I’ve always wanted to get a Former Soviet Union Rangefinder (FSU RF) ever since I started street photography, as I really wanted to know what all the hype of Rangefinders was all about. Since I cant afford a Leica, I thought an FSU RF was the next best thing. Luckily, I received a Twitter message from a friend Michelle, asking if anyone wanted to take part in an event collaboration between Darkroom Army and Peek. I immediately jumped on the opportunity and said “Yes!”. Long story short, I now find myself holding an awesome Fed 5B. More on the event later, but for now, some first impressions of the camera itself.
The first time I took it out of the box, I was like “holy crap this thing is a BEAST!” It feels like a tank, which is really nice and reassuring that if I drop it, the pavement will crack. Some product specs for the nerds out there:
- Produced from 1975 – 1996 in Ukraine
- Uses your normal 135mm film (thanks woosang for the clarification on the proper geek term)
- Comes with the Industar-61L/D – 53mm f2.8 lens
- Has shutter speeds from 1s – 1/500s and B mode
- All manual, meaning it doesnt need batteries!
Apart from the nerdy specifications, for those unfamiliar with rangefinders, its different from your ordinary Lomo scale focusing or SLR focusing using a split prism. Wont go into the technical stuff (which I admit I dont even understand), but basically you look through the viewfinder, and you will see a rangefinder patch (either circular like in the Fed 5B, or rectangular like in a Leica). What you have to do is focus the lens, till the image in the RF patch aligns with the image in your VF. One thing to note for those with glasses, the VF tends to scratch your eyeglasses, so don’t put the camera to close to your face!
The top plate is really clean, with a dial on the left for ISO (its just for your own reminder, doesnt do anything since it has no meter), the rewind crank, flash hot shoe, shutter speed dial, film advance crank and film counter. Set aperture on lens, set shutter speed, and you’re good to go!
Loading it is pretty easy too. Twist the knobs at the bottom and the back plate and bottom plate slides out. Load the film as per usual and slide it back on. Easy peasy. It even has a tripod mount for those long exposures.
I’ve had it for about 3 days now, and shooting with a Fed 5B has been a real blast. Already burned through 1 roll of film (for those who know me, I’m usually a conservative shooter) cos its just been so much fun!
More on the event in a later post, but that’s it for my first impressions.
Oh and one more very important tip: DON’T FORGET TO COCK THE SHUTTER BEFORE CHANGING THE SHUTTER SPEEDS! (yes this deserves a caps lock because its very very important or you might break your Fed 5B)