the German Leica II camera, which revolutionized photography and photojournalism in general.


Historical information

The FED camera is a post-war copy of the Leica II.

In 1933, 30 devices with an attached rangefinder (analogue of the Leica I camera) were manually manufactured, but such a FED was not mass-produced. At the same time, the first version of the Pioneer camera of a similar design was manufactured at the VOOMP plant in Leningrad. In April 1934, the first batch of 500 cameras of the same brand was released, which, like the FED, were a copy of the Leica II. In 1934, the release of a copy of "Leica II" under the name "FAG" began at the Moscow plant "Geodesy". The number of cameras assembled is unknown; according to some information, about 100 were made.

Produced by the Kharkov Labor Commune named after Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky, created from former street children by the famous teacher Anton Makarenko. And after the war, it was already the Kharkov production machine-building association "FED". The total production time is from 1934 to 1955.

At the end of the 30s, the so-called "second model" was produced, it is also "FED-S" or "commander's FED", which was supplied with a "FED" 2/50 lens, the exposure range was increased - added excerpt 1/1000 second. From 1938 to 1941, a modification of the "FED-B" or "General's FED" was produced with an extended set of shutter speeds: from 1 second to 1/1000.

A large number of variants of this camera were produced under the name "FED" (without a digital index). A version with shutter speeds below 1/20 of a second and an additional control dial (on the front panel of the camera, like on the Leica III, Canon JS and the like) was being prepared for release, but due to the war, production was never launched.

M39 mirrorless rangefinder camera, which has a threaded connection of the same name with contemporaneous lenses. The optics from this camera can be painlessly applied to modern mirrorless digital cameras through adapter with thread M39. Read the article about adapters.

Approximately 800-1000 FED devices were produced by the plant in 1941-1942 and in 1946-1948 during the evacuation in the city of Berdsk, from the pre-war stock of parts. According to some reports, in 1941, the model "B" began to be produced, which was a copy of the "Leica III" camera, in which long exposures were added.

Immediately after the war, the technological equipment of the plant No. 237 of the NKV USSR in Berdsk was transferred to the Kiev plant Arsenal, where the production of the first model, equipped with KMZ lenses, continued. The FED-Arsenal modification is produced in a very small series and is considered a collector's item. In 1946, the production of "FED" was transferred from Kiev to the Krasnogorsk Mechanical Plant, where it continued first under the brand name "FED-Zorky", and then simply "Zorky". FED of the plant them. Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky retained its model name, under which devices of various modifications were produced in the future (FED-2, 3,4,5, 10, etc.)

Most of all questions are raised by the numbering system of FED cameras of the first years of production, which complicates the attribution of individual copies. According to information from V. Suglob's catalog, for the production of some batches, defective lids were used, so the numbering may be repeated.

Since 1955, FED-2 has replaced it.

FED camera # 214293 (1949-1951)
FED, Sharp and mayonnaise

Had a focal-plane gate with rubberized fabric curtains. Shutter speed set: Z, 1/20, 1/30, 1/40, 1/60, 1/100, 1/200, 1/500 second. The rangefinder and the viewfinder (of the "Albada" type) had different sighting windows; the viewfinder had a magnification of 0,44 ×, the rangefinder had a nominal base of 38 mm and a magnification of 1,0 ×. To charge the camera with photographic film, the bottom cover was removed, both standard cassettes and two-cylinder ones with a wide opening opening were used. Syncro contact and self-timer are absent.

It was completed with a FED 3,5 / 50 lens (in the post-war years Industar-22 3,5 / 50, the Zorkye were equipped with an Industar-10 made by KMZ) in a folding frame (the so-called "tube lens") with the following aperture values : 3,5, 4,5, 6,3, 9, 12,5, 18 (the first experimental batch of lenses was produced at VOOMP, and calculated at GOI). The lens mount is threaded - М39 × 1. The flange distance is not standardized, approximately 28,8 mm, so interchangeable lenses required individual adjustment.

Special edition cameras were presented to especially distinguished civil servants. Since 1955 cameras the FED and Zorky lines began their independent development. From the mid-30s to the beginning of the 40s of the twentieth century, about 160 thousand copies of the camera were collected. The total volume of the issue was about a million copies.

