Last entry, I posted about my newly acquired FED 1 camera and provided some history. This evening, I spent some time removing the lens, and checking out the FED in more detail. I discovered the good and the bad…

The Good:

  • The shutter curtains seem lightproof to the eye and the shutter mechanism works.
  • Cosmetically, the camera is in good condition for its age.
  • The Rangefinder seems close to being accurate at both infinity and close range, but I will need to check further.

The Bad:

  • One of the shutter curtains is crinkled and the shutter speeds are likely innacurate.
  • The Bulb setting is unreliable and the curtains get stuck around the lathes when the shutter button is pushed down for more than a few seconds.
  • The aperture ring on the original Industar 22 lens is completely stuck in place, despite the lens itself being in very good overall condition for its age.
FED 1 camera - crinkled shutter curtain
FED 1 camera – crinkled shutter curtain

In the photo above, you can see the deformation affecting one of the shutter curtains. The other curtain seems to be in good condition. I suspect this may be partly why the Bulb speed setting is unreliable. It’s also likely that the shutter mechanism needs some tightening. The best solution would be to remove the entire shutter assembly and replace the tired old curtains with thinner modern material, like satin. But, it’s not a job for the faint of heart!

FED 1 - rangefinder arm
FED 1 – rangefinder arm

You can see the Rangefinder arm stretching out just behind the top lip of the M39 screw mount. It’s actually in very nice clean condition. If it requires some adjustment, I’ll need a small pair of needle-nose pliers to slightly adjust the tip at the end of the arm.

Here’s a more detailed view of the chamber:

FED 1 camera - chamber
FED 1 camera – chamber

You can clearly see the decades of gunk stuck to one of the rollers. A good clean and shutter curtain replacement would fix this.

The FED 1, like early Leica cameras, is a bottom loader. The bottom plate of the camera is removed in order to load and remove film. The film leader needs to be cut in a particular way to make this job easier. Unfortunately, my FED 1 didn’t come with a film spool, but the seller is sending it on to me at no extra cost. In the photo below, you can see how film would be loaded.

FED 1 camera - loading film
FED 1 camera – loading film

I’m not entirely disappointed with the state of the camera. It’s actually usable. I’m going to try and remove the shell casing so that I can clean up some of the gunk inside. Removing the shutter assembly is in another league of difficulty altogether, so I’ll need to fire up the courage for that task!

At the very least, I’ve cleaned the outside of the FED with Isopropyl Alcohol. Once I remove the casing, I should have easy access to the film winder gears. They are covered in old grease. Lubricating them with something more modern should fix the stiff film winding mechanism. For further repairs, I’ll probably need tools that I don’t currently have at my disposal.


FED 1 camera – a journey into film history – part 2
Tagged on:                     

9 thoughts on “FED 1 camera – a journey into film history – part 2

  • November 25, 2017 at 1:23 pm


    I just bought a fed1 and I donโ€™t know if this is normal but when the film is loaded ( correctly , I have checked multiple times) it is a real muscle work to forward the film, to wind it up . It does work and the photos are not bad but I have seen similar leicas and they are wind up just by rolling your thumb in them really . Mine takes off the skin of my thumb ( looks like it needs blood sacrifice )
    I know it no Leica but I wonder if itโ€™s possible to adjust anything on it to be a bit smoother. Thx

    • November 26, 2017 at 12:24 pm

      Hi Istvan. Thank you for your message. First of all, very important to remember just how old these FED cameras are! Especially the FED 1 model. One of mine was the same as yours. Here is what I suggest you do: once you have shot your current roll of film, take off the bottom, and then clean out the gunk and junk from the film winding area at the top. You can do this using a Q-tip and some isopropyl alcohol. It is possible ther eis some very old grease making it hard to turn the knob easily, as well as layers of dirt and dust. Clean as much of this out as you can. You will then need to relubricate the area. If you have it, spray small amounts of white lithium grease around the film winding knob, both inside the casing, and when you lift out the knob. If you don’t have white lithium grease, you could try WD-40. This should help to loosen the film winder unless it is a more serious problem. Let me know how this goes for you.

  • September 21, 2016 at 11:31 am

    I have had a Fed 1 camera now for some months. But after watching a video on loading film in it Ive yet to try it. Do you have any tips on a way to maybe make it easier to load . I want to use this fabulous old camera but not looking forward to the hassle of trying to load it. Thanks

    • September 23, 2016 at 12:01 am

      Hi Ron. have you seen tis video: ?

      That shows you all of the trial and tribulation involved! It does work eventually. Load it as it was meant to be loaded, use a thinner film stock, don’t use a business card or credit card to load it. Lots of people have tried different ways of doing it, but the trick is patience. Just try it and see how you go. It’s not easy, and thankfully they changed the loading operation in later models.

  • December 7, 2015 at 8:44 am

    I sm folloein yout joutnry into the innards of your FED. I havea FED 2 which also needs some work on the shutter. I will be loking forward to step by step detailing of how you disassemble the shutter module and tighten up those curtains.

  • April 1, 2015 at 3:35 am

    you’re enjoying the challenge. Where do you get isopropyl alcohol? I need some recently and couldn’t find where to buy it. Just good to have for cleaning the cameras.

    • April 1, 2015 at 4:15 am

      Hey @loretta ! You can buy a product called Isocol from chemists and Pricelines. It’s actually used for cleaning and as an antiseptic for wounds, which is why it’s in pharmacies. It’s also called rubbing alcohol. I paid about $10 for a decent sized bottle of it. Easy to use, but I think it smells a bit like those blue and yellow toilet cubes you find in men’s urinals! It’s good though.

  • March 31, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    what an admirable overhaul ๐Ÿ™‚

    • April 1, 2015 at 12:22 am

      Thank you @sirpamononen ๐Ÿ™‚ I always appreciate your visits.


Leave a Reply

You have to agree to the comment policy.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe To This Blog

Subscribe To This Blog

Join the mailing list to receive the latest posts by email !

You have Successfully Subscribed!