Best Soviet rangefinder

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by Zorkiphoto, Aug 26, 2015.

  1. locutus

    locutus Member

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    Can be the contrarian and name the Iskra as my favourite? :smile:
     
  2. 4season

    4season Member

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    My pick:
    [​IMG]
    My first shutter curtain replacement and custom paint job! I especially like the looks of this particular FED-2 and Industar 26M variant (and there sure are a lot of variants of both). Typical Soviet limited range of shutter speeds (1/30 to 1/500) but in exchange it's relatively compact and not too complicated to service as cameras go. Nothing like taking one apart to really appreciate the effort and yes the precision required in order for such a camera to function at all.
     
  3. Роберт

    Роберт Member

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    All my FSU cameras are refurbished and repaired, otherwise you can not use them! A lot of crap is floating around. One Z-6 was brand new of the box, 40 years in an attic in Ukraine, $20 incl. the I-50. But the grease was so sticky ... C.L.A. My FED-3 50 October revolution had a new curtain, a new R.F. some complete missing screws so a lot of work but the original box and Russian manual was included.
    In FSU cheap aluminium is used so without grease it comes quickly to an end. Apart from the types of slow shutter speeds when people turning the speed dials on all moments ...
     
  4. Ko.Fe.

    Ko.Fe. Subscriber

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    Lately I was having... no, FSU RFs are having me.

    [​IMG]

    While my M4-2 was at long repair I decided to try FSU RF alternative. I never liked Zorki-4, so I decided to explore FED3 and FED5. FED3, because I like how it looks and FED-5 because everyone is saying how huge are heavy they are.
    FED-3 was purchased on ebay as serviced and tested with film. It appears what Ukrainian seller just making copy-paste of these words. Camera was not serviced and has problems. And this is the camera which is having me for over that one month now. I completely re-hauled it. Still, at some shutter speeds it gives this:

    [​IMG]

    Something is dragging the shutter. Can't see, feel it. All looks, operates normal. So, it will be for sale as rear cap for very good Industar-61 lens on it. It is sharp and has ten aperture blades (with plenty of oil on them, which is as usual for FSU).
    Lens is good on digital Leica M as well.

    I haven't checked FED-5B, yet. But it not big and it is not heavy. I have purchased Zorki which was serviced by one known in FSU person. With Leica 50mm VF it is very interesting camera. VF is tiny, but shows 1:1, it is very impressive. And Zorki RF window is also showing exactly 1:1. It is actually better than M3 VF.

    Print from negative taken with this Zorki and Orion-15:

    [​IMG]


    Today while in camera shop, I was asked what I was shooting lately. I opened my bag and showed them this:

    [​IMG]

    And I told them what I mostly shot and re-shot sky to check if exposure is even....

    FED-2 I purchased broken and for parts, was with all original parts and jammed shutter. I have it fixed, the only thing which is not fixable is the "soft" spring in the delay mechanism.

    I remember how I asked the founder of this store and ex-Leica Midland technician Bodo, if he is working with FSU RF cameras. The answer was - no. Because once you start with FSU RF, you never know then you will finish and how it is going to turn out...
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
  5. McFortner

    McFortner Member

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    The 67mm rangefinder base doesn't hurt either. I love mine (I have two).
     
  6. blockend

    blockend Member

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    Another vote for the Kiev, a Contax made in the FSU rather than a Leica knockoff. I side step the screw mount cameras by putting Russian M39 lenses on a Bessa L.
     
  7. zanxion72

    zanxion72 Member

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    Has anyone tried the Sokol 2? It is huge and heavy, but with a magnificent f/2.8 lens, a leaf shutter and a very accurate rangefinder. At f/2.8 it puts many expensive ones to shame.
    Mine has a dead light meter, but I no longer need one.

    Other than that, Fed/Zorki 1 has always been my favourite. Small, compact, easy to repair and lenses that do just fine.
     
  8. baachitraka

    baachitraka Member

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    GAS again...NOOOOOOOOOO
     
  9. AgX

    AgX Member

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    I offers autoexposure and it got an automatic parallax correction.
     
  10. zanxion72

    zanxion72 Member

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    It is heavy, but otherwise wonderful camera. I wish I could repair its light meter.
     
  11. jim10219

    jim10219 Member

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    I bought a Zorki 4. I have five issues with it. First, it doesn't have a built in meter. It's hard to expect that from a camera of it's age, but I still like meters you can read through the viewfinder. Second, the wind and rewind knobs aren't the most convenient to use. They work well enough, but I like my cranks. Third, you have to cock the shutter to change speeds. Not a huge deal, but it is a quirk I don't have to worry about with most of my other cameras. Fourth, the film takeup spool falls out easily. That can be annoying. And fifth, those Russian lenses are cheap enough you want to own them all, but still expensive enough that you probably shouldn't.

