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Leica M3 variations - 1


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Looking back to the thousands photos of my Fontenelle Collection I took with my favourite Leicaflex SL2/ Macro-Elmarit-R combination, I found a series devoted to variations noted on the various M3's I had. maybe it is a little candid, but I thought it could be of interest to some of you.

Here is a first series (I had to reduce sizes and to split in three parts to meet the Forum's restrictions), that does not follow any logical order.

- The three first images relate to the film speed reminder disc, displaying sensitivities going from 6/200 to 4/1300 ASA and 10/250 to 4/1300 DIN.

 

- The following two images show the two different lengths of the rewind lever, first longer, then shorter.

- And finally, the early triangular shape of the strap lugs against the later semi-circular.

 

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Thanks Pecole. I have an M3 DS in the 7xxxxx SN series with the max ISO of 200 and the long rewind lever and the 'elephant's ears'. There are other variations including the speeds on the shutter dial and the number of red dots on the top of rewind shaft and some others including some internal ones such as the glass pressure plate. I am sure you must have a catalogue of these and I look forward to other series.

 

William

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Why there are differences on the scales in the calculation of DIN to ASA?

I don't know. None of the three scales shown matches the actual relationship of modern ASA/DIN/ISO speed numbers, and none of them reflects the short period about 1960 when the ASA speeds of B&W film had been increased by the removal of a safety factor but the DIN calculation had not yet been adjusted to match.

 

The "/10" suffix to the DIN speed numbers was abandoned in a 1957 revision of the standard, so presumably the third picture is of a later camera than the first two. This is also the one with the least deviation from the modern scale (the only differences are that ISO 4 equates to 7° not 8° as shown, and that the preferred numbers are 640/29° and 1250/32° rather than 650 and 1300). Back in those days, however, the DIN and ASA speeds of B&W films were calculated on quite different sensitometric bases, so it's conceivable that the slight differences in the three dials reflect Leitz's changing view of how film speeds matched up in practice. 

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The asa scales were revised upwards in the early 60s or thereabouts to match the din standards of positioning the exposure on the characteristic curve.

So a formerley 64asa film (FP3) became 125asa, while the din rating stayed the same 22.

 

Gerry

 

Edit, thats what comes of not reading the whole thread before replying, see the more comprehensive explanation above!

Edited by gyoung
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I don't know. None of the three scales shown matches the actual relationship of modern ASA/DIN/ISO speed numbers, and none of them reflects the short period about 1960 when the ASA speeds of B&W film had been increased by the removal of a safety factor but the DIN calculation had not yet been adjusted to match.

 

The "/10" suffix to the DIN speed numbers was abandoned in a 1957 revision of the standard, so presumably the third picture is of a later camera than the first two. This is also the one with the least deviation from the modern scale (the only differences are that ISO 4 equates to 7° not 8° as shown, and that the preferred numbers are 640/29° and 1250/32° rather than 650 and 1300). Back in those days, however, the DIN and ASA speeds of B&W films were calculated on quite different sensitometric bases, so it's conceivable that the slight differences in the three dials reflect Leitz's changing view of how film speeds matched up in practice. 

 

Perfectly right. I was a film user in these times, and Leitz scales perfectly met - and changed to meet the practice and the commecially available films.

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Thank you for the information.

 

What about the very early M3 which had a 'step' on the front to the right of the VF? I have seen such only in pictures.

.

 

So did I. Needless to say that I spent all the time I was collecting to chase one of these "angled" marvels. By the way, the only "long chase" - there were several - in my collector career that succeeded, was that for the famous Leica 250 prototype nº 114052 made on special order for a Belgian events photographer. It had survived in its strictly original condition when I was lucky enough to discover - an buy it.

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  • 7 months later...

Looking back to the thousands photos of my Fontenelle Collection I took with my favourite Leicaflex SL2/ Macro-Elmarit-R combination, I found a series devoted to variations noted on the various M3's I had. maybe it is a little candid, but I thought it could be of interest to some of you.

...

- The following two images show the two different lengths of the rewind lever, first longer, then shorter.

...

 

 

 

 

Dear Pierre,

 

On the pictures bellow, normally the long rewind lever should be on the M3 with the four exposed screws securing the top-plate.

 

No ?

