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FSU Former Soviet Union RF This forum is for the Former Soviet Union rangefinder cameras, especially the many and various Fed, Zorki, and Kiev.

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Best FSU rangefinder for the money.
Old 08-22-2009   #1
eleskin
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Best FSU rangefinder for the money.

I seem to be drawn to the Zorki 4, but maybe others may be worth considering. Generally, I shoot with Leica M, but I would love to give the FSU cameras a spin, as I understand they are fun and interesting cameras. I do have 3 lenses, a Industar 61LD, Jupiter 8, and Jupiter 9. Which model will give the best reliability, viewfinder, and least ammount of shutter noise.
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Old 08-22-2009   #2
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I find myself drawn to the FED 2. Its longer base R/F should be specially good with 90/85 lenses and with a 50 at f/2 or wider. I had a Zorki 1C whose V/F left something to be desired, but it was reliable and quiet -- qualities which depend on how well a camera was last overhauled.
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Old 08-22-2009   #3
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Fed 2 ......least costly and most reliable.
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Old 08-22-2009   #4
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I second the FED 2 suggestion and would like to add that shutter noise with FSU cameras largely seems to depend more on the individual camera than on the model.
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Old 08-22-2009   #5
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I had a FED2 and could not stand its squinty viewfinder, and the damn diopter adjustment lever constantly moving. I have a Zorki 4 now and even though it needs a CLA and has been used very little, its viewfinder is large and bright, definitely a pleasure to use. On the other hand, the person who bought my FED2 seems to like it a lot, so you might want to try both.
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Old 08-22-2009   #6
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Too bad you have the LTM lenses already, but I would have to say the Kiev's are the best FSU cameras. As far as LTM, I love my FED-2 as well, but the lack of slow speeds and the 1/1000 shutter speed makes me pick up the Zorki 3-C most of the times. Oh! And the viewfinder is 100% better on the Zorki than on the FED.
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Old 08-22-2009   #7
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I had a kiev I couldn't fix but that felt like a solid camera my zorki 1c however is the best fsu I've ever used Though it is for sale in the classifieds right now
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Old 08-22-2009   #8
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Zorki 3M, read my lips, Zorki 3M...
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Old 08-22-2009   #9
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Another Fed 2 vote here!....mine came from Fedka three years back, been no trouble, and one of the best r/f patches in my collection.
Dave.
P.S. don't heed this Kiev nonsense!...if you read back through the threads - most here have three or four - but only one that works sporadically!
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Old 08-22-2009   #10
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Zorki 6 - easy loading and long RF base.
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Old 08-22-2009   #11
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FED-2. BTW: there are more versions, some that have better / different diopter lever that doesn't move by itself and the brightness of the VF can also vary. A cleaning also helps.

FED-2's are
- reliable - there is no slow speed mech
- accurate - the wide VF baselength helps to nail focus precisely
- quiet - again, lack of slow speeds enables the shutter to run at lower spring tension (but tuning needs to be done)
- small - the smallest volume except for Zorki/Fed-1 bottom loaders
- usually come with strap lugs !

Honestly - how often do you use speeds slower than 1/25 or 1/30 ?
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Old 08-24-2009   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spyderman View Post
FED-2. BTW: there are more versions, some that have better / different diopter lever that doesn't move by itself and the brightness of the VF can also vary. A cleaning also helps.
Not to disagree, but my FED-2 just had a CLA and the viewfinder was horribly squinty. As for them being quiet, the shutter on mine sounded like a rifle shot.
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Old 08-24-2009   #13
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The Zorki 3M (at least mine) has the brightest vf of all fsu cameras, the fed2 is a lot lot darker.

I think the Zorki it´s a better camera but the Fed is so ridiculous cheap that everybody should have one.
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Old 08-24-2009   #14
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Good early Zorki 4 properly serviced - inexpensive , but with all that you need , having said that it's bigger and less delicate than a Fed 2 ... controversially a new Fed 5 body is cheap - and works much better that they have a reputation for !
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Old 08-24-2009   #15
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Kiev 4A or Zorki 1.

I am looking for a good home for my FED-2 with the original FED lens 50/3.5.
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Old 08-25-2009   #16
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Just to drop in, the best one for the money is one with a good and proper CLA (cleaning lubricating and adjustment) This is worth the money, and what you pay is what you get most times.

I recommend the Zorki 6 the rangefinder is clear and has a longer base. And it is silent as well. It has no slow speeds... but I hope you can live with that. The Fed 2 has a better look, but a darker viewfinder.

Good luck on your search for one!
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Old 08-25-2009   #17
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I'll add a vote for the Zorki 6 or FED 2 unless you need the slower speeds. The Z-6 has a much brighter finder than the FED 2. My two FED 2s have been quite different, the early one (2b) had a very dim finder and was very smooth but with a loud shutter, the later has a much brighter VF (though still not up to Z-6 standards) and is quieter.

If you need slow speeds there's the sought-after Zorki 3 or 3M or the just-as-capable but cheaper Zorki 4.

As others have said, try to buy from a reputable seller, that's probably at least as important as what model you buy!
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Old 08-25-2009   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hks3sgte View Post
and spend 5x more?
No: less than twice as much. One Nikon that works constantly = 3 Kievs that work intermittently. That's being generous to some Kievs, thoigh equally, you might get a good one first time.

