In 1927 a labor commune was established in a Kharkhow suburb--a vocational school to teach skills to young tramps. The school's name, FED was the initials of Felix Edmundovitch Djerzinski (founder of the Soviet secret police). The FED school, managed by Anton Makarenko, initially produced furniture, electric drills and other goods. In 1932, the FED commune produced three cameras--copies of the famous German Leica. In 1934 FED began to mass produce copies of the Leica II. In 1934, Mararenko was dismissed and the factory was put under the control of the NKVD which is why cameras of the period have "NKVD" engraved on them. It does not mean the cameras were used by the secret police. The FED factory was destroyed in 1941 by German invaders. It was rebuilt after the war but didn't get back into full production until about 1950. Various FED models were manufactured until the mid 1990s.

  An interesting aspect of the FED 2 through FED 4 models is that the"A" versions with knob wind have strap lugs on the body while the FED 2L and FED 3 and 4 "B" versions with film advance levers, all lack strap lugs.

The FED 1B was the first FED with an accessory shoe on the top. It is the last model with screws under the rewind knob and a pin in the front of the accessory shoe pointed toward the rear of the camera. The shutter speed dial is smaller than on the previous model and is no longer recessed. It is the last model with the "lavatory seat" under the shutter speed dial. The center screw for the top is partially covered by the lens mount. The lens was uncoated. The viewfinder cam is a radiused rectangle. This model does not have the plugged hole in the back of the body used on the 1A for aligning the lens. But the pressure plate inside still has a hole in the center.

The YCCP reference on the top stands for Ukrainskaya Socialisticheskaya Respublica (Ukrainian Socialist Republic). On some models the YCCP was replaced with "CCCP" (Soyuz Sovietskih Socialisticheskih Respublic - Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics. The serial number dates this camera to 1937, the last year of the 1B model. About 50,000 1Bs were made.

The FED 1F was made from 1947 - 1953. It is the last FED 1 with the Leica-style shutter release button. The top of the button is smooth and chromed. The camera was built after the war in the same time frame as the Zorki 1B (late 1940s--early 1950s). The FED, however has a much stronger body shell than its KMZ contemporary. This is probably the best finished FED 1. The lens does not appear to be coated but I have been told by someone more knowledgable than me that there is a coating--it's just difficult to see. The vulcanite covering has a much rougher texture than Zorkis from the same time frame. This also is the first FED with the large. stylish FED logo engraved on the top of the rangefinder housing.

The FED 1G was manufactured from 1953 - 1955. The shutter release is threaded for a standard cable and the button is surrounded by a collar with a wider flare than the Zorki 1. The shutter speeds are the more modern B-25-500. The lens is coated. The finish of the 1G doesn't seem as smooth as the 1F. Some of the 1Gs have the serial number engraved on the back of the camera top plate with only the FED logo on top. About 300,000 1Gs were produced. On the inside there is evidence of attempts to cut costs on some of these cameras -- the shutter speed disk being riveted, rather than screwed to its shaft.

FED 2 Pre-production
The FED 2A pre-production model is a rare version with the removable back, the long-based rangefinder and a rangefinder window that is square rather than round like later FED 2s. The window plate is attached to the camera with three screws. The camera is somewhat larger that the FED 1. The FED 2 was produced in various forms from 1955 to 1970.

The the longer rangefinder base makes critical focusing easier. This example lacks flash sync and there is a tab on the rewind collar around the shutter release. The example shown here is rather rare because it has lever attached to the collar around the shutter button like the version with the pre-production version and a serial number (006xxx) that falls into the area of the earlier model. The FED 2 was produced in various forms from 1955 to 1970.

This FED 2B1 has a rewind collar with no tab around the shutter release. The camera has a flash sync connector on the body. Later, the connector was moved to the front of the rangefinder housing and the Leica-like wind knob was replaced with a "mushroom" shaped knob like the early FED 3 (see below).

This FED 2L is a rather odd model. It has the shorter-based FED 3 rangefinder, a flat top and a lever film advance rather than a knob. But the shutter is from a FED 2 (1/500 - 1/30) not a FED 3 (1/500 to 1 sec.). It is equipped with the Industar 61 f2.8 lens. There is speculation that when the new flat-topped FED 3 was introduced the factory still had quite a few FED 2 shutter assemblies left so they created this variation. The FED 2L does not have strap lugs.

The FED 3A is much like the FED 2 with a higher viewfinder housing, a new rewind knob,a shorter rangefinder base and speeds from 1/500 to 1 second. This FED 3 displays its name in both Cyrillic and Latin. It is equipped with the standard Industar 61 f 2.8 lens--a very respectable performer. It has a diopter that can be adjusted by turning the viewfinder eyepiece. Many collectors consider the FED 3A one of the best-looking models in the FED line. The two FED 3 models were produced from 1961 to 1980. The FED 3A has strap lugs

The FED 3B has the same body as the 2L but shutter speeds from 1/500 to 1 sec. This particular camera has had the vulcanite covering replaced with a snake skin-like covering. This model does not have strap lugs.

The top of the FED 4 was raised to allow room for a selenium cell uncoupled meter, making it a much larger camera. The rewind knob is in the side of the camera (rather awkward). The FED 4A has the mushroom wind knob. Like the othe knob wind FEDs, the 4A has strap lugs. It is equipped with the Industar 61 f2.8 lens. This model is one of the rarest of the FED series.

This FED 4B goes back to the more modern lever wind and doesn't have strap lugs. The FED 3B was sold outside the Soviet Union under the names TAXAL and REVUE. There is a raised area on the front of the rangefinder housing where the camera name is displayed. The FED 4A's serial number is on the back of the rangefinder housing. On the 4B, however, the number is on the bottom, which is part of the removable back. Backs are sometimes switch or replaced, making it difficult to verify when a camera was made. I have one FED 4B that apparently has an unnumbered back from an earlier camera, so this example has no serial number.

The FED 5 is the last of the FED rangefinders. It was produced beginning in 1977-- The model shown here is the earliest, with a hotshoe and a pc socket on the top rear. There also is a model with a hotshoe, no pc outlet and no diopiter eyepiece. There also is a model without a built-in selenium meter. About 1.2 million FED 5s were produced before production halted in the mid 1990s. The camera is equipped with a 55mm f2.8 Industar-61 L/D lens which can produce sharp pictures with amazing contrast.
Some collectors make fun of the FED 5. It has been called "a rear lens cap for the I-61 LD." But you can still find them virtually new in their original boxes. They are reliable cameras that are cheap enough you can take them into situations where you might not want to risk more expensive equipment.
The FED 5 survived longer than any other Soviet LTM camera -- truly the last of a breed.

FED 5C Black
The FED 5C does not have a pc socket on the back--only a hotshoe for connecting a flash. This example came from the factory with an all black body, improving the overall appearence considerably. Unfortunately, like all other FED 5s, the 5C lack strap lugs.

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