DPR Forum

Welcome to the Friendly Aisles!
DPRF is a photography forum with people from all over the world freely sharing their knowledge and love of photography. Everybody is welcome, from beginners to the experienced professional. Whether it is Medium Format, fullframe, APS-C, MFT or smaller formats. Digital or film. DPRF is a forum for everybody and for every format.
Enjoy this modern, easy to use software. Look also at our Reviews & Gallery!

Using Leica IIIf red dial



One of my favorite cameras is the Leica IIIf red dial which I got a few years ago. Instead of leaving it on the shelf, I am actively using it. So far, I have the Leitz Elmar 5cm/f 3.5 normal lens, with matching "nooky" near focusing device, Steinheil Munchen Culminar 8.5cm/f2.8 telephoto lens and various accessories, including the universal viewfinder, Metraphot light meter{which needs repair} and several Leica film cassettes, etc. Also, I have an original Leica IIIc instruction book, which gives a lot of good information.

Using the IIIf is a real joy. It's completely manual, which forces me to try harder and make my shots count. Sometimes I get a bit carried away with taking pictures using an automatic camera with a motor drive. It's also a quality camera, the 5cm Elmar is an excellent lens. I really respect the tradition and dependability of Leica cameras.
I have a Leica IIIf RDST (with self-timer), made in 1954. When loading a film, Leica advises trimming the leader but the only time I ever tried doing that it didn't make the job any easier. I follow the procedure described in Stephen Gandy's web site http://www.cameraquest.com/ltmcam.htm which is not as daunting as it seems.

The shutter speeds on my IIIf had to be adjusted becaused 1/500 and 1/1000 were not working. Every speed works now but the slow speeds are a bit fast; 1 second is more like 3/4 second. Still, it's fully functional. The rangefinder is accurate (I adjusted it vertically and horizontally) and easily visible. I have an OKARO orange filter that clips over the RF window nearest the rewind knob, which enhances the contrast of the RF.

I previously owned a IIIc, made in 1947, that had been factory upgraded to a IIIf black dial. It was in poorer cosmetic condition then my IIIf RDST and its shutter made more noise. It worked OK, though.

It's difficult to describe the pleasure of handling and using the LTM cameras. The craftsmanship, heft, shape and compact size make these cameras wonderful things to behold.

The Leica optics of that time are another thing, however. They leave a lot to be desired, mainly because of their age. Fogging and "cleaning marks" are very common. My 5cm f/3.5 Elmar red scale flares very easily and use of a lens shade is essential if there is a light source anywhere near the field of view.

From a practical point of view, non-Leica glass is usually a better bet, unless you can afford to buy one of the very expensive and quite rare Leica LTM lenses that were produced in small quantities for the Japanese market a few years ago. Other modern lenses, with good performance and reasonable prices, can be had from Cosina/Voigtlander, made for the Bessa R and L cameras. However, if you use the CV 50mm f/1.5 Nokton lens, you need to use a separate viewfinder, because the lens blocks out quite a large part of a Leica LTM camera's tiny built-in viewfinder.
Thanks Ray, for the reply to "Using Leica IIIf red dial".

I must have been lucky when I got My IIIf red dial, It's in near mint condition, including the f3.5/5cm Elmar lens. The camera must not have been used for awhile.

Also thanks for the tips and the web site address.
One question I have is about the use of filters on the Elmar, what size will work without covering the f-stop scale?

WOW I asked just the other day if a screw mount forum could be added to this site and here it is. And full of seamingly nice people what a change from other Leica groups maybe I found a home.