Cheers,

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Old 08-25-2009   #19
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Zorki 3M or possibly the Zorki 4K, the advance lever model. Bright finder and easy to be seen patch on both.

The 3M has the classic look, you could almost think its an expensive camera from the look alone.

The 4K is built like a tank and you can have it and still enjoy the benefit of having two kidneys.
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Old 08-25-2009   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
No: less than twice as much. One Nikon that works constantly = 3 Kievs that work intermittently. That's being generous to some Kievs, thoigh equally, you might get a good one first time.

Cheers,

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Well, I would say that is not the point of buying FSU.
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Old 08-25-2009   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hks3sgte View Post
Well, I would say that is not the point of buying FSU.
If you do not want a working camera, why not send me the money directly?

Some people can tinker with cameras, others can not (either skills, time, tools). Some people get lucky and find a working FSU, others do not (like me!). Some times you get your cameras CLAed and things are good, other times not so good (like me!).

If you are intrested in the Kiev, save yourself money and go buy a Nikon S or S2. Besides the 3 Kievs = 1 Nikon, let's just say 2 Kievs, postage for CLA and fix, cost of same, several rolls of film testing and retesting, the pain of missing shots that you would have gotten with a well working camera. Don't forget postage and time in the shop. Hell, my old Nikon S2 was priceless.

I sunk a ton of money in getting a Fed 2 pimped and CLAed, two Kievs getting CLAed and some lenses cleaned. What do I have to show for it, an empty wallet. If you have time to tinker and can spend the bucks for a small set of tools, give it a try, I wish I had the time. I had all three cameras done with a good guy, they came back duds.

I really liked the Fed 2 I had, but I came to find out that it just didn't work. They guy I sold it to and I went half and half on his CLA and it did not work then either.

I fell so hard for Nikons that I sold my Leica Ms and now use an S3-2000. If you want LTM, get an old IIIa and send it to Ye. If you want Kiev, go Nikon.

I buy a camera because I want it to work. I bought the FSU gear (three bodies, six lenses) because I wanted it to work. I like taking pictures.

B2 (;->
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Old 08-25-2009   #22
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Tough call. As we've seen here there are a lot of different experiences with FSU cameras. If you land a good working one your in luck. If you get a lemon its a trail of tears pursuing a working one.

When people say its a gamble, it really is a gamble. I've bought a Fed2 from Fedka and a early model Kiev 4a from Oleg. While cheap they developed problems within one year of good use. Getting Eddy to repair them while still reasonably priced adds to the total amount of money spent on them. I'm hoping my two FSU's last because I don't think I'll send them back for any additional repairs.

The one thing I learned from using FSU's is that peace of mind has a price. While it may be a floating variable it does have an impact on decisions. Peace of mind may not matter much when everything works swell but when something does go wrong it can mean everything or one can simply shrug it off.

I've been using other gear since I started out with FSU camera but still come back to them occasionally. For me I don't really care what happens to them since I have others to use if one pops. They are still fun to use with their quirks.

With all that said I like to think the Fed2 is a nice camera to start with. Not a bad way to take a dip in the interchangeable rangefinder waters.
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Old 08-26-2009   #23
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Hi, i'm new to this forum and i like the FSU RF section.
In my opinion and experience and despite of it's fame i'm a proud owner and user of a Zorki 3 since 1995.
My Z3 is now 55 years old (s/n 5438733).
I never experienced troubles except for some little holes in the cloth shutter, and i repaired them by myself.

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(Best of light!)
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Old 08-26-2009   #24
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Being in a pinch with a less-than-perfect working Zorki-4 I'm pondering just buying a "new" FSU rangefinder to replace it as I want to have a rangefinder to play with. Buying one from Oleg is cheaper than having Oleg service my wonky one and I'm going slightly grey haired looking for someone to CLA/fix my Zork here in Sweden.

I very much enjoy my Zorki-4 and I'd rather not live with a dimmer or smaller viewfinder. However, I mainly zone-focus/pre-focus/whatever of that ilk and rarely use slow speeds (wait, 1/30 is a slow speed, right?) and the lines of the Fed-2 are quite alluring.

Also, feels silly to get another Zorki when I might just be able to fix it/get it fixed at some point. I'm rather particular about getting a Zorki-4 similar to mine, which means vulcanite and strap lugs and the Fed-2 pretty much always has both.

Is there a big difference between the Zorki-4 and the Fed-2 when it comes to the size and brightness of the viewfinder? The Fed-2 has a somewhat "sunken" cold shoe and I would probably get a J-12 + a viewfinder as soon as I can. The fixed or turret viewfinders shouldn't be problems but what about something like the Voigtländer 28/35 minifinders? Would they work properly on a Fed-2?

The Zorki-6 seems to be the third option. I like the hinged back but they look a bit less elegant than the Zorki-4 and Fed-2. How do they compare in quality to the other two?
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Old 08-26-2009   #25
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The FED-2 vf is much more squinty and the diopter lever pretty annoying, but on the plus side the rf patch is very contrasty. A few FED-2 variations have a raised shoe, mine had the sunken one and the cheap Helios viewfinder did not fit. One of the reasons (together with the squinty vf) why I sold it. It's a very nice camera though.
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