Leica Screwmount Suggestions

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by snegron, Sep 12, 2007.

  1. snegron

    snegron Member

    Messages:
    808
    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2005
    Location:
    Hot, Muggy,
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I noticed that the prices of Leica Screwmount cameras are considerably lower than M mount cameras. I have been tempted to get a screwmount IIIf body with a 35mm or 50mm lens. Any suggestions? I plan to actually use this camera for weekend/fun shooting. I would love to get any one of the M series rangefinder cameras, but the prices are still too high for me especially the lenses.

    Is it worth looking into getting an old screwmount, or will I be just getting a delicate little museum piece that is too fragile to use?

    I would like to get a rangefinder and I think this would be an easy inexpensive alternative. I looked into getting a new Bessa R3, even had my credit card in hand, but when I spoke to the distributor here in the U.S. (West Coast area) he seemed a bit snobbish, curt, and not very helpful. Totally bummed me out, so I decided not to give him my money.

    I have looked at used Contax G1 and G2's, but despite having a great reputation, they seem a bit too "point and shooty" to me (I like to wind my own film and focus by myself). Also, I have a weakness for all metal cameras.
     
  2. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,452
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Location:
    Rural NW MO
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I used the IIIf and similar Japanese cameras for many years. The dual rangefinder-viewfinder windows are a slight inconvenience. The small viewfinder is less pleasant to use than later Canon and Leica rangefinders. The two shutter speed dials can initially be confusing. One must be careful not to interfere with the rotation of the high shutter speed dial during exposure. Gloves really get in the way. Loading is less convenient than with newer cameras. The film must be trimmed for a longer tongue, or the film gate covered with something like card stock while loading, or the shoulder of the film might hang up on the edge of the film gate. On the other hand, the IIIf and similar cameras are very compact, especially with an Elmar f/3.5 or the superb Elmar f/2.8. Screw mount lenses can be mounted with an adaptor to the M series if you ever upgrade. The IIIf is not a delicate item to only be admired on a shelf. They are a workhorse. However, any camera 50 years old may be due for a CLA.
     
  3. Jersey Vic

    Jersey Vic Member

    Messages:
    3,924
    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2004
    Location:
    Columbia Cou
    Shooter:
    Holga
    I have a IIIa and a Bessa R2 from I bought from Steve Gandy at www.cameraquest.com (GREAT guy and source of info) and if I want 'fun' aka -I'm not planning on shooting anything potentially 'priceless', I use the Leica-a beautiful small but hard to load non metered work of art. If I need a bright rangefinder window, good built in metering, framelines for a number of lenses and want to use screw mount and M series lenses, the R is the way to go. I love my Summitar 50mm especially shot wide open for portraits and my CV 50 Nokton (super contrasty and sharp). Russian lenses can be wonderful and cheap as well.
    Have Fun and definitely check out all of the info on Leicas and Bessas on Steve site..amazing amount of info.
     
  4. snegron

    snegron Member

    Messages:
    808
    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2005
    Location:
    Hot, Muggy,
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Thanks for the feedback! I had no idea about the film loading issue. Is there any site I can go to for more info on how to use the IIIf? I am assuming that it would be next to impossible to find an instruction manual.

    Jim, why does it have two shutter speed dials?

    Vic, I have seen a few samples out there for sale with disclaimers of having dim viewfinders. Is this the way they were designed, or is this a result of the viewfinders getting dim over time?
     
  5. Phil

    Phil Member

    Messages:
    114
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Vermont
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
  6. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

    Messages:
    2,364
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2004
    Location:
    East Kent, U
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Agree with previous postings. If you're not interested in flash photography, you could consider a IIIc (same camera as IIIf but no flash contact), just make sure to buy one made after the war! The IIIf comes in basically 3 models, black dial, red dial, and red dial with self-timer (price rises in this order). No real difference from a user point of view -agree with Jim that a CLA will probably be necessary.

    The thing with Leicas is that they are very well engineered and there are a LOT of them around which have been used very lightly by amateurs. If you find an old one that doesn't work, this is usually because of dried-up grease due to lack of use rather than heavy wear and broken parts. A screw-mount Leica which has been serviced correctly is a very durable working tool. Copies of (reprinted) operating instructions are freely available from Hove Camera Books in the UK, probably elsewhere as well.

