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hey, last week when I was dropping off some film to be developed, I saw an old leica that the lab was selling (the lab is also a camera store), from my little knowledge of leicas and after researching a bit when got home, I deducted that it was either a III or a IIIa, and it was being sold fitted with a collapsable 5cm f/2.0 Hektor for the equivalent of around US$390. if I remember correctly, the serial number of the camera started with 17, so I think it's one of the first produced. So, my question is: do you think that is a fair price for the III(a) with the 50mm f/2, considering that the body looked mint and the lens looked nice, though I didn't analyze it much. Also, do you think that is a usable setup? I would definitely need a meter, since I can't figure out an exposure just by looking at the scene, so how much is one of those leicameters and are they hard to find?

I would also like ask if you think I should wait until the end of the year and then get a used M6 or MP (if I'm lucky) then?

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Of course it's useable, if the shutter works more or less as it was intended and the lens is clean and clear and has aperture blades that work.

 

A basic hand held meter will cost you about £50 ($70), but "Sunny sixteen" costs you nothing.

 

Buy it. I would.

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Lens should be a 2.5 Hektor. I don't know what they're like compared to the Elmar but they aren't as common. The Leicameter is for the M cameras. You should use a handheld meter as Andy says or 'sunny 16' (especially if you shoot B&W). Voigtlander make a shoe mount meter too (a bit like a small Leicameter).

 

If its a particularly nice one, in full working order, then the price is fair.

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oh sorry, the lens really is a 2.0 Elmar, I just have been reading a lot about leicas lately and got confused with all that crazy terminology. I read a little about that lens and I think it's a quite good lens, isn't it? I just found out about that voigtlander VC meter and it seems close to perfect, except for its hefty price, in comparison with the price of the camera, but it still is much cheaper than an M6 or MP.

also, how does the size of III(a) compare with the size of an M6 or an MP?

ah, and how can I tell if this camera I'm considering is the real deal and not one of the many fake ones that were produced all over the world?

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oh sorry, the lens really is a 2.0 Elmar, I just have been reading a lot about leicas lately and got confused with all that crazy terminology. I read a little about that lens and I think it's a quite good lens, isn't it? I just found out about that voigtlander VC meter and it seems close to perfect, except for its hefty price, in comparison with the price of the camera, but it still is much cheaper than an M6 or MP.

also, how does the size of III(a) compare with the size of an M6 or an MP?

ah, and how can I tell if this camera I'm considering is the real deal and not one of the many fake ones that were produced all over the world?

 

 

There is no 2.0 Elmar. The fastest Elmar is 2.8.

 

If it's 2.0 it could be a Summar, Summitar or Summicron. Be very, very careful cleaning the front element on any of these lenses.

The old glass is soft as are the coatings. If you rub too hard or without cleaning fluid you will take the coating right off.

 

If it is a Hecktor 2.5/50 the lens alone is worth the money they are asking.

 

The screwmount bodies are considerably smaller than a M6 or MP and the viewfinder/rangefinder is very basic in comparison.

 

Buy a handheld Sekonic 308 meter. Much better than the VC (I have both) and maybe even cheaper.

 

The camera will need to be cleaned, lubricated and adjusted by a reputable service shop. It probably hasn't had an overhaul since before WWII.

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There is no 2.0 Elmar. The fastest Elmar is 2.8.

 

If it's 2.0 it could be a Summar, Summitar or Summicron. Be very, very careful cleaning the front element on any of these lenses.

The old glass is soft as are the coatings. If you rub too hard or without cleaning fluid you will take the coating right off.

 

If it is a Hecktor 2.5/50 the lens alone is worth the money they are asking.

 

The screwmount bodies are considerably smaller than a M6 or MP and the viewfinder/rangefinder is very basic in comparison.

 

Buy a handheld Sekonic 308 meter. Much better than the VC (I have both) and maybe even cheaper.

 

The camera will need to be cleaned, lubricated and adjusted by a reputable service shop. It probably hasn't had an overhaul since before WWII.

 

ah, ok, so I really can't remember much about the lens, but I'm going to the lab saturday to get my photos and I'll take a better look at the camera and the lens, see if everything is working well and maybe even write down the serial numbers.

if I got a handheld meter it would kind of defeat the main reason why I want the IIIa, which is to have a camera that is small enough to put it in my pocket, carry it everywhere and not get much attention on the streets, especially from thieves, who are a very common type in my area. and also, the Sekonic 308 is just $10 cheaper than the Voigtlander VC on B&H and I don't mind that it's not as good, as long as it's compact and looks like it's a part of my camera, and not a completely separate device.

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If you can, take a couple of photos - phone cam or whatever - and post them here, we can then tell you if it appears to be a copy or not (also yes, get the serial numbers).

 

If the lens is period to the camera, my guess is that its an f2 Summar. Good clean examples are getting rare and its a lovely lens IMO.

 

Check the shutter on some of the slower speeds, it should also sound 'right' and take the lens off and check the curtains (worn ones look creased). Make sure the film take up spool is present and also that the rangefinder images are clear (as the mirror deteriorates over time and is another expense to repair).

 

Ask about the CLA - if its been used regularly it probably has had a service at some point, but if its sat in a cupboard for the last 20 years then yes, you should factor in the cost of a CLA.

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The IIIa is definitely a beautifully made camera, but after all these years will almost certainly need a CLA (clean, lube, adjust). Or it may work fine for a while and then need adjusting. The shutter is most likely to cause a problem. It can be fixed of course but will cost a few hundred dollars at that time.

