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FSUs with better VF/RF than FED 2
Old 02-08-2014   #1
lrochfort
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FSUs with better VF/RF than FED 2

Hello all,

I'm about to embark on a CLA of my late model FED 2's VF/RF in an effort to make the view and rangefinder patch clearer. At the moment they're pretty much useless.

Should this not make matters any better, can people please recommend FSUs with larger and clearer VFs, AND ( I want it all ) more visible RF than the FED 2? I wear glasses if that makes any odds.

I'm not against moving to the Kiev system, but from memory that's equally as squinty as the FED 2, if not worse?
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Old 02-08-2014   #2
nongfuspring
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I had a go with a zorki 4 once, which was better, but then again my fed 2 isn't that great.

I'm kind of in the middle of a fed 2 CLA myself, I've been trying out a few things like taking out the diopter lenses (VF becomes MUCH brighter, thought perhaps not practical as you wear glasses) and I'm hoping to swap out the RF window with a piece of coloured perspex.
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Old 02-08-2014   #3
NormanV
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The Leningrad has a very clear viewfinder. It is certainly the best of these three.
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Old 02-08-2014   #4
AndersG
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My Zorki 4 has a larger (also magnification wise I think) and brighter viewfinder than my FED 2. The downsides are that the patch contrast (on my example) is very poor - I have had to add piece of semi-translucent tape on the viewfinder window to make it usable. Also, with my glasses on I can't easily see the edges of the finder.

My Zorki 6 has comparable brightness to my Zorki 4 but somewhat lower magnification - the viewfinder window is smaller (~FED 2, 3 sized) and the edges are easier to see with glasses. The patch contrast is considerably better than on my Zorki 4.

[EDIT]
I wonder if Zorki 6 parts could be transplanted to a FED 2 - externally the systems appear similar and the Zorki 6 finder brightness would have been wonderful in a FED 2. However, a Zorki 6 is also a nice camera by itself.
[/EDIT]
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Last edited by AndersG : 02-08-2014 at 01:24. Reason: Added some speculation..
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Old 02-08-2014   #5
wolves3012
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You may find that cleaning the optics makes little difference, I tried it on an old-model FED 2 which had a dark finder and it did not improve matters. The other thing to realise is that batch-to-batch variation in the glass is quite large, so the "luck of the draw" is involved heavily.

Of the "regular" FSUs, the brightest and most accurate are found in the Zorki 5 and 6. They are similar magnification to the FED 2 and the same base-length but they're noticeably brighter. The biggest and brightest has to be the Zorki 3 & 4 and variations but the contrast is often quite low. Magnification is higher, roughly 1:1 and the base-length is shorter.

As for the Leningrad, it has the best of all but it's a quirky camera in many ways, it's often hard to find and it usually commands a high price. I wouldn't warn you off one but just be aware it's somewhat unusual. The RF image is actually fixed, along with frame-lines and it's the VF image that "floats" across these. Seems very strange at first, you don't get a double-image but have to line up the periphery of the RF image to the VF one. However, the system is extremely cleverly designed and works very well.
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Old 02-08-2014   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndersG View Post
[EDIT]
I wonder if Zorki 6 parts could be transplanted to a FED 2 - externally the systems appear similar and the Zorki 6 finder brightness would have been wonderful in a FED 2.
[/EDIT]
In short, no you can't transplant the system without major modifications.
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Old 02-08-2014   #7
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I can't speak to other FSU models, as the FED-2 is the only one I own. I can, however, offer a couple additional suggestions for your efforts to improve that camera's VF/RF. When you take the top cover off, paint the inside with matte black paint - this will knock down internal reflections and improve contrast. Also, on the front glass of the VF, use a black Sharpie to draw a small semi-opaque spot in the same place as where the RF dot appears - this will improve your ability to see the RF dot without materially affecting the overall view through the VF. You may need to play with the density of the Sharpie ink to get it where you like it, but it is easily removed with a cotton swab and some isopropyl alcohol.
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Old 02-08-2014   #8
lrochfort
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My CLA and painting the interior of the top cover did help somewhat, but to be honest it was all extremely clean inside already.

