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Helios lens

Camera FED-35 review

Today we will consider a rather rare and very interesting Soviet camera FED-35.

In general, for collectors, the rarer the item, the more interesting it is. But this device also attracts me personally with its functionality.

FED-35 is a relatively "modern" camera. Concerning the Soviet photo-history. 1985 year.

In general, the Kharkov FED plant is, perhaps, the flagship of the domestic photo industry in terms of rangefinder cameras with electronics on board.

For example, after experiments with automatic Zorkiy-10, -11, -12 in the mid-60s-70s, KMZ did not return to the topic of equipping rangefinder cameras with exposure metering (the 11th and 12th models are also scales).

With exposure meters, there were only SLR cameras of the enterprise.

LOMO had ambitious and interesting Sokol-Avtomat, Sokol-2 and Elektra-112 with very advanced metering systems, but these devices were not very popular. Few have them in the end.

BelOMO with its line of Vilia-Auto, Silhouette-Electro, Orion-EE, on the contrary, went to the masses, but all these devices are scales!

The FED brand, on the other hand, has just a considerable fleet of rangefinders with varying degrees of automation.

Let's go briefly.

It all started with the FED-4 camera (1964 - 1980) - a mechanical device with a built-in non-coupled selenium exposure meter. Then the 4th was replaced by the 5th model.

Almost simultaneously with the FED-4, the more advanced FED-10 line was launched and then the FED-11 (Atlas) (1964-1970). These cameras are also mechanical, but had an associated selenium exposure meter and semi-automatic exposure control.

Further, in 1978, FED-Mikron-2 came out with automatic mode. The first FED-Mikron was a scale, we do not take it into account here.

And finally, in 1985, the FED-35 appeared.

Actually, the 35th FED is an improved version of the FED-Mikron-2. Micron, at the same time, was a replica of a foreign device.

Whether the improvements that formed the basis of the 35th were also peeped from someone, I don’t know. There is no mention of this, but I think by 1985 everything was quite obvious from the point of view. necessary technologies.

Nevertheless, in 1985 the technical level of the FED-35 for the Soviet photo industry was very high. The device looked great and pleased almost everyone.

What improvements did I mention about the FED-Mikron-2 and why was the FED-35 so good?

Let me remind you that the FED-Mikron-2 had an automatic exposure control mode based on a cadmium sulfide photoresistor. In this mode, the automation switched fixed exposure pairs, in which it was impossible to change combinations of shutter speed and aperture.

In manual mode, the FED-Mikron-2 could use any aperture, but the shutter speed was always 1/30.

In mode B, the aperture was always 1 / 2.8.

In total, the device had an automatic mode that was really convenient for the simplest scenes, but the manual mode was purely nominal. In fact, it was a flash mode.

FED-35 received a full-fledged manual mode. Shutter speed and aperture became possible to change arbitrarily and independently of each other.

This is probably not the most important thing, but this one thing is very good. At least the fact that the device has acquired the ability to fully work without batteries.

But the most interesting thing is that in addition to the automatic and manual modes, there was also a semi-automatic one. Those. the most convenient and versatile mode. The photographer himself, as he wants, changes the shutter speed and aperture, and the automation only shows him whether it turns out an excess / lack of light or a norm.

More on all of this below.

FED-35 was produced for a short time and not in a very large circulation, so there is no need to talk about a wide variety of the model range.

It is known that earlier models did not have wavy protrusions on the focus ring like the model in the review, but triple pins on both sides. They are not good, but you can see them in the photo from the book "1200 Cameras from the USSR".

In addition, just such a model - with pins - is shown in the instructions at the end of the review.

Literally 1.5 - 2 years after the launch - in 1986, the FED-35 was turned off. Here's the question - why? The device is not without flaws, but quite successful.

Perhaps the reason is the rather high price. The Wiki lists the price of the FED-35 at 150 rubles. Zenit-11 with Helios-44M-4 then cost 140 rubles.

Nuuuuu ... I don’t know, there doesn’t seem to be much distortion. Cameras from different classes, but worth each other.

Perhaps the devices were unreliable - here I have no information. Perhaps the company itself could not cope. All this is just guesswork.

Since 1987, the 35th model has been replaced by the FED-35A. This device differs only in the absence of a semi-automatic mode. Still good, but no raisin already. Photo from

Also in 1987, an even more simplified version of the FED-50 was released. This is a scale lens with selenium automatic exposure control. Not bad, by the way, I have his review. However, it's all a regression.

From a very rare exotic, I will give a picture from the book “1200 cameras from the USSR”. This is a fully mechanical version of the FED-50 with the index "50C". But, apparently, in the mid-80s, such a radical simplification no longer made much sense, and the device did not go beyond the prototype.

Now FED-35 is relatively rare. Correct - even less often. The FED-35A variant can be seen in ads more often, but there are not very many offers either.

The numbering of the devices is unusual for the 80s. There is no explicit year designation in the number.

Today in the review is a completely serviceable copy in very good condition with the number 601151. We will consider it.

Camera FED-35

FED-35 was produced from 1985 to 1986 at the Kharkov machine-building plant "FED". In total, 6,868 copies of these devices were produced. Very little.

FED-35A was produced a little longer - from 1987 to 1990 and had a circulation of 24.6 thousand copies.

Lens - non-removable Industar-81 2.8 / 38. 4 elements in 3 groups. The manual aperture limit is f16.

The shutter and also the diaphragm are the central interlens.

The device has several exposure control modes:

1. Automatic. The exposure pairs are repulsed steplessly from 1/60 + f2.8 to 1/300 + f20 depending on the illumination of the scene.

Combinations of shutter speeds and apertures in automatic mode are fixed and cannot be changed.