 

The Leica Ms are bigger, but not that much and IMHO offer a lot of advantages for everyday shooting. The viewfinder is a lot bigger and focusing is much easier. Film loading is also easier.

 

A secondhand M3 will cost almost double the price you are being offered or the IIIa and lens while an M6 will cost perhaps another $1,000 -- without lens. Price of the IIIa with lens seems fair.

 

Using a handheld meter is actually very easier. I recommend the Sekonic 308.

 

I think it's a very dangerous decision! If you buy the IIIa you will still probably want to buy another Leica and lenses later on...

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The IIIa is definitely a beautifully made camera, but after all these years will almost certainly need a CLA (clean, lube, adjust). Or it may work fine for a while and then need adjusting. The shutter is most likely to cause a problem. It can be fixed of course but will cost a few hundred dollars at that time.

 

The Leica Ms are bigger, but not that much and IMHO offer a lot of advantages for everyday shooting. The viewfinder is a lot bigger and focusing is much easier. Film loading is also easier.

 

A secondhand M3 will cost almost double the price you are being offered or the IIIa and lens while an M6 will cost perhaps another $1,000 -- without lens. Price of the IIIa with lens seems fair.

 

Using a handheld meter is actually very easier. I recommend the Sekonic 308.

 

I think it's a very dangerous decision! If you buy the IIIa you will still probably want to buy another Leica and lenses later on...

 

Yes, that is exactly what I was thinking earlier today. if I do get the IIIa, it will eventually need a CLA and it will definitely be more prone to having some other problem later on. also, if I add the price of a meter and a good CLA (that is going to be expensive, seeing that I'm in Brazil, and we don't have that many Leicas here, so it'll be a very specialized service), the final price of the camera will probably double, and I know that it's not as much as an used M6 and lens, but I think it's like you said, I'll still want to buy another Leica later on, so I think it's better if I wait till the end of year, which is when I calculated I'll have enough money for an M6 and around US$500 for a lens, and that one will be a user camera, so I'll be able get a IIIa later, as more of a collectable. Also, I looked up the dimensions of the III and it's just a few millimeters shorter and thinner than an MP, so size is not an issue for me if decide to go with an M body.

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I picked up a IIIa very cheaply on the internet some time after getting an M3 and getting interested in old Leicas. I've been using it regularly for about three years now and have not needed to send it for a CLA yet. It's a delight to use, though the viewfinder is a limiting factor. I particularly like to use it in urban areas with the little 25mm VC skopar lens with its scale-focussing and external viewfinder. Also good with the 15mm VC lens for the same reason. It's a usefully small camera to pocket when I don't want the weight of an M.

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I agree the IIIa is a delightful little camera and eminently useable. However, if you are thinking of reliability and spending your money carefully, I would definitely advise getting a used camera in the best condition possible, preferably serviced, and with a guarantee. Otherwise you are certain to spend more later on.

 

Good luck!

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Lens should be a 2.5 Hektor. I don't know what they're like compared to the Elmar but they aren't as common. The Leicameter is for the M cameras.

 

Sorry, but that is not correct. Leicameter 1; 2; and3 is directli for all the screwmounts. And they looking very good.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ha! today I went to the store again, and to my surprise the leica was back there, and there was another one, just like it. they both looked great but one was better then the other and each had a (now I'm sure) collapsible 50mm f/2.0 Summar, and both lenses looked good as well. the price was now lowered to what could be converted to something like US$300. I didn't get to play much with them as I was in a hurry, but I did trip the shutter a few times and it seemed pretty consistent, and good lord, that thing was quieter than a smelly fart

. The lenses' aperture and focus ring were smooth as butter and neither seemed to have any fungus nor any scratches, though they did look kind of pale, but I don't know if that's how they're supposed to be and it didn't look like it wasn't clear, I could see the aperture blades perfectly, it just didn't have any of that colored tint that most lenses have (I'm guessing that has something to do with coating?). anyway, do you guys think that US$300 is good price for this setup?
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That's about £200. For a nice clean camera/lens its a good price, I'd snap one up! The Summar is a lovely lens, but hard to find now in really good condition (they have soft glass which is usually badly scratched from cleaning over the years). They are probably uncoated i.e. 'pale' as you say. Fine for B&W and also good for colour as an 'effect' lens.

 

Go for it!

Edited by earleygallery
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  • 2 weeks later...

Today, I've received a IIIa + Summar (both from 1934) for testing and may be buy them (150-200euros asked by the seller)... Nice camera, but for the lens, it seems to have "haze" on each element: Earleygallery said the glass as itself was very fragile: Is it possible to clean it (DIY) or should I forget this lens (and camera) as I want to use them...

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Hi,

 

The camera looks very nice, keep it!

 

Can you take a photo of the front of the lens? I would suggest you try the lens out, a light amount of haze may not have much affect on the images, but you can clean (gently with lens fluid) or have it cleaned by a pro (not expensive on such a simple construction).

 

If you want to try, clean the front and rear elements, and if you grip the front milled rim on the lens you can unscrew the front elements to clean the inner ones (you can also remove the rear section if you remove a couple of screws.

 

Anyway, the Summar is a lovely lens but if you want sharper more contrasty images you will want to buy a 5cm Elmar. Then of course you also have the modern VC lenses to try..........

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