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Converting the Russian FED Stereo Camera to Full Frame (Reprinted with permission of the author and the Journal of 3-D Imaging)

by Eddie Butt

When the Russians brought out the Fed Stereo camera I was very surprised and disappointed that they had not made it full frame. Not being full frame means that use cannot be made of the cheap color print processing which is available. They can be done by firms like Mr. Goss, but at a premium.

When I acquired one, my thoughts immediately turned to the possibility of turning it into full frame. The widening of the openings was quite straightforward with the judicious use of the file, but the spacing was another matter. I went to the trouble of making a bypass roller between the frames to take up the extra length of film and altered the gearing to suit and in theory that was that. What happened however was that the extra resistance created by the bends in the film and the increase in the gear ratio meant that the film had to move further for the same movement of the wind-on lever. This stripped the sprocket holes after moving the film only a short distance. Once this happens of course it means that film is wasted. A lot of work for nothing.

I put the camera aside and got on with other things until I had a conversation with Society member Tony Lewis. He said that he had widened his Fed to full frame after finding out that some processors would accept unevenly spaced films. Me explained that he wound on the three, took the picture, wound on the one and then held the lenses against his chest and fired the shutter. An added complication was that the shutter would not fire on auto when there was not enough light, so between each exposure the shutter control had to be moved to manual. The inevitable result was that it had not been returned to auto when the next picture was taken. Having learnt a bit about the camera from my previous experience I said I would look into the possibility of altering the wind to four each time automatically.

On examination it turned out that it could be done very easily, so I wrote out the instructions and I sent them to him (and have reproduced them below). In a short time he contacted me to say he had made the alteration and was very pleased with the result. The irony was that I had not actually done mine by then. I also gave the instructions to Society member Peter Hoole and when he reported a happy outcome I thought I had better alter mine. This I did and after modification I found that five frames were lost at the beginning instead of the four required so I did another little modification which I will explain later.

The end result is a full frame stereo camera with auto or manual exposure that can be bought for less than 1 50. The penalty is a reduced number of exposures per film. Whilst processors will print an unevenly exposed film it appears that when they cut the film up to return it, they sometimes cut through the middle of a frame (if Murphy has anything to do with it, it will be the best one which you would have liked to have reprinted). All the same, I think this is a small price to pay.

Modification Instruction

Firstly the top cover has to be removed.

1 Remove the rewind knob by holding something in the dog which engages the spool; unscrew anti-clockwise. This exposes a counter-sunk screw that has to be removed.

2 Remove the wind-on lever by unscrewing the large flat-headed screw on lop anti-clockwise. Remove the spring friction washer in the recess and the lugged washer that transmits the movement.

3 Unscrew the threaded ring round the spindle - anti-clockwise

4 In early models the ASA setting knob has to be removed and this is the most difficult part of the operation. The serrated part of the knob has to be held still whilst the very thin top piece has to be unscrewed anti-clockwise. Keep the ASA setting on a mid speed (say 200 ASA), the reason being that the stop at the extremes is very flimsy and could be destroyed if the retaining screw is undone with the stop taking the strain. If you have difficulty, the way out is to drill two small holes near the edge and make use of these to remove it These can be filled in with black wax when you have completed the job The owners of later models are very fortunate because they have to do nothing, as the cover just lifts over it.

5 The top can now be removed, taking care with the wire connected to the flash shoe which can be left or unsoldered

6. Take off the washer and remove the counter disc by prising of the circlip; a thin knife blade should give you a start. The stepped disk can now be lifted off and modified as indicated in the diagram. Before doing so mark it in some way so that you put it the right way round and the right way up. Try not to lift the ratchet gear with the spring in the middle as it is under tension against a stop. If it does bypass the stop you do the mod that I will describe later, you will have to pre-tension it a little before putting it back. If instead of filing the disk you just replaced it with a washer of smaller diameter and the same thickness, you will be able to wind on continuously. You will have to remember to wind on four turns each time. Although this would work it would be much better to take the extra trouble and make it automatic. After it has been modified you will find that it will wind on five frames before stopping at the start of each roll of film. After this it progresses normally. Four is necessary, but five just wastes one. If you want to prevent this it can be done by fixing a small piece of metal just under a millimeter wide, against the side of a stop on the underside of the ratchet gear. The gear just lifts off after unhooking the end of the spring from the pillar. When replacing, it has to be pretensioned so that it is under tension when up against the stop. Araldite or superglue could be used for fixing it.

7. Replace in reverse order and the job is done.


Stereoscopic Society JournalReprinted with permission from the Journal of 3-D Imaging, Winter 1999, number 143. The journal of 3D imaging is an excellent publication made possible by the Stereoscopic Society in Great Britain. To learn more about this Society and Publication please visit


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