Do I Have what I need for a Leica iiif?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by Tripleamia, May 21, 2018.

  1. Hello, I am getting a Leica iiif, body only, and then I am getting a Serenar 50mm f1.9 lens. I know I need film, but otherwise, do I need anything else? Is the lens I am getting a good lens? Also, I read somewhere that only 50mm lenses can fit on a Leica iiif without using some sort of adapter. Is this true?

  2. Other LTM lenses will mount on the camera properly. What you will need for focal lengths other than 50mm is an auxiliary viewfinder in order to frame your photographs properly.

    You might find a lightmeter a helpful thing to have.
  3. You're good for now. You won't need adapter to use Leica thread lenses that are made for Leicas (and Russian lenses aren't reliably calibrated to Leicas!) The lens you have will be fine. You might like to add an external finder, but maybe not right away. I like Leitz Imarect finders, myself--cheap, easy to find, and cover a lot of lenses.You probably need a neck strap of some kind, and film. Lots of people have gone for years with just what you have.

    The meter idea is not a bad one. One that's matched for size, and adequate, is the Gossen Pilot.
  4. Hello Tripleamia
    You will definitely need a meter, the Gossen Pilot is cheap and ok, I happen to like the Gossen LunaPro with the spot attachment myself.

    I do have the variable viewfinder which is an option down the road and does make a difference, in my opinion, makes framing so much nicer

    Here is my IIIf
    Leica IIIf.jpg
  5. I definitely second the universal finder. The built-in finder will get the job done, but the IMARECT finder can be more accurate, especially if you adjust it for distance using the compensation dial on the finder. I use a similar Zeiss universal finder with my Contax IIA, including when shooting with the 50mm lens, even though a finder is built-in to the camera. It's just more accurate and less blocked by the lens shade, which I always use with my lens.
  6. SCL


    No you don't NEED anything else. But some accessories may facilitate better picture taking, protection and comfort. Meters are helpful to newbies, but if you plan to shoot mostly B&W, which has quite a bit of latitude, you can easily get by with the "Sunny 16" rule. When I started I also used it for color, which is more demanding. In the meantime, for free try . Putting that aside, you should get an owners manual ( A neckstrap can be handy so you don't drop the camera. A lens cap to protect the lens when not in use is essential. A lens hood to reduce flare is a good idea. The lens you have is a good lens, although I don't know what condition yours is in - it is a low contrast lens...results can be adjusted in post production or by using a yellow filter such as a K2 when shooting outdoor scenes. Although others have recommended an Imarect type finder, a much better choice with larger image and bright frame lines is the Leitz SBOOI Bright Line 50mm finder pictured below - readily available but more expensive than the Imarect, but well worth it. Lastly, your camera, due to the aging process, may need a CLA (cleaning, lubrication & adjustment) by a competent Leica repairperson. That will ensure everything functions as it should and with the acuracy originally built into the camera, and keep it functioning for another 20 years or so..

  7. I'm not mad on the VIOOH / IMARECT universal finders. They are bulky, just crop rather than change magnification, and there are no framelines, a bit like looking though a letter box. Individual brightline finders are nicer to use, though good ones (like Leitz's original and the Voigtlander equivalents) are expensive, especially for wideangles. See how you get on with the built-in viewfinder and the 50mm lens to start with. Smartphone lightmeter apps can work very well if your phone's camera is compatible.

    If you haven't used a IIIf before, it's a rather quirky camera by modern standards. Film loading is a bit fiddly and the rangefinder is separate to the viewfinder. Most will benefit from a service, which can cost half the price of the camera (many will have significant issues like dim rangefinders or shutter problems). But it's a fun camera to use when everything is properly adjusted. Read the manual:

    Leica IF, IIF, IIIFinstruction manual, user manual, free PDF camera manuals

    Note that you need to trim the film leader first to avoid jamming the mechanism - just use scissors to get the profile shown in the manual, which has about 23 unpaired sprocket holes. With a little practice this is actually quicker and easier than the various tricks with business cards you'll see described that involve removing the lens, and you can pre-trim before you go out.

