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Leica Mount Cameras:

Leica-mount Lenses:


FED 3 (fed 3)

by Karen Nakamura

Overview and Personal Comments

The FED 3 is a Soviet-era Leica copy made by the FED factory. It's a close clone of the Leica screw mount cameras, using the same M39 mount and rangefinder design. It uses a horizontal-running cloth shutter and a very similar shutter timing mechanism as the Leica I, II and III series. However, the external appearance diverges from the Leica screw mounts. The body is slightly reminiscent of the Leica M3. The sixteen year (1964-80) run of the FED 3 rivals the fourteen year runs of the Leica M3 and M6.

Some people call the FEDs ugly but I think that they have "character." The one thing that I don't like is that the later edition FED 3s have no strap lugs! Oddly, early model FED 3s had them! What, Soviet designers thought it'd ruin the lines?!?! To carry the camera on a strap, you have to use the never-ready case, which has its own "charm" - the top and bottom cannot be separated. I performed bilateral buttonectomy surgery on my case so now the top and bottom separate, yet can still be snapped together for storage.

My FED 3 operates relatively smoothly, but then again I had the luxury of cherry-picking it out of several at a camera fair in St. Paul in 2003.04. The other Soviet cameras I'm interested are the Kiev Contax-clones and the Zorki-6, but I'm willing to wait until I can handle one personally. Of the 6 cameras I handled at the show, about half had issues with: non-capping shutters and dragging slow speeds.

Except for the viewfinder which is truly pitiful (no framelines; no parallax compensation; rough 50mm view only), I'm impressed with the little FED. It's not an M7 or even a Canon P, but at 1/60th the price of an M7 or 1/10th the price of the Canon P, it really delivers bang for the buck.

Another Soviet factory also made the KMZ Zorki series of Leica-screw mount cameras, and yet another factory made the Kiev descendant of Contax bayonet mount rangefinders. The Chinese were also involved in making the Shanghai 58 series of Leica III clones.


In Use

I took this camera out for a spin with some Kodak 400NC Portra film. My general reactions from the first roll were:

  • The Industar-61 suffers from flare / low contrast unless well shaded. I need to get a lens hood for it.
  • Most of the Industar-61 photos came back underexposed. I'm going to guess that the camera's shutter speed is running a little bit fast.
  • There was no light sealant foam in the camera back/body junction when I received it. I was concerned about this, but thought that perhaps it was a design "feature." Well, a couple of negs had light leaks, especially the ones used without the everready case. A few minutes of surgery and my FED 3 is light tight. We'll see if the next roll is similarly afflicted.
  • Well, it looks like the shutter wasn't self-capping properly so I sent it to OK Vintage Camera in Russia for repair.
  • Focusing accurately in the dark is difficult. The focusing aid is nowhere as clear as on Japanese rangefinders or Leicas
  • Frame spacing is very good


Interesting quirks

When releasing the shutter, the shutter timing knob rotates clockwise. It lands in a seemingly random position. When you wind the camera, it cocks the shutter, the knob rotates again and thankfully lands in the right place again.

Don't adjust the shutter speed without winding the camera! When changing to a slower shutter speed, rotate counter-clockwise. This will energize the slow-shutter speed mechanisms (you'll feel them when you move from 1/60 to 1/15 and slower). For B and 1/30 sec (which is the X-sync speed), rotate clockwise.


Surrounding the shutter button is a knob with B and C settings. Rotate the knob in the 'C' direction for normal shooting. 'B' is for rewinding the camera. According to the FED manual below, you need to release the shutter before rewinding.

On the wind lever is the film counter (manually resettable) and a film speed/type reminder. The accessory shoe is "cold" but there's a PC sync connection for X electronic flashes on the front right of the camera.

Film speed Reminder: This apparently isn't obvious to some folks who didn't grow up with all-mechanical cameras, but the film-speed/type reminder on the wind lever is just a reminder. It does not actually do anything. The camera has no built-in lightmeter. When you use this camera, you need to pick a shutterspeed/aperture either based on an external lightmeter reading, intuition, or the little chart that's on the inside of the box of film you got at Wallymart.

Interchangeable Lenses: My FED 3 came with the standard Industar-61 52mm f/2.8 lens. This is a 4 element, 3 group Tessar design. I'm curious to compare it with my 6 element, 3 group Sonnar-type Jupiter 8. Some people have called the later Lanthanum ("radioactive") Industar-61s the best Soviet lens available, I'd like to see for myself. Then again, "best Soviet" doesn't mean much; the Yugo was the best car in the Communist world. I have a page comparing the various Leica mount lenses I own.

