Look at this. Just LOOK AT THIS. No? Nothing special? Look twice. It might look like a Leica II with a Leitz Summar but it is not. This, boys and girls, is a FED S with a 5cm f2 “FED Summar” collapsible lens attached.
Why is it special, you say? Well, first of all, less than 2000 (yes, two-thousand) samples of this camera were ever made, and not all of them were supplied with the “FED Summar” lens. Add to this that this was produced in 1940, before WWII spread to the Soviet Union, so we can assume that at least some of them were lost during the war; plus, it’s 75 years since it was made… in short: it is a very exclusive item.
Oh, I forgot to tell you that, in the most stupid counterfeiting attempt in history, some Soviet counterfeiters used many of these to make fake Leicas by erasing the original engravings and carving new ones, more or less crudely. This is stupid for two reasons: first of all, because any connoisseur can tell, hands in his back and blindfolded, a Leica from a russkie. Second, and most important, the FED S alone, without the FED “Summar”, can fetch up to seven times the sum that a Leica II with a Summar would.
I can understand why it’s cheaper than the wonderful TSVVS, another very exclusive Soviet camera with similar production figures: when you look at it, it’s quite unassuming. It looks very much like a plain jane FED, well, like a cool plane jane FED, at most, cause of the cool Russian engravings and all. The only thing Vanilla Joe would notice here is the 1/1000 speed, but this doesn’t make it that special, right? Here’s a piece of advice from Baron I to you: when you see a pre war FED, form the habit of looking if it has the 1/1000 speed because you might be looking at something far more special than you thought. It worked for me.
The camera itself is special: it is the last camera produced by the original FED Commune factory crew, meaning that it was made by the most experienced crew that ever assembled a camera in the USSR before the war and, believe me, this really means something. We could set an analogy between this badge of cameras to the very last serial numbers of the single-stroke M3 when compared to earlier assembled samples: the war orphans that built the very first FEDs were now grownups, skilled and experienced camera makers whose workmanship on the would never be beaten in the USSR.
Now the lens. Oh, boy. OH BOY. This is really special: the only collapsible commie lens wider than 3.5. It is even more compact than an actual Summar because the base of the lens mount is narrower, which lets more of the barrel go into the body when receded. But what really got me in love with this lens was its distinctive look. Not even its bokeh, but its look. It has the glow, it has the 3d effect. It is classic and classy: I wouldn’t mistake it for a modern lens ever. I mean, I positively know (because I have empirically tested it in my lab) that in a Sony ILCE-7 it won’t resolve half as well as my Sony kit lens. Again, we classic lens lovers are not in this because classic lenses resolve better than modern lenses. We are in this for the classic look. And chrome and Valhalla.
We are not done here. Your guess is right: it’s for sale. Die with a FED on your hand and you will go to Valhalla, eternally shiny and chrome.