    As regards dim viewfinders, this relates to the rangefinder - this has various prisms which have silver coating on their front faces (i.e. exposed to the air), this can tarnish over time, it will clean up if not too bad, otherwise the surface concerned will need re-silvering, which any good Leica repairshop can do for not too much money. A Leica rangefinder is as bright as any other if in good order. The two shutter speed dials are quirky, the fact that the speeds on the slow-speed dial are in random order even more so, but you get used to it. Similarly, cutting a 100 mm half-width leader on films is not a problem. Go for a Leica - you're sure to enjoy the experience!

    Regards,

    David
     
  7. snegron

    snegron Member

    Messages:
    808
    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2005
    Location:
    Hot, Muggy,
    Shooter:
    35mm
  8. snegron

    snegron Member

    Messages:
    808
    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2005
    Location:
    Hot, Muggy,
    Shooter:
    35mm

    Any recommendations on a reputable repair shop in the U.S.?
     
  9. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

    Messages:
    2,364
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2004
    Location:
    East Kent, U
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
  10. dslater

    dslater Member

    Messages:
    732
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2005
    Location:
    Hollis, NH
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I'm going to throw out an off the wall suggestion here. before you go out an buy a leica screw mount camera, you might want to take a look at the Voigtlander Bessa T over at http://www.cameraquest.com. In the description for this camera, they compare it to a Leica IIIf. Like the Leica IIIf it doesn't have a viewfinder. I does have a very long effective rangefinder baseline, TTL metering and a Leica M-mount on which you can use a LTM lens with an adapter.
    Just a thought as I think at $185.00 it is less expensive than a used Leica and you may find it easier to have serviced.
     
  11. Jersey Vic

    Jersey Vic Member

    Messages:
    3,924
    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2004
    Location:
    Columbia Cou
    Shooter:
    Holga
  12. dslater

    dslater Member

    Messages:
    732
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2005
    Location:
    Hollis, NH
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Actually, I just took a look at the page about Leica screw mount cameras and apparently they do have a viewfinder, but it is separate from the range finder. The Bessa T doesn't have a viewfinder - you need an external viewfinder.
     
  13. Lee L

    Lee L Member

    Messages:
    3,247
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    US repair shops:

    Don Goldberg http://www.dagcamera.com/

    Sherry Krauter http://www.sherrykrauter.com/

    Both factory trained and with decades of experience. Both come very highly recommended. Sherry used to train people around the world for E. Leitz. I have only used Don on the one CLA (to an SLR) that I've needed.

    Lee
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

    Messages:
    2,364
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2004
    Location:
    East Kent, U
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    You're right about the T - the IIIf follows Leitz's usual system of model designations:
    If - no viewfinder or rangefinder
    IIf - viewfinder and rangefinder, no slow speeds
    IIIf - all the comforts of home! (viewfinder, rangefinder, slow speeds)
    Same system applies to c cameras (Ic, IIc, IIIc, all of which have no flash contact, or least didn't have when they left the factoiry).

    Regards,

    David
     
  16. patrickjames

    patrickjames Member

    Messages:
    743
    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2005
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Forget about the screwmount Leicas if you want a useable camera.They are great for nostalgia and their small size, but for taking pictures... I am surprised no one has mentioned the Canons yet. I have a Canon 7 and it is a great camera. It will cost you about the same or less than a Leica screwmount or Bessa, and it is a far better camera. And I mean it is better by leaps and bounds. Easy loading, great viewfinder and super smoooth. It is as nice as my late model M3 which is supposed to be the best Leica ever made. You should be able to pick one up for under $200.

