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In the beginning, there was only Leica…


…and God (Oskar Barnack) saw that it was good, but it had no rangefinder, so in the second day He created the Leica II… It was more or less like that.

What? Leica? Barnack? Weren’t we talking about Zenits? Fear not, for everything will become clear… as Lynda Blair said in The Exorcist, in time.

Serious now. Why did I put the Leica here? Because the Leica is a not-so distant relative to the Zenit. Genealogically we could put it all like this: the Zenit comes from the Zorki, which comes from the FED, which in turn comes from the Leica II. In other words, the Zenit is the grandson of the FED, Leica’s Soviet evil twin.

At the beginning of the 1930s, the Leica II was the best, most portable, camera around, and its competitors were trying to catch up. In turn, the state-propelled Soviet camera industry was, blatantly ignoring all patents, trying to replicate that wonderful German camera. Half a dozen prototypes were around by the mid 1930s, and three unrelated industrial conglomerates went forth to preseries production, but ultimately only one of those factories went into mass production of a Leica clone before the war. The factory was a really special one: the Djerjinsky Commune. The camera itself, the FED, not so much.

Oh, yes, I didn’t put any link to my evilbay store in the article, so let me put it here, more or less blatantly.

Next issue: that not-so-much-camera: Leica’s evil twin… THE FED. Or Fedca, for friends.

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