View Full Version : Russian Rangefinder - how good is this?

01-18-2004, 07:41
I somehow became curious about the old screw mount cameras, to make them unobtrusive than the relatively larger and rich looking M6TTL (chrome), appear less 'rich' (avoid theft) than the M6TTL and Nikons etc. that I have. I find trying a Leica SM IIIg or F to be expensive when I do feel that my M6TTL will be my THE camera to use for anything serious. So just to try out, I searched and came across this camera "Leica II (D) Olympia 1936 Elmar f3.5/50mm Olympia 1936 edition, black model with built-in rangefinder" that has been re-conditioned and supposedly working fine. The price expected is USD 100. Can someone tell me how good is this camera? Will this remain just a 'fun' camera or can it take some good pictures?

back alley
01-18-2004, 12:11
i doubt you could go wrong with this camera if indeed, it was in working order. it might be a bit slower to use than the more modern cameras you now have.
there are cheaper alternatives if you want a 'knockaround' camera.
i have an olympus 35rc that is small, light and has a very sharp lens attached to it.
and then there are the russian leica copies also.

btw, welcome to the forum.


01-18-2004, 13:39
Personally I'd say you could do a lot better by getting a Fed or Zorki that hadn't been dressed up in fake Nazi style like this one.

01-18-2004, 14:07
yep, there are possibly some better options. I recommend you looking for all the information you can, there are lots of places with info about russian rangefinders, but probably one of the best to start is this one:


read the contents of the "favorite shooters" section, 4 very good entries in the russian RF world that can be easily found around $50. and welcome to the forum !


Rich Silfver
01-18-2004, 14:54
Hi Mallik,

what you have there is a Leica copy.
The lens is ofcourse not the Elmar 3.5/50 lens but an inferior piece of glass.

Rumours have it that they are made up of mostly Fed and Zorki parts and assembled in Russia.

Having said all that I have never tried any of these Leica copies nor their lenses so I have no idea what quality they are of.

Maybe someone here have some hands-on experience?

01-23-2004, 14:27
Some of us think that it very regretable that the demands of the market-place cause perfectly fine Soviet copies of Leicas to be turned into simulated Nazi regalia. I think these cameras and lenses would be much better if they were restored to their original condition (but not original functionality).

I have a couple of photos in the gallery taken with one of these Elmar copies, one of a steam locomotive and another of the Texas Capitol Building. I don't own a 50mm Elmar, so I can't make a one-to-one comparison. I do have a 50mm Summitar collapsible, and overall I prefer the Summitar 50/2.0 to the Industar-50 f3.5 for contrast and sharpness. However, keep in mind that the the Russian lenses cost about $25.00 each. A beat-up Summitar (mine is EXC) costs at least $100.00.

The Zorki-1 body with an Industar-50 or Industar-22 costs about $50.00 compared to whatever a Leica IIIc and 50mm Elmar costs. Inferior glass? Probably yes. But compare the marginal benefit over the cost...


01-30-2004, 12:33
Hello Mallik!

That camera you see is definitely a Soviet FED or Zorki (basically the same camera - see the introductory article on the Fzorkis site at www.geocities.com/fzorkis - Not built to the quality standards of Leitz but nevertheless a very capable, rugged, and worthy rangefinder!

As you'll read in the introductory article on Leica-Derived Soviet Rangefinders (I wrote it :-) the Soviets made millions of these kind of cameras, evolving from the Leica IID clone to other models over the years up to the 1990's.

They are plentiful and inexpensive from eBay and other sources ($20 to *maybe* $100 for unusual and pristine cameras) and are good shooters. The original Zorki and FEDs came with those f/3.5 collapsible lenses that are essentially Elmar copies. The optics are pretty good.

You may like a later model better - my favorite is the FED-2. You can see a sample photo I took with one of my FED-2's at


I used the Industar-26M 50mm f/2.8 lens that came with the camera for this shot.

The FED-2 is a well-designed, well-constructed camera. Put a Jupiter-8 f/2 50mm lens on it (about $30, or maybe less if you get one with a camera) and you will be hard-put to tell the photos apart from those taken with contemporary Zeiss or Leitz lenses.

You can see a few more photos I've taken with my Commie rangefinders at www.geocities.com/srosenbach

I agree with Comrade Paul above that the Nazification of these great old cameras is regretable.

Lots more information at the russiancamera-user forum at


Comrade Paul is a valued frequent contributor there!

Go for a FED or Zorki (or even a Zeiss Contax-like Kiev) - you won't regret it!!

Best regards,

P.S - how is the weather in A.P. ?