I think that I either have a dark and low contrast example or time has taken its toll.

I will investigate the Zorki 3,4,5 and 6 because I do really like FSU, it's just finding a VF/RF that doesn't make using them a nightmare.
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Old 02-08-2014   #9
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The FEDs are conspicuous in their absence from people's recommendations, at least as far as viewfinders go.

Are there none to be recommended on that front?
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Old 02-08-2014   #10
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A Leitz SBOOI 50mm finder atop your FED 2 camera will solve your problem.

I know that these finders are not cheap to buy but they will improve VF viewing on most small and squinty finder cameras like all the Barnack Leicas save the IIIg and even the bottom-loader Canon cameras that you might buy in the future.
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Old 02-08-2014   #11
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I might suggest an Iskra 1,pretty nice rf/vf and the camera packs up rather small, I'm
also a sucker for more film acreage. Peter
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Old 02-09-2014   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lrochfort View Post
The FEDs are conspicuous in their absence from people's recommendations, at least as far as viewfinders go.

Are there none to be recommended on that front?
The only FED where they appear to have made a deliberate effort to increase brightness is the 5C, which is probably not far behind the later Zorkis.

The caveats are that it was one of the last models built and build-quality was about as low as they got. The RF spot is quite small and they also sacrificed the diopter adjustment but the overall brightness is significantly better than the earlier models. It also has a light meter and brightline frames showing "distance" and "close-up" framing. It's one of the bulkier models and not terribly attractive. However, you can usually pick one up very cheaply.

If you decide to try a 5C, read the manual or you'll struggle to rewind your first roll - the rewind-release is achieved by pressing the shutter-button collar downwards (it clicks back up on the next winder action) and the rewind knob is turn-and-pop-up style within the film-indicator dial.
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Old 02-09-2014   #13
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from all the above, it seems to me that graduating from a FED-2 means getting a Leica or Bessa...


FED-2 is a pretty nice camera overall though, my son has one and it reminds me of an M2 ergonomically. Nothing wrong with that!
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Old 02-09-2014   #14
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Or a Canon P or 7 - and they do seem to be considerably cheaper now than in 2006 when I got my Canon 7. That said, (at least) the older FED and Zorkis have a different feel than these more "modern" cameras.
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Old 02-09-2014   #15
Ron (Netherlands)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johannielscom View Post
from all the above, it seems to me that graduating from a FED-2 means getting a Leica or Bessa...


FED-2 is a pretty nice camera overall though, my son has one and it reminds me of an M2 ergonomically. Nothing wrong with that!
Not necessary. Anyway most Barnack Leica's I had in my hands had very poor quality half mirrors. Even in two later IIIf's I had to replace the beamsplitters. The ones in the Zorki's are a little better and I think this is due to the silver side being pressed in between glass, whereas the Leica's are in the 'open air', and can easily be damaged when cleaned or because of moist air.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wolves3012 View Post
In short, no you can't transplant the system without major modifications.
The difference between the Z5/Z6 and Fed 2 beamsplitter is their attachment to the rangefinderbase. The Fed 2 beamsplitter is screwed on whereas the Z5/Z6 splitter is glued on. But they have the same dimensions. So if you would be able to unglue the Z5/Z6 beamsplitter from its rangefinderbase, you can easily place it in the FED 2.

Btw early Z3's and Z4 had a beamsplitter / rangefinder which is in terms of contrast a bit comparable to the FED 2: i.e. a somewhat darker viewfinder and a little brighter rangefinder patch. In later Zorki's this changed: they got a darker rangefinder patch within a - much - brighter viewfinder. And there is more difference between the Z4 and the later Z4K: in a Z4 the patch was somewhat colored / yellow whereas in a Z4K there is hardly any difference in color, and therefore a somewhat less contrasty patch.

