Dissecting my FED 3 Camera!


I bought this camera with a leather case and 52mm f/2.8 Industar-61 lens off craigslist for a measly $20. Upon further inspection the alignment on both the horizontal and vertical rangefinder was off and there was something rattling inside.

I searched EVERYWHERE online and couldn’t find a place that listed how to deal with this particular model. The other version of FED 3 has a simple screw for vertical adjustment, however this one does not. I was able to find horizontal but not vertical. Furthermore I was not able to find a single thing about how to remove all the dials to get the top plate off.

So after 3 hours I finally figured it all out. It’s pretty simple actually. If anyone is interested I’ll make a full tutorial on how to do this. For now I’ll just summarize it. I took the photo below after taking off all the knobs. Most have tiny screws on them that can easily be twisted off. Some are rusted on and require a bit more force. However in this photo the front diopter is still in place. This needs to also be unscrewed to remove the top plate.

Credits: falsedigital

After all that, the top plate comes off. Here’s where the adjustments are.

Credits: falsedigital

I figured out the thing rattling inside was actually a triangle that’s meant to hold the cold shoe in place. For some reason mine was able to stay on top of my camera without it. I easily rescrewed it back in. Now no more rattling! :D I also discovered this camera is made of copper! How weird!

Credits: falsedigital

That Diopter (not sure if that’s the official name) in the photograph before was the problem! That was the whole reason my vertical view was off. I thought originally it was just a piece of glass…however it’s not. Depending on how close or far it is away from the mirror prism determines the height of the vertical alignment. I believe this was improperly assembled in the factory.

Since I can’t move the glass inside the piece. I put dental floss behind it at the correctly measured distance for alignment. I’m going to get some metal washers later and use that instead (as it would look more professional) but I don’t have any on me right now. So here it is…the finally fixed and calibrated FED 3a Type 2!

Credits: falsedigital

EDIT: So I was at the Deli today and they had this pack of metal washers there. (really random I know!) anywho, I applied the washer and it was the correct distance to separate the vertical diopter from the prism! It’s a little ghetto looking but now everything is perfectly adjusted and fully functional! Here’s an image of that below. :]

Credits: falsedigital

So what do you guys think? Have you ever attempted to repair a camera of your own without any instructions? If so, how did it go? Were you scared? I’m curious to know. :3

written by falsedigital on 2010-12-15


  1. sergio_m
    sergio_m ·

    Job well done! congrats!

  2. fivedayforecast
    fivedayforecast ·

    I did this with my Mamiya Six to try to fix the rangefinder... I just broke it more...

  3. falsedigital
    falsedigital ·

    @sergio_m - Thanks!

    @fivedayforecast - Ouch! How did you end up breaking it more? Like did you snap a piece or did you just throw it off adjustment more?

  4. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    Great job!

  5. simon-hedge
    simon-hedge ·

    Great article! Now help me fix the shutter bounce on this Zenit EM.... ;)

  6. falsedigital
    falsedigital ·

    ^ Oh how I wish I had the knowledge to do that. I also have a Nikon FM with a shutter problem that's currently being used as a paperweight. I'm hoping I can find someone in Bangkok to fix it.

  7. darkbeanbbq
    darkbeanbbq ·

    I also got a FED 3b for cheap, but it has a problem with one of the curtains. I've been wanting to take it apart and try to repair it, but I'm afraid of getting lost with all the screws and stuff, and not being able to put it back together :( Even though the camera didn't cost me must and I haven't taken that many pictures with it,i'm pretty attached to it, and wouldn't want to break it more. Would you have any tips ? thanks ;)