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Leica IIIf review


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In my recent talk on Old Leicas for LHSA I chose the camera in the middle here, a IIf Red Dial with 1/000th top speed, as my favourite in this group. In truth, all of the cameras in this group are wonderful as indeed are all LTM cameras. Every Leica fan should have at least one Leitz 50mm Elmar as a reminder that Leica would not be around today if it were not for that lens. While none appears in this photo, I have no idea how many I have, but it is probably somewhere between 15 and 20. I have them in versions from the mid 1920s to the mid 1950s, in nickel and chrome, fixed and interchangeable, 11 O'Clock and 7 O'Clock, coated and uncoated and also with Red Scale.  All of them produce great results and it is one of the most consistent lenses ever produced under the Leitz/Leica name. Also using this lens collapsed with an LTM camera, particularly the smaller early ones up to the IIIb, realises Barnack's ambition for a small camera which can fit into old fashioned big pockets. Although they are bigger, the later ones, particularly the Red Dial models and the IIIg, have very quiet shutters, but the IIIG is verging on 'too big' for me. 

Cameras from the left are IIIc/IIIf BD with 5cm Summitar, IIf RD with 5cm Summicron, IIIf RD D/A with 35mm f2.8 Summaron and SBLOO.

A IIIf Red Dial with a 50 mm Elmar will give great photos and is very easy to use after the first roll or two.  As for what Mr Rockwell might say, he is largely correct in respect of the good points of the camera. As for the other points, they don't bother me as I already know this camera very well. 

William

 

 

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On 11/3/2020 at 2:35 PM, willeica said:

Here is a photo of Louis Klemantaski using Leica IIIs (probably fs) trackside to take remarkable motor sport photos. Anyone who does a search on his name will see the quality of the photos which he took with such equipment. I am afraid that the photographers of today are more pampered than their predecessors, but are not any better at capturing great images.

William

 

This validates my opinion. I believe that KEN ROCKWELL has never had an 3 F in his hands rather relies upon photos of the camera. He routinely opines about myriad cameras and equipment. I daresay that no amount of "contributions" to his account could possibly pay for what he claims to have used.

Edited by anthonym3
error in description
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10 minutes ago, anthonym3 said:

This validates my opinion. I believe that KEN ROCKWELL has never had an 3 F in his hands rather relies upon photos of the camera. He routinely opines about myriad cameras and equipment. I daresay that no amount of "contributions" to his account could possibly pay for what he claims to have used.

I hope I don't sound arrogant when I say that I don't need Ken Rockwell or anyone else to tell me what using a IIIf or any other LTM or indeed M Leica is like. I appreciate , though , that people who are not familiar with such cameras might find such articles useful.  I sometimes come across reviews of rare cameras which I have not used before and I read them to figure out the quirks of such cameras in case I might want to acquire one. I don't read reviews of digital cameras at all, unless I am actually contemplating purchase, which is rarely enough these days. The only camera websites I read regularly are this one and Macfilos where I occasionally write articles myself. 

William

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11 minutes ago, willeica said:

I hope I don't sound arrogant when I say that I don't need Ken Rockwell or anyone else to tell me what using a IIIf or any other LTM or indeed M Leica is like. I appreciate , though , that people who are not familiar with such cameras might find such articles useful.  I sometimes come across reviews of rare cameras which I have not used before and I read them to figure out the quirks of such cameras in case I might want to acquire one. I don't read reviews of digital cameras at all, unless I am actually contemplating purchase, which is rarely enough these days. The only camera websites I read regularly are this one and Macfilos where I occasionally write articles myself. 

William

It is not at all arrogant. I also appreciate valid reviews of equipment and having used several LEICA 3-F's and my 1955 model M-3 I found ROCKWELL's "review" specious. Also it is not possible to believe that he has owned or borrowed the very many cameras that he claims by virtue of his "reviews" to be qualified to critique. His "several knobs", etc. comment left me baffled. I am looking at my 3-F and I see a wind knob, rewind knob, two shutter speed dials and a shutter button. I suppose that one could stretch a bit and call this "several". Apparently if ROCKWELL had indeed used a 3-F the "several" knobs left him baffled.

