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RobM

Which Leica III to get?

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I'd like to buy a Leica III, but am confused about all the versions. Did they continually improve from IIIa to IIIg (is there a higher version than IIIg?) or are there some that are regarded as better than others?

Cheers,

Rob

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Hello Rob,

I fear that no Leica is "better" than another Leica, just different.

When we talk about those ancient Barnack Leica, we don't think "features" but usability and "something else" than "better".

 

I have some of the III and other and the nicest for use is the IIIg bigger viewfinder with parallax correction and 90mm field lacked on other older Leica IIIs.

But this full feature IIIg is much bigger than say IIIf that has about same size as older one.

Some IIIf has "better" (ball bearing less vibrations and noise) shutter than older like IIIc .

Best is to hold one of each and operate them (I know it's not easy) but that is the only way to "know" which is the "best for you".

 

As side note, I have several IIIf, and they are so different in use (more difference with types like with or without "new shutter" or maintaining, VF more or less clear, etc.)

that don't forget well maintained Leica is the "best user" than a neglicted younger Leica.

 

If I had to choose one IIIf for example, I'm as puzzled as newcomer, have a look at Wiki Leica IIIf for complexe choice

 

Arnaud

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Yes, there were a series of small changes. 

Model III was basically a Model II with added slow speeds and "tele" RF with adjustment. It still had 1/500 max speed. 

Model IIIa had a significantly improved shutter (better curtain control and braking) which allowed 1/1000 max speed.

Both the above had 1" spacing between the VF and RF eyepieces.

Model IIIb moved the eyepieces close together,

Model IIIc changed internal construction to a die-cast shutter crate that improved rigidity. The body also became about 1/8" longer for this and subsequent models.

(Model IIId added a self-timer, but is VERY rare - mainly war time.)

The IIIc continued production after the war with minor changes.

Model IIIf ushered in the 1950s with built-in flash synch and connection (not a standard PC connector). It started out as "black dial" (flash synch adjustment), then changes to "red dial" which had an improved shutter. These were made both with and without self-timer.

Model IIIg was introduced in 1957 - 3 years after the M3. The IIIg body is taller, with an enlarged VF that does give a better view and framing accuracy.

I have III, IIIc, IIIf, and IIIg. They each have their charms. The IIIg tends to be expensive as it is rarer. The IIIf is a good entry point as more recent than the older models, and often not as heavily used, as many shifted to the M3 when it came out a few years later.

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Just my experience. Not exclusive but my personal use of three Leicas. I finished up keeping my two 1936 Leica IIIs. It is the smallest of the three, not by much on paper but noticeable in the hand. My second was a IIIA, but I never used the 1/1000th except on very rare occasions with my 90mm Elmar. The third was a Leica IIIG. To me it offered no advantages at all over the other two and was appreciably heavier. The Leica III to me is the perfect version. I have a black as well as a chrome and they both work beautifully thanks to Malcolm Taylor's CLA on the black. Simple to slip in the pocket and with fast film almost unnecessary to have a meter, although I do.

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Thanks for three very quick responses. I neglected to mention, my wife has a IIIb, but I find it impossible to look through - those tiny eyepieces! But - my knowledge is shaky here - I imagine there was a better eyepiece which could be attached. Is that right? If not, I might have to consider the IIIg, with its larger eyepiece. 

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Posted (edited)

Rob,

If not done, just have a look in a SBOOI ( yes like this one 12015 ) the clearest viewfinder in the world.

 

I remember when I first look in one long time ago, I couldn't believe what I "saw".

Even now, I do use SBOOI on my modern M when I fancy to have the best framing (beware of parallax though) and viewing possible,

even an M3 which claimed to have the best VF can not compete with SBOOI.

 

And with this best VF, you can choose whichever Leica you want 😉 then or stick with your wife's IIIb.

Edited by a.noctilux

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She won't let me near it 😉

Thanks for the SB001 link - I knew there must have been a better way. I hope they're not hard to find, and not too expensive. 

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Posted (edited)

Since the day, I collect them when I saw SBOOI for sale,

the prices are variable from 100€  to 250€ over time.

 

Some are on sale now: result from a search

even leather case is for sale alone, a pity !

Edited by a.noctilux

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I watched that big auction site for a couple of months until I found a SBOOI in great shape at a reasonable price. And it really does make framing a much more pleasant experience. I occasionally use it on my M2 as well.

