Thursday, 27 October 2016

Fed 4 (ФЭД 4)

This Soviet Feed 4 is a camera with an impressive pedigree. The original design was by Oskar Barnack and the Leica 1 introduced in 1926 by E.Leitz (Leica =  LEItz CAmera). An orphanage in Karkiv, Ukraine set up a workshop to produce copies of the Leica II as a training exercise for teenage boys. This copy was sold as the Fed (named after the head of the NKVD). In time, this changed from a training exercise to full-bloodied commercial production.

During WWII, the factory was destroyed and after the war ended, production was temporarily moved to the Krasnogorskiy Mechanicheskiy Zavod factory outside Moscow. When the Fed factory was rebuilt, production was moved back but the Krasnogorskiy Mechanicheskiy Zavod factory also continued production with cameras now called Zorki.

I already have in my collection, Fed 2, Fed 5 and Zorki 4. The Fed 2 and Zorki 4 only differ in details, the main one being the extended rangefinder base of the Fed 2.

Fed 2, Fed 4 and Zorki 4
The Fed 4 is a further refinement which embodies an uncoupled light meter.

So, a description:

The overall shape of the camera is a rectangular 'brick' with rounded ends. The 'brirkiness' is broken up by the film advance being in a lowered section of the top plate.

The film advance is a lever. this is slightly curved and is quite comfortable to use. The travel of the lever is just over 180 degrees and easy to do in one motion. The lever is on a racket and it is possible to advance the film with several shorter motions.

rear and top plate
The central boss of the film advance has the frame counter. This needs to be set to zero manually and counts up. If you are lazy like me, you can ignore this completely and continue to use the camera until you cannot advance the film anymore. The counter counts up to 39. Right in the centre of the frame counter is a reminder for film type. There are three settings: sun, light bulb and circle. With colour film, each brand would come in two versions, one colour balanced for sunlight and one colour balanced for artificial light. The circle position is intended to represent black and white film. This is merely a reminder has has no effect on the operation of the camera.

Nestling in the corner of the film advance is the shutter release. this is chrome plated steel and is threaded for a standard cable release. Around the shutter release button is a milled collar. This has two positions marked B and C (in Cyrillic - V and S in the Latin alphabet). This is depressed and turned to allow rewinding of the film. This is very fiddly to get at and turn.

Next to the shutter release, on the raised portion of the top plate, is the shutter speed selector. This is used by lifting and turning to the required speed - indicated by a red arrow. In common with the other Leica derived cameras (Zorki, Zenith and other Fed models) it is important to do this only after advancing the film. Speeds available are the standard range from 1 second to 1/500 seconds.

Next along is the accessory shoe. No electrical contacts here so a cold shoe.

On the left hand end of the top plate are the light meter controls. This is a selenium meter and so does no require a battery. Looking at Interweb articles, you could gain the impression that selenium meters eventually deteriorate and lose their sensitivity and so should be avoided. I have selenium meters that are over 55 years years old and still agree with my modern digital camera.

This is a match-needle type meter - you turn the outer ring on the controls until the red needle is over the white needle. At this point, you can read the correct exposure from the black scales. Before this, of course, you need to tell the meter the speed of your film. this is in ASA but the range offered is rather strange: 20, 40, 80, 160, 320. The reason for this (my guess here!) that it is translated from the
German DIN scale, being centred on DIN 20 (=ASA 80). Assuming this makes setting the camera easier: ASA 100 = DIN 21 = one division past ASA 80. ASA 200 = DIN 24 = four divisions past ASA 80 or ASA 160 plus one division.

Front of camera with no lens
The front of the camera is in two parts. At the top is a deep, chrome top plate. This contains a square viewfinder window, a small, round rangefinder window hiding by the ФЭД-4 logo and a square light meter window. By the corner of the light meter window is a PC (Prontor Compur - named after the two German shutter makers, both owned by the Carl Zeiss Foundation) connector for flash. This will be X synch for electronic flash at this date.

At the left hand end of the top plate is a milled wheel protruding from the side of the top plate. This is for rewinding the film. It also acts as a visual check that the film is advancing correctly.

