This is a short review of a classic Russian rangefinder camera – the Fed 4. There were lots of variations of this camera when it was being made between about 1964 – 1980 and mine is a revision 2 model which puts it somewhere in the second half of that period.
I actually own three Fed 4 bodies because I bought one for the Industar 61 lens attached (to use on my Nex 6) and then another two bodies in a single sale, because the original one I bought was missing the self timer lever. Although both these bodies were sold as ‘spares or repair’, I found that after a minor repair to one unit they both worked. The repair was simply to turn the film advance in the film chamber by hand to cock the shutter and then fire it. Once this was done both bodies were working and actually in better condition than my original purchase so I’ve assembled the best unit from all three and I’ll probably sell the other two bodies. As an added bonus, one of the cameras had a film still inside so I’ve removed that and it’s joined my small collection of exposed 35mm films I’ve found in cameras I’ve bought. I’ll get those developed soon.
As is almost standard with Russian units there are some odd quirks to this camera. For a start, in a similar way to the Zorki 4, the shutter speed needs to be set after the shutter has been cocked. If it’s adjusted prior to cocking the shutter it can be destroyed. Another oddity is that you mustn’t move the shutter speed dial between 1/30 and 1 sec. Although that sounds reasonable, when you look at the position of those two speeds it seems really odd. You would think the problem area would be to move between B and 1 but the B setting sits between 1/500 and 1/30!
Another similarity with the zorki is the way the whole bottom of the camera is removed to load a film into the camera. The two lugs at the bottom are turned and the bottom and back of the camera come off the allow the film to be fitted. There is a removable take up spool that the film leader is fitted in and the handbook for the fed 4 recommends removing this prior to loading the film to make the operation easier. When the film is loaded the bottom the the case is replaced and locked in place and the film counter is manually set to 0. Once the film is exposed there is a collar round the shutter release which is turned to release the film advance and allow the rewind knob to wind the film back in the cassette.
The exposure measurement is made with a built in light meter. There is a photocell mounted on the front of the camera and the measurement is made by simply pointing the camera at the subject and matching the measurement needle with a movable needle built into the camera. Then the reading can be transferred to the shutter and aperture and the picture taken. The biggest advantage of this system of course is that no batteries are used so it works all the time.
Focusing of course is achieved by viewing the scene through the viewfinder window and aligning the two images you see at the subject point of the picture. With these cameras, the second image is yellow in colour, so you move the lens focus ring until the yellow image coincides with the colour image and the camera is focused. Of course being a rangefinder means there is no indication of the depth of field because the image is simply composed in the optical viewfinder rather than through the lens.
The viewfinder has a diopter adjustment which is adjusted with a knurled ring round the viewfinder.
Fed 4 specifications
- 35mm Rangefinder camera
- M39 screw thread lens mount
- 1 to 1/500 shutter + B
- 10 sec self timer
- Match needle exposure meter
- ISO 20 to 320 film speed
- ‘Cold’ accessory shoe
- Flash sync socket
- 1/30 flash sync speed
- Viewfinder diopter adjustment
- Exposure counter and film type reminder
- Fitted with Industar 61 50mm f/2.8 prime lens
- Centred tripod bush
- Serial No 8661265
- Manual available on line here