The Secret Police and the 35mm Camera
September 27, 2007 10:15 AM   Subscribe

In 1934, the FE Dzerzhinsky labor commune in Kharkiv began manufacturing a rangefinder camera that copied the German Leica. Though production has long ceased, FED rangefinders are still widely used and collected today. But the FED and its manufacturer have a tarnished history - some of which is due to a work force comprised of children and criminals, and some owed to its namesake: Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky, the founder of the Soviet secret police (NSFW).
posted by katillathehun (10 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Everything in the Soviet Union was built by criminals (zeka). Literally, everything: the Moscow subway, most of the great monuments, weapons, cars, roads, buildings.
posted by nasreddin at 10:32 AM on September 27, 2007

A work force comprised of criminals, particularly in civil engineering projects, is not exactly unheard of in the US.
posted by DU at 10:55 AM on September 27, 2007

It's nice to see the kids out there, getting involved.
posted by Curry at 11:06 AM on September 27, 2007

There's even a stereo version, with what looks like extra-wide interocular distance. (Is that thing 3 x 24mm = 72mm, as opposed to the normal 62mm?)
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:09 AM on September 27, 2007

Speaking of Leica, the New Yorker had a great article about their cameras last week. Highly recommended if you're into beautiful machines.
posted by longdaysjourney at 11:22 AM on September 27, 2007

Fed 5s are still available from the lomography folks, albeit with their massive markup.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 11:28 AM on September 27, 2007

I've had the Leica hots all week, since I read this paean in the New Yorker.
posted by bonaldi at 11:29 AM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

ach, shit. 1) read preview, 2) close tags.
posted by bonaldi at 11:30 AM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

Wow, great post. I have a FED 2, and had no idea that it had such a history.
posted by suedehead at 12:08 PM on September 27, 2007

Man, the photos in that last link are intense. Very sad.
posted by malaprohibita at 1:02 PM on September 27, 2007

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