On the back of the top plate is a small round viewfinder eyepiece which has a milled surround - guaranteed to scratch modern plastic spectacle lenses. This milled surround can be rotated to adjust the eyepiece for spectacle wearers so there is no need to wear glasses when using this camera which obviates scratching the lenses. There is also an embossed ФЭД logo and the legend "MADE IN USSR" indicating that this camera was made for export.

Beneath the deep top plate, the camera is covered with a black plastic 'leatherette'.

On the front, below the ФЭД-4 logo, is the lens mount. As this camera derives from the Leica II, the lens mount is LTM or M39 (Leica Thread Mount which is 39 mm diameter and 1 mm pitch). Just inside the lens mount, at the top, can be seen the focusing cam. As the lens is focused towards infinity, the lens pushes this cam inwards which in turn moves the rangefinder image. Around the lens mount are four chrome screws which I assume hold the internal shutter crate in place. To the right of the lens mount (left, when looking at the camera rather than using it) is the self delay lever. This rotates through 180 degrees to wind up the mechanism - it is activated by pressing a small chrome button just below the top plate.

Lens mount with focus cam at top.
The base of the camera has a tripod boss just below the lens (1/4 inch UNC), next to which is the serial number. On many Soviet cameras, the first two digits of the serial number are the production year but not here. The number is 097010 - I do not yet know which year this is.

On either end of the base plate are a folding cam. These are lifted and turned half a turn to release the base and back in one piece to allow access to the inside of the camera. Inside the camera, the film cassette fits on the left. On the right is a removable take-up spool. These frequently get lost, unfortunately, and when buying a Soviet camera it is worth confirming that the take-up spool is included. The idea behind the removable spool is that it can be replaced with an empty Leica cassettes (not the modern Kodak cassette) removing the need to rewind the film. The take-up spool rotates 'backwards' and winds the film emulsion side outwards.
Loose spool having been removed

The lens supplied with the my camera is the Industar-61 which is a Carl Zeiss Tessar design.  The lens has a focal length of 53 mm and an aperture range from f/2.8 to f/16 with click stops (it would seem that many Industar-61 lenses go to f/22 but not this one). There were a number of optical factories making lenses in the Soviet Union with differing reputations. This lens was made in the Fed factory in 1989 - whether that is a good thing or not, I don't know but the lens certainly performs well enough.

Industar-61 lens

Industar-61 lens facia

My test film.

 the negatives are exposed well showing the light meter is OK. There are no light leaks and the shutter curtains are moving smoothly enough to give an even exposure.  The only camera fault is the level of flare in one (just one) frame - see below. I had a fault in that the viewfinder is always in focus and a couple of times I forgot to focus the camera. If I was using this camera all the time, that would become second nature. I am pleased to report that I did not fire off half a dozen shots with the lens cap on - which I did with my Fed-2. I did a rangefinder test by focusing on a steel fence. I focused on the first 'silver' finial which should have been in sharp focus but it is barely in focus at all.  See below.

The pictures:

The frame with lens flare
One I forgot to focus
Rangefinder test - the first finial should be in focus.
Steep Hill, Lincoln

Remains of a public tap, Lincoln

Steep Hill, Lincoln

The Strait, Lincoln

Broadgate, Lincoln and the cathedral.

My usual photo of the abandoned bicycle.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Kiev 4 (Киев 4)

My most recent acquisition is this Soviet Kiev 4. It is a straight copy of the Zeiss Ikon Contax III (with only very slight changes).

Kiev 4 - front view

At the end of WWII, the Soviet army had Zeiss Ikon rebuild their production line for the Contax and then, once the line was working properly, they shipped the production line to Kiev in Ukraine. They also renamed the camera Kiev. This camera is a Kiev 4 and is a copy of the Contax III - there was also a Kiev 4a which was a copy of the Contax II. The difference between the 4 and 4a is the presence of a light meter in the Kiev 4.

The Soviet Union produced cameras both for the home market and for export. Those intended for home consumption had their logos and indicators in Cyrillic while those for export used the Latin alphabet. My camera has the logo in both Cyrillic and Latin but other writing is all in Cyrillic, indicating that the camera was not intended for export (сделано в CCCP = Made in USSR ) 

The camera has a very Zeiss Ikon look about it and the body is broadly similar to the Pentacon F and Contaflex - both German derivatives of the Contax, the Pentacon F being East German and the Contaflex being West German (younger readers should consult their history books!).

