Leica ii and Leica iii

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by johnny_tsang, Oct 1, 2012.

  1. I an just curious as to what does the Z on the leica ii's shutter speed dial is for. Is it for bulb? Also which would be a better camera to use the Leica ii or Leica iii?
  2. Z = Zeit ('time'), the same as B = Bulb. The III adds slow speeds and some other conveniences like eyepiece dioptre adjustment and strap lugs, but either can be a fine user when well-adjusted and in good condition.
  3. Certainly, the low shutter speeds are an important difference between the II and III -- but not really very important