Fed 1 - The Wonderful Ukrainian Leica!


This was the FED, affectionately called the Fedka, the first Soviet 35mm, called now the FED1. It is a Leica IId without a large capital investment.

The Fedka otherwise known as the Fed 1 was the first Soviet 35mm camera, manufactured by the Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinski Memorial Industrial Commune in Kharkov in the Ukraine. F. E. Dzerzhinski was the founder of the infamous Cheka. He died mysteriously in 1926 and the Commune was founded in 1927. The great Soviet educator, Anton Makarenko, ran the Commune until 1934 as a industrial trade school and began manufacturing appliances, then worked the way up through power tools to copying and trying to improve the Leica IId. The Cheka became the OGU, then the NKVD, and in 1934 took over the FED Commune, and running it as a military-industrial factory, continued to manufacture the original FED camera with slight changes until 1955, with a break in production from 1941 to 1945. There were about 700,000 Fedkas made.

My Fedka was bought from the Lomography Shop, and with a little cleaning and adjustment, works perfectly. I Looked up the serial number on fotoua.com and found it was made in 1950, my birth year. It does not have the buttery smoothness of a Leica, but the f/3.5 FED lens is exquisitely sharp and contrasty, and otherwise works exactly the same as a Leica IId. You can slightly feel the gears meshing. It loads the film from the bottom, and requires a 10cm leader to be cut and only 2 sprocket holes to be exposed when you slide the film into the camera. Do it right and you have no problems. Do it wrong and you go straight to Hell. Never forget, always wind the shutter before you change the shutter speed!! In use, the camera is very fast and good handling, and with the lens collapsed, will slide right into your coat pocket. The camera is so old school and antique looking, that, for street photography, the subjects are charmed and fascinated before
they can become paranoid.

With reasonable care and maintenance, you and your progeny should be using the Fedka for generations to come. Enjoy!

written by herbert-4 on 2009-05-08 in #reviews #felix-edmundovich-dzerzhinski #35mm #ukraine #fedka #leica-copy #fed1 #soviet-union #anton-makarenko


  1. plyshbel
    plyshbel ·

    Interesting article and charming photos!

  2. herbert-4
    herbert-4 ·

    Also, the Fedka DOES NOT have flash sync.

  3. bravopires
    bravopires ·

    great gallery, herbert-4!

  4. 7samurai
    7samurai ·


  5. lomodirk
    lomodirk ·

    Cleaning when you you got it from LSI shop??? Nevertheless, would like to have one but I think my Zorki 4 might be jealous :)

  6. alexkon
    alexkon ·

    Lenses are manufactured at the Leningrad Optical Mechanical Association. And Kharkov was from 1919 to 1934 - the capital of an independent Ukrainian Soviet Republic. Emphasize the Soviet! So I think the article title is not correct. Soviet Leica - so it will be more correct.

  7. herbert-4
    herbert-4 ·

    @alexkon Soviet, yes, is more correct. Also, LSI did some censoring of my article. The penultimate sentence in the 2nd paragraph should have read, "with a break in production from 1941 to 1945, while the Soviet Union was otherwise occupied with killing the Nazis and saving the world." Austrians, "Denial is not just a river in Egypt!" (Al Franken as Stuart Smalley, in the 1995 movie "Stuart Saves His Family") Find the movie, it's very funny.

  8. alexkon
    alexkon ·

    @herbert-4 Fucking European democracy... We are in his evil Empire already forgot what is censorship... By the way I have noticed that LSI are not allowed to mark pictures as made in the USSR.

  9. herbert-4
    herbert-4 ·

    @alexkon Here's another article LSI edited badly: www.lomography.com/magazine/reviews/2009/03/27/the-beseler-… ...they were worried that camera data was copyright violation!! And they "corrected" the English in my title! It should be "The Beseler Topcon Super D Main Battle Camera" (like main battle tank, like your T-90), and they wouldn't use my photo because background was brown: www.lomography.com/homes/herbert-4/albums/103229-old_camera… They are actually much improved now. Earlier, everything had to be about "relevancy", but in 2010 things got better. After 2 years of arguing, cultures changed, and they published this: www.lomography.com/magazine/news/2010/02/07/long-lost-bakla… You have to make this recipe for Christmas! Last "relevancy" argument was 2011 when they ruined this: www.lomography.com/magazine/reviews/2011/12/02/rolleiflex-3… and were very pompous, so, as old man, I was rude, and called that Austrian law student a "Constipated Genius". I've never heard from him again. The butt photo article was published here: www.lomography.com/magazine/lifestyle/2011/12/17/rolleiflex… After 2011, other than being rather ahistorical, LSI has been good. Enjoy.

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