If you have a non-functional FED 4, don’t think of it as a broken camera, think of it as a working boat anchor, door stop or defensive weapon in case of a break in.  If the FED 4 is working, it’s a nice and beefy rangefinder.  FED began as a labor commune in the Ukraine that in a nutshell put children to work building copies of Leica cameras in 1932.  Named after Felix Edmundovitch Djerzinski (founder of the Soviet secret police, the CHEKA which would eventually be the KGB) this company has a long and interesting, if not questionable history. Full production was implemented around 1934 until the factory was destroyed by German forces in 1941.  Production started again in 1946, and up to 1955 FED shamelessly produced cameras that in some instances were sold as Leicas and actually given ‘Leica’ markings.  After 1955 the factory began producing their own versions of the ‘Leica-like’ cameras and the FED 2 was born.  FED 3, 4 and 5 followed.  The FED 5 being the last in the line and produced until 1997.  A FED 6 was actually planned but never produced.

The FED 4 Revue is the Type II version or ‘4B’, with advance lever and built-in selenium meter.  Earlier models just had an advance knob.  The rangefinder/meter housing is huge on this camera and is a primary contributor to its overall bulk.  The general consensus is that the FED 4 Revue was the export model (outside of the Soviet Union) of the standard FED 4B.  Other versions are marked with FED-4 in either Latin or Cyrillic, or ‘TAXAL’.  All are essentially the same camera.  The cloth focal plane shutter yields a range of one second to 1/500 plus Bulb for long exposures.  As with many Ukrainian cameras it is best practice to engage the shutter, by advancing the film, prior to changing shutter speeds.  The lens is a removable, coated, 53mm Industar-61 that is supposed to be the M39 Leica mount, but don’t be surprised if only specific M39 LTM lenses function correctly on these FEDs.   Many Russian camera enthusiasts believe this is the best Russian-made 39mm LTM lens made.  The hotshoe and PC sync is only 1/30 for electronic flash and 1/15 for flash bulbs.  A self timer is also included, and even a diopter correction ring around the viewfinder eyepiece.

As previously mentioned, the number one thing to remember when using any number of Russian (Ukraine) made cameras, whether a Kiev, Zorki, Zenit or FED is to cock the shutter (usually by advancing the film) prior to changing the shutter speed.  If you don’t tension the shutter before changing speeds it could damage the shutter.

Buying any Russian made rangefinder on EBay is risky in my opinion.  Most auctions originate in the Ukraine or European countries and shipping costs can range from 20-30 dollars.  Many only accept Western Union so it’s hard to follow up if the seller is less than honest.  Build quality of these cameras was originally questionable, so receiving a working camera after spending 40-60 dollars on EBay may not occur.  Definitely validate seller’s feedback before bidding and how long the seller has been a member of EBay.  On-line retails might be the better choice as they tend to either CLA their cameras or at least have some kind of limited warranty.

FED 4 Manual
Russian Cameras
Russian Plaza
FED Cameras

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