FED-2 : The Fabulous 35mm Rangefinder

Not a Leica, not a Contax, the good from both

Veijo Vilva

As Stephen Rothery puts it:

"Soviet FED 2, the Penultimate Rangefinder ... a combination of Leica shutter, Contax 67mm rangefinder, Contax film loading and superb packaging. It is in some respects a copy of a Leica II and IIIG. It even has that familiar shape and feel of a screw thread Leica. The superb viewfinder was possibly taken from the Leica IIIG. This camera has taken everything that was good about German pre-war cameras and created an unknown timeless classic which is in a league of it's own."


My dark red FED-2 (S/N 393597, 1953) with the typical Industar-26M 2.8/50 lens

Veijo Vilva

I acquired an old FED-2 35mm LTM (Leica Thread Mount) rangefinder camera with the intent of also using it as a pinhole camera as it is rather easy to fit a pinhole quite near the film plane in this type of a camera using a LTM pinhole assembly. After going through quite a lot of web pages concerning the Soviet LTM rangefinder cameras, I decided to get specifically the dark red FED-2 type without a self-timer (type B in one classification scheme and type c in another), which some consider to be perhaps the best of all Soviet rangefinder cameras. The camera came with the typical Industar-26M 50mm f/2.8 lens (a derivative of the pre-war Zeiss Tessar), and I later bought a Jupiter-12 2.8/35 (a copy of the Zeiss Biogon) to be used as my primary taking lens. I did also succeed in getting an Orion-15 6/28 (a Zeiss Topogon design lens) at a fairly reasonable price and a Jupiter-3 1.5/50 (a Zeiss Sonnar copy) for low light and portrait photography.


A rather nice camera for 22 euros with the lens, which is a Tessar derivative.
The 140mm x 80mm x 32mm (with the knobs), 600g (with the Industar) body
is built like a T-54 tank, and the red vulcanite, really non-slip covering is intact.
This fully mechanical camera is really a far cry from your everyday digicam.

 

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FED-2 with the non-retrofocal Jupiter-12 2.8/35 lens (a Zeiss Biogon copy)
The back element extends upto 21mm into the camera body, to within 6mm of the film plane.


FED-2 with the non-retrofocal Orion-15 6/28 lens (a Zeiss Topogon design).
The lens or actually the combined focusing ring and lens shade protrudes only 20mm out of the camera body giving a total depth of 52mm. There isn't much need for a separate lens shade with this lens or the Jupiter-12! However, a separate viewfinder is a must unless one wants to frame by guesstimate. At f/11, focusing at the hyperfocal distance of 2.3m gives a DOF from 1.2m to infinity, which together with an angle of view of 75 degrees makes this camera-lens combination a very nice P&S. Orion-15 is a rather slow lens but has minimal geometric distortion as the original Topogon of 1933 was specifically designed for wide-angle aerial or photogrammetric photography.


FED-2 with the Jupiter-3 1.5/50mm lens (a coated copy of the pre-war 1.5/50mm Zeiss Sonnar).

Orion-15 Sample Photos:
(Fujicolor Superia Reala 100 exposed at 50 / consumer grade scanning at 3011x2048)
Framing by guesstimate as I don't have a 28mm viewfinder!

 


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