Range Finders


Or Russian Leica copy. Before the Second World War the Leica Rangefinder was the camera, as such there were many copies made, not all were good,most were mediocre in performance and some dire.

The Russian copies were good, some were very good. When war broke out production was slowed down and, in some factories, stopped altogether. During the post war era the Russian camera industry went from strength to strength and peaked in the late 1970s, by this point the SLR was taking over and quality started to suffer.

Arguably the best 'Leica' they built was the FED2. By using the original design, building a body that allowed rear loading and with a new, longer, rangefinder the Russians produced a camera that is still highly regarded today.

In use the body is stable and the rangefinder a little hard to see (that could just be my copy) but the images produced by the Industar lens fitted to mine are sharp and clear. To load the film the back of the camera is removed, a lot easier than the original design and a feature that went on to be used in the latter FEDs as well as other Russian cameras. The lens is mounted on a L39 screw thread and fits a real Leica.

This model started production in 1955 and carried on, through various models until 1970, mine was made in the 1956/8 area and as such is now well over 50 years old. Despite having a hard life it still works smoothly and easily.

I've now got a second FED 2, this one being a later version and in a dark blue finish. The winding knobs are a different pattern, as is the speed selector and eye piece, but everything else feels the same.

I took the chance to service both bodies and cleaned the view finders and range finder prisms, the result is a clearer image making them easier to use.