The camera is heavy - 768g with the standard Jupiter 8 lens - and the controls reveal the camera's design date (1936). the film advance is a knob (usual in the 1930s, very old fashioned in 1969 when my camera was made) as is the film rewind. The viewfinder is very small, hard to use while wearing glasses and (because it is bare metal) likely to scratch modern plastic spectacle lenses. The last anochronistic item is the tripod boss which is 3/8 inch Whitworth. Standard for consumer cameras had been 1/4 inch for some tine (currently 1/4" UNC rather than 1/4" Whitworth but the two are close enough to be interchangeable).

The knob on the right hand end of the top plate has three functions

  1.  in the centre is the shutter release, threaded for a standard cable release.
  2. around the shutter release is a knurled ring to wind on the film and reset the shutter.
  3. The shutter speed selector - operated by lifting and turning the film advance ring.

The manual says that the shutter speed can be selected either before or advancing the the film but that it is better done after advancing then film.

Kiev 4 - top plate
Next to the right hand knob is a window showing the frame numbers. This is nice and large and shows 12 numbers with a red dot indicating the current frame. This counts up from zero and goes to 36. It is reset manually by a toothed wheel on the back edge of the top plate.

Being a rangefinder camera, there is no pentaprism hump but where you might expect to see one there is a light meter. This has a selenium sensor and so has no need for a battery. One drawback of selenium meters is that they can lose sensitivity with continued exposure to light. To prevent this from happening, there is a cover to the meter window on the front of the camera. thesis opened by pushing the cover slightly to the right when it will spring open.

On the top of the meter is the meter window. This has a central lozenge and -2 and -4 marks. The meter is used by turning the control knob on the left until the meter needle is centred on the central lozenge. The -2 and -4 marks are used in low light conditions - they are each one stop away from the central position. If there is insufficient light to get the meter needle to the lozenge, you line it up with the -2 or -4 and then multiply the indicated exposure by either one stop or two stops.

Also on the top of the meter is the accessory shoe. There are no electrical contacts here so this is a cold shoe. It was intended that this accessory shoe would hold an auxiliary viewfinder when longer focal length lenses were used. In the centre of the accessory shoe is the legend сделано в CCCP (made in USSR) and the serial number 6968008 which indicates that the camera was made in 1969 (the first two digits of the serial number being the year of manufacture).

Kiev 4 - accessory shoe
On the left end of the top plate is another multi-function knob. 

  1. The outer knurled ring adjusts the light meter.
  2. The inner ring which is adjusted by two studs to set the film speed.
  3. The centre is a pull up knob for rewinding the film.

The film speeds are indicated in гост which translates as GOST. This is basically the same as ASA (or ISO). The Gost scale is awkward as it does not have the usual ASA numbers. There is 65, 130, 250 and 500. Using 'western' film, ASA 100, 200 or 400 film requires guessing the position of the film speed selector. If this scale was in DIN, it would be 20 DIN (65 Gost), 23 DIN (125 Gost), 26 DIN (225 Gost), 29 DIN (500 Gost) which is probably the reason for the choices - the camera having been designed in Germany where DIN is usual.

The front of the camera is dominated (as always) by the lens mount. This is the Contax bayonet mount (not to be confused with the Contax/Yashica mount of SLR cameras). There are actually two bayonet mounts here. The 50mm Jupiter 8 lens fits into the mount and latches onto three lugs inside the mount. There is a second, larger, bayonet mount around the distance scale which is for longer focal length lenses.
Kiev 4 - lens mount

This lens mount is connected to the rangefinder and either rotates to focus the lens when the rangefinder wheel is turned (more later) or turns the rangefinder mechanism when the lens is turned. When the lens is focused on infinity it locks inlace. When locked, the lens cannot be focused. It can be unlocked in two ways.

  1. there is a small pointed stud near the upper left of the lens mount which can be moved away from the lens to unlock it.
  2. there is a lever by the rangefinder wheel which you depress as you turn the wheel.

On the right of the lens mount (right as in when using the camera) is a delay action lever. This rotates through just over 90 degrees to wind-up the action. It is activated by sliding a small button which is usually hidden beneath the lever. On the other side of the lens, just below the viewfinder window, is a PC socket for connecting a flash gun.

