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.
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.