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  1. #1
    David H. Bebbington's Avatar
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    Russian "Leicas"

    Just curious - of course cameras like this
    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/White-Dove-Lei...QQcmdZViewItem
    are tarted-up FEDs, but all the same some one has put an incredible amount of effort into this camera for the asking price. Has anyone ever bought one and managed to get a picture out of it, or are these totally worn out inside or even with parts missing?

  2. #2

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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.

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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?

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by David H. Bebbington View Post
    Just curious - of course cameras like this
    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/White-Dove-Lei...QQcmdZViewItem
    are tarted-up FEDs, but all the same some one has put an incredible amount of effort into this camera for the asking price. Has anyone ever bought one and managed to get a picture out of it, or are these totally worn out inside or even with parts missing?
    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...ic.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.
    Vintage Camera Online - resources for classic and vintage photography and cinematography

  5. #5

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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. #6

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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

  7. #7
    David H. Bebbington's Avatar
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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!

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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
    Where ever you are, there you be.

  9. #9
    David H. Bebbington's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David H. Bebbington View Post
    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!
    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. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by David H. Bebbington View Post
    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.
    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.

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