I hoped to share some first images from this fantastic looking Russian rangefinder today. I purchased this camera for around £45 on eBay at the start of the year. I’d decided to try out using a rangefinder again (despite a disappointing experience previously with an Olympus 35RD) which was influenced by a few factors. Firstly there is no disputing that rangefinders look fantastic. The sleek metal and textured black body oozes a class of nostalgic design. Secondly, so many fantastic street photographs have been captured with rangefinders I got ideas of taking to the streets of London to try and get a few of my own. Even though street photography is something I find incredibly difficult I was excited and intrigued about what kind of images this tool could help me produce.
The FED 2 was made in USSR Ukraine and copied patented designs for the Leica II that were lost with Germany’s defeat in World War II. Its all mechanical, meterless and has a solid metal construction. Shutter speeds are B, 30, 125, 250 and 500th of a second and the lens mine came with, a Jupiter 52mm f2.8, has a continuous aperture selection with no clicks between f2.8 and f22. Immediately it was easy to see some of the more awkward features of the camera. To load the film one needs to take off the entire back. The shutter speed dial needs lifting up to change speed – not so bad but a bit annoying and the rangerfinder itself is pretty dim. The wind on is a circular dial which is nowhere near as satisfying as a normal advance crank. Also upon doing this the first time I realised there was no roll inside the camera that is required to wind on the film. Scouring eBay again for one I found a seller in the Ukraine which cost me a tenner (or around 25% of the camera’s full cost!). Afterwards I found a tutorial on making one out of a used core from a normal 35mm canister which would’ve saved me the expense.
Alas the first impressions ended up being less positive than hoped! I took the camera with me today on a trip into central London to finish off the roll. One of the problems I found out with this camera is that the film counter moves freely and so it easily to reset by accident. This had happened around the 10 frame mark the first time I took the camera out and so today when trying to finish off the roll I ended up not knowing how many shots I had left. I eventually became suspicious the roll had not ended and upon my return home decided to open up the back (in a changing bag) to check. To my disappointment it was clear something had gone terribly wrong – the film had snapped, presumably initially winding it on. This seems really strange, its something thats never happened before and I didn’t think the wind on mechanism for this camera put abnormal force on the film. So I still wait to see what kind of images come out of this classic soviet camera.