FED-3, the Soviet Leica

When I took up photography a couple of years ago it also kindled an interest in collecting classic cameras. A hobby like this can quickly become very expensive but it doesn’t have to. Even on a small budget there are some real gems out there. The very first classic camera I bought was this CCCP-era Leica clone and I paid less than €25 for it, a real bargain if you consider its condition and the fact that it came with the original leather case. It was the start of a modest but still growing collection. Eagerly awaiting the package to arrive, unboxing and playing with it woke up the inner child :-)

My childhood may be over, but that doesn’t mean playtime is. (Ron Olson)

The FED was a Soviet rangefinder camera, indirectly named after Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky, founder of the Cheka (the forerunner of the KGB) and were produced in large numbers in Kharkov, Ukraine. Originally an orphanage operating as a commune, the FED-factory started camera production in the early 1930s. By that time the Soviet government had banned all import of photographic equipment and asked the FED factory to come up with their own version of the popular German Leica II.

Fed 3

FED-3a Type 1

This particular model is a FED-3a Type 1 (second version), it’s a close clone of the Leica screw mount cameras, using the same M39 mount and rangefinder design. Between 1961 and 1979 over 2 million FED-3 type  cameras were made further elaborating on the Fed-2. My FED-3a was -based on the serial number- manufactured somewhere between 1964 and 1965, came with an Industar-26 lens 1 and it was one of 200.000 units made.

There are some people out there that call these cameras “ugly” but to me they have “character”. Besides, I always had a soft spot for CCCP-design. This camera has it’s faults: the viewfinder is nothing to brag about, slow speeds are not as accurate making pictures a bit underexposed. But a a fraction of the cost of a Leica or Canon P my little ‘tovarich’ 2 brings in real value.

  1. This second version seems to be the rarest of all the Fed 3a-s since it was delivered with the Fed Industar 26m F410 instead of the Industar-61.
  2. the Russian word for ‘comrade’.

Web Excursions for September 1, 2014 to September 9, 2014

  • You and Your Research, by Richard Hamming – Sam Altman – Richard Hamming gave this talk in March of 1986. [1]  It’s one of the best talks I’ve ever read and has long impacted how I think about spending my time.
  • qunb – Content for blog.colpaert.org – How your last posts behave and what drives you traffic.
  • MDwiki – Markdown based wiki done 100% on the client via javascript – MDwiki is a CMS/Wiki completely built in HTML5/Javascript and runs 100% on the client. No special software installation or server side processing is required. Just upload the mdwiki.html shipped with MDwiki into the same directory as your markdown files and you are good to go!
  • My Fuji Camera Kit – In 2013 there was this interesting new technology coming to into view: mirrorless cameras. I started seeing photographers I respected experimenting with these cameras: Zack Arias, David duChemin, David Hobby and others. The images that were coming out of those sensors intrigued me. I had an trip coming up to Yosemite and that seemed like a good opportunity to experiment and play with a camera and see what I thought.
  • My report writing workflow – Blame Kieran Healy for this. Last night he posted a nice account of his writing workflow, with flow charts, lists of tools, examples of input and output, and, most important, a cogent explanation of how and why he developed his way of working.
  • Better work diary actions – Use Drafts app for quick entry and logging

A beginning is a very delicate time…

This blog has been around for 8 years now and has seen various incarnations since its beginnings. About a year and a half ago I seemed to have lost interest and only the last few months I started thinking on reviving the damn thing. But today I’ve reached a decision…


I have no idea on the direction I am heading or what topics to cover. I guess we’ll find out over time so bear with me. There will be no posting schedule and it’s possible that I ditch the whole comment system but those decisions will be made in the near future. For now, the Blog is dead, long live the Blog!