When most people think of cameras, they think of Japan, Germany or the US. But behind the Iron Curtain, the Soviet Central Command Economy had ordered the production of millions of cameras and lenses across the decades; many of which weren’t commonly available to the rest of the world until after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

When Stalin replaced Lenin’s New Economic Policy with his own policies, it was with a focus on dragging Russia out of the 19th century and into a heavily industrialised economy where vast numbers of workers could  maintain productivity, and the Soviet Empire could grow until it matched and or even exceeded prosperous economies like the US.

Infamously, the FED type camera you see below was named after a man named Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky; the founder of a Secret Police organisation called the Cheka. This was an organisation rightly feared, and was involved in a number of political purges and atrocities. Early pre-war versions of the FED camera are said to have been made in a labour commune in Kharkiv (in Ukraine) by orphans and indigent children, and now fetch rather high prices.

FED 1 camera
FED 1 Camera – 1950-1953 model

FED camera production began on a mass-scale in 1934 and ended in 1990. Early versions were copied after the popular Leica cameras of the era, with later versions being modernised. The FED 2 featured a combined rangefinder/viewfinder window on the back, making focussing and composing much easier.

fed 2 camera photo
FED 2 Camera with Industar 55mm lens

By the time the FED 5V (looks like a B in Cyrillic) was produced in the 1980s and 1990s, the slim Leica look had been replaced by the large soap bar ergonomics you see in the photo below.  I recommend using an original half case to carry it around, otherwise your fingers will know about it after a little while ! It’s not the prettiest camera, but it’s very functional.

Fed 5b camera
FED 5V (B) Camera with Industar lens
The Russian Camera Revolution – The FED Camera
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3 thoughts on “The Russian Camera Revolution – The FED Camera

  • May 15, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    Interesting old camera. I still haven’t located my old YashikaMat, but it’s around hanging on a closet hanger. contractors are coming next week to replace many of my ceilings due to ice damage earlier this year.

    I did get an interesting effect with my little Sony…I was shooting my granddaughter up close playing with a bug…she and I were up on a deck…her little brothers were playing in the driveway below. It looks like Jonathan Swift with the Liliputions.

  • May 15, 2015 at 6:34 am

    I love your passion for these wonderful old cameras :heart:

    • January 7, 2016 at 12:49 am

      Thank you Loretta 🙂


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