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Questions about purchasing an IIIc from Facebook seller

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I stumbled across a local woman selling what appears to be a 1949 IIIc. I'm not very familiar with vintage Leica so I thought I would ask the forums opinion on how I might approach this. She is local so I could likely stop by and run some tests. Outside of actually loading cilm and shooting a roll, what are some quick mechanical things I should look out for?

 

Attached are two images from her listing. She is asking for $300 USD. 

 

I saw a sticky post about asking asking for valuation but it was locked and I could not see how to reply. If this information is all covered elsewhere, I apologize, please point me in the right direction!

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The forum does not do valuations, that is true, but for 300$ you can hardly go wrong.

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A few quick things to check:

 

1) Are the blinds, seen when you remove the lens flat and wrinkle free (this is a quite expensive replacement)

2) Do the slow speeds work properly - wind the camera on and set the main speed dial to 30-1 (change shutter speed always after winding on - no need for film in camera), then gradually reduce the speed on the secondary speed dial on the front of the camera, firing the shutter off and winding on at each slower speed. It is common for the slower speeds to be sluggish but make sure the blinds are not sticking half way across. You should probably factor in having to have a CLA (Clean, Lubricate and Adjust) at around $250 into your thinking, as unless it has been serviced recently, the old lubricant will need cleaning out and replacing with modern non-oxidising/non-drying lubricants. 

3) Check for fungus in both rangefinder and viewfinder. This often manifests itself as a ragged appearance around the edge of the RF patch or fogging of the view (more in the VF than RF)

4) Check that the focus lever under the film rewind is focusing the RF image. 

5) Check that moving the lens focus is operating the image convergence in the RF. If image convergence is not perfect at infinity (at least 1000 metres away) or vertical convergence is off, don't worry too much as these are both fairly easy adjustments. I find the older Barnack cameras easier to adjust than the modern M's. 

6) Use a torch to look down into the slot the film goes into once you take the bottom cover off to make sure there are not torn bits of film in there. This is not uncommon if people have either not been trimming the film leader correctly or using the shiny card method of inserting untrimmed film. Search on the forum for methods of loading film into Barnack cameras. 

 

Wilson

 

PS On the lens, the best way to detect fungus is to shine a UV torch or light through the lens (cheap LED UV torches are a few dollars on Amazon). Fungus shows up well with UV light when it can be difficult to see with visible light or light from an incandescent source. W

Edited by wlaidlaw

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That looks like a nice set, I would certainly buy it.

 

In the USA you can get a CLA and the shutter curtains replaced for $210, I just had my IIIa done.

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I would buy it unseen for that price. The filters alone cover most of the purchase price, the camera looks condition A+. So what if it needs mechanical attention?

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I would buy it unseen for that price. The filters alone cover most of the purchase price, the camera looks condition A+. So what if it needs mechanical attention?

 

Jaap, 

 

I would agree. My list of checks are more for post purchase. It is particularly important to check for the shredded bits of film, as these can jam the shutter and damage the blinds. I found about a 5cm long thin strip of the lower edge of the film, torn off halfway across the perforations, sitting in the bottom of my model III. It was a nightmare to get out and I had to borrow a pair of alligator surgical forceps from a doctor friend to get it out. He uses them for removing stuck objects from children's tracheas, when he is doing a locum on accident and emergency. Far better than what the national health supply. See photo below

 

Wilson

 

PS I have bought my own pair now - £7 from Fleabay. 

Edited by wlaidlaw

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I would buy it unseen for that price. The filters alone cover most of the purchase price, the camera looks condition A+. So what if it needs mechanical attention?

 

Agree, just buy it and have a CLA done if necessary. Can't go wrong.

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A few quick things to check:

 

1) Are the blinds, seen when you remove the lens flat and wrinkle free (this is a quite expensive replacement)

2) Do the slow speeds work properly - wind the camera on and set the main speed dial to 30-1 (change shutter speed always after winding on - no need for film in camera), then gradually reduce the speed on the secondary speed dial on the front of the camera, firing the shutter off and winding on at each slower speed. It is common for the slower speeds to be sluggish but make sure the blinds are not sticking half way across. You should probably factor in having to have a CLA (Clean, Lubricate and Adjust) at around $250 into your thinking, as unless it has been serviced recently, the old lubricant will need cleaning out and replacing with modern non-oxidising/non-drying lubricants. 

3) Check for fungus in both rangefinder and viewfinder. This often manifests itself as a ragged appearance around the edge of the RF patch or fogging of the view (more in the VF than RF)

4) Check that the focus lever under the film rewind is focusing the RF image. 

5) Check that moving the lens focus is operating the image convergence in the RF. If image convergence is not perfect at infinity (at least 1000 metres away) or vertical convergence is off, don't worry too much as these are both fairly easy adjustments. I find the older Barnack cameras easier to adjust than the modern M's. 

6) Use a torch to look down into the slot the film goes into once you take the bottom cover off to make sure there are not torn bits of film in there. This is not uncommon if people have either not been trimming the film leader correctly or using the shiny card method of inserting untrimmed film. Search on the forum for methods of loading film into Barnack cameras. 

