My first post/ my first Leica - questions
Old 08-16-2018   #1
Kool42
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My first post/ my first Leica - questions

Hi! Last week I became the owner of my first Leica camera. I was not actually looking for one but happened to bump into one while browsing for sale ads online. I've been shooting film this summer and the price for the camera was too good to pass so I contacted the seller quickly even though didn't know much about the camera or the lens coming with it. 12 hours later I was the owner of a (what I presume is) silver 1937 Leica III model F fitted witn an 3.5cm Elmar lens and a silver adjustable Vidom finder.

The body looks to be in good condition and after a few tries the shutter seems to work ok. But the slow speeds are all bulb-mode so the shutter stays open as long as I keep the button pressed. Is this something that can easily be fixed?

The lens looks a bit more used but the aperture and focusing seem to work ok. Just one stupid? question: the 3.5 Elmar does not collapse like the 5cm? Right? I first thought that u should pull it out before use but it doesn't seem to move so I concluded that although it looks just like the 5cm lens it doesn't extend like it?

And one more question about the finder: Although it looks a little beaten up it seem to work as designed but it doesn't sit very tightly in the cold shoe. A little tilt of the camera and it falls, is there something I can adjust or is the base of the finder or the shoe (or both) just worn?
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Old 08-16-2018   #2
Mr_Flibble
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Googling for "Leica LTM serial numbers" will tell you the year of manufature (and type) with reasonably accuracy.

The 3,5cm Elmar does indeed NOT collapse/extend, unlike the 5cm one.

Have you set the top shutter dial to 1-20 (or 1-30, if it is a IIIc or younger)? As this only engages the slow speed escapement and slow speed dial on front of the camera.
But it sounds like the slow speed escapement is sticky. This is hidden at the bottom of the shutter crate. Takes a bit of a tear-down to get to it. But it might start working again if you exercise the mechanism.

To secure a loose accessory in the shoe I usually use a bit of paper, folded to required thickness.


I hope that helps.
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Old 08-16-2018   #3
Erik van Straten
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Yes, as Rick says, to try the long speeds the speed dial must be set at "20-1", not "Z". If the long speeds do not work, a cleaning is needed.

The long speed mechanism is beautifully simple, but if you are not familiar with working on cameras you'll better give it in hands of a repairman.

Erik.
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Old 08-16-2018   #4
Malcolm M
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WARNING! Do not check web adverts, go to camera fairs or look in second hand windows of camera shops. Once bitten by the Leica bug, bankruptcy looms!
The shutter fault is extremely common. 3 of my 4 Barnacks have shown it. A CLA might cure it, but it cost 150 to have the IIIg fixed. The IIIf is in the Leica hospital at the moment. I’ve had it coming up six months and yet to have a complete roll of film through it.
You will find that the VIDOM (reverse viewing) finder is fundamentally unusable.
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Old 08-16-2018   #5
peterm1
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" To secure a loose accessory in the shoe I usually use a bit of paper, folded to required thickness. "

I stick a little tape on the underside of the accessory finders foot. This works a treat. Choose a tape thickness that works best with the finder you use.
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Old 08-16-2018   #6
Roger Hicks
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peterm1 View Post
" To secure a loose accessory in the shoe I usually use a bit of paper, folded to required thickness. "

I stick a little tape on the underside of the accessory finders foot. This works a treat. Choose a tape thickness that works best with the finder you use.
Dear Peter,

Or jam a wooden toothpick in as far as it will go, then snap it off.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 08-17-2018   #7
Kool42
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Thanks for the replies! I checked the serial of the body and it was made 1937. The lens serial dates to 1936 so I quess they could've been sold together. I'm pretty excited to load some film to it.

I tried the slow speeds again and it's still just bulb. I also found a howto for mending the mechanism so I think I'll try to do it myself when I have the time.

The finder is indeed very strange. The reversed view takes some getting used to.
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Old 08-17-2018   #8
Malcolm M
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You’re braver than I am if you’re prepared to fix your own Leica.
If you find can’t live with the VIDOM (I find it awkward with stationary subjects, and impossible with anything moving) the similar, but right reading, VIOOH is not expensive by Leica standards. Also consider the Russian copy of the Contax turret finder.
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Old 08-17-2018   #9
BillBingham2
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One approach you might try too is sitting in front of the TV a couple of nights and fire the shutter at every speed a few thousand times each night. While not as good a cleaning, it's simple enough that even I can do it.

