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Jim Lager - Leica Historian Jim Lager is widely considered the best Leica historian ever, having authored arguably the best selection of Leica history books ever written. RFF is very fortunate to have access to his amazing Leica knowledge.

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New member/Barnack Leica identification help
Old 05-18-2019   #1
gokullm
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New member/Barnack Leica identification help

Hey guys, I've been reading posts in the forum but I figured I create an account to say hello and ask for some help. I picked up what I believe is a IIIC "red curtain" based on a serial number of 367690. Everything looks good except for the eyepieces on the back bring separate for viewfinder and rangefinder. I have only seen this on a IIIA. Can't you guys help me identify what I have here.

http://imgur.com/gallery/qnGSkSC
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Old 05-18-2019   #2
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Weird...

Really unusual!
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Old 05-18-2019   #3
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Not even remotely an expert but that also has the diopter adjustment where it should be for a IIIc. On a III or IIIa it would be on the eyepiece itself. It is a stepper top and the area around the rangefinder eyepiece is different as I haven't seen that bulge before.

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Old 05-18-2019   #4
Erik van Straten
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I've never seen such a camera before in my life. It is a IIIc for sure, but the eyepiece seems to be adapted. Maybe the owner had problems with the IIIc finder and someone changed the eyepiece in something that looks like a IIIa or a IIIb finder. Wonderful.


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Old 05-18-2019   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
I've never seen such a camera before in my life. It is a IIIc for sure, but the eyepiece seems to be adapted. Maybe the owner had problems with the IIIc finder and someone changed the eyepiece in something that looks like a IIIa or a IIIb finder. Wonderful.


Erik.
That makes sense, the bulge could be covering the extra space for the original eyepiece. Could also be why the trim rings on the front of the RF/VF are different.

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Old 05-18-2019   #6
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IIIc stepper for sure, but the eyepieces...They don't look like Leitz at all. So someone has taken an unused top housing and modified it. Indeed the whole r/f inside will be like a III ...probably. That 'someone' must have been Leitz accredited to have the serial number engraved...so maybe factory.

I wonder, can you look through the camera OK or are these mods for some serious sort of eye defect and everything is out of focus?
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Old 05-18-2019   #7
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very very interesting, welcome to the forum by the way
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Old 05-18-2019   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shawn View Post
That makes sense, the bulge could be covering the extra space for the original eyepiece. Could also be why the trim rings on the front of the RF/VF are different.

Shawn
The internals have to be different too.

The normal lllc has a Viewfinder that utilises a prism to correct the closer together eyepiece placement, (from the lllb onwards) This one had to adapt a straight through and simpler reverse Galilean type viewfinder like on the Leica lll and llla.

I wonder if it was a specially made camera with a (maybe changeable too) VF eyepiece for longer lenses, like for surveillance use in police work.
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Old 05-18-2019   #9
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Wow, ya'll are quick on the replies. Looking through the rangefinder it seems to operate as normal, albeit a bit dim due to the mirror degrading. The shutter release has this conical collar screwed on that when removed shows the original button. Having never seen anything like it, I was concerned it may be a clone but I didn't think there were clones with a "stepper" and the roller cam inside for focusing.

If there is a safe way to take this apart to find more clues I'd love to do so, but I don't want to risk more damage if this is a rare one-off camera.
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Old 05-18-2019   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gokullm View Post
Wow, ya'll are quick on the replies. Looking through the rangefinder it seems to operate as normal, albeit a bit dim due to the mirror degrading. The shutter release has this conical collar screwed on that when removed shows the original button. Having never seen anything like it, I was concerned it may be a clone but I didn't think there were clones with a "stepper" and the roller cam inside for focusing.

If there is a safe way to take this apart to find more clues I'd love to do so, but I don't want to risk more damage if this is a rare one-off camera.
I would get it pro CLAed and get the RF 50/50 mirror replaced.

It would be worth the price of admission.
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Old 05-18-2019   #11
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I didn't plan on shooting with the camera due to the "historical" significance so I figured leaving it in its current condition.
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Old 05-18-2019   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gokullm View Post
I didn't plan on shooting with the camera due to the "historical" significance so I figured leaving it in its current condition.
It still would be "historical"... fully functional "historical" is much more desirable, to own, as pride of ownership... or even to sell.

No different than say a vintage Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle, one restored that you can ride on is much more of a joy than one that needs restoration sitting on a stand in some dark garage gathering cob-webs and layers of dust, just my two cents.
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Old 05-18-2019   #13
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I’d suggest contacting Jim Lager...if anyone has seen something like this before, it’s likely to be him...
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Old 05-18-2019   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xayraa33 View Post
It still would be "historical"... fully functional "historical" is much more desirable, to own, as pride of ownership... or even to sell.

No different than say a vintage Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle, one restored that you can ride on is much more of a joy than one that needs restoration sitting on a stand in some dark garage gathering cob-webs and layers of dust, just my two cents.