My name is Mark W. until recently I NEVER thought of owning a Leica of any kind. Then one day I was in the proccess of selling a rifle to a guy I know when he mentions that he has a camera would I be interested in trading (he knew I did a little collecting) I asked what did you have back came a Leica that he bought in Gremany in 1953. Well since the rifle was worth about $200.00 at best and I ain't know dummy I ran over to take a look I wasn't real sure what I was looking at but I sure knew that it was worth way more then the rifle. he sent me home with it to figure out that I had in my hot little hands a EX++ condition IIIf RD made in 1953 with a 5cm f1.5 Summarit made in 1952 with just a little excerise all the shutter speeds work close enough for color negs. The 5cm is off being cleaned by KB camera in CA. I agreed to load up a bunch of ammo to help make up the diff in value. (well not exactly I got a bit of the horse trader in me)
Then not three weeks later my wife calls me up from a garage sale and wants to know if I'm interested in a 1950's German camera with extra lenses and a bunch of paper work for $150.00 Mind you I'm driving a dump truck at the time and I think the guy loading me could hear me yell WHAT name? She comes back with Leica.(gotta love this girl) I told her go straight to the bank I'll meet you there were going to get it. She says I have their number you can call tonight after work. Well BULL***T we are going right now and I called them on the way and told them I was coming to get it put it under the table it's sold. I parked the truck took a long lunch and we went up and bought a 1959 IIIg ST with 5cm f2.8 Elmar collapsable and a beautiful 135mm f4.5 Hektor. Some misc. items and they are looking for the rest of the stuff that was in the bag. This body shows some wear (a bad tripod scar and one little dent in the back of the top plate.It was used as a reash camera while the origional owner a Zoologist was studing an animal called a mountain Beaver very very hard to see. He did his doctorates thesis on these guys and the camera was part of the work so the wear is very honest and important in the camera history I like that being I went to college for Biology once upon a time. The lenses are almost mint and super clean
with perfect coating. SO now I'm a Leica owner and getting hooked in a hurry. Next is to get a nice 9cm f4 Elmar then a 35 and a 28 (I'll probably go Canon for the 28. And since I shoot Canon FD as my main system I can use all of my FD lenses from 19mm to 135 on the Leicas with an adapter mount B I got the other day that maintains the infinity focus. and I have a couple of nice Watameter and Voigtlander rangefinders I can use with these uncoupled SLR lenses.

Sorry for the long post but we got to get traffic up so we can have a nice quiet home to talk LTM with each other.

Mark W.

Canonitis FD sufferer and collector of 1950s rangefinder cameras including Braun/Paxettes and a couple little Leica's IIIf RD & IIIg

Show and tell: http://awahlster.tripod.com/photo

Don't meddle in the affairs of Dragons, as you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup!
Mark W., looks like you have assembled a good system of Leica Cameras. You're lucky to have two IIIf red dials along with a IIIg ST. How does using them compare to other 50's rangefinder cameras?

Terry Skibby
Terry, I only have the one IIIf RD, But to answer your question I'm still learning and snice the IIIg has to be CLAed before I can use it at all the only comparison I can make is arm chair and based on that I can't wait for the IIIg to get tuned up. Both are very nice just to hold. The IIIf is close enough in tune for color print film although the range finder does nee a little tweeking. Last night I did some very careful measuring and at the 12 ft test distance the lenses were reading close to 14 ft not a big diff but enough that anything below f8 would be questionable. Which bring up a question if the front of both of my cameras is a chrome screw lust below and between the rangefinder and viewfinder windows any chance this would be an adjustment for the rangefinder? or are these guys internally adjusted. both are close enough vertically to ignore but just off enough horizontally to need adjustment. Any help here?

Mark W.

Canonitis FD sufferer and collector of 1950s rangefinder cameras including Braun/Paxettes and one little Leica IIIf RD

Show and tell: http://awahlster.tripod.com/photo

Don't meddle in the affairs of Dragons, as you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup!

You're right, removing that screw gives you access to a much smaller internal screw that is used to adjust the rangefinder. You can see detailed instructions on adjusting both horizontal and vertical positions of the IIIf rangefinder at:

It's quite easy and it works. Good luck!
Mark W., I see that you got some good advice from Ray on adjusting your IIIf rangefinder, that's a real good site {Leica Repair Club}. I hope that you will report back on making the adjustment to your rangefinder.

Thanks Ray for the excellent site I'm sure I will be able to make use of a lot of the info there. And to Terry's comment about a report back, Well if it ain't raining this weekend I'll adjust the IIIf RD Sunday. I have rebuilt the rangefinders in a couple of Brauns from scratcheven cutting new mirrors (boy did that make a differance) So I'm sure with the instructions I should be able to get my IIIf dead on. The IIIg might as well wait as it needs to be serviced before it's of any use. I'm having both my Summarit 1.5 5cm and my newly aquired Elmar 4.0 9cm cleaned when they get back in a couple of weeks I'll send in the IIIg service costs as much on these guys as some of my other cameras do to purchase so I'm spreading it out over a few pay checks LOL. But I will let you guys know how the adjustment comes out and I'll get a test roll done at the 1 hour just to make sure.

Mark W.