One of my FED 2 projects I did in the past..it is one of the easiest camera's to work with since it has not many parts.
the beamsplitter can be seen at the left above


Another one, here you can see the beamsplitter with its fitting with two screw holes (in the middle):


Here's one still attached to the body:


Beamsplitter of a Z5:
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Old 02-09-2014   #16
Dez
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As is usual with these threads, the discussion keeps branching out into associated topics, and by now the OP is maybe contemplating a completely different set of choices, but to get back to the original question, yes, there are some FSU cameras that have better finders than the FED 2, which has a very good finder indeed.

The Zorki 5/6 cameras have an excellent finder, maybe a bit brighter and contrastier than the FED 2's, but the difference is minimal. Given Soviet quality control in consumer goods, and the passage of fifty years or so, I suspect you would find more variation between units of the same camera than between two different models. I have no experience with the latest model FEDs because in my highly biased personal opinion they are so ugly that they should only be used in total darkness, which rather defeats the purpose of a camera, I think.

By far the best finder in FSU cameras, and ranking highly in cameras from any country, is that of the funky spring-motor Leningrad camera. It has framelines for 50, 85, and 135mm lenses, and the full field is 35mm. Uniquely, I think, parallax compensation works by having the viewfinder image move behind fixed framelines and RF rectangle, thereby giving parallax compensation for the full-field 35mm lens. Instead of the usual co-incident image mechanism, the Leningrad has a genuine split-image RF, where you focus by aligning the edges of the RF rectangle with the surrounding field. This works well because both images are at the same plane of focus, and the boundaries of the RF rectangle are razor-sharp. The Leningrad has a larger eyepiece pupil than any other FSU camera, and diopter correction for both VF and RF by rotating the eyepiece.




The camera itself has generally better build quality than other FSU cameras, and far better external finish except maybe for the very earliest Kievs.



The camera is quite big and heavy, especially so to accommodate the spring motor drive, and the styling takes some getting used to. Good Leningrads can be a bit hard to find, and can be almost as expensive as a Leica lens shade, but pretty good value for the money. I really like this camera, and wish its fantastic rangefinder mechanism had found its way into other FSU cameras.

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Old 02-10-2014   #17
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I'm a regular user of the Kiev rf cameras. After some research, I've found a good Leningrad, correctly working and with a perfectly adjusted rangefinder.

Leningrad's shutter is like arming a Kalashnikov's one, when compared to Kiev's almost silent one.

A Kiev with Leningrad's wiewfinder/rangefinder could have been a fascinating, reliable camera...

E.L.

P.S.: I was forgetting that the Kiev-5 has a bright, fine wiewfinder, with parallax correction!
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Old 02-10-2014   #18
Joao
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I´ve read that LOMO celbrates its 100th anniversary this month. So why not trying a SOKOL 2 or a SOKOL Abtomat ?? Both have excellent bright viewfinders....
I have never seen through a Leningrad viewfinder, so I canot say which is best...
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Old 02-10-2014   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joao View Post
I´ve read that LOMO celbrates its 100th anniversary this month. So why not trying a SOKOL 2 or a SOKOL Abtomat ?? Both have excellent bright viewfinders....
I have never seen through a Leningrad viewfinder, so I canot say which is best...
I'd never heard of the SOKOL's; they certainly look interesting, but I want to stick with interchangeable lenses before I acquire yet more cameras!

I think at the moment the main contenders are the Zorki 3 and 6.
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Old 02-10-2014   #20
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Every camera has its trade offs. The Fed 2 is great because of its long base however its down side has always been the viewfinder. The Leningrad has the great finder but one has to contend with the spring drive. Good luck at getting that fixed. The Drug has the 50 and 85 lines but also can have problems with film advance due to the use of soft brass gears.
So we have the Zorki 4 and later models.
Or one can jump up to the Bessas and Leicas
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