    Why the Canon lens on a Leica? The Canon P is a nice camera, with a more sophisticated combined viewfinder/rangefinder that includes framelines for multiple focal lengths, and is generally cheaper than the IIIf. On the other hand, Leica's own lenses like the Summitar and 50mm Elmar would match the IIIf well. If you do get a IIIf it's worth getting a collapsible 50 of whatever brand, since this makes the whole thing pocketable.
    Last edited: May 21, 2018
  8. I'd start with B/W film and still use a meter. Carefully used, the resulting metered images will give you an indication of shutter speed accuracy or if the shutter has any problems. Additionally, you will need a film leader trimming guide that is described in the owner's manual, a copy of which is available on line. A Leica film trimming template is called ABLON, but you can make one that will work out of hard cardboard or thin marine plywood. Film leader trimming is necessary on the IIIf and other screw mount Leica cameras to avoid jammed film problems. Look at the bottom of your camera with the baseplate off, you may find a black and white picture of the trimming on the bottom of the shutter assembly.
  9. Sadly, the original ABLON seems to have attracted the interest of serious collectors, and isn't much cheaper than an LTM body on ebay these days! I expect it helps, but I've never bothered making a template, but just cut freehand (there's a good diagram of the required profile on p29 of the manual). Cut between the sprocket holes and round off the corner. As the old Morgan & Lester book puts it: 'The film ends can be cut with a scissors without a Trimming Guide after a little practice.' Morgan & Lester is an excellent supplement to the official manual, by the way - the 12th edition of 1953 is readily available secondhand, has some good articles by famous contributors, and is contemporary with the IIIf. Some earlier editions are on, e.g.: THE LEICA MANUAL : WILLARD E.MORGAN : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive
    charles_escott_new likes this.
  10. If you shoot B&W, you will want to buy a 40mm Yellow filter to improve contrast.

    The 50/1.9 is a good lens. Check it for internal haze, and for black paint loose on the elements.
  11. One of the best all-round lenses for any Leica is the Summicron 5cm f/2, but it can be pricey. The M-mount is more common anyhow.
    The Serenar (=Canon) is very good.
    If you are going to be getting some of the Soviet LTM lenses, a variable viewfinder is much to be desired.
    charles_escott_new likes this.
  12. A meter is nice for tricky lighting, but study and learn the sunny 16 rule and it will suffice for most daytime use, especially out of doors. Its simple and effective.
    charles_escott_new likes this.
  13. I agree with Uhooru. For the total classic Leica meter!
    charles_escott_new likes this.
  14. Lens sounds OK. Later, variable viewfinder 35-135mm, for other lenses. 90mm Elmar, 135 Hektor lenses are cheapish, lenses wider than 50 usually a bit more expensive and may need cleaning. Wider 35mm & 28mm Canon lenses are OK. All will focus with your rangefinder.
    Yes, a meter, unless you want to waste heaps of film until you get it right.
  15. I've been using Leicas for over 60 years; my first one was a new IIIf in 1953.
    You have made a good choice. My only suggestion is to definitely get a template for cutting the film leader (you don't need a genuine Leica cutter -- there are good copies on the web). A leather everyready case (with the front section removed) is nice and will protect the body. A light meter is a big help, or just use the reading from your digital camera as one.
    Then, use the outfit for a year without any new stuff added before deciding if you actually NEED a wide angle or telephoto lens.
    ENJOY a GREAT (and sometimes frustrating) experience.
  16. Oh hell, I forgot the most important accessory for Leica ownership.
    THE LEICA MANUAL, published by Morgan and Morgan. You'll want the 13th Edition for your iiiF. Lots of 'em on eBay from time to time.
  17. Mr Troll, sir; I second the Morgan and Morgan. I think up to the 13th it was Morgan and Lester, the 14th Morgan and Morgan. I have just been looking them up. Very bright and inventive people, including Morgan's wife Barbara. Apparently Lester left in 1956. Isn't it great what you can find....
  18. I have The Leica Manual 13th Edition (also the first and fourth) and there is extensive coverage regarding the IIIf and film loading technique. It is easy to read and very comprehensive in content. Be aware that it was published in 1956 so it may feel a bit dated. Regarding the ABLON film trimming accessory, I can see why they are expensive as the newer my two is chrome plated brass. The older one from the 1930's is aluminum and more utilitarian in appearance. Both work exactly the same.
  19. Hope that you're not disappointed in it -- I was. Much as I enjoyed and respected the writing of David Vestal, they seem to have lost the "feeling and character" of the earlier books.

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