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vor 1 Stunde schrieb anthonym3:

It is not at all arrogant. I also appreciate valid reviews of equipment and having used several LEICA 3-F's and my 1955 model M-3 I found ROCKWELL's "review" specious. Also it is not possible to believe that he has owned or borrowed the very many cameras that he claims by virtue of his "reviews" to be qualified to critique. His "several knobs", etc. comment left me baffled. I am looking at my 3-F and I see a wind knob, rewind knob, two shutter speed dials and a shutter button. I suppose that one could stretch a bit and call this "several". Apparently if ROCKWELL had indeed used a 3-F the "several" knobs left him baffled.

what about the filmcounter-dial and the diopter adjustment? and the a-r lever?

Edited by harryzet
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I enjoy reading Ken Rockwell. There hasn’t been anything much new to read on the front page recently for Leica readers but I might pick on a Leica topic or lens and read what he has to say, and the pictures are bright and clear. Enjoy reading his opinions and don’t get too upset if they are not what you believe. 

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24 minutes ago, harryzet said:

what about the filmcounter-dial and the diopter adjustment? and the a-r lever?

Part of the fun with old Leicas (and other makes) is using all of the knobs, dials and levers. These are the things I miss in digital cameras with their soulless and non tactile menus. 

William

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  • 1 month later...

I have a IIIf RD, CL, M4-P, and R3,7, and the one I have the most fun with is the IIIf.  Having a background in the workings of mechanical things I appreciate having all the "knobs and levers" to play with.  I haven't shot sports with it yet, but it's something I did way back in my younger days with fully mechanical cameras and fixed focal length lenses.  It can be confidently accomplished with a bit of practice and planning.

PF

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Am 7.1.2010 um 05:02 schrieb jbgeach:

I know many of us are not big Ken Rockwell fans, but if you appreciate the iiif, you will probably like this review.

 

http://kenrockwell.com/leica/screw-mount/iiif.htm

"The Early 1950s
Most of this review steps back to the 1950s, when this was the most extraordinary camera ever developed, and was the most impossibly expensive dream camera that everyone wanted.
Even at $3,500, the new LEICA IIIf was so popular that is was on backorder for the first couple of years. ... "

Sorry, am I reading this right?
A Leica IIIf was $ 3,500 in the 1950s ??
Or has the comma slipped?


http://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-wiki.de/images/4/40/Leitz-NY_Price_List_6-1953_total.pdf Edited by mnutzer
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I’m another fan of Ken, his website was a great resource when I was first researching Leica. I have an old iii and find his write up covers it well. I do however find it nearly impossible to use with spectacles so I’m using it with an external finder, 25mm lens that can be scale-focussed.

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Thank you for the link, interesting read.  [beerclink]

I am very fortunate to have obtained (as the second owner since new!) a vintage 1952 IIIf (red dial) and matching Summitar 50/2.0, both in near-pristine condition. As well as the original lens cap, several of the proper Summitar filters, and the barn-door Summitar hood.  They were owned by an elderly gentleman in Wichita Falls, TX since new, and that is a dry climate.  I had them both CLA'd by D.A.G. a few years ago, and they are now working beautifully.  I don't love shooting with the IIIf, since I have an M6 classic.  But I do love the look of the Summitar on my M6.  The quality of these old products is truly amazing.  A real testament to the quality of Leica.

Edited by Danner
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1 hour ago, wizard said:

Did he say he applied an inflation factor? If not, stating that a IIIf was 3500 US$ back then is grossly misleading.

This is a direct quote copied from his article. "The LEICA IIIf is an excellent sixty-year old camera. It sold for the equivalent of $3,500 in its day."

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I believe that ROCKWELL being humorous  and all, of that the thing that we probably can all agree upon is that there is no possible manner in which ROCKWELL can have even held the hundreds of cameras, lenses and other photo gear that he purports to have reviewed. Even allowing that his constant begging for "donations" has produced revenue it beggars belief that he could have the wherewithal to have purchased or borrowed the hundreds of items It is much more likely that he liberally "borrows" from legitimate reviews and recomposes to fit his. To sum it up KEN ROCKEWELL is a humorous affable fraud who has suckered thousands of people into the belief that he is a legitimate reviewer and worse has collected "donations" from  many of them.

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  • 1 month later...

Rockwell has some some good factual data.  The way he expresses his opinions are over top.  I use his Leica articles for references a lot and take his opinions with skepticism.  

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Just found this revived thread. Ken Rockwell was the best site for me when I started learning about different Leica M lens versions at a specific focal length. There is no better resource online than his tabulated lens version summaries with images IMO. His reviews are highly subjective, but judging from Leica gear I own, I often agree with the points he makes when reviewing the same item. Now some of his reviews appear a bit outdated, and the site is not updated much as it seems. But as I said, still a very valuable resource. 

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