Leica M3

I know!!!! I got to use a Leica M3!!! I was slightly excited. What better camera to talk about for the 200th camera post.

Someone I know has a few Leicas and let me choose one to play with on a short walk. He even provided the film.

I only had my phone with me to take the camera shots, it doesn’t matter, it always looks good. This version was a one-stroke version which he has had CLA’d. Using the focusing mechanism was as smooth as a knife through butter. The viewfinder was the brightest one I have ever seen. The second image was really clear. I have serious camera envy. I almost feel like selling all my cameras and getting just this one. In return for me using this camera I gave him my Leica III with the Canon 1.4 lens to use.

When I pressed the shutter I asked if that was it, did it work? It was so quiet I was unsure if I had pressed the shutter hard enough. I agree with all the good things that Mr. Rockwell said in his review. This website also talks about the bright viewfinder. Seriously, it made using my Leica like looking into a cave with only a candle while wearing sunglasses. If you need any more details, here is the ultimate M3 review, honestly that is the title. Though I want one desperately now, I am not going to do what Hamish did and buy one while tipsy. I have a habit of doing things like that.

The walk our group did was far too short. I think we all finished one film. I used a Fuji Acros 100. Here are my test shots, with permission from the parents to post the children’s photos.

I love this camera. I love the smoothness of the lens movement, shutter movement, and winder movement. Now, how do I get one for myself? Wait, what about the photos from my Leica that my friend used.

Hey, not bad at all…maybe I just need to stop playing with cameras, get the Leica CLA’d and use that more often.

As for the M3, keep or sell: I had to give it back ­čśŽ

BUT 200th camera reviewed!!!!!

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Leica III with Canon Rangefinder 50mm f/1.4 Lens M39

I don’t usually post a camera twice unless I am testing a new film. BUT I decided to invest in a new lens for my Leica as I was unimpressed by the Summar. That lens seems to have a very light layer of haze. Though it is so even I am still only sure it is there due to the photos. I looked around and I could not afford a clearer Summar, not even close, so I plumped for this one. The┬áCanon Rangefinder 50mm with a large f/1.4 aperture.

I loaded a film as soon as it arrived. Unfortunately, there is a typhoon on the way so it rained for days. Eventually, I thought sod it and took it out for a trial anyway.

The rain and the dark days meant I could only try it at apertures between f1.4 – f.2.8

I wasn’t expecting much as I had put in a 100asa film. I was pleasantly surprised.

The film and lens had managed to capture most things pretty sharply, with a good depth of field.

The exposure was also good, well-done smartphone light meter. The only issue I found was the cut-off point at the top. The camera seems to need me to aim above where I really intend to crop. This can be especially seen on the statue photos. I put the cherubs much closer to the centre.

I can’t wait to use the camera and lens on a brighter day.

Leica III Barnack

After spending years wishing for a Leica, any Leica, I happened upon an advert for a Leica III that caught my eye. Now, to be honest, I really wanted an M3 with the attached light meter as in King Kong Skull Island fame, but that was way out of my price range. I was almost as enthralled by the camera as I was by Kong himself. I have even bought a couple of Russian Leica copies, including the Zorki 1┬áto quell my desire, but still, I wanted one. If I actually was ever to own a Leica, it would have to be a thread mount like the Zorki, not an M series due to the price difference. And there was the advert, saying they had a Leica III in great condition with a lens, just serviced and with a 20% discount. The camera the Zorki 1 was based upon. I still thought about it for a couple of days. I looked at other listings and their prices, it just seem too good to be true. Finally, my sister said, “oh just do it!”

So I did.

So looking at this website and given the serial number on mine is 140686, it was made in 1934. That means it was made 10 years after the series was first produced, a very early model with only 1500 being made. There is so much history and information about this camera on the net and in books, I am not going to go into any of that now.

As soon as mine arrived I put a film in it and went to Tokyo, taking photos along the way until I reached a one-hour developing shop. I already knew how to use the camera due to my experience with the Zorki 1, they really are very similar. The feel, the action, the sound. I shot and then I waited. It was a dull, cloudy day.

When I got the contact sheet back I was a little underwhelmed. I had paid for a cd so I went to one of the shop machines and printed a couple of the shots. They seemed ok, but not what my heart was expecting.

So the next day I loaded a Rollei RX 25, the right speed for the camera’s era, and went for a walk around where I lived. Then developed the film at home as soon as I got back.

There are three similar shots that I tried at different speeds and apertures, none made a difference, still too dark. Again I was a bit disappointed, but I wasn’t sure why.

Maybe it was the lens, maybe it was my expectations, but I thought I would try a newly arrived Jupiter lens on the Leica body and see if that changed my feeling towards the camera.

So this time I tried JCH street pan with the Jupiter lens and Leica body.

 

I took it to my workplace, taking pains to avoid faces when taking shots. I wanted to see it capture moving people. This was really the first camera portable enough to capture life and people living it, moving in it. Then I walked to another camera shop, forgetting I had used a black and white film…so then I walked home and developed it in D-76.

Ok, so the Jupiter lens has a different quality to it…but still the feeling persisted. And finally, two books I had ordered at the same time as the camera arrived.

IMG_7533

I had been looking at this camera all wrong. I was comparing it to my other cameras. It is nothing like them. This camera is a piece of history, a trailblazer and the machine that started an industry. It is the Model T of cameras. Of course, cars would have come along without the Model T and cameras would have eventually become more portable without the Barnack. But this was it, this was the camera series that started it all……and it is still working. It is still working so well that I compared it to cameras 80+ years younger which I have not done with the other very old cameras I have tried.

The Leica III was much easier to use than the folding cameras and the results were far better. Even though I might not use this camera much, I will never sell it. I have yearned for a Leica from the moment saved up my pocket money and I bought a Zenit 11. I think I just need a little more time to appreciate what I have and what this camera has seen. AND it is an investment that will only appreciate over time.

UPDATE: I tried the summar lens with a UV filter to try to reduce the haze. Here are the results.

It didn’t really help. Though I do like the photos. I looked at the lens and it seems really clear, so I am not sure why the haze persists. Maybe I am over exposing the negatives.

Update 2
I recently cleaned a couple of lenses, with my confidence boosted I decided to take off the front element of the Leica lens and attempt to clean the haze. In the end, it was just one tiny, tiny screw. It was more awkward than difficult. Once I got it all back together I retried the lens on this camera. Unfortunately, I had a little difficulty developing the film. It got stuck on the reel and I had to load it a couple of times. Even so here are a few shots from the cleaned lens.

Well despite the issues with development, I think the haze has improved. I think I still prefer the Canon lens though.

 

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