2. Semi-automatic. The user can arbitrarily change shutter speeds from 1/125 to 1/4 and, independently of them, apertures from f2.8 to f16. Automation prompts the sufficiency of the exposure, but does not interfere.

Please note that the range of available shutter speeds and apertures for automatic and semi-automatic modes is different.

3. Manual mode. Similar to semi-automatic, but automatic is not used. For example, if there is no battery. In this mode, shutter speed B is available.

The device does not have a self-timer, but is equipped with a bracket for flashes. Synchronization is only central.

The weight of my copy is 380 grams.


FED-35 is a small, tightly packed, weighty device. Lies well in the hands.

The black top and bottom are painted metal. Even the trigger. In the middle is a textured pasting.

In front of the lens and on top of the unit are windows for the viewfinder, rangefinder and light receiver to form luminous frames.

By the way, the lens is quite fast (f2.8) and wide-angle (38 mm). With these parameters, Industar-81 is similar to Mir-1 2.8 / 37. A wide-angle lens on a camera of this class is convenient.

The base of the rangefinder is small - only about 23 mm. Not enough, of course.

On the front section of the lens there is a film speed selector and a light detector of the photoresistor.

The entire side surface of the lens is covered with three rings. In order of distance from the device, these are focus, aperture and shutter speed + modes.

On the back is a viewfinder window and a battery life control button.

The viewfinder is quite saturated with service information.

In addition to cropping frames with parallax compensation, small circles appear on the left in it with the letters "A", "B" or "P" - depending on the mode being turned on - automatic, with a shutter speed of a manual or semi-automatic.

Really convenient for the Soviet apparatus - impressive.

On the right is a scale on which, depending on the selected mode, the arrow can move.

The upper part of the scale is for the battery control procedure. To check the battery, you need to set the aperture to f2.8, and the shutter speed to 1/4, then press the control button.

The pointer must be within the vertical bar at the top of the scale. If it's lower, the battery is dead.

In automatic mode, the arrow is not shown. The device only needs to be pointed at the stage and the shutter is pressed. If there is too little light, the button will be blocked.

The machine is turned on by moving the shutter speed ring to the “A” position, and the aperture ring to f2.8. This position is additionally marked with a red dot.

An “A” marker will appear in the viewfinder.

Automatics do not warn about slow shutter speeds, but the longest shutter speed available for automatics is 1/60. Not critical for a 37mm lens.

The most interesting thing is, of course, the semi-automatic mode. To enable it, you need to set any shutter speed, except for "A" and "B". You can also set any chart.

A "P" marker will appear in the viewfinder.

When the rings are shifted, an arrow will move along the right scale in the viewfinder. A half-press trigger is not required.

There are two dots in the middle of the scale. For optimal exposure, the arrow should be between them. If the arrow is lower, there is little light. Above is a lot. Focusing on the position of the arrow, you should change the shutter speed or aperture, depending on the preferences for this scene.

Completely full-fledged semi-automatic mode. Very comfortably.

If the shutter speed is set to "B", the shutter will remain open for as long as the shutter is pressed. The "B" marker in the viewfinder is displayed. Any aperture is available.

But the so-called "non-automatic mode", although its presence is a separate feature of the device, is not an independent mode.

We either ignore the recommendations of the arrow in semi-automatic mode, or the device is simply without batteries. In any case, you can set any shutter speed and aperture. There is no special indication for this mode in the viewfinder.

I will briefly summarize.

From the poles - FED-35 has the most advanced exposure control system of all Soviet rangefinders known to me:

- automatic + semi-automatic
- no hard dependency on batteries.
- all modes switch at any time from any to any and regardless of whether the shutter is cocked or released. No dancing with tambourines around rules and restrictions. There is no risk of breaking the device by switching something at the wrong time.

Of the minuses - a meager range of extracts. In automatic mode, 1/300 - the shortest - is rather weak. In a semi-automatic - only 1/125 !!! It's about nothing at all. Especially with a fairly fast lens.

Another disadvantage is the inconvenient location of the rings on the lens. The rings are narrow, planted tightly, without gaps. Their order is atypical for most devices.

Focusing and apertures (located nearby) move without fixation. When focusing, the aperture constantly goes astray from the red dot, and in automatic mode this a) is not noticeable in the viewfinder and b) distorts the metering.

To somehow compensate for this inconvenience, the rings are equipped with leashes of different shapes, which, in theory, should be comfortable to distinguish by touch.

The focus has two wavy leashes on the sides. The diaphragm has one small one below. The excerpts have several indentations on the sides.

All this looks very nice, but in practice it does not really help.

The rangefinder spot in the viewfinder is not as large as it is drawn in the instructions. The size is quite standard. The double image is not very clear and the run-up for doubling is very small. Actually, the focus ring stroke is only 80 degrees. In my opinion, this reduces the quality of focusing.

There is no depth of field scale on the lens.

Below the device are:
- battery compartment;
- 1/4" tripod socket
- a button to turn off the shutter during rewind in a special recess.

FED-35 is powered by one RC-53 battery.

On the top panel from left to right:
- rewind tape;
- bracket for flash with a "hot" sync contact;
- release button;
- shutter cocking and frame advance lever;
- a small frame counter window.

The shutter button is relatively tight. She could use a wider butt.

The lever has two positions "combat" and "ready".

Roulette is also responsible for unlocking the rear wall lock. To open the device, you need to pull the roulette head up. The back wall will lean back on hinges to the right.

attitude towards the camera.

At the very beginning of my website / blog, I chose the most advanced Soviet camera. This title went, of course, to the SLR.

But if we talk about the most technically advanced rangefinder, then it will be FED-35. I do not know of a more functional device.

Yes, the camera is not without flaws. Only now, in the mid-80s, the FED-35 looked very, very fresh and modern.

That's all for me.

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