Refurb a SM Leica?

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by jolefler, Aug 14, 2007.

  1. jolefler

    jolefler Member

    Messages:
    420
    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2006
    Location:
    Northeast Oh
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    So what's the accepted protocol for refurbishing a Leica II? Is it politically correct to send it off for a CLA and perhaps doing a recovering job myself? Or is this a camera that should be left "as is" and let the collectors have it's way with it? What about repairing the leather case...or just leave well enough alone. I don't see many IIs around, mostly the III series.

    I've stumbled into a camera and 5cm Elmar, and according to the numbers were both made in 1937. I have neither the time or money to start a "collection", but thought it would make an interesting user (was that an audible gasp from Leicaphiles around the globe?) at the ridiculously low price (I believe) for which it was purchased.

    If it's OK to do, got any suggestions for facilities that would do a reasonably priced CLA? A return to Germany is out of the question in the budget, I'm sure.
     
  2. wilsonneal

    wilsonneal Member

    Messages:
    578
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2006
    Location:
    Northern NJ
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    I recommend Don Goldberg of DAG Camera in Wisconsin. He is very reputable and I find his prices affordable. The work is very high quality. An internet search for DAG Camera will locate his site quickly. Don worked on my M3.

    I had Nippon in New York City mechanically restore a IIIf, but only because of very high sentimental value. A screw mount as a serious shooter has limitations. I would leave the cover alone unless it was really ugly.

    My two cents.
     
  3. jolefler

    jolefler Member

    Messages:
    420
    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2006
    Location:
    Northeast Oh
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The cover has a couple of large pieces missing from around the lens mount...yes, I consider it ugly. What now?
     
  4. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

    Messages:
    2,364
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2004
    Location:
    East Kent, U
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    There is no reason why you shouldn't do some serious shooting with a Leica II - incidentally, part of the reason you don't see many is because they could be returned to the factory for upgrading, so a lot of Leica IIs became IIIs or IIIas.

    As a rule of thumb, if a Leica looks reasonable, it will be repairable. On the other hand, for a 70-year-old camera to survive in reasonable condition, it can't have been used all that much and has probably spent the last few years in a drawer unused. This can often lead to shutter tapering, which is when the shutter doesn't open until partway through its travel, giving pictures which are heavily underexposed at one end. It is also very likely that a Leica (or any other camera) which has been unused for some time will have some dried-up grease in it somewhere and some other points which should be lubricated but aren't any more. A CLA is virtually essential (unless you get a camera which has been used lightly but continuously all its life), you can then enjoy the camera working the way it is supposed to, and you can also (unless you use the camera very heavily) be fairly sure that the camera will not need another CLA in your lifetime! Things like holes in the leather don't matter that much, but they are cheap to fix and make the camera look nicer!

    Regards,

    David
     
  5. Rolleiflexible

    Rolleiflexible Member

    Messages:
    1,274
    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2005
    Location:
    New York Cit
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Both of Wilson's suggestions are good ones. DAG is legendary among Leica shooters. I have used Nippon Photo Clinic on Broadway here in New York City on several occasions and they are as honest as they are expert in camera repair. Other resources are available online at www.rangefinderforum.com -- their archives are full of information about fixing Leica screwmounts.

    Before recommending a particular place -- what sort of work does the camera need?

    Coverings: Go to http://www.cameraleather.com/ for DIY replacement coverings. You need to contact them and ask if they can cut a set for a Leica II -- I believe they can but you need to make sure to get the right set for the camera.

    Do not listen to folks who complain about the trials of shooting a Leica screwmount -- the cameras are very usable. I shoot an early Leica II with its original Elmar on occasion and it never fails me. Here's a link to a photo I shot two days ago with it:

    http://www.apug.org/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=27027&cat=500&ppuser=5854

    Have fun with it.

    Sanders McNew
     
  6. jolefler

    jolefler Member

    Messages:
    420
    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2006
    Location:
    Northeast Oh
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Wow!!

    Good advice from all...thanks! So, I'll proceed with fixing it up

    At this stage the camera will just be my new toy, the Nikons will get the brunt of film usage. And if I can get results out of the Leica even 1/4 as good as Sanders', I'd be tickled pink!

    Thanks for the tip on the RF forum, as well. Hooda thunk that small a faction of photographers would have such a nice and active site! This one is fantastic, but I attributed that to the diversity in interests here (not to mention Sean and all the moderators' hard work!)

    Jo
     
  7. HerrBremerhaven

    HerrBremerhaven Member

    Messages:
    861
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2006
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You might try contacting Leica directly. They do some reasonable cost repairs and restorations at the factory. You would then get a nice workable camera with a certificate and guarantee from Leica. Compare their cost to having someone else do the work.

    Ciao!

    Gordon Moat
    A G Studio
     
  8. Mark Layne

    Mark Layne Member

    Messages:
    919
    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2003
    Location:
    Nova Scotia
    Everyone who asks these questions deserves to be a member of The Leica Historical Society of America - LHSA
    Go to their excellent website
    Mark
     
  9. tbm

    tbm Member

    Messages:
    365
    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2004
    Location:
    Southern Cal
    Shooter:
    35mm
    If the Leica lens is what you are mostly interested in using, you could put the old Leica body on a shelf for display and instead buy a screw-mount Voitlander Bessa camera that is currently manufactured, for it will be substantially easier to load film into and much easier to operate overall.
     
  10. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

    Messages:
    4,913
    Joined:
    May 17, 2006
    Location:
    Northern Aqu
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Except that you can't collapse the lens, and the difference between the cameras is like the difference between driving a 1936 MG TA and a current Toyota. There are two reasons I don't use my IIIa: one is that three good repairers have all failed to fix an intermittent fault for very long, and the other is I prefer my Ms.

    I second Saunders's comment that they are easy enough to load and use: my IIIa was my principal camera at university, because it was so small and convenient, and continued to receive a lot of use until it was in its 50s (it's 14 years older than I).
     
  11. jolefler

    jolefler Member

    Messages:
    420
    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2006
    Location:
    Northeast Oh
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thanks, folks

    It just came back from the CLA, & now I'm waiting for the new covering. The technician said it would make an excellent user, so that affected my decision to load and shoot it.

    The tech did say he couldn't remove the top speed dial from the underlying mechanism without risking damage, but said that wouldn't affect the camera's performance.

    Thanks to all who've guided me through this decision.
     
  12. jon koss

    jon koss Subscriber

    Messages:
    674
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2004
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Just for fun, I thought you might like to see a reskinned LTM. The improvement was beyond huge!! The super-tack skin is an absolute marvel. It transformed the camera.

    J


     

    Attached Files:

  13. jolefler

    jolefler Member

    Messages:
    420
    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2006
    Location:
    Northeast Oh
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Very Nice!

    I hope to do as well, as it's a do-it-yourself application. Read & re-read the cam coverings support page and will probably do it again before peeling the backing off.

    I bet the Post-lady thinks I'm stalking her! ;>)