FED camera # 214293 (1949-1951)

FED camera # 214293

FED camera with a 50mm f3.5 folding tube lens (Industar-10). Lens circuit - Tessar. Focal curtain shutter horizontal travel, the viewfinder is not aligned with the rangefinder.

Loading cassettes with film - under the lower opening cover. Exposure scale: Z, 1/20, 1/30, 1/40, 1/60, 1/100, 1/200, 1/500 s, the values ​​change strictly when the shutter is cocked. Exposure values ​​- Leech, up to GOST USSR. The frame counter is set manually, there is no self-reset, there is also no reminder of the light sensitivity of the installed material.

Under the screw on the front of the top cover, there is an adjustment hole for the rangefinder. There is no self-timer, the film is wound into the spool by switching the shutdown lever shutter and turning the rewind knob clockwise.

FED camera # 214293 (1949-1951)

The shutter works quietly at any shutter speed - there is no vibration, the sound of the shutter is heard directly only near the device.

FED camera # 214293 (1949-1951)

With the lens folded, the camera fits freely in a trouser pocket and does not cause any inconvenience during transportation.

Management is carried out with two hands. We hold the camera with one hand and press the shutter button, with the other hand we adjust the sharpness setting on the rangefinder window. The viewfinder is small enough and spaced apart from the rangefinder. There is a yellow spot in the rangefinder window, in which the image is doubled. Sharpness focusing is performed when the image in the rangefinder window is sharp. Has a regular magnification for better aiming. A copy of the FED with the serial number 214293 does not have a "fungus" under the finger at the shutter button, and also has several cosmetic differences from cameras released later. In particular, it is equipped with a "ley" set of shutter speeds; and the number is indicated on the cover, behind the accessory mounting shoe. According to the catalog of V. Sugloba it belongs to "FED-1 Model group VI Modification 1 Issue 1":

  • 1949-1951 About 70 copies were produced. Peculiarities:
  • on the cover of the rangefinder there is an engraving of the name of the sixth model group: “FED, plant named after F. E. Dzerzhinsky ";
  • there is no additional stiffening rib on the lower case cover;
  • the main lens of the "FED" type ("Industar-10") 3.5 / 50 mm.

FED camera # 214293 (1949-1951)

FED camera # 620158

After a while, I lost my temper again and got myself a FED. I really like these cameras, despite their deep antiquity and inconvenience to use. The main difficulties in working with such cameras:

  • rangefinder and viewfinder separated
  • however, the viewfinder is often cloudy
  • loading a film without special cassettes causes mental pain
  • when focusing, you see only an approximate picture, and if, for example, the camera and lens are not "relatives", you can take pictures of the marriage.
  • no exposure meter
  • setting of shutter speeds is performed strictly when the shutter is cocked.

In more recent models of FED cameras, manufacturers have more or less successfully overcome these ailments. There was also a removable back cover for easy loading of the film, crossed bulldog with rhino a viewfinder with a rangefinder, and also introduced an exposure meter. Unfortunately, the light meters built into the cameras turned out to be not very tenacious, and in 2021 it is not trivial to find a rangefinder camera with a live exposure calculator. It's all the fault of physics, multiplied by time. Selenium photosensitive plates degrade. However, now you can install an exposure calculator program on your smartphone, and not go with a reminder, but measure the light level on the fly. Just like in those days when it was possible to buy an external exposure meter, of which there were in abundance.

The working distance was standardized even in the post-war FED of the first models, but purchasing such cameras, nevertheless, there is a certain share of risk that a misaligned camera-lens pair will come across. It's not even a matter of millimeters, but of their fractions - the lens and the camera with the rangefinder must clearly correspond to each other. However, when installing FED or Industar-10 (Industar-22) lenses on a mirrorless camera through an adapter, the lens will behave like a normal manual fix.

According to V. Suglob's catalog, the camera belongs to "FED-1 Model group VII Issue 3":

  • 1955 About 148 copies produced. Peculiarities:
  • number moved to the rear wall of the upper bridge;
  • body cover in dark brown color;
  • main lens "FED" 3,5 / 50 mm.
  • the set of excerpts has been changed, now, unlike the earlier releases, the excerpts correspond to "B", 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/250 and 1/500, according to GOST USSR.
  • the release button is flanked by a metal skirt (in "Sharp" it had a mushroom-like appearance), and a thread in the button is cut under the remote release cable.
  • This camera has engraved black paint (numbers, etc.).

