It is claimed that after we have World War 3 the only things that will survive are cockroaches, I am inclined to disagree. I believe that the other thing that will survive a nuclear war is: The Fed 3.
The Fed 3 is an unbelievable beast of a camera weighing approximately the same as a small elephant and has enough metal to make a tank look flimsy. These cameras were built to last and I for one am glad they were.
The fed 3 is not an easy camera either to shoot or to look at. On first look the camera seems to be unbalanced, the lens seems off centre and too thin for the hulking body. The screws that hold the body together jut out all over the body making it look like it has had a nasty accident and undergone surgery and therefore a little comical. For such a large camera the viewfinder seems small and pointless, almost an after thought.
The Fed 3 is as impractical as it is heavy. James Bond would not use a Fed 3 for top secret espionage, not only because you need a pocket the size of Belgium to carry it round in but also it is not a quiet camera. Let me set the scene; James Bond has snuck into Blofelds secret headquarters, he’s found the secret plans for the machine that will do the thing, he struggles to get the fed 3 from his pockets then takes the shot of the plans, and as the shutter releases: KARUNK! In seconds all the baddies are on him – fortunately the Fed 3 does come in handy as a weapon to bash your way out of such a tight spot.
The camera has, possibly, the loudest shutter I have heard. Ever.
And then there are the cameras settings.
This camera demands precision. There is no real allowance with it either in distance or exposure. Even the mechanics for setting the camera need a muscular arm and a steady hand for the lift and rotate mechanism for setting the shutter to the sluggish twisting of the lens for exposure. This all means that the Fed 3 with its temperamental rewinding mechanism (that often rips film) is a very hard camera to tame. Its strange aesthetics, the way the shutter speed dial points at a random number after you have taken a picture, the lever you have to crank to wind the film all lead you to the conclusion that this is not a great camera. But therein lies the rub. This IS a great camera. This is a camera that you need to spend time with. This is a camera that needs to be wooed and chased; and she is totally worth it. The more time you spend with her; the more you will love this camera. You will realise that what you thought was ugly at first is in fact quite beautiful and balanced. That off centre lens actually give the body a feel of dynamic composition, the screws emphasise the amount of circles that are on the camera and therefore show off how curvaceous she actually is. The hard to operate and precise settings give you great pictures and with a lens capable of shooting f2.8 she can work in low light, if you know what I mean. The view finder, however, remains small and afterthoughtish.
My advice is to go out and buy one, shoot with it as much as possible, fall in love with it, and when World War 3 starts: Use it as a bunker.