I’ve been using the Fed 3 for a few weeks now and have shot a few rolls of film in that time with some decent results. It was quite a challenge getting used to the small, dark viewfinder and because it’s a full manual focus camera, quite a few shots had soft or missed focus while I was getting used to it.
- Full mechanical internals with no electronics means these things still work well after 40+ years. No batteries.
- Less intimidating than a big black DSLR for street shooting.
- Draws interest from other photographers while out in the street who are curious about what I’m shooting with.
- It’s a Rangefinder!
- Very cheap – I got this camera for $40, fully serviced from Ebay.
- Fun! Shooting with an old manual film camera seems to relax me so I stop worrying about pixel peeping and just get lost in the zone of shooting.
- It really forces me to learn the exposure triangle. I use a Light Meter app on my iPhone to get me in the right exposure ballpark then I tweak the settings as light conditions change from there.
- This thing is a brick! It’s heavy, very heavy.
- No carry strap lugs so you have to hold it.
- Very dark and small viewfinder. It is quite a challenge to align the prism when focusing in certain light conditions.
- The viewfinder has a thick metal border that sticks out from the camera body. I wear glasses so consequently my lenses have been scratched to shit from this protruding metal ring
- 35mm black and white film processing costs are crazy expensive! I will have to learn how to develop my own film if I want to shoot any more black and white, that’s for sure.
- Fastest shutter is 1/500s. Combine that with standard ISO400 film and it can be quite tricky not blowing out the exposure in bright conditions.
- All metal body. At first I just packed this camera loose in my backpack with a Canon 5D. It turns out that a heavy metal body wreaks havoc on the plastic body of a DSLR so now I have some deep scratches on one edge of the 5D. Doh!
All in all, this is a fun and cheap option for people who may want to try something different and get a taste of old world Leica shooting without the $1500+ price tag.
I’m still searching for a solid street photography option (Contax G2 is on my radar) but I certainly enjoy the challenge of shooting with the Fed 3 and as you can see by the photos, this 40 year old camera still has what it takes.