    Patrick
     
  17. dslater

    dslater Member

    Messages:
    732
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2005
    Location:
    Hollis, NH
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Hmm - you know I looked into getting a Canon 7 a while back. The thing that turned me off was the fact that the Canon 7 lacks an accessory shoe and they're hard to find and expensive. The Canon 7s does have an accessory shoe, but they are much more expensive - $400.00 to $500.00. Also, I decided that if I get a rangefinder, I would be better off with an M mount camera. Ultimately I decided that I just couldn't justify the outlay for a rangefinder system when I already have a pretty extensive Nikon SLR system, so I opted to just get a Canonet QL-17 as a camera to keep in my car.
    To be honest, I really like the Canonet - It's smalle, light and super quiet. The only downside is the fixed lens. I am now considering replacing it with a Leica CL or CLE with a 40mm and a 75 or 90mm lens.
     
  18. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,452
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Location:
    Rural NW MO
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
     
  19. Xmas

    Xmas Member

    Messages:
    6,455
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    The two most practical bodies are the
    Canon P
    M4-2
    Both are fast handling slick machimes with superb viewfinders, and will accept any LTM lens, the M4-2 needs the LTM to M adapter.
    The most practical lens is the
    J12 (35mm) for the M4-2, the exception the J12 probably wont fit most Canon VI-T, VI-L or P's
    Canon f/2.8 for the P
    get a beaten up shooter...
    if you only use a 35mm the VI-T is really slick trigger wind.

    Noel
     
  20. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,452
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Location:
    Rural NW MO
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I own and have used screw mount and M series Leicas, and Canon P and 7. The Canons have some conveniences lacking in older Leicas. However, when wide open my Canon 50mm f/1.4 compares poorly with the 50mm Summicron. My Leica M4 has performed well for 37 years while the slightly older Canons have long sat on a shelf. When using both bodies, the Leica is noticably smoother.

    Both Canon and Leica were capable of fine photographs when properly used. Canon was sometimes more innovative than Leica, while Leica persisted in great craftsmanship and conservative design. Condition is everything. A Canon 7 in top condition is certainbly preferable to a Leica that has been beat or used to death like my IIIf.
     
  21. Jersey Vic

    Jersey Vic Member

    Messages:
    3,924
    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2004
    Location:
    Columbia Cou
    Shooter:
    Holga
    If $ are an issue, how about a Zorki IV Leica-clone? With a 50mm 2.0 it's $50 or so and if you like the experience you could always mount the lens on an M later. The M's are at a low $-wise as are the III so you'll never lose much if any $ on them.
     
  22. dslater

    dslater Member

    Messages:
    732
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2005
    Location:
    Hollis, NH
    Shooter:
    35mm
    According to what I've read at cameraquest.com, many Canon P 's have problems with flare in the viewfinder which is difficult to correct. What do you think of the Canon 7?
     
  23. dslater

    dslater Member

    Messages:
    732
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2005
    Location:
    Hollis, NH
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I also read that due to some baffles in the Canon P they are not suitable for use with very wide angle lenses
     
  24. dslater

    dslater Member

    Messages:
    732
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2005
    Location:
    Hollis, NH
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Is this the same camera as a Zorki-4? How are the rangefinders in these cameras? Do you know what the baseline is?
     
  25. Jersey Vic

    Jersey Vic Member

    Messages:
    3,924
    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2004
    Location:
    Columbia Cou
    Shooter:
    Holga
    Holding one in my hand..yes it's the "Zopkuu' - 4"
    I have the 50th anniversary (??) model.
    Baseline is width ? The rangefinder is clear and accurate and intergrated with the viewfinder and 1.5 inch wide between the windows.
    The camera is approx 5 inches.
    Not a Leica but I could hit someone with it in a seedy alley and take fine contrasty sunny f16 photos when we ran out of it. (I'm a native Bronx-ite)

    Very good review:

    http://cameras.alfredklomp.com/zorki4/
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 13, 2007
  26. Rolleiflexible

    Rolleiflexible Member

    Messages:
    1,274
    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2005
    Location:
    New York Cit
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I use a Leica IIIa on those rare occasions where my Rolleiflex will not do. Don't believe those naysayers who claim the camera is hard to use -- it is not. It has some quirks that take maybe two minutes to sort out.

    I don't use the Russian cameras but my Russian photographer friend says he swears by the Fed-2 and swears at the Zorki line. He says the build quality is better and the Feds feel more solid.