Sunday, May 26, 2013

How About Those Russian Leica Copy Cameras?


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Most of us have heard the stories of how the Russians copied high end German cameras. Some of this went on before World War II, starting in the 1930s. After the war, some factory equipment, specifically from Contax, was moved to Russia, where production began again, albeit under different (lower) quality control standards. I have a Zorki 1, which is a very respectable copy of a 1932 Leica II rangefinder. It was produced starting in 1948. Zorki reportedly means "sharp-sighted" in Russian.
(Click Here) to read about Zorki cameras.
Russian copies of Leica were usually named either Zorki or Fed, depending on the factory where they were built. My Zorki 1 is a really neat camera. While it does look like an old Barnack Leica, it has a decidedly louder "clunk" when the shutter releases. That said, the Russian lens on it really performs quite well. I haven't had the Zorki out in years; I guess I prefer to shoot the genuine Leica product, since I'm lucky enough to have access.
In any case, the blog Rangefiinder Chronicles recently featured a post on using a Fed2 at the horse races in England.
(Click Here) to see the full series of really impressive black and white images from the Fed.
Maybe I'll drag my old Zorki out for a future "Skeletons From The Closet" exercise. I would be worried about it continuing to work for a full month, but after 65 years, it can probably make it.
If you're intrigued by Russian cameras, I say go for it. They're pretty cheap, and do a nice job if they're well-preserved.