This little baby cost me $25 on ebay. It's a great almost-point-and-shoot camera for lower speed films, and a fantastic alternative to an LC-A if the $100-$250 is a little steep for you. It's a little larger than an LC-A, but the freedom of the battery-less selenium light meter more than makes up for that!
FED 50 is a robust little guy, the body is mostly metal. It has an Industar 81 lens with a focal length of 38mm and 46mm filter threads. The maximum aperture is f/2.8, the minimum f/16. Shutter speeds range from 1/30s-1/660s, it has a bulb setting and a hot shoe. Focusing is done by estimating the distance and turning the focus ring. You can set it to film speeds from 16 to 400 iso – I generally keep my FED 50 loaded with slow film and my LOMO LC-A+ with fast, that way I’m ready for any situation the world can throw at me.
It does have a few idiosyncrasies: On the “A” setting aperture and shutter speeds are automatically selected by the light meter – but only up to f/14. On the manual setting the camera always fires at 1/30s., and on the “B” setting the camera always fires with an aperture of f/2.8. Also, the light meter only works on the automatic setting. These things don’t make much sense, and keep the camera from being truly useful as a manual camera – however, if you’re using the automatic setting, it really doesn’t affect you much. I tend to just grab a different camera if I feel like going manual..
Some say the Industar 81 is a “better” lens than the Minitar 1 on an LC-A, but when it comes to camera lenses I’m always a bit wary of those kinds of statements. At the best of times it’s very subjective, and it always depends on what kind of look you prefer in the end – i.e. a single coated lens is “bad” because it produces lens flare, but what if you like lens flare? A plastic lens is “bad” because it lacks sharpness, but what if you want a dreamy, unfocused look? Lenses that produce vignetting are “bad”, but what if you like vignetting?
Those of you that know me, know I have an affinity for odd and very old film, hence the beat up look of some of the gallery pictures. Those pics are what happens when you put a 14-year-old roll of Ektachrome EPP and a 16-year-old roll of Orwocolor NC21 through a camera.
All in all, this is one of my more likeable cameras, one I always keep loaded with film.