Diopter Adjustment: Now amazingly, the FED 3 sports a diopter adjustment on the viewfinder! That's the big knurled knob on the viewfinder eyepiece (it's not there just to scratch your eyeglasses; it's there so you don't need eyeglasses!). This is a fantastic feature even the Leica M7 and R8 don't built-in diopter adjustment; it's like a Yugo with GPS navigation.


Rangefinder Calibration

It's easy to knock rangefinder cameras like the FED 3 out of horizontal or vertical RF calibration with small knocks or jars. This is fairly common on older (and even newer) rangefinders. Thankfully, FED provided for a way to adjust both horizontal and vertical RF calibration without opening the camera up. For more information, see this page.

   The horizontal adjustment screw is hidden between a screw located in between the main viewfinder and rangefinder coincident image window.
 The vertical adjustment is performed by first unscrewing the bezel around the rangefinder coincident image window. Rotate the glass window causes a small prism to turn, moving the coincident image up and down.


Note: This operation while simple, has the possibility of fouling your camera if you have the wrong size screwdrivers or slip while the driver is inside the camera. Please use reasonable and appropriate caution when thinking about doing this.

Technical Details

Camera Name FED 3
Manufacturer FED
Place of Manufacture USSR
Date of Manufacture


approx 2,000,000 produced

Focusing System

Coupled rangefinder (41mm base length; coincident image)
1.0x magnification factor

Viewfinder shows 50mm frame of view

Viewfinder has built-in diopter adjustment

Lens Mount

Leica M39 screw mount compatible
Standard lenses: 52mm f/2.8 Industar-61


Horizontal focal plane shutter (stainless steel)
1 sec - 1/500 sec + B & X (1/30sec)
9-15 sec. self-timer

Metering System



External cold shoe
PC cable connector on right side
1/30 sec X flash sync

Film type

Type 135 film (35mm standard)

Battery type none
Dimensions and weight

Body: 137x90x35 mm, 590g
Body+lens: 137 x 90 x 68 mm, 725 g (w/ 52mm f/2.8)

Retail price



Comparison between the FED 3 and other Rangefinders of the 1960s

Camera Name FED 3 Canon P IIIg M3
Manufacturer FED Canon, Inc. Leica Leica
Place of Manufacture USSR Japan Germany Germany/Canada
Date of Manufacture 1964-1980 1958.12-1961.5  1957~1960 (~1966) 1954~1968
Production 2,000,000
Focusing System Coupled rangefinder (41mm base length)
1.00 x magnification factor. 41mm effective baselength.
50 mm viewfinder.

Coupled rangefinder (41mm base length)
1.00x magnification factor
Parallax compensation
Framelines for 35/50/100mm. (non-selectable)

Coupled rangefinder (39mm base length)
1.5 x RF magnification. 58.5 mm effective baselength.
Parallax compensation
Framelines for 50/90mm. (non-selectable)
Coupled rangefinder (69.25mm base length)
0.92 x magnification factor; 63.731 effective baselength. Separate viewfinder / rangefinder. Parallax compensation
Projected framelines for 50/90/135 mm. (auto-selected; manually selectable on later M3s)
Lens Mount

Leica M39 screw mount compatible

Leica M bayonet mount
Shutter Horizontal focal plane shutter
1 sec - 1/500 sec + B + X (1/30)

Horizontal focal plane shutter (stainless steel)
1 sec - 1/1000 sec + B & X (1/55sec)

Horizontal focal plane shutter (rubberized cloth)
1 sec - 1/1000 sec + B & X (1/50sec)

Horizontal focal plane shutter (rubberized cloth)
1 sec - 1/1000 sec + B & X (1/50sec)

Metering System
Flash External cold shoe
PC cable connector on right side
1/30 sec X flash sync

External cold shoe
PC cable connector on left side
1/55 sec X flash sync

External cold shoe
Proprietary connector on rear
1/50 sec X flash sync
External cold shoe
Proprietary connector on rear
1/50 sec X flash sync
Battery type
Dimensions and weight Body: 137x90x35 mm, 590g

Body: 144 x x mm, 650g

  Body: 138mm x 77mm x 36mm; 595g.
Original Retail price 16 rubles

¥52,700 yen (w/50mm f/1.4) in 1958 (~US$146)
37,700 yen (w/50mm f/2.8) in 1958 (~US$105)

Current Street price  $30~60 + shipping from Russia (~$20) $400~$500 w/o lens  $600~900 w/o lens  $900~1200 w/o lens





About FED

FED started out its life


On the Net


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