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Best way to use a Leica iii


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Hey guys! 

 

Currently new to the whole Leica barnack scene and was wondering if you could give me helpful tips that could aid in my journey. I recently inherited a Leica III + Elmart 50mm 1:3.5 and have started using it. I do have a general understanding but was hoping you guys could provide some valuable insight as to the best way to use this gem. 

 

Thank you! 

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This document.

http://www.cameramanuals.org/leica_pdf/leica_iiic.pdf

Read, understand and memorize first.

 

From my experience best way to use it is at apertures 5.6-8 or even smaller, f11. I recommend bw ISO400 film and ... darkroom paper

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When you open the bottom plate there is a diagram for cutting the leader of the film. You must cut according to that diagram or you'll destroy the shutter curtain.

 

Other than that, it's a camera, an old camera. Shutter may not be accurate, but the only way to know is to shoot and shoot a lot.

 

The more you shoot the more the inner workings will come unstuck. The better the camera will perform. Also your knowledge of its particular idiosyncrasies will grow.

 

Yes, read the manual first, but more important, shoot, shoot, shoot.

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Perhaps it differs with the Leica III, but with my 1931 Leica II, I need not cut the film according to the diagram. I simply cut the leader to make it look more or less like other pre-cut manufactured film. It's very easy to do with a small pair of scissors (like on a Swiss army knife or such). No need for any ABLON template etc.

 

Then I load it according to this instruction video I made (queue purists calling horror, horror at the use of a card).

 

 

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The card thing can work but you do risk potentially damaging the shutter or also putting more pressure on the pressure plate spring than it's designed for which given prolonged use might result in the film not being kept perfectly flat in the gate. 

 

It's really simply just to trim a longer leader (no Ablon required) and load it properly. 

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It's a beautiful sunny day here in New Jersey. I picked up my IIIc loaded with Tri-X, set the aperture on the 50/2.8 Elmar to f/11, set the shutter speed to 1/500, set the focus to line up the F/11 mark on the depth of field scale with the infinity marker, put the strap over my shoulder and set off on a walk. I was almost back home when I saw an old Land Rover I've never seen before in the neighborhood, took a few steps off the sidewalk to get a good angle on it at a distance I knew would let it fill most of the frame, raised the IIIc to my eye, centered the Land Rover in the frame and pressed the shutter release. Used that way, it's the fastest camera in the world. Seeing the result won't be so fast. It will probably be at least another week before I finish shooting and develop the roll of film. And that's how I use a Barnack.

Edited by Doug A
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Hey guys,

 

Thanks all for the great replies! Sorry I haven't gone about to replying but I came from a beach trip with a couple of friends and decided to test it out. I did not have a light meter with me so I used a light meter app on my phone, hopefully it was accurate. There are times when it would go over 1/500 for the shutter and sadly 1/500 is the fastest my Leica could handle. Still hoping the shots are decent and I cant wait to see how the shots turn out!! 

 

Cheers to you and all, and thank you again 

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When you open the bottom plate there is a diagram for cutting the leader of the film. You must cut according to that diagram or you'll destroy the shutter curtain.

 

 

 

No you won't destroy the shutter curtain. Common sense can guide any photographer to cut the leader freehand if they understand the objective they are trying to achieve. The ALBON is a great tool but is more for complete neatness, or for photographers who don't understand what the objective is but can still follow a simple cutting guide. And even without cutting the film leader a normal film can still be loaded into a Barnack Leica perfectly safely if the photographer understands the simple ratchet mechanism they are trying to slide it over.

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No you won't destroy the shutter curtain. Common sense can guide any photographer to cut the leader freehand if they understand the objective they are trying to achieve. The ALBON is a great tool but is more for complete neatness, or for photographers who don't understand what the objective is but can still follow a simple cutting guide. And even without cutting the film leader a normal film can still be loaded into a Barnack Leica perfectly safely if the photographer understands the simple ratchet mechanism they are trying to slide it over.

Common sense? Me thinks you expect too much!

 

I have the ALBON, it's nice, but the diagram on the bottom is always with you.

 

The logic you speak of in not in the manual, but the diagram is.

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Perhaps overstated but practice is the way to go with a Barnack. It has it's own set of quirks but that is part of the charm and to become familiar with them one needs to run a few films through the camera. Some advise has been given as the loading of film, I prefer the scissors approach and try to emulate the diagram. Once loaded there are enough signals from the camera to confirm that the film is advancing correctly (turning rewind knob and shutter release). That, focusing and adjusting the shutter speed after winding the film are part of the familiarization process as is becoming accustomed to the finder windows. Keep going for the learning process is part of the fun of the species and once mastered there is a sense of satisfaction in producing photographs quite unlike any other camera!

