Sunday, February 2, 2014

Quick Test of my New Wartime Leica IIIC

Wartime Leica IIIC
A few years ago, I purchased a beautiful Leica IIIC wartime model (ca. 1942) from a friend of a friend. At the same time, I got an uncoated LTM Summitar 5cm f2 lens (1939). Both the camera and lens turned out to be favorites of mine. The wartime IIICs are characterized by a little step up on the top plate, where the rewind lever sits. Therefore, these cameras are sometimes referred to as "steppers." I always have my eyes open for these models, both because the wartime IIICs are usually in better shape than postwar cameras, due to issues with chrome plating after the war, and because they really are little pieces of history. They don't come up for sale all that often.
Recently, I saw the camera above on one of the forums, another wartime IIIC from 1945-46, with a matching Elmar 5cm f3.5 collapsible lens from 1945. I paid a little more than I should have for it (not really bad though, as these cameras go for very little money these days). I had to have it serviced by Youxin Ye to get the slow speeds working, but that's really an investment rather than a cost. Youxin also recovered the camera and cleaned up the Elmar very nicely. It's now all fixed up and working well.
In order to just do a quick test of this new camera and lens, I popped in a cheap roll of Walgreens 200 speed color print film and gave it a shot. You'll see that this film is quite grainy for 200 speed, but otherwise I guess it's okay. All of these were shot with the Elmar that came with the camera.
I tried to use a variety of shutter speeds to make sure the shutter's operating properly. I don't see any problems here at all.
So, I've now got a second wartime Leica and matching Elmar 5cm f3.5 lens. Checking with the expert on these cameras, Jim Lager, who I met through my membership in the LHSA (International Leica Society), I learned that this camera was most likely sold to an Allied soldier at the end of World War II. The serial number indicates that it was made late in the wartime camera production era.
Surprisingly, I've now found an even higher serial number IIIC on the same forum, and purchased it. The seller tells me that this one fires well at all speeds, so hopefully it won't need the same level of service as the one pictured here. Again, this younger stepper IIIC was probably sold to a US or Allied soldier at the very end of the war. I'll share pics when it arrives.