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The SBOOI is a really nice accessory for the old LTM cameras. The built in viewfinder is difficult to use, but the rangefinder is actually quite good. Also (IMO) avoid the very old cameras without lugs for a carrying strap - some sort of strap is essential IMO.

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I have one that did not really cost me anything, but I don’t think I have used it. I rather like the small camera viewfinders, they seem in keeping with the handling of the old screw Leicas, especially the shape of the finder on the Leica 1 or Standard.

just tried to attached it to the Leica 1c for this photograph, it doesn’t fit, the early accessory shoe without springs doesn’t like the ribs under the SBOOI finder.

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Don't we talk about Leica III ?

That what is I've discovered when wanting to attach one SBOOI on my Standard ( very loose ! must put something between the finder and socket to retain).

 

Another one that doesn't like SBOOI is the "new" Leica "O" Replica which has the looseness of older one and

not possible ( so not cutting anything) to use on the "0" Replica with SBOOI and leather case to have the strap.

 

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I prefer the I and II Models A and D. For a III, I like the c. In the f line, my favourite is a IIf Red Dial  with 1,000th top speed. I have a IIIg just to complete my collection, but i don't like using it.

William

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1 hour ago, a.noctilux said:

Another one that doesn't like SBOOI is the "new" Leica "O" Replica which has the looseness of older one

There must be sample variations. It fits my O replica just fine.

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Thanks for all the comments. I've got a better understand of them now. 

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The lllg had a 'better' viewfinder with bright line frames but the eyepieces where the same as the earlier models, i.e. separate viewfinder and rangefinder eyepieces, so you really need to try one out before deciding. Personally I've never had a problem using my lllf and in some ways I prefer the separate - magnified - rangefinder.

As mentioned you can always use a shoe mounted finder instead (but you still need to use the rangefinder, or guess the distance).

Another option would be any LTM body with a Voigtlander Snapshot Skopar 25mm lens - it's not rangefinder coupled and has 3 click stops for focusssing by feel for near/medium/distant subjects - I've yet to have an out of focus shot using that.

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Well after this interesting discussions, I think that Leica IIIf RD is good choice or second choice Black dial (older shutter mechanism but still very good).

Price/pleasure ratio is the highest in Barnack Leica with IIIf or even IIf when you don't need slow speed.

I don't use the slow speed that often, so IIf would be fine but I don't own/use one.

As bonus, if you use SBOOI, the accessories shoe has springs to hold it tight, and being less older than most other than IIIg, aging can do less harm.

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Look at it this way, one Leica is only an introduction to the Marque.. I started with a 111f, then M3 and then moved to M6 and so it goes.. Get a nice one from a Leica Dealer,  use it, then decide on your feelings for lenses etc.. Your buying into a Lifetime clique...(My 111f/35mm arrived on around my 30th b/day. I'm 77 now and have not been without at least 3 Leica's at any one time). Enjoy the Privilege.... L 

 

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3 hours ago, pico said:

There must be sample variations. It fits my O replica just fine.

Thanks Pico.

Your answer "sample variations" in SBOOI made me feel bad for the "0" Replica.

So I took time to try on the Zero with my many SBOOI , my conclusion is you are right (well not really "sample variations" but adjustment of each finder).

Tried each SBOOI on IIIf, they are all ok (so I know that there are springs to hold the finder),

then on Zero, only one stayed put, so I had my chance.

I've never thought that the SBOOI adjustments can be so easy to tailor it to old timer.

At the base of the finder, I just bent a bit each time each side of it's shoes then mount the finder on the Zero.

Now each finder can be put on the Zero without looseness.

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1 hour ago, earleygallery said:

The lllg had a 'better' viewfinder with bright line frames but the eyepieces where the same as the earlier models, i.e. separate viewfinder and rangefinder eyepieces, so you really need to try one out before deciding. Personally I've never had a problem using my lllf and in some ways I prefer the separate - magnified - rangefinder.

As mentioned you can always use a shoe mounted finder instead (but you still need to use the rangefinder, or guess the distance).

I mention the following for our mildly visually handicapped. I focus with the rangefinder and frame with an optional external  viewfinder. We learn parallax through habit. A IIIG is just fine that way, although I hate the film loading;

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