|FED 1, "Commander" 35mm Rangefinder camera, c1940s - faked rebuild|
The first FED 1s were unashamedly copies of the Leica II and were made in Russia starting around 1934. Production continued into the mid 50s with detail changes but largely similar to the first models and its Leica inspiration. The fantastic majority (all?) were made with silver chromed top housing and base plate with black vulcanite covering around the main shell. This one is painted black and spectacular in appearance. Inspection has revealed that the normally chromed components have been stripped. It is (supposedly) ex military, being marked RKKA (Rabotche Krestianskaya Krasnaya Armia, - Workers & Peasants Red Army). The "Red" was dropped from the title in 1946. The antinous release thread and collar surrounding the shutter release are features of later models. The word "Commander" in cyrilic on the top housing along with the Russian star and other marks have been made with a milling machine rather than stamped, the top housing itself has the angle in the shutter speed selector area, which identifies it as a camera from mid production series - rather than the early series which were semi circular.
Bought for the collection by Ms Nguyen Tuyet Mai, July 2001.
Collecting FED 1s is a subject in itself, for a more authoritive site on Soviet cameras in general I recommend a visit to www.commiecameras.com
Loading a FED is an art, before trying this for the first time visit this link
Click on "this camera's gallery" button, below, to see sample images.
The Feds claim to fame photographically, is derived from the fact that it was the first serious Leica rip off! Having both the Leica 2 inspiration and this FED 1 in the collection, I can say that mechanically the FED lacks the refinement of the Leica. Any suggestion that the two are similar in terms of quality is misfounded. The FEDs gears are decidedly crunchy compared to the Leica and this can be felt through the film transport very noticeably. The shutter release is also rather stiff in comparison, a fact that tends to encourage camera shake. It is, of course, a fraction of the cost of the Leica.
This then is, in reality, a mid 1950s FED 1 extensively rebuilt to represent a model that never existed. During the strip examination the number 5 was found crudely scratched into several components to prevent mis-matching parts, this suggests that there are at least four others like this one out there.
Shutter, FP cloth blind, speeds B, 25, 50, 100, 250 & 500th
Lens, FED 50mm f/3.5 No.048297
© Living Image Vintage Cameras 2000-2018