Thanks for the suggestion, I am going to do as much research as I can just to verify this is a legit IIIC before spending more $$$ on a CLA and mirror.
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Old 05-18-2019   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by splitimageview View Post
Id suggest contacting Jim Lager...if anyone has seen something like this before, its likely to be him...
I have sent a few emails to Dan Tamarkin who I believe is an officer of LHSA. He believes it's a legit IIIC and wants to enter it in the fall auction of his. If you can help me get in contact with Jim Lager I would love to shoot him a couple emails.
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Old 05-18-2019   #16
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......If you can help me get in contact with Jim Lager I would love to shoot him a couple emails.
Jim Lager has his own sub-forum on RFF. Look over on the far left side of the RFF site and you'll see it.

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Old 05-18-2019   #17
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Might also try jlager100 at yahoo.com
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Old 05-18-2019   #18
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Alright, I just sent him a PM and an email. Hopefully we'll hear back soon. I appreciate y'all's help
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Old 05-18-2019   #19
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Hi,

You were wondering about it being legit; from (say) the forgers point of view it would be very difficult and hardly profitable to forge the die cast body of a Leica IIIc onwards. They are not like the previous version of the Barnacks that could be forged using a FED and some simple cosmetic changes to fool newcomers.

My money, for what it's worth, is on it being a modified or older RF and top cover. Being modular there's lot of unofficial variations and people in the works could have done it when desperate for parts in the 40's. Or it's a repair done unofficially for a friend...

Regards, David
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Old 05-20-2019   #20
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Here is an update to my search. I emailed Sam from Classic Connection and he was able to dig up the following:

"Leica number 367690 was completed as a red curtain IIIc and shipped to agent Nordisk Kopenhagen on 16.12.40.
Written incorrectly as LOODU ( IIIb with Summitar) .
The inside number should be 367690 on the bearing plate. I suspect it may not be there,.
In my opinion this is a camera that has reworked ( to say the least ) .
It looks like some mechanic has installed a II/III/IIIa rf/vf system into the place where the proper IIIc components fit. Crazy!
I have never seen this before.I think someone got this camera in bad shape and tried to make a working unit with whatever parts they
could locate.
The lens is Tokyo Optical copy of the 5cm Elmar. I think this later became Topcon. A curiosity!
Cheers,
LeicaSam"

If anyone knows how to open it up and look at the bearing plate I'd love to confirm what camera I really have.
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Old 05-20-2019   #21
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It's difficult to tell from the photos, but does the finish/feel/sheen of the top plate match the bottom, or is it somewhat different?
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Old 05-20-2019   #22
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Originally Posted by splitimageview View Post
It's difficult to tell from the photos, but does the finish/feel/sheen of the top plate match the bottom, or is it somewhat different?
From what I can tell, the top is more of a chrome and the bottom is more flat. A brass color is coming through on both.

http://imgur.com/gallery/BNPhPHM
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Old 05-20-2019   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dralowid View Post
IIIc stepper for sure, but the eyepieces...They don't look like Leitz at all. So someone has taken an unused top housing and modified it. Indeed the whole r/f inside will be like a III ...probably. That 'someone' must have been Leitz accredited to have the serial number engraved...so maybe factory.

I wonder, can you look through the camera OK or are these mods for some serious sort of eye defect and everything is out of focus?
They must have modified the original IIIc top plate, since it has the step. In that case it could be the correct original serial number. And then they could have added the bump--which looks like nice work! The mushroom cup on the shutter release isn't factory!

I wonder what the point was of doing all That?
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Old 05-21-2019   #24
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Originally Posted by Rob-F View Post
...I wonder what the point was of doing all That?

The IIIc was a wartime camera and parts were not so readily available from Germany. In fact the IIIc never reached (meaning imported and sold in) Britain until long after the war apart from captured/liberated ones. So other cameras' parts were cannibalised to keep them all going and so on.




Some wartime camera magazines here had articles about captured IIIc's which they thought were IV's only Leitz stopped the Roman numbers at 3 for some reason I've never understood. (So you get the old and new (die cast) as variations of the III's, weird... It seems sensible to call the die cast versions IV's, but there you are.)

Anyway, that might explain how a IIIc became a unique Leica BITSA*.

Regards, David


* Cultural Note; the word BITSA is a corruption of "bits of this and bits of that" and was in widespread use once upon a time
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Old 05-21-2019   #25
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* Cultural Note; the word BITSA is a corruption of "bits of this and bits of that" and was in widespread use once upon a time
Still in use in the classic car trade (weirdly not to customers, I wonder why?). Generally sold as original and unrestored!
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Old 05-21-2019   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
The IIIc was a wartime camera and parts were not so readily available from Germany. In fact the IIIc never reached (meaning imported and sold in) Britain until long after the war apart from captured/liberated ones. So other cameras' parts were cannibalised to keep them all going and so on.




Some wartime camera magazines here had articles about captured IIIc's which they thought were IV's only Leitz stopped the Roman numbers at 3 for some reason I've never understood. (So you get the old and new (die cast) as variations of the III's, weird... It seems sensible to call the die cast versions IV's, but there you are.)

Anyway, that might explain how a IIIc became a unique Leica BITSA*.

Regards, David


* Cultural Note; the word BITSA is a corruption of "bits of this and bits of that" and was in widespread use once upon a time

That is a very cool bit of history. Amazing to think all the lives this camera traded.
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