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  1. #1
    cliveh's Avatar
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    Camera copy and original

    Once in Prague, I bought a Leica II copy with the thought that even though a copy, I would put a film through it and see what it was like. I was not impressed, as the optics were quite poor and when you wound on it sounded like two bits of sandpaper rubbing together. When I got home I compared the build quality with an original Leica II under a powerful magnifying glass and the difference was phenomenal. Any others experience such a comparison of copy with original?

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  2. #2
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Some Russian copies are better than others I have 2,

    Click image for larger version. 

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    there's a Fed 2 and a better made Zorki C alongside a genuine Leica IIIA with a good f2 Summar. There's no doubt which is better made. Unfortunately the Elmar infinty lock can't be release on the Fed 2.

    I picked up the Zorki C at a camera fair for £5 ($8) about 6 weeks ago with no lens.

    Ian

  3. #3

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    I would think most copies, being copies, would not be as good as the originals.
    I have sometimes marvelled at crude cameras that work magnificently. I've had a couple of Praktiflex SLRs, when I took one apart I couldn't believe the entire advance mechanism was built with steel gears, rust and all. I was surprised because these cameras have nearly the smoothest action on the film advance as I've encountered on any camera at any cost. Weird huh?

  4. #4
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yashinoff View Post
    I would think most copies, being copies, would not be as good as the originals.
    Not when made on tooling siezed at the end of WWII and shipped to the USSR,

    The British made Leica copies the Reids are in a different league though some say better made than screw thread Leicas and with at the time of release better lenses as well. However Leitz had an ace up their sleeve as they'd redesigned the screw fit Leica's before WWII but hidden the plans and prototypes from the Nazis. That project went on to become the M series Leicas.

    Ian

  5. #5

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    it's a question of who is making the copy, not the copy per se. Ukranian copies (what most folk call russian) are made, especially during the 60s and 70s, by people paid by the piece, not for quality, and in a culture where you check everything you buy for the date of manufacture because everything made on monday is made by people fighting hangovers and on friday by people looking to get off work early.

    Even the stuff made on Wednesday was definitely a "Quality is job Two" proposition.

    The wonder is that any of the things work, a testament to their good design.

    With the Kiev 35mm cameras the earlier ones were made by workers trained by Germans and they're usually better. Later models are more iffy as the dies for the parts got older, things were redesigned to be cheaper and newer more poorly trained workers took over.

    And don't even get me started on the Kiev 88 ...
    Last edited by summicron1; 11-12-2012 at 08:28 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  6. #6

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    Quality of machining was certainly inferior to Leitz and absence of maintenance did not help...

    I have several soviet copies and the feeling is totally different from one to another. My Zorki-Zorki commands (film winding, shutter release, speed selection) are very tight, without any clearance. At the opposite, I rebuilt a pre-war FED much smoother now. In fact they have very little in common when you handle them.

  7. #7
    Mustafa Umut Sarac's Avatar
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    I have FED 1G from 1954 , latest produced LTM copy in Soviets and with a FED 50 mm f:3.5 coated and it takes razor sharp pictures but images are only tolerable after heavy saturation and toning added. If you havent been used a Leica , its good but if you are an old Leica user , its only discusting.

    Zenit, Kiev, Pentacon are faraway better lenses than that. I saw with a Summicron Fed comparison and after sees that ...

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by summicron1 View Post
    it's a question of who is making the copy, not the copy per se. Ukranian copies (what most folk call russian) are made, especially during the 60s and 70s, by people paid by the piece, not for quality, and in a culture where you check everything you buy for the date of manufacture because everything made on monday is made by people fighting hangovers and on friday by people looking to get off work early.

    Even the stuff made on Wednesday was definitely a "Quality is job Two" proposition...
    Impressive!
    You are native from Russia or Ukraine?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dali View Post
    ...I have several soviet copies and the feeling is totally different from one to another. My Zorki-Zorki commands (film winding, shutter release, speed selection) are very tight, without any clearance. At the opposite, I rebuilt a pre-war FED much smoother now. In fact they have very little in common when you handle them.
    1+

    Quote Originally Posted by Mustafa Umut Sarac View Post
    ..I saw with a Summicron Fed comparison and after sees that ...
    Someday You might come across Noctilux 50 ƒ/0.95 or even Summilux 50 ƒ/1.4 comparison with FED 50 ƒ/3.5

  9. #9

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    Bear in mind that the USSR had a rather...robust approach to engineering. I've heard that the T-34 tank engines were designed to machine themselves over the first few thousand miles, if they survived that long in combat. I'd imagine that an oil change involved a magnet to catch all the metal shavings!

    Also remember that if you buy a FED or Zorki now you're buying an old copy of an even older design. Any camera of that age is likely to need a CLA, if it wasn't put together terribly well to begin with then it'll be even worse now.

    I have a Zenit-B which I've yet to try putting a film through as it's heavy, blocky, and feels like something you'd hack together in a cave with a box of scraps (to quote Iron Man). I'm sorely tempted by a FED or Zorki as they look very pretty, but get the impression that it'd just be a huge frustration. I do, however, know of a very reliable UK-based ebay seller who occasionally has Soviet rangefinders for sale and who does check them thoroughly, so if one came up at the right price...

    As for the OP - try getting some silicone-based lubricant into the winding mechanism and see if it sounds better then. That definitely sounds like dry gears, a bit of grease may make it much nicer to use.
    Matt

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by PentaxBronica View Post
    Bear in mind that the USSR had a rather...robust approach to engineering. I've heard that the T-34 tank engines were designed to machine themselves over the first few thousand miles, if they survived that long in combat. I'd imagine that an oil change involved a magnet to catch all the metal shavings!
    From the dealership, my 1974 standard VW Beetle had a magnet attached to the crankcase oil drain cover to do exactly that, only instead of shavings it was a fine silver sludge. The dealership would replace this with a standard drain plate when you came in for your first service. That engine didn't even have an oil filter, just a screen thing to, as my mechanic said, 'catch bugs and birds that get in the crankcase". Kept that car for nine years until the salt on Illinois winter roads corroded a hole in the floor pan through which you could see the road go by. Once, on a bet, I relieved myself through it whilst driving to Chicago on I-80. A great car that finished building its engine while you owned it.
    I photograph things to see what things look like photographed.
    - Garry Winogrand

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