B2 (;->
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Old 08-17-2018   #10
mpaniagua
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malcolm M View Post
You’re braver than I am if you’re prepared to fix your own Leica.
If you find can’t live with the VIDOM (I find it awkward with stationary subjects, and impossible with anything moving) the similar, but right reading, VIOOH is not expensive by Leica standards. Also consider the Russian copy of the Contax turret finder.

+1 on VIOOH. There are also some russian copies that work as well.

Of course, a SBLOO is joy to use but it kinda expensive though. I use one of those with my Elmar 3.5.

Regards

Marcelo.
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Old 08-17-2018   #11
rfaspen
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May I be the first to warn against attempting to fix the slow speeds yourself. Unless you are proficient in camera repair (and some of us are), you may regret that attempt. I understand the attraction of fixing it yourself, but I have seen so many butchered cameras I can say its not always that simple. Along with experience and competence, one will need a set of appropriate tools. Some of them rather specialized. A set of eyeglass screwdrivers is usually not enough . I will admit here that I ended the life of a couple of RF cameras via my DIY enthusiasm and naivete. Another of my cameras barely made it through its surgery, but I am reminded of the experience whenever I see the awful scars left by using inappropriate tools. Don at DAG camera repair was extremely gracious when he fixed my camera, clearly made worse by my attempts at repair. I appreciate the gentle explanation that I mucked things up, but he could make them right again.

If the higher speeds work fine, ask yourself if you really need the slow speeds. Honestly, they aren't that useful for much "Leica work". There's a reason why they sold many Leica's without slow speeds (e.g., II, IIc, IIf, I, Ic, If, Ig).

If you really like your "new" Leica, it isn't too crazy to consider sending it to an expert service. I prefer DAG Camera Repair for excellent work, but there are quite a few other technicians around (worldwide) who are likely just as good. I know it seems stiff to spend another $150 on the camera, but remember it will be fixed completely and function as new (which is amazing to experience), and the camera will function at a high, reliable level for another half century! Seriously.

As mentioned by others; yes the 3.5cm Elmar does not collapse. A neat lens in my opinion! The addition of a couple layers of tape (I use "masking tape") on the bottom of the VIDOM foot solves the loose fit. Personally, I'm not a fan of the view through the VIDOM. I have other external finders I much prefer -- the little CV metal finder is pretty nice.

Welcome to the Leica club. It sounds like you have a nice little setup with the 35/3.5 Elmar. If its clean, it should make some very nice photographs. Erik here on RFF has demonstrated that ability numerous times. Look for the pre-war Leica lens thread...

Enjoy!
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Old 08-17-2018   #12
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Second the recommendation for the CV finder. They made two - a metal one that works well and looks nice but can scratch glasses, and a plastic one that sold for a bit less. Both are brightline finders. The 35 Elmar is a great lens. And yet another warning about doing it yourself on the slow speed shutter train. DAG does wonderful work but can be a bit slow. Youxin Ye is much quicker, a bit less expensive - he has ClA prices on his website - and a relatively quick turnaround. He did a new-to-me IIIa a couple of years ago and returned a camera working as well as it did when it left Leitz's factory in the late 1930s. In addition to getting the slow speeds working, a CLA will also give you a much improved rangefinder image and a clear main viewfinder for when you buy a 50 - and you will. Congratulations on your purchase; be aware thread mount Leicas are a bit like potato chips - you can't have just one.
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Old 08-17-2018   #13
rfaspen
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Youxin is a fine choice for that CLA/repair. Its nice how he provides standard prices for services right on his website.

I forgot about the side effect of receiving a clean viewfinder system. Makes a big difference in shooting enjoyment. My IIIa is getting a bit hazy and unpleasant to use. The day is approaching when I send it off for a "spa treatment".
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Old 08-17-2018   #14
Roger Hicks
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Be aware too that a "CLA" can range from a quick sluice out with aggressive solvents, followed by a squirt of lubricant dissolved in ether, followed over-stressing springs to get the speeds within sight of tolerances, at the expense of more and faster wear, to a full scale strip, clean and overhaul, replacing worn parts and relubricating with appropriate lubricants AFTER the full strip-down. It is no surprise that the latter can be several times as expensive as the former.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 08-17-2018   #15
sepiareverb
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
...It is no surprise that the latter can be several times as expensive as the former...
But well worth the added expense for a iii. A Barnack in top working order is quite something, smoother and more precise in operation than any camera (one might argue) made since.
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