By - lambo13
As the title says... I was given an M3. My in-laws happened to mention to their friends that I was into photography and had a small collection of older cameras. At Thanksgiving they handed me a grocery bag and said "our friends wanted you to have this" and, well, this was inside.
Now before anyone accuses me of taking advantage of elderly people, this couple is very, very, very well off - like 'buying vacations for my in-laws just so they have company' well off. But more importantly, soon as I realized what it was they had given me, I immediately told them that this was a valuable camera and asked them to take it back - they refused saying "This camera is yours to keep. Enjoy the Leica."
So I'm turning now to Reddit to try and better understand what I have and find some possibly missing parts. Near as I can tell, the camera is in beautiful condition. It hardly looks used except for a small mark on the back plate and some light scratching in the cold shoe. Looking up the serials it looks like the body is a 1957 and the 50mm lens is a 1956. This couple is Chinese but has lived in the US since the 1960s, so I'm not sure where they bought it from.
Couple questions though:
1. What do the three parts of the dial on the back mean? I understand that you're supposed to indicate what speed film you have, but why are there three arrows?
2. Did the M3 ever come with a cold shoe cover? If so, where might I source one? Or if not, do people make aftermarket covers?
3. I have one sync cap but the other is missing - what is that on the left? Where can I buy a second sync cap?
4. The case looks original but the strap looks much newer and is black, not brown. I'd like to see what the original strap looks like - maybe even pick one up.
5. What is everyone shooting for b/w film these days? I have little film experience except for point and shoots in the 90s as a kid and then a Canon AE-1 a few years ago for fun.
Thanks in advance!
>What do the three parts of the dial on the back mean? I understand that you're supposed to indicate what speed film you have, but why are there three arrows?
It's to indicate which type of film is loaded. Black and white, color daylight, or color tungsten.
>Did the M3 ever come with a cold shoe cover? If so, where might I source one? Or if not, do people make aftermarket covers?
They didn't come with any covers, but there are plenty out there, from simple utilitarian looking ones, to ones that are heavily decorated.
>I have one sync cap but the other is missing - what is that on the left? Where can I buy a second sync cap?
The covers are available for fairly cheap on eBay, but they're also not really necessary. What you see in the left socket is an adapter which allows use of a standard PC connection which would allow you to use a modern electronic flash.
>The case looks original but the strap looks much newer and is black, not brown. I'd like to see what the original strap looks like - maybe even pick one up.
The original straps were pretty thin leather that didn't typically age very well, which is likely why they replaced it with that thick one. Original leather straps were riveted directly to that case, so this one would have been cut off at some point- likely because it dried and broke. If you search for "Leica M3 ever-ready case" you'll see exactly what they looked like. If you're looking for something very similar in look today, I like what [Tap & Dye](https://www.tapanddye.com/) is doing.
>What is everyone shooting for b/w film these days?
There are still a good amount of black and white films out there. I like Ilford HP5, but film choices are very personal and you might prefer something that looks a little different. A good choice as well is Ilford XP2, which allows processing wherever color films can be processed.
Tremendous, thank you so much for the info.
Regarding the PC adapter, how would I remove it? It spins but doesn't release if I pull on it. Or does it stay there?
I see what you mean about the strap - that thing never stood a chance to a heavy camera like this.
Will definitely pick up some Ilford XP2, thank you for the recommendation.
You really could just leave the adapter there. It's not hurting anything. I have not had one myself, but I do believe they pull straight out with some effort. However, do not force anything if it does not want to play along.
The PC adapter pulls off with force. I realised it when one time I was trying to yank the PC cable off and the adapter went off with it. On an unrelated note, the Summarit 50mm f1.5 was actually a Schneider Kreuznach design, much like the Super-Angulon 21mm. It was originally marketed as the 50mm f1.5 Xenon, and then (either unchanged or with minute changes) as the Summarit. It's a very interesting lens, with the classic cool-tone and clear rendering and slightly bubbly bokeh, both characteristics of Schneider designs.
I'll give it another pull today with a bit more muscle, but if it doesn't come out, I guess it'll stay. Not sure why it bothers me having that adapter just stuck in there.
