FED-4(b) ФЕД-4 1969 to 1976 Kharkov (Kharkiv), Ukraine I really started out to do a post on my brand new Argus A. It didn't look as good as the vendor had said, but OK, what can you complain about at less than US$8? However, I had noticed that some of the foam had hardened into pumice, but when I loaded film in it, and tried to advance it there was a loud clunk, followed by sounds of something loose on the inside. Sure enough, the pressure plate itself was simply glued onto similar foam, likewise hardened, which had disintegrated from the pull of the film across it. So I decided that it will take a little more work before that Argus A is reanimated. However, looking for something different in my holdings, I found a FED-4(b) for which I had paid about the same amount as for the Argus A. I have had it for some time, but these now sell now on eBay from US$4 up to $40, with most at the lower end. Many go unsold starting in the $25-30 range. Despite its undoubted greater sophistication, I stuffed the remaining portion of the Fuji 200 C/N film into it. What follows is some introduction to the camera and a few pictures taken with it. There is considerable, if not extensive internet documentation at places like http://camerapedia.wikia.com/wiki/FED_4 . That source explains the difference of the 4(b) model "FED 4b (F192, made from 1969-76) has lever wind, and rectangular borders to the rangefinder and viewfinder windows matching the height of the meter window. The viewfinder is larger, and the name is printed on the plate around the rangefinder window; the 4a's strap lugs are omitted. Type b comes in 3 variants each with slight cosmetic changes." also "Foto-Quelle sold the FED 4 in Germany as the Revue 4 (F194). Special editions were produced for the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, and the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution in 1967." Versions were produced (as earlier in the FED lines) in several body leatherette colors including a lovely red. As for the company, FED is the lineal descendent of a labor commune at Kharkiv in Ukraine, named after the founder of the Cheka (later > NKVD > KGB), Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FED_%28camera%29 ) Its manager was a well-known advocate of reform in orphan education, Anton Makarenko. By 1932, the success of Alexander Rodchenko, one of the world's great photographers ( http://masters-of-photography.com/R/rodchenko/rodchenko.html ), shooting with a German Leica was famous in the Soviet Union, so it was decided to use the workshops at the orphan's commune to produce a Soviet copy of the Leica. Large scale production started in 1934, and in the same year, what was then the NKVD took over production at the commune. The children (of course, by this point, many were growing into adults) were originally orphans from the great famine of the 20s in Ukraine. I do not know if any of them were the children of enemies of the state (as in the film The Inner Circle http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Inner_Circle_%281991_film%29 ). Makarenko was dismissed, but I do not know what happened to him -- to be "dismissed" by the NKVD in 1934 could be fairly serious. The commune/factory was destroyed in the Nazi invasion of 1941, but was reestablished in 1946 or so. It is claimed that some of the pre-war production may have actually be labeled with Leitz brands, but many of these old lovelies have been ironically converted into Leicas after 1991. I say "ironically" because it is likely that one of the pre-war FEDs might eventually, perhaps even already, be worth more than the equivalent Leica. By the time of the production of the FED-2 in 1955, the FED had many improvements over the early Leica form. If you want to shoot an early "Leica," but one that is easy to load with film and with many little improvements, the FED-2 is an excellent choice. A pleasure to use. However, I had sort of wanted to see what had happened to the evolution of the "Leica" under socialist conditions -- a camera produced not for the wealthy elite, but rather for the masses. By the FED-3 ( http://www.mattdentonphoto.com/cameras/fed_3b.html ), the camera no longer looked much like a Leica anymore, and aside from the lenses - derived largely I think from German original designs - and the M39 screw mount, not too "Leicaish," either. The lens is a very nice I-61 (Industar) 52mm f/2.8. The big (and I do mean big -- the little rangefinder had grown into a rather massive camera) change in the FED-4 was the addition of an uncoupled selenium meter. On Soviet models like mine, at least, this meter was calibrated in GOST (ГОСТ) units, close to ASA, but not quite the same until a few years later. My ISO 200 film on this camera needs to be metered at 180 GOST. The meter still works well, and the accompanying pictures were all metered with it. Anyhow, here is the little Soviet girl, now grown into one of those mighty Soviet Babushkas [бабушка]*, so familiar to us from Soviet film, telling the Red Army soldier where to get off. _______ *Please, keep your **** out the wringer, I am having fun and in no way am in the slightest bit disrespectful of Soviet womanhood. Jeesh, some people have no ability to distinguish well-meaning irony.