IIIa vs IIIc
Old 09-17-2016   #1
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IIIa vs IIIc

I am casually comparing / shopping for a Leica IIIx.
The a's divided range/viewfinder is a plus for me.
Is there really an issue with light leaks around the curtains on the a?
Are there any other real improvements from a to c?
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Old 09-17-2016   #2
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Not sure what you mean by A having a divided rangefinder/viewfinder?
The C certainly does, but the viewfinder is squinty and a bright line viewfinder makes a huge difference.

There are loads of Cs around, maybe easier to find a good deal on one than on an A
Hope that helps - not sure it will, but I've started the ball rolling anyway
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Old 09-17-2016   #3
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The IIIc is built slightly different, one piece cast versus the IIIa which has several pieces of the shell put together, so according to the lore, the IIIc offers a bit more rigidity when using heavy lenses. Ball bearings, updated construction of the shutter. Early IIIc had a bit of an issue with the chrome.

Be that as it may, the IIIa is a smidge smaller. I have not had any issues with light leaks, been running a couple (II, IIIa, IIIb, IIIc, but started out with a IIIf). Either works fine, but for some reason I just prefer the pre-war Leicas. Condition is everything - a well maintained IIIa can be a joy. Perhaps factor a CLA into the cost.
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Old 09-17-2016   #4
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The Leica IIIa and the Leica IIIc are both fine cameras.

Each model should be evaluated on its own individual basis as far as to condition, after all these are 80 to 66 year old cameras and all could need a CLA, new shutter curtains and a replacement RF mirror.

I have seen examples of IIIc models in far worse condition than IIIa models and vice versa.

The closer VF/RF eyepiece of the IIIc is not a deal maker or breaker for me versus the ones found on the III and IIIa models. Both types are convenient in actual use for what they are.
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Old 09-17-2016   #5
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Thanks guys, so far.
I wasn't sure if light leaks around shutter blinds was a known issue or just something something Ken Rockwell made note of on his camera.
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Old 09-17-2016   #6
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I have and use both IIIa and IIIc (as well as IIIg). Personally, I prefer the close spacing of the RF/VF on the IIIc and IIIg to the wider spacing of the IIIa. I find switching between the two very natural on the later cameras, while I'm always hunting for the window I want on the IIIa; it's probably more about what I'm used to than anything else, since I started with a IIIc.

I concur with the endorsement for an external finder above. It makes shooting much faster, at least in the street with the focus pre-set.

Never had a problem with light leaks on mine, so I can't comment on that issue.

Condition is everything, at least if you're planning to use it. I'd go so far as to say you should buy the best one you can find regardless of model variation, or alternatively buy the model you want and assume a CLA as part of the budget.
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Old 09-17-2016   #7
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Thanks pilot.
Since I've been shooting with a Zorki1, am used to the wider eyepiece spacing, but don't see either as a problem.
I'll just make this a WTB, if anyone has a C in good nick to consider.
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Old 09-17-2016   #8
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Old 09-18-2016   #9
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Just to note it's the chrome on the later (ie post-war) Cs which can sometimes be iffy.
My 111c dates from around 1940 and the chrome is perfect - a little worn in places - but perfect.

The 111c is a great little camera - get a 5cm Elmar to match.
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Old 09-18-2016   #10
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If you wear glasses, beware of the IIIa's diopter adjustment on the rangefinder. Fully raised, it can and will scratch glasses. The other issue is the size of the viewfinder itself - the IIIc seems to be larger and easier to use than the built in one on the IIIa. That said, both are wonderful cameras. I bought a IIIc knowing it was not operational and figured a rebuild into the total cost. That decision was well worth it. The spacing of the rangefinder/viewfinder windows has not been an issue so far, but that's mainly because I use external viewfinders on the IIIas.
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Old 09-18-2016   #11
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I have both and the IIIc is my main user, for no reason in particular.


The curtains travel faster in the newer stronger shutter design of the IIIc,
The body is also slightly larger.

The IIIc cameras with bad chrome are from a post-WW2 batch
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Old 09-18-2016   #12
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Thanks all!
Per the good advice, I've narrowed my search to a IIIc for the one-piece shell and the bearings on the shutter parts. I already have a nice Elmar that goes with the Standard, so I can swap it or use a Jupiter8 I have for a lens, until some other Leica glass finds its way to me.
I am pretty much a 50mm photographer, though I would like to try an 85 or 90mm one day.
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Old 09-18-2016   #13
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Just keep in mind that the "early" wartime IIIc cameras don't have ball-bearings though. The IIIc K and the post-war ones do.

The post-war IIIc does not have the little 'step' in the top housing under the rewind switch like the earlier models. And like the IIIa they're one of the less expensive LTM bodies.
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Old 10-18-2016   #14
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The III-c seem to be the most plentiful and least-expensive bodies ?

From 2007-2014, my everyday shooter was an "ugly" 1934 III with mangy chrome, but it worked great.

In 2014, on a trip to Denmark, I picked-up a really clean 1949 III-c that have been upgraded by Leica to -f black-dial & self-timer. It too is a fine performer.

Main points are:

Condition of VF and RF (bright beam-splitter / RF patch.)

Condition of shutter curtains - post-war through early '50's shutter curtains can be crackly / pin-holey. I have a beautiful III-f with bad curtains.

A CLA will run about $100 - $200, so factor that into your shopping.

Once CLA'd, the camera should be good to go for at least a decade.

As noted, the cast-body of the -c models is stronger than the earlier versions, so if you plan on carrying it about in your pocket or with long lenses, the -c, -f, and -g might be better options.

Good luck !
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Old 10-18-2016   #15
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They are both great models, they are both Barnacks after all.
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Old 10-26-2016   #16
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Here is the one I settled on, IIIc, in transit.

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Old 10-26-2016   #17
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A nice post-War 111c . You won't go far wrong with that.
I suggest you get a period case, and a 5mm viewfinder which will improve the handling no end.
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Old 10-26-2016   #18
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Congratulations, she's a clean-looking beauty.

I've recently picked up a couple of Mr.Zhou half-cases to protect my IIIc cameras.

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Old 10-28-2016   #19
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I made this for my Zorki, it should fit the IIIc, but in practice I carry the little camera in a binocular case w/ cross-body strap and shoot the camera with a wrist strap.

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Old 10-28-2016   #20
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That looks great.
But the IIIc's body is about half a centimeter bigger than its predecessors. Not sure if it would fit if you made it close to the Zorki's dimensions.
I'm still searching for a III/IIIa/IIIb half case that I like the look of.
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Old 10-28-2016   #21
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why not a IIIb? you get the IIIa size and the finder of the IIIc...wonderful camera.
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Old 10-28-2016   #22
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I was considering III a,b, & c.
The c's 1-piece cast body shell was a major factor, but it was the condition & price of that individual camera that made me pull the trigger.
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Old 10-28-2016   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr_Flibble View Post
That looks great.
But the IIIc's body is about half a centimeter bigger than its predecessors. Not sure if it would fit if you made it close to the Zorki's dimensions.
I'm still searching for a III/IIIa/IIIb half case that I like the look of.
Yes, it is probably too tight.
I can make another one if needed.
Those are professional-looking leather, like your photography.
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Old 10-31-2016   #24
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Here it is at home, with the lens from my Standard. I'll need to find its own lens eventually, a 2.8 or f2, but swapping will have to do for a while.
Are we Mice, or men?

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Old 10-31-2016   #25
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Very nice. The Elmar is really the perfect complement for these, I think. Of course, if you're looking for a wider option, I have a lovely Canon 35mm/2.8 with viewfinder for sale in the Classifieds. Looks great on a Barnack....
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