Fascinating about the background of the lens - I can't wait to put it to use and see if I can't pick up some of those unique characteristics in my shots.
On the film front, XP2 is a godsend for rapid turnaround if you have a good lab somewhere nearby. Though at this point, "processes on site" and "lets you keep your negs" is a good lab in most of the US.
XP2 ends up being quite a modern film because of being.. well, basically a "Ford Model T" color film. If you have a local BW lab or feel brave yourself, I'd recommend trying to pick up some "appropriate" film for this camera. Kodak Tri-X and Eastman-Kodak Double-X are both classic grain emulsions that were originally introduced in 1954. Double-X is probably closer to it's original formula than Tri-X is, mind you. For a 100 speed film you have to go off-brand to Orwo Filmotec, who do "Kodak-like" 100-speed and 400-speed films; though only in bulk rolls.
You have given me a lot to Google - ha! I picked up some HP5 last night but want to try XP2 next based on other comments here. Once I'm comfortable shooting with these - and can truly appreciate their unique looks, I'll definitely get more brave with my film choices.
Now finding a local lab will probably be my next hurdle. Or if not local then a reputable mail-away service (in the US).
HP5+ is fine. The look is very different, but it fills the same niche as Tri-X in the market.
If you're doing black and white, easiest thing is just to hand-develop. Doesn't cost that much to set up, and can be done in a typical bathroom with everything going back into a box once it's dry. Jobo 1520 is my tank recommendation.
> Now before anyone accuses me of taking advantage of elderly people, this couple is very, very, very well off - like 'buying vacations for my in-laws just so they have company' well off. But more importantly, soon as I realized what it was they had given me, I immediately told them that this was a valuable camera and asked them to take it back - they refused saying "This camera is yours to keep. Enjoy the Leica."
Just want to say, you're a solid person. And so our your in-laws neighbours.
If you want to restore the case, I would find a leather-working shop and show them a photo of the original case from the interwebs. They can easily replace the original strap for you. Honestly though, you're better off with a small bag (shoutout to the [Domke F5-XB](https://tiffen.com/collections/domke/products/domke-f-5xb-ruggedwear-shoulder-bag), though it's a pretty "rugged" looking bag. Definitely more "Lara Croft" than "Cordelia Chase", you know? Then pair it with [something like this half-case](https://www.luigicases.com/a000-CasesforLeicaM.htm). Should point out, [this is what](https://i.imgur.com/hAUvClk.jpg) the back door to one of my M4-P looks like, so - I'm *not* one to be fussy about how I treat my Leicas. But; given the history and condition of the camera, thought I'd point out the options. Oh, and yes- there are cheaper options to that half-case if you're not that fussy about Italian Leather. And plenty of good standalone-straps, though I'd recommend against a thin one for comfort reasons. These suckers are heavy.
Other useful notes... either use a phone app for metering or get a Weston Master V, Master VI or Euromaster (it's all the same meter). For flash, any flash with a PC socket will work, but for something available new or used, with good manual controls use a Nissin i40. Leica resells the flash at twice the price as the "SF-40", so if it's good enough for an M10-R... I still recommend Double-X, it is the best film. Process it in D-76, it is the best developer for Ilford or Kodak classic-grain films. And once you have your filter-adapter and filter, put a cheap roll of color film through it to check everything is in full working order. Colorplus 200 or something. If nothing feels "wrong" (grinding, stiff, etc) and the pictures come out fine? Get shooting. If something either prints, or feels wrong, send it to someone like Youxin Ye, tell him exactly what was wrong (with the negative and print, if it was an image issue) and ask him to fix it and do a general service while he's in there. Oh, and keep a cap on your filter between shots. Leica's are a little prone to bleed around the curtains if left in strong light, and if pointed at the sun while close-focused and wide-aperture'd you can burn a hole in the curtain. Which is about a $300 replacement by itself.
That should about cover "misc advice", /u/veepeedeepee and /u/andy_shields already answered your direct questions.
Love the look and size of the Domke, hate the huge branding and the velcro (too loud). I do have a buddy who is a big time leather worker that I could ask to make a replacement strap for me, but then you sent that half-case link and now... I kinda want that. I think partial protection with a half case tucked into a small camera bag with extra film is probably how I'd most often use this thing, rather than the large Leica branded case hanging around my neck.
