Before the end of 2014, my girlfriend took the plunge of purchasing a rangefinder camera from eBay as a late Christmas gift for me. Let me present to you: the Fed 5. The Fed 5 has been known as a copy of the Leica M3 rangefinder camera. It is inexpensive compared to Leica models. So what are my experiences of using the Fed 5? Read on to find out more.
My Fed 5 came with a leather pouch and Industar-61 53mm lens. I then loaded it with a roll of Kodak Portra 400. The pictures were all scanned with the Lomography Smartphone Film Scanner.
Use of the light meter
The advantage of the Fed 5 is that it has a light meter. The light meter will measure the amount of light traveling to the camera. Based on the measurement of the light meter, adjust the aperture and shutter speed accordingly. This way, you can ensure that your pictures do not get overexposed or underexposed.
Your knowledge of ISO, aperture, and shutter speed is tested
You have the readings on your light meter, so what do you do next? Do not be quick to press the shutter button. Instead, ask yourself if you want any of your subjects to be blurred or in focus. For blurry backgrounds, set aperture to the highest (lowest f number). If you want everything in focus, set aperture to the lowest (highest f number). Next, adjust the shutter speed accordingly based on the ASA speed dial located on the upper left side of the camera.
Focus is key
Focusing on your subject works similarly to a manual lens. Aim at your subject through the viewfinder and adjust the lens such that your subject is in focus. Note that whatever you see through the viewfinder is not what your lens see.
Wind the film fully
Once you have taken 36 exposures, you have to manually wind the film until you feel no resistance. I made a mistake here and opened the back of the camera prematurely. As a result, some of photos were exposed to sunlight.
The Fed 5 is a great, inexpensive rangefinder. It has an awesome and vintage appearance. I will highly recommend it to those who are testing out rangefinders.
Oh! One more thing: ALWAYS have the habit of cocking the advance crank before adjusting the shutter speed, unless you have the intention of reducing the life of your Fed 5!