 

Good luck

Charles

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You can't use the card method (which I used for years until re-acquiring an ABLON and ABCOO knife) with some of the earlier Leicas, because the slot is too narrow to allow the card and film to be there simultaneously. I certainly could not use the card method with either my O series or Model I. A shiny card is best and if it has sharp corners, round them off, as the corners are normally what damages the curtains. 

 

If you have inherited a Model III, it would almost certainly benefit from a CLA (Clean, Lubricate & Adjust), as the stearate based grease Leica used, goes hard with age. The lens may also benefit from a clean and a touch up of the internal matt black paint, which tends to flake off over the years, to reduce flare and veiling glare. The lubricant used on the sleeves and diaphragm, evaporate and then re-condense on the internal air surfaces. This is next to invisible but as it alters the refractive index at the air-glass interface, will result in a lens behaving sub-optimally. 

 

There is a sticky thread on forum member recommended Leica repairers, but if you tell us where you are based, I am sure you will receive some advice on a good LTM camera service technician. There are some to be avoided, who bodge parts from Russian Leica clones to fit in Leicas, usually with poor end results. 

 

Wilson

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Actually, there is no need to cut the film end at all for laoding these cameras....

 

Originally, film was delivererd with squared off end; thus the need for ABLON or the use of a scissors.

With all modern film automatically cut with rounded off loading end, you can just put it in.

Have never had a loading issue with my Leica IIIF, IID or I this way...

Edited by sumolux
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Actually, there is no need to cut the film end at all for laoding these cameras....

 

Originally, film was delivererd with squared off end; thus the need for ABLON or the use of a scissors.

With all modern film automatically cut with rounded off loading end, you can just put it in.

Have never had a loading issue with my Leica IIIF, IID or I this way...

 

Well then you are in a tiny minority who finds this to be the case. 

 

Generally with a short trimmed leader, the film end nearest the cassette will not seat fully in the film channel as it will not go past the top (with the camera the right way up or the bottom nearest the cassette, looking at the open end of the camera) sprocket teeth, which is the sprocket that re-cocks the shutter/rewinds the blinds, as the film is wound forward. On the later LTM cameras with a wider film slot, you can rarely wiggle the film past the bottom teeth but there is a high risk of torn sprocket holes. The two methods pretty much all members here use, are the correct trimming either by eye or by ABLON or using a very thin card to hold the film away from the sprocket teeth while it is seated all the way down to the bottom of the film channel, at which point the card is removed, to allow the film to settle onto the teeth. In theory with the second method there is a risk of tearing or otherwise damaging the shutter curtains and it might possibly be best to do it with the shutter curtains held open in B with a locking release However, both my father and I did use the latter method for many years with no problems. A UK National Trust Membership card, which was thin,flexible, shiny and had rounded corners was perfect. I re-acquired an ABLON and ABCOO about three years ago (our original plastic copy ABCOO was lost on a trip in 1962) and I now pre-trim a whole lot of films at one time. 

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As for the card, I certainly accept that there may be Barnacks with a very narrow slit so the card method may not be useful if the slit doesn't also let the film pass. I use those thin cards one gets from certain parking machines. They're as thin as a business card, have rounded corners and slightly shiny plasticky sides. They work great.

 

As with so many things related to photography, it's whatever works and feels well/good enough.

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As for the card, I certainly accept that there may be Barnacks with a very narrow slit so the card method may not be useful if the slit doesn't also let the film pass. I use those thin cards one gets from certain parking machines. They're as thin as a business card, have rounded corners and slightly shiny plasticky sides. They work great.

 

As with so many things related to photography, it's whatever works and feels well/good enough.

 

I cannot get a card down in either my 1C standard or my O series, so have to trim with those. 

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I once tried, very carefully, to load an untrimmed film in my IIIa, I could not get it to seat properly, now, as Wilson does, I simply trim a batch of film in advance with a 3D printed ALBON copy. The trimmed film will also load in any of my other cameras so I don't have to worry about keeping it separate.

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  • 4 weeks later...

With my Leica III of 1938 vintage I always lock the shutter open & remove the lens in order to load a film.

You can then see that the film is aligned correctly and will wind on before putting the floor plate & lens back.

It is a slow process, you just have to be patient. That way the shutter curtains are never exposed to any chance of harm.

I have not bothered to buy a ABLON template. They look rather like a door hinge with locating pins to hold the film in place.

The strange name I assume is a unique code by which any part is identified.

The problem is that everything is a 'collectors item', which tends to make things difficult if you actually intend giving the camera some serious use and would like to get original lenses & relevant accessories.

As my camera was bought as a body only I did at least manage to get an age appropriate 50/5.5 un-coated Elmar and a lens hood.

I have used the Leica more with Soviet lenses I had re-calibrated for the proper registration spacing and I have never bothered to see how wide an aperture was usable on that old Elmar.

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