The FED 4 is the fist significant redesign of the FED rangefinder that takes it away from it’s Leica clone roots. The most obvious difference from the FED 3 is the large selenium powered lightmeter on the front, but there were many other improvements to a layout that hadn’t been touched since 1936.
Mine is from 1965 and is the second revision of the model, previous versions had the FED logo engraved on the bare metal of the front plate instead of the black and gold logo plate in the rangefinder fascia. Mechanically the versions are identical except for the lack of strap lugs on the newer models.
It’s in mostly good condition although the shutter curtain has a worn area that lets light through leading to an overexposed area when the shutter is cocked. The Industar 61 lens that came with it also has a rather stiff focus ring but I have no shortage of 50mm-ish m39 lenses of various types.
Other than the curtain issue that I will fix, the camera is in very good condition. The meter works accurately enough, the rangefinder focuses well and the mechanicals move cleanly without any play. The shutter is the same as the one from the FED 3 and has the same range of speeds from 1s up to 1/500th. The uncoupled meter is a match-needle type and doesn’t require a battery as it draws power from the selenium cell. Somewhat unusually, the rewind wheel is set into the side of the body rather than on the top which means that sometimes you catch it if you carry the camera in your pocket. The camera is solid feeling and compact in the hand with nicely sized controls. Shooting is much the same as for other manual rangefinders, it can be frustrating when focusing fast and accidentally unscrewing the lens instead but that’s a common issue with any screw mount lens that doesn’t have a locking mechanism. The shutter button is further back than on other cameras meaning that sometimes your finger is hunting around for it until you get used to the new position. The bottom and back of the camera come off for loading and unloading film like all later FEDs and the film counter needs to be set manually whenever film is loaded. It’s a competent rangefinder and its only real weakness is the quality of Soviet m39 glass. You can obviously put Leica lenses on it, but if you can afford Leica glass, you will definitely have a better rangefinder available to you.
If I can fix the problem with the shutter curtain, I think this might be my favourite rangefinder. The meter is better than the one in the FED 5 and previous FEDs as well as contemporary Zorkis don’t have one at all.