 

Wilson

 

PS On the lens, the best way to detect fungus is to shine a UV torch or light through the lens (cheap LED UV torches are a few dollars on Amazon). Fungus shows up well with UV light when it can be difficult to see with visible light or light from an incandescent source. W

 

Update: I went and checked out the camera. It is in very good condition visually, the filters are all in their original boxes with manuals and the lightmeter functions. All the leather is smooth with beautiful patina and the sharkskin camera body is great.  Everything you mentioned checked out just fine EXCEPT for the shutter blind performance. I'm new to these type of shutters so I'll explain what I saw. The blinds were inconsistent in speed. On press of the shutter release they would jerk and then after a second to a few seconds slowly creep across, slower on each side and quicker in the middle. Some times it didn't appear they released at all and if I then fiddled with the film wind knob or shutter speed knob it would snap across. I saw slow performance on fast speeds as swell as the sub-1/30 speeds.

 

My instincts were telling me that they were just stuck and rigid. Instead of smoothly snapping (or traveling) left to right it is a bump inconsistent ride. Visually they did not appear bent or wrinkled.

 

Is this something a general CLA could fix? I understand this camera package is a steal even as is but I am not a collector, I want it functional and don't want to be shelling out more money than this curiosity is worth. I would appreciate any input!

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Everything you see is normal for an elderly IIIc that is a long time since its last oil change. A CLA should fix this with no problems. If you let us know where you are based, I am sure the folk on this forum will be able to recommend a tried and trusted Leica repairer (there are also some cowboys/leica butchers best avoided). Over the past few years I have bought two cameras, which supposedly had had a CLA done on them. One was plain poor, with the slow speeds still not running and one was appalling with incorrect reassembly, incorrect RF alignment and wrong screws being used, so that when you turned it upside down, the shoe fell off. 

 

Wilson

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The sharkskin is much more hardwearing than 'normal' vulcanite. I have 3 cameras with sharkskin, a IIIc, a IIIc converted to IIIf Black Dial and a Ic converted to a IIf Black Dial. All are wonderful cameras to use, producing first class results.

 

A CLA is essential for the shutter and any other mechanical issues. You will then have a very fine Leica lTM model.

 

To check shutters of LTM cameras, I put in a business card behind the shutter and I should be able to read what is on it to 1/500th at least. This only tells you that there is no capping but does not test the accuracy of the speeds. In this case you have already determined that a CLA is essential, so you need to factor that into your value calculations.

 

William

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I also thought I should mention the little history I gleaned. The gentleman I bought said this camera belonged to his father. It was purchased in Korea when it was under Japanese rule or colonization (I think I got that right). The seller was born there in 1949, same year as this camera. His father was an avid photographer and gifted the camera to his son and daughter who have used it occasionally throughout the years, the daughter more-so but not in a long time.

 

It's been in storage for quite a while in a trunk with a lot of his father's other belongings. He's selling it simply because they are cleaning out their attic and he wishes to see the camera put to use.

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Thank you all. I found this repair shop but open to others. I live in Kentucky, USA, so I'm close to a lot of areas in midwest, south, east coast.

 

http://www.midwestcamera.com/classic.html

 

I send all my cameras to Youxin Ye, he has my Leica III at the moment. His work is excellent. He does have a backlog though, work typically takes 3 months. Although if you ask nicely he often accomodates rush requests.

 

http://yyecamera.com/

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Gonna vouch for Youxin as well. Just contacted him about a few lenses and I'm going to bring them by in person in a few weeks. He's done right by me for a lot of my US repairs. In the UK, Aperture was my go-to until Alan Starkie came along. The wait is long as he's gotten more popular but the work is top-notch.

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I send all my cameras to Youxin Ye...    His work is excellent. He does have a backlog though, work typically takes 3 months. Although if you ask nicely he often accomodates rush requests.

 

http://yyecamera.com/

 

My experience with Youxin Ye was excellent (total refurbishment of an M2 and M3). High quality work at reasonable prices. I don't think you can go wrong with him.

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Update: I went and checked out the camera. It is in very good condition visually, the filters are all in their original boxes with manuals and the lightmeter functions. All the leather is smooth with beautiful patina and the sharkskin camera body is great.  Everything you mentioned checked out just fine EXCEPT for the shutter blind performance. I'm new to these type of shutters so I'll explain what I saw. The blinds were inconsistent in speed. On press of the shutter release they would jerk and then after a second to a few seconds slowly creep across, slower on each side and quicker in the middle. Some times it didn't appear they released at all and if I then fiddled with the film wind knob or shutter speed knob it would snap across. I saw slow performance on fast speeds as swell as the sub-1/30 speeds.

 

My instincts were telling me that they were just stuck and rigid. Instead of smoothly snapping (or traveling) left to right it is a bump inconsistent ride. Visually they did not appear bent or wrinkled.

 

Is this something a general CLA could fix? I understand this camera package is a steal even as is but I am not a collector, I want it functional and don't want to be shelling out more money than this curiosity is worth. I would appreciate any input!

 

It sounds like the camera hasn't been used for some time so this is the result of lack of use and dried out lubricants. A normal CLA should see it operating properly again.

 

You could probably buy another example that's working OK for less than the cost of this one plus a CLA, but if you go ahead with it you know that it has just been serviced and should be good for a long time to come. Plus it comes with those accessories as a bonus.

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I’d agree with the others that it is a good deal, including getting a CLA. Stored in an attic it would have baked in summer heat, and the shutter issues you note are typical. I picked up several Leica models stored in a Dallas attic for years and all needed shutter work, with a couple needing new curtains. They all went to Youxin over a couple of years and came back fine. I also use DAG (Don Goldberg) for Leica repair. Don is a second generation Leica tech who apprenticed at Leica Wetzlar, and has more experience than Youxin, but I wouldn’t hesitate to use either. Contact both and see what their lead times are currently.

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