PHOTOGRAPHY   © mike connealy
FED 1g
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Designer: Oscar Barnacksky
The FED 1g is great fun. While the materials and craftsmanship are not quite up to Leica standards, the Soviet 35mm is still a pretty faithful copy of the classic German camera of the 1930s. Millions of these Barnack-style cameras were produced in Ukraine factories from the mid-1930's to the mid-1950s. Mine is the last model of the type, apparently rolling off the assembly line in 1955.

The lens on the camera is also a copy of the original telescoping Elmar that was featured with the 1932 Leica. The Tessar-formula FED f3.5, 50mm may actually have a slight edge over the original as it is coated. Even so, the pictures coming from it are characteristically low in contrast, and getting the lens too close to the sun or other bright light souces produces significant flaring. Still, one can't complain about the sharpness of results, and the small diameter of the lens mount causes no interference with the viewfinder as is the case with later designs having fixed mounts with bulkier proportions.

The rangefinder window is a bit dim by modern standards, but the low-profile, nearly centered, viewfinder requires almost no parallax compensation and it is adequately bright. While a fat normal lens, or even the Elmar-style with a lens hood tends to obscure part of the view, that is only a problem at the 50mm focal length. For wider or longer lenses a supplemental viewfinder mounted in the accessory clip allowed an unobstructed view.

Later Leicas and their Soviet counterparts introduced easier and faster operation with removable or flip-open backs, and brighter view windows combining framing and rangefinder functions. None, however, surpassed the original Barnack design in its revolutionary innovativeness or its elegance.

Jupiter-12 35mm lens
with accessory finder

Industar-61 L/D
f2.8 55mm lens
A user manual for the Barnack-style FED and Zorki is available on line.

      Some sample images from the FED 1g:


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