Russian "Leicas"

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by David H. Bebbington, Jul 9, 2007.

  1. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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  2. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    I own two FEDs (well, three, but one's a FED-50, which is an entirely different design). Both work, but neither has been "tarted-up" in any significant way. One had its standard coverings replaced by red coverings, but that's it. Both my FEDs work well, at least given their age -- one is a fairly recent FED 5 with no real problems, the other is an older FED 2 with a few quirks but no problems that are really serious.

    I've heard, but cannot confirm from personal experience, that the FEDs that have all the fancy work done to them are usually either conglomerations of parts from multiple cameras or are cameras that were shoved into closets for years. In either case, they're unlikely to work very well, either because they're inexpertly reassembled or because they never worked well to begin with. Therefore, I'd suggest approaching such cameras as being good candidates for display, if you're into such things, but not good candidates for actual use. If you want a FED or Zorki that actually works, buy a plain-looking sample from a reputable seller who describes it as working.
     
  3. mabman

    mabman Member

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    No personal experience with the "Leica copies" themselves, but I have bought a couple of lenses from the seller linked to (moscowphoto), and they arrived exactly as described.

    So, based on my own past experience, if he says they've been checked out by a camera repairman and they work, I'm inclined to believe him.

    Failing that, if you want to pay the premium vs. a FED-1 or Zorki-1, get one, if it doesn't work properly, send it to someone like Oleg Khalyavin (www.okvintagecamera.com) who has an excellent reputation for FSU camera service.

    I will admit they look pretty, not sure if they're worth the listed price, though, especially if you're specifically looking for a shooter that will be essentially the same as the aforementioned FED or Zorki - or is it just to make people on the street jealous? :smile:
     
  4. pkrpkr

    pkrpkr Member

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    I have two FED or Zorki based Leica fakes and several original FEDs, Zorkis and Leica II/IIIs. My fakes function perfectly, and in general the shutters of my old Russians tend to work better than those of the Leicas. Maybe because of 'looser' tolerances or other lubrication. The Industar and Jupiter lenses are very good in my experience too. Beware not to buy a fake looking very much like an original Leica: http://www.vintage-camera-online.com/php/bb/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=6. I would buy an original FED/Zorki instead of a tarted-up one. And watch for signs of opening - many times the screw slots are damaged.
     
  5. lens_hacker

    lens_hacker Member

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    The shutter curtain on mine broke after one roll of film. It was painted nicely, and looked clean.

    I have another Russian camera serviced by Oleg that is reliable. I would look for one that was recently CLA'd if it is to be a shooter and not a mantle piece.
     
  6. mabman

    mabman Member

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    Incidentally, if you're still interested, there's a recent thread on photo.net from a guy who actually uses a Leica copy on a regular basis: http://photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=00M3Tl

    He got his from www.cameramate.com - he says his was CLA'd and the shutter curtains replaced before sale, but after a quick look I don't see any with that description there now. Might be worth asking if that's standard practice with them, however.

    Now that I look at them, some of the snakeskin/python skin and the wood covered ones have a distinct, unique look - although on the street they would probably attract some attention :smile:
     
  7. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Just as a postscript - I bought a Fed 1 from the e-bay seller sovietarmystuff. It cost a very reasonable £27.95. I may well never use it, but the shutter seems to be working on all speeds, the f3.5 lens looks clean and apart from a very few small spots on the baseplate where brass is showing, the brightwork is fine. Not bad for a fake!
     
  8. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    Mixed experiences...
    I have 2 Zorki 4's. When they worked, they took great photos with the Jupiter 50mm lens. But.. there is this little lever for doing the rewind. It disconnects the shutter cocking mechanism. On both cameras, it gets hung up and no amount of fiddling will let the mechanism re-engage. Nice looking paperweights.

    I also have a Zorki 1. PITB cutting film leaders (like the original Leicas) but it takes nice pictures with its collapsable Industar 50mm lens. I have noticed a horizontal scratch on the last roll of film, I'll have to figure out where that is coming from. It is a nice camera, and fits easy in the hand. It should, it's the same design as a Leica III.

    tim in san jose
     
  9. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Postscript to my postscript - (mild) endurance testing (firing the shutter about 50 times) has resulted in a situation where on the 1/25 setting (almost always) and 1/50 (most times) the shutter opens when I press the button and closes when I let it go. No doubt it's dried grease and a CLA would fix it, but rather than spend £100 on a £28 camera, I will regard it as a good lens with a free camera-shaped paperweight attached - if I get an inclination to work with a good old Leica (as opposed to my daily carry-around M2), I shall reach for my fully-overhauled IIIc!
     
  10. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    I recall reading about a similar problem on the Yahoo Zenit Camera Group recently (in the last two or three months, I think). I don't recall the solution, but it was very simple, like retensioning the shutter curtain.
     
  11. ricksplace

    ricksplace Member

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    I have a Fed 5B that works perfectly. The lens quality is exceptional, (Industar 61) sharp as a tack, good contrast and bokeh. The camera and lens, however, feel like all the machining was done by Leningrad Locomotive Works. It's a fun camera with results that look like they didn't come from a "fun" camera. I had a Fed 2 with a collapsable lens. The camera seemed a little better built, but the lens (uncoated) was a POS.
     
  12. Jim_in_Kyiv

    Jim_in_Kyiv Member

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    I can't speak for their usability, but given the number of fake Luftwaffe Leicas in Kyiv waiting for unsuspecting tourists to snatch up a 'bargain', it's not a lot of work when one such sale is enough to feed a family for a month. The one shop here that does sell used gear lists them as fakes, but the few times I dealt with street sellers (for 9x12cm Zeiss plate cameras) they had no qualms about insisting on the cameras' pedigree. I think they put these on auction to keep themselves in beer money in the mean time.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 23, 2007
  13. polaski

    polaski Member

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    I bought a FED 1 from a fellow in the Ukraine a number of years ago. He serviced it first (sort of) and replaced the curtains. Loading the film was a challenge: couldn't get the takeup reel to seat all the way. So I went to work with Q-Tips and Ronsonol, and it mounts quite nicely now.

    I have used this with Industar collapsable lenses with nice results. It's not a Leica. It fits in my back pocket. Also excellent for self-defence, as are many cameras of that era.

    All in all, it's a lot of fun. I especially get a kick from its name, because as an older Cold Warrior, I knew Dzerkinsky to have been a nasty piece of work, and I like to make pastoral photos with the FED.
     
  14. mabman

    mabman Member

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    Having bought a FED-5b I can see why the factory was converted for making tank parts - they were half-way there already :tongue:

    The 61 L/D is really nice, however, and I scavenged the fixed take-up spool for the FED-2 I was gifted with (I've discovered I HATE removable take-up spools - not bad in concept but easily fails/wears out in practice), so it wasn't a total waste :smile:
     
  15. randy6

    randy6 Member

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    I have a zorki 1D , A kiev 4 and a few others What I have noticed the older russian cameras seem to work much better than the newer one's. I use an leica 5cm lens with the zorki 1D with no problems . A good second camera