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Dear Pierre,

 

On the pictures bellow, normally the long rewind lever should be on the M3 with the four exposed screws securing the top-plate.

 

No ?

 

 My DS M3 SN 778657 has the longer rewind lever and the four screws. A later SS M3 which I have has the shorter rewind lever and does not have the four screws. The pictures above are a bit mystifying. Pierre may have an explanation, though. It may relate to when these two changes to the M3 were actually made by Leica.

 

William

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 My DS M3 SN 778657 has the longer rewind lever and the four screws. A later SS M3 which I have has the shorter rewind lever and does not have the four screws. The pictures above are a bit mystifying. Pierre may have an explanation, though. It may relate to when these two changes to the M3 were actually made by Leica.

 

William

 

My personal guess, remembering some very interesting talks with official repairers and dealers many year ago : do not try to explain strange variations by something else than the interchangeability of parts combined with maintenance/repair interventions.

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My personal guess, remembering some very interesting talks with official repairers and dealers many year ago : do not try to explain strange variations by something else than the interchangeability of parts combined with maintenance/repair interventions.

 

I agree. It is a point I often make here about vintage Leicas of various kinds, but others often seek 'logical' explanations.

 

William

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While on variants this is an early camera but I have never seen a dealer sticker actually on the pressure plate:

 

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Early-LEICA-M3-DS-Made-in-1955-2nd-Year-2nd-Batch-SUMMICRON-1-2-f-5cm-Lens-/361911184809?hash=item5443966da9:g:TW8AAOSwOgdYrcHL

 

 

http://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/ynoAAOSw2xRYcp5l/s-l500.jpg

Edited by chris_livsey
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More on the changed rewind lever length:

My 1955 DS M3 has the original long rewind lever and not the front top screws:

 

My 1960 SS M3 has the short rewind lever:

 

In between these dates, in 1957,  the M2 was introduced, which has a different shape to the top cover so that a shorter rewind lever was needed:

 

The short lever was needed for the M2, and I'd guess rather than keep two different levers in production they changed the M3 lever to fit both models. Since it is certain the M2 was in planning before its 1957 introduction, the change to the M3 lever could have been earlier, in preparation for the new M2 model.

Edited by TomB_tx
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Bawendi (25 Jahre Leica Historica) identified more than 50 various characteristics of early M3s (up to 1 000 000). Some of them are shown in the threads 1-3. Article is in German, with SNs and detailed fotos. Sample scan of one page is attached.

Full copy upon PM with email address. 

And if anyone has a copy of Viewfinder V3, No. 4 mentioned by allan i would appreciate sending me

thank you 

M3 variations sample.pdf

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More on the changed rewind lever length:

My 1955 DS M3 has the original long rewind lever and not the front top screws:

M3 1955.jpg

 

My 1960 SS M3 has the short rewind lever:

M3 1960.jpg

 

In between these dates, in 1957,  the M2 was introduced, which has a different shape to the top cover so that a shorter rewind lever was needed:

M2.jpg

 

The short lever was needed for the M2, and I'd guess rather than keep two different levers in production they changed the M3 lever to fit both models. Since it is certain the M2 was in planning before its 1957 introduction, the change to the M3 lever could have been earlier, in preparation for the new M2 model.

 

Thanks Tom. I wonder whether your 1955 M3 DS was above SN 785801 and has a frame lever? My 1955 M3 DS SN 778657 has the four screws, the longer rewind activator and no frame lever. Is it possible that the 4 screws had to go to facilitate the frame lever? Just a thought.

 

William

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Thanks Tom. I wonder whether your 1955 M3 DS was above SN 785801 and has a frame lever? My 1955 M3 DS SN 778657 has the four screws, the longer rewind activator and no frame lever. Is it possible that the 4 screws had to go to facilitate the frame lever? Just a thought.

 

William

Yes, the serial is over 802000 and it has the preview lever, so the 4 screws may have been only before the preview was offered. It may simply be that they decided the screws were not needed and phased out at that time.

I wonder if the 4 screws disappeared when the added the top screw to the bayonet flange?

I also realized that the M2 top cover design that did not leave room for the long M3 rewind lever was designed for the button rewind, which fit the cover design neatly. When they decided to change from button to lever, a shorter lever was necessary; so maybe the M3 changed along with the M2 button phase out..

Edited by TomB_tx
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