Since I got my Olympus PEN EE-2, I’ve been seeking out a more focusable Half frame camera. As well as the obvious EES-2, one camera caught my attention from the Old USSR, the ФЭД Микро or in English the FED Mikron/micron sometime dubbed the Soviet PEN.
So when I finally got a working one I headed out with a roll of trusty Kodak BW400CN.
In fact the Olympus PEN comparison is somewhat unfair as it’s inspiration was actually the much rarer Konica EYE (interestingly you might recall my review of the FED Mikron 2, a full frame rangefinder, which is also modelled on a Konica).
FED had a knack of making fairly high quality cameras with good optics and the Mikron is no exception to it’s full frame siblings. It is very sleekly styled and feels well built. It looks similar to many Japanese compacts of the era. The top plate is flat except for the shutter button, rewind knob and neatly recessed winding lever and film compartment release. To maintain the smooth lines there is no flash shoe point so if you want to use flash you’ll need a bracket and rely on the PC sync socket. Although well made worth noting it took me 4 auctions to get a working one (the first UK one which I got for a song couldn’t be found, 2 imported from Ukraine didn’t work – luckily got refunds for all).
FED Mikron Specs
- Lens: Helios-89 30mm 1:1.9
- Focus Range: 1m to ∞
- Focus: 4 zones
- Aperture : f/1.9-16
- Shutter: 1/30-1/800 sec + B
- Metering: Selenium
- Film Speed: 16-250GOST
- EV (100ISO) : 7-18
- Flash sync: 1/30
- Filter Thread: 46mm
The traditionally styled lens barrel has a Cyclops selenium meter array with the expected dials for focus and moving from automatic (A) to flash aperture settings. It also unlike the Olympus PEN EE series cameras includes a Bulb mode. Film speed like the FED 50 is set by a dial to rear of the camera. The range is displayed in the old GOST speeds. This is a linear speed is ~0.8 of ASA ratings so 80 GOST = 100 ASA. The upper speed id 250 GOST (~320-330 ASA). Metering seems more accurate the later FED 50.
The viewfinder is a joy with lot of information. On the left side you’ll see 4 focus zone with a needle display and on the right shutter speed. If light is too low a red flag pops in although like the FED 50 this doesn’t always work. Like most half frame compacts, you hold the camera naturally for portrait rather than landscape framing. Although the camera is zone focus you can set between the zones and like most cameras of the era you can use the flash setting to shoot a quasi manual mode with the flash speed of 1/30
Shot wise it was impressive. The coated Helios-89 30mm lens is fast with a f/1.9 maximium aperture and sharp & contrasty. I’m yet to shoot colour film so can’t talk about chromatic issues but I was impressed. With a top speed of 1/800 this is a EV18 shooter at 100 ASA. I ran a 24 exp roll through it of recently expired Kodak BW400CN and all of the shots were useable bar one where had left cap on.
There is cable treading and a standard tripod mount but no timer. In B mode the lens opens up fully. FED made several minor variations during the 19 year production run of over 100,000 cameras.
Not that common a sight in the UK (although to be fare mines was from a UK seller as was a failed purchase). You may need to import from the FSU which adds costs and may present issues if not working (that said I did get no quibble refund for my original costs – although with one I did have to pay to send back) so a UK seller is better but very rare. They are selenium metered so check that is working and you’ll probably need to re light seal it. My 2 munted ones had (1) a non opening shutter and (2) problem with red flag an metering (I suspect repairable).
Gorgeous little shooter when you get a working one.
Why Buy ?
- Sharp lens
- Fast Lens
- Half frame
- Takes standard filter
Why not ?
- Upper speed 250 GOST (320 ASA)
What I Paid
- Paid £29.99 with free postage for camera only on eBay
- FED Mikron manual in Russian at Mike Butkus’s site
- FED Mikron Series at camera-wiki.org
- FED Mikron at sovietcams.com