    Overall, I have no desire at this time to buy another Russian rangefinder. The Zorki 4 serves my needs just fine, and is a well made and reliable camera. It's a fun little camera that I really do enjoy shooting. But, I have plenty of other 35mm cameras, and don't really consider 35mm to be a serious format in this day and age (I do a lot of landscape and architectural photography where detail is pretty important). So it's mostly just a fun toy to me. The best thing about it is it scratched that Leica itch, saving me thousands of dollars on a potentially bankrupting case of G.A.S.
     
  12. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    I'll second that, my two - a '59 K4a and '69 K4 are great, as are the lenses (J12, J8, H103, and J9). The '59 needs new ribbons, but it's been used to the point that the advance knob shows brass; the '69 is just as it should be, even to an accurate meter and real 1250th top shutter speed. My favorit walkaround RF.
     
  13. Chuckwade87

    Chuckwade87 Subscriber

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    Zorki 1 with Jupiter 8, although I do like the focusing on my Kiev 4(No meter version), much more accurate and a combined viewinder to me. The Zorki-1's small size is a determining factor for me. I find getting good shots with it can be a little more challenging, so maybe that's why I enjoy it more.
     
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  15. smith931

    smith931 Member

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    I have a Zenit-E. I don't know either it is best or not but I love this camera a lot.
    This is one of the most popular Soviet camera brands, created by the Krasnogorsk Mechanical Factory. Zenit-E was based on the Zorki camera, a rangefinder transformed to an SLR.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2017
  16. dourbalistar

    dourbalistar Member

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    In Soviet Russia, best rangefinder finds you!
     
  17. AgX

    AgX Member

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    ???
     
  18. Pentode

    Pentode Subscriber

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    I use a Zorki 6, a Kiev 4a, and a Moskva 4. I have another Z6 with major shutter problems.

    The Z6 is not very attractive and it’s shutter as rather loud, but it’s been reliable and it’s easier to load and wind than most of the FSU RFs.

    The Moskva has been great. A Zeiss Ikon 6x9 in all but name, it’s totally reliable and the lens is very nice.

    Overall, I prefer the Kiev over the others. The fit and finish is far better than it is on the Zorkis and I like the ergonomics of the Contax design.

    They’re all pretty good cameras (except for the broken Z6), especially considering the price, but I tend to reach for the Kiev most often.
     
  19. dourbalistar

    dourbalistar Member

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  20. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    I have not use a lot of Russian cameras Fed 2, Zorki 6, but the best of the lot was a Kiev. I am not sure now what model it was but it was one without the meter. I had it thoroughly checked over and the speeds calibrated and it served me well for a couple of years. The lens that came with it the 50mm F2 was incredibly sharp. It is well known that Ex Soviet quality control was....to be kind....lacking. So to get such a superb lens was a bonus. I clearly remember taking a photograph where there was a monument in the distance (easily 1/4 mile away) and the individual railings around the top were clearly defined

    In contrast or should I say lacking contrast was an 85mm/f2. it was simply appalling. Even grade 4 could not give a decent print.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2017
  21. schyter

    schyter Member

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  22. smith931

    smith931 Member

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    Hi Sewin, you have some great rangefinder collection. I want to buy a Zorki 10, but you told that it’s look lovely, not so good ergonomically. Now I’m in confused.
     
  23. BlueWind

    BlueWind Subscriber

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    Yes, I've had both the Sokol Automat and the Sokol-2. Best viewfinders of all the FSU rangefinders I have used.
    Iskra , despite its bad ergonomics is a great camera.
    Nobody mentioned the Junost, another interesting FSU fixed-lens rangefinder (if you can find a working one)
    From the interchangeable lens FSU RF my vote goes to the Kiev
    Regards
    Joao
     
  24. Theo Sulphate

    Theo Sulphate Subscriber

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  25. bimmey

    bimmey Subscriber

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    A timely thread. The end of February I participate in the annual "Fozen Mosin" shooting match in northern Maine. We shoot old Russian Mosin Nagants, and I thought it would be fun to use a FSU camera to capture the event. Seems like most FED 2 cameras are coming out of Ukraine. Prices are averaging $50. so I'm willing to roll the dice.

    Is there any seller I should avoid? Well, besides the one who claims to have overhauled them and the shutter "runs like a Swiss watch". Any help is appreciated.
     
  26. Ko.Fe.

    Ko.Fe. Subscriber

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    Later in 2017 and earlier in 2018 I have talk with reputable and known in FSU person who repairs FSU RF cameras. I have one of his now. I purchased from eBay and Ukraine FED-4 kit advertised as CLA'd and tested with film. Then it came it was not CLA'd and shutter is clapping. I teared it down, re-lubed, put it back and ... still clapping. The amount of crap in FED-4 construction is mind boggling. ..
    I purchased FED-5B from Ukrain as serviced. It was not, but works. The known repair person told me what Ukraine dealers on ebay, simply lie. No CLA, no film test. Too expensive for cheap price they sell.
    I have my money retired for FED-4. And I didn't wrote anything about seller. Because I have money returned. This is how they have 100% positive feedback on eBay.
     
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