A Leica M3 for the 21st century

I was recently “gifted” a Leica M3 camera.  Yeah, I still can’t believe it.  I’ve run a few rolls through the camera and it’s been totally amazing.

So I need to do two things with this camera before I ever use it again.

(1) The camera will need a full mechanical overhaul, essentially known as an LCA (lubrication, calibration and anything-else-idation).  Although it’s taken some awesome photographs while it’s been in my possession, I’d like to make sure that it continues to operate at 100% efficiency.  I don’t know if the camera’s ever had a service or a tune-up, and now that I own the Leica, it’s time to do so.

Normally I would take the camera to CameraWorks and let my camera tech Allan Wade fix it up.  But this is a Leica.  This needs a full overhaul.  And as much as I love Allan’s work… I need to have a Leica-certified repairman work on this camera.

Luckily, after some investigative work, I discovered a Leica technician downstate – Sherry Krauter, who trained in various Leica and Leitz factories for decades.  This is the equivalent of taking your repair-needing Rolex to the guy who already has a jeweler’s loupe affixed to his eyeglasses.

Oh, and the other thing I need to do…

(2) If this camera is going to be part of my shooting arsenal, it will need a new leather body cover.

A few things before I boxed up the Leica for shipment.  We need to take some “before” pictures of this unit.  Even though this camera is a work of art, it will definitely need some touch-ups.

IMG_20150429_132655On the left, you can see how the camera’s leather is peeling, especially around the lens mount.  The photo on the right shows the brittle leather splitting and peeling around the ASA dial.

I don’t have a problem with this – it means that the camera was well-used and well-loved.  I mean, it was originally the primary camera of a Times Union photographer.

But if it’s going to be my camera, it needs to get a new leather skin.

When I re-leather a camera, I purchase my leatherette additions from one of two sellers; Cameraleather.com and Aki-Asahi.com.  Both do excellent work in trimming leathers for reapplication; and after going through various leather stocks from both companies, I settled on a teal-turquoise faux lizard skin leatherette from Aki-Asahi.IMG_20150429_132717

And if you know me, you know that if I love a new-to-me camera, then it gets a new covering treatment.  What did you say – you have a problem with me adding a non-black leatherette cover to a Leica?  Tough toenails, I say to you.

In April, I gave the Leica technician, Sherry Krauter, a call.  The camera arrived safely to the shop and received a once-over.  “You’ve got a very old camera,” Sherry said to me, “but I can fix and overhaul almost everything on it.  Everything but the brakes.”

Brakes?  This is a camera, it’s not a Corvette.

“The brakes keep the shutter curtain from bouncing open after your shot, which could cause part of your picture to be over-exposed.  The brakes are okay now, but in a few years they will probably go.”

I can handle a “few years.”  If that’s the worst thing, I can live with it.

A few weeks passed.  Then I received word that the camera restoration was complete.  One bill payment later, and the camera was on its way back to my hands.

And oh man it looks awesome.  I can’t wait to put a roll of film in the camera and start shooting like crazy.

Oh, you want to see the new camera, don’t you?

Allow me to oblige.

Say hello to Leica Green.

Leica Green.
Leica Green.

Sherry Krauter gave this camera the full CLA, and it feels like it just came out of the factory.  And as an added touch, he certified his repairs.

Inside the lens mount is a little screwhole.  The screwhole is often covered with a wax-caulked script “L”.  That script “L” means that the camera came directly from the Leica facility; a missing “L” means that the camera has been opened and serviced at least once.   You can’t open the camera for repairs without removing that caulking.  And although Sherry Krauter cannot re-insert that wax “L” into the screw hole, he is authorized to add his own wax imprint into that hole as a sign of the camera’s restoration and repairs.  So my camera now has a “K” in that screwhole as certification that Sherry Krauter restored and maintained this little beauty.

Yeah.  So now I have three rangefinder cameras at my beck and call – Kodak Red (my Kodak Medalist II), the Argus Snake (my Argus C3 “Brick” camera with a new faux reptile covering), and now Leica Green.

This is fun.  Lots of fun.

And you know what that means, don’t you…

Time to go out with these cameras and do some shooting. 🙂