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  1. #1
    snegron's Avatar
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    Leica Screwmount Suggestions

    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. #2
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    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. #3
    Jersey Vic's Avatar
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    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.
    Holga: if it was any more analog, you'd need a chisel.

  4. #4
    snegron's Avatar
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    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. #5
    Phil's Avatar
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  6. #6
    David H. Bebbington's Avatar
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    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. #7
    snegron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil View Post
    Thanks for the link!

  8. #8
    snegron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David H. Bebbington View Post
    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

    Any recommendations on a reputable repair shop in the U.S.?

  9. #9
    David H. Bebbington's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by snegron View Post
    Any recommendations on a reputable repair shop in the U.S.?
    Not personally, I use Newton Ellis & Co. of Liverpool, but I'm sure someone will have a good suggestion!

    PS: Here's some instructions:
    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Leica-Instruct...QQcmdZViewItem

  10. #10

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    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.

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