Body cover is dark brown, closer to black, vulcanized coating. The shutter is still quiet, the camera has no differences in terms of ergonomics. Purchased together with a leather case, which is tired from time to time, but still smells the same, old-fashioned.

FED-1 1955 - the last modification of production before the start of production of the camera "FED-2". There is a review of several lenses from FEDA, and an earlier release camera:

You can also read the review about camera "MIR" - further development of the FED-Zorky rangefinder camera line.

Standard folding lens, type "FED" 3,5 / 50. Not enlightened, early models. Focusing is done through the rangefinder window, frame composition - through the viewfinder window. None of them have diopter adjustment. The viewfinder on this camera is cloudy, the split works in the rangefinder window. The rangefinder window is dark and details are almost indistinguishable in low light conditions.

FED camera # 620158 (1955)

The procedure for working with the camera is as follows:

  • Frame composition is carried out through the viewfinder window
  • Focusing is done by moving the lever on the lens. When the image is aligned in the rangefinder window, focusing is complete. You can take a shot.

The threads on these cameras are for old tripods, and for installation on modern ones, you need to purchase an adapter. Of course, I would like a richer set of shutter speeds, and longer ones, and 1/1000. Self-timer would be nice. But no. Thank you for the later appeared a notch for the cable in the release button.

In general, the camera looks interesting and unusual. Such an ersatz watering can. The inconvenience in working with this camera is as follows:

  • rangefinder and viewfinder separated
  • however, the viewfinder is often cloudy
  • loading a film without special cassettes causes mental pain
  • when focusing, you see only an approximate picture, and if, for example, the camera and lens are not "relatives", you can take pictures of the marriage.
  • no exposure meter

The lens is very sharp. And it gives good image quality. There is a review of several lenses from FEDA, and a FED-NKVD camera:

You can also read the review about Camera "MIR" - further development of the FED-Zorky rangefinder camera line.

What kind of film is needed for a FED camera?

Any 135 type (35mm) film in standard spools is suitable for FED cameras. You can use both black and white and color, you can wind the film yourself. A budget hobbyist color film from Fujifilm or Kodak, black and white Tasma, works well. Films c ISO 400 are suitable for low light conditions, and on films with ISO 200 is best for shooting outdoors in clear or slightly cloudy weather. Examples of photos on film can be viewed here.

Operation of the camera shutter FED

How to insert a film into a FED

How to remove a film from a FED

In the meantime, I go and slowly shoot my first film on a new camera, I propose to look at the photos from the previous one, taken for an overdue Konica VX. Photos with more or less adequate color rendition are color corrected in Photoshop. Falling into the blue is a typical expired Konica. The same filter that we deserve. For this delay, it is advisable to shoot destruction and abandonment in a low key, and sad faces against the background of dirty gray houses.

Sample photos from the FED camera # 214293 and the standard Industar-10 3,5 / 50 lens

Konica VX Film

FED technical characteristics

Camera type 35mm horizontal travel focal-plane shutter camera
Print size 24 x 36 mm
Lens included Industar-10 (FED 3,5 / 50)
Mount lens Unified threaded connection (M39 × 1 / 28,8)
Metering External exposure meter sold separately
Shutter Biaxial focal gate with fabric curtains.
The main shutter speed dial contains values ​​of B, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, and 1/500 sec,
in the early days - "Leuke set" "Z", 1/20, 1/30, 1/40, 1/60, 1/100, 1/200, 1/500 sec
Viewfinder Distance viewfinder with rangefinder
Loading Film Removable bottom cover, roll of film is inserted inside.
Frame counter Manual entry from 0 to 36 on the top cover of the camera, aligned with the shutter cocking
Film rewind Rewind knob on top cover
The weight


The FED, like the first "Sharp" ones, is a very beautiful, inexpensive vintage camera. Similar to the Leica ii, but unlike it, it is very common in the territory of the former USSR. Worthy both for use and for a small collection. You can read about the varieties of the FED camera in the catalog "1200 cameras of the USSR":

Adapters for cameras and lenses

Sometimes I buy photographic equipment from the USSR and not only. You can offer your write me. Help the project: 5469 1200 1062 4624. Comments can be left without registration and SMS

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