The rangefinder shares the same eyepiece as the viewfinder. To give as much accuracy as possible to the rangefinder , the two windows on the front are kept as far apart as possible (9 cm centre to centre). This is much further apart than on the Leica which was the main competitor when this camera was designed in 1936 and also than the FED and Zorki copies of the Leica.

Kiev 4 - rangefinder wheel
Just to the right of the light meter and slightly below it is the rangefinder wheel mentioned above. I find this very hard to use as when my index finger is on the wheel ready to turn it, my middle finger naturally falls over the rangefinder window, rendering it inoperable. For me, it is much easier to focus by turning the lens. The rangefinder spot is easy to see and is slightly yellow for maximum contrast. This yellowing is achieved by 'silvering' the internals of the rangefinder with gold.

For those who do not know, a rangefinder works by producing two different images in the viewfinder.
As you change focus, one of the images moves. To achieve accurate focus, you make sure your subject is in the centre of the viewfinder and turn the rangefinder wheel or lens until the two images are superimposed on each other. With practice, this is quick, easy and accurate.

Kiev 4 - rear view
To open the camera, it is necessary to remove the back and base as one unit. At home, working on a table, this is slightly easier than a hinged back. In the field, it is a nightmare. You need to find somewhere to put the back/base while manipulating the film. To make matters worse, the take-up spool is loose and liable to fall out.

The reason for the loose take-up spool is that it can be replaced with an empty cassette, removing the need to rewind the film when finished. This gives a faster reload time - good for studio work but not good elsewhere. I think, in general, this camera was designed with the studio in mind.

Kiev 4 - back/base removed
To release the back/base there are two folding lugs to turn half a turn. Inside the camera is as you would expect a 35 mm camera to be. Until, that is, you look at the shutter. Instead of the rubberised cloth usual until the 1980s, it consists of brass slats which move vertically and are held on cloth ribbons. this works the same as a cloth shutter as distinct from the modern metal shutters. Speeds provided are impressive - up to 1/1250 seconds and down to 1/2 second. The speed range is the modern one of 1/125, 1/250, 1/500 etc.

Kiev 4 - detail of brass shutter

The lens supplied is the Jupiter-8M. This is a Soviet copy of the Carl Zeiss Sonnar lens. This lens has six elements in three groups. How well it performs remains to be seen. Someone has attempted to dismantle my lens (never a good sign) evidenced by the aperture adjustment ring being out of kilter. Hopefully, that is as far as they got - none of the internal black paint is scratched which his a good sign. Ro-orienting the aperture ring was simply done.
Jupiter-8M lens - front bezel

The aperture has nine blades which gives a good shape to the aperture. What is curiose is that the aperture blades are curved (see photo) producing a clearly less than circular disc. I will try to produce some booked shots with my test film to see if this makes much difference. 

detail of lens showing curved aperture blades

The Jupiter 8 M is a 50 mm lens with a maximum aperture of f/2 and a minimum aperture of f/22 - quite a useable range. f/22 is about  the limit in 35 mm photography before diffraction softening starts to be a nuisance. The aperture ring has click stops but can still be set between these values  The finish on this lens is shiny chrome with a black lens bezel. - contrasting with the matt chrome on the camera body.

Test film is developed and here are the results. I am quite impressed. Soviet execution of German design is as good as it always is. There are no light leaks - always a bugbear of old cameras, neither in the seals around the base/back nor in the sutler blinds - an advantage, I would think, of using brass rather than cloth. Exposure is even indicating that the shutter blinds are both moving smoothly. There is no lens flare - although these test pictures were mostly taken in rather overcast conditions.

The rangefinder test (see below) shows both that the rangefinder is accurate at close distances and that the lens produces sharp images. The picture of the iron shutter shows the one draw back of a rangefinder camera (or any viewfinder camera, come to that). I had the shutter central in the viewfinder but it is distinctly off-set in the image - parallax problem. Some cameras adjust the viewfinder when focusing closer but not here.

The pictures:

Rangefinder test - focused on the nearest finial
Enlargement of the finial showing it to be in good focus.

Metal shutter showing parallax error in the viewfinder

Lincoln City Square

Witham looking west

Witham looking west

Old bicycle that I use as a test piece for all my old cameras

Indoor shot of Lincoln Central market - fairly slow shutter speed.

Fisherman as Easington, East Yorkshire

 (сделано в CCCP = Made in USSR ) ,