April 2020

Leica III Review: First Impressions

With the FED 2 not hitting the mark and curiousity getting the better of me for yet another time, it seemed like a natural conclusion that I'd have to try out a real Leica. I stumbled across a store on eBay (The Latent Image) from my hometown of Shrewsbury when I unwittingly sold an item to them. Its good to see a business like this crop up in a town like this and is a sign of analogue photography's rude health right now. Immediately after unpacking the item I could tell the build of this camera was precise and the FED's was crude in comparison and there would be no going back. For a camera made in 1936 it was in decent condition with only some brassing on the Chrome. The image above shows me cutting the film leader, as required for this camera. I can see how this is a bit of an annoyance and would require some forward planning if you want to shoot multiple rolls while out and about.

One of the big differences between the FED 2 and the Leica III is that the rangefinder has its own window rather than being a patch in the viewfinder. I wasn't sure how I'd like this as you have to move your eye back and forth, but in reality you're not using a camera made in 1936 for speed shooting, and actually the seperate window I found to be much better for me than a dim patch. The rangefinder window is zoomed in significantly compared to the 50mm viewfinder window and this helps for accurate focusing. My camera is usable but its still pretty dim and I think I'll have to send it off to be serviced and have new split prisms put in it to get it working better. The other big noticable difference for me was the film counter actually stuck in the correct place so I could tell which frame I was on, unlike the FED 2 which seemed to lose its place immediately. The film advance and rewind also feels like a finely tuned machine rather than a blunt tool that will leave your fingertips needing some TLC. As for the lens, whilst not the same optical design as the copycat Industar-22, its ergonomically the same. Changing the aperture is still a pain, but the compactness of it being folded up is fantastic. I haven't done a proper test to check the Industar against the Elmar so maybe I'll do that on the next roll.

Most likely I'll sell the Industar as I have already done with the FED. This Leica and Elmar definitely feel like a keeper for the long term. As for these shots, they were taken on Easter Bank Holiday 2020 as part of a bike ride for my daily exercise during the lockdown. It was crazy to see central london so empty. Film is Kentmere 400 and developed in Ilfotec LC-29.