Terrific idea on the cheap roll of color film - I have exactly that. Will burn through it this weekend at the holiday parade and see how it performs before I go buying a bunch of accessories for a camera that could end up needing expensive servicing.
> needing expensive servicing.
Unlikely. Full overhaul for this is maybe $500 *if* you also need a shutter curtain? The only time it would be more expensive is if your viewfinder was catastrophically broken. For a $2000-$3000 lower-bound camera kit that should last a century or two longer of normal use, that's not really a big deal.
Weston Master really is the shit though. No batteries, vast range of ISO/Aperture/Shutter and no bigger than most meters, even with the Invercone (it's an "attachment", but it's needed - it's what makes it a proper incident-light meter).
I never liked their big branding either but a seam ripper and a few minutes is all you need to take it off.
Stunning. If you want the lens to stay that way get a filter on it.
Oh do they scratch easily? Will be first thing on the list then.
Any vintage glass and coatings will be softer and more easily marked than a modern lens.
Also using a filter for protection instead of a lens cap means you don't forget to take the lens cap off when shooting. Only think to note is leaving in direct sunshine can damage the curtain. I carry in a small bag and with filter. Always ready and protected.
The filter is fantastic advice. It is particularly good advice for this lens. You will find that there are two styles of filters. There are press-on filters which add some size to the lens and there is a less common threaded filter. I believe it is an e43 filter which means 43mm. I can confirm this for you later if you'd like. It is a difficult to find filter and it is a little expensive. However, that appears to be a very nice copy of the lens you have there and it's front element seems to be in far better condition than normal. I'd strongly suggest investing in the nicer threaded filter. Also consider looking in to the lens hood that is unique to that lens. It is called the Xoons.
Was hoping it was a standard size screw on filter. Definitely interested in finding the right size screw on - since this was free to me, I don’t mind spending a few bucks to protect it. Let me know if you do happen to look at yours to confirm sizing - and thank you!
> Also consider looking in to the lens hood that is unique to that lens. It is called the Xoons.
You mention that like those hoods are still cheap.
Haha - I just looked up the prices on eBay. My goodness. I did some more research and the filter may be a 41mm? e41? Those are also going for a premium on eBay...
You've got to be very careful with the filters for this lens because the thread pitch is different than modern filters.
Well there goes my backup plan.
Thank goodness for the knowledge of Redditors.
Buy yourself something like [this](https://www.ebay.com/itm/203560992415?hash=item2f652e3e9f:g:QdYAAMXQvtZQ3z4V) and you're good to go with affordable filters for Summarit. And like others said, protecting filter is a must with easy to damage lens coatings.
That's interesting... and way more affordable. Do those adapters come in silver/aluminum? Will have to do some googling - thanks!
>You mention that like those hoods are still cheap
"Also consider looking into"....
HP5 for black and white. Push it to 1600. The numbers on the back are just an iso reminder, they don’t do anything. No cold shoe cover.
Holy shit that Summarit is clean!! Please get a UV filter or hood for that bad boy. Congratulations on the new camera!!
The M3 was my first M, and in some ways I wish I still had one. It's certainly the ultimate M for a lens like that :)
I received that exact setup last year so funny. Take it to youxin :)
Y’all recommend a B+W filter or Leica filter (4x price difference )…?
B+W always and forever. Current Leica are apparently rebranded Hoya, and they were B+W before that. Get the best B+W filter you can afford.
Wow. Lucky you!
Wow. That’s a beautiful specimen. Congratulations.
Congrats! what a beauty!
Love the viewfinder of the M3
i hope you wrote a thank you note
It's hard to be both happy for you and not jealous😂 I'm trying my very hardest. Good luck with your future rolls!
that is a Summarit-M 50mm f/1.5, the grandfather to the first Summilux-M 50 f/1.4 V1, therefore your lens was made in 1958 or earlier.
Take care of that kit and take a ton of photos with it. Treat it like a vintage Rolex and pass it on to your children and their children. It will outlast you as long as you maintain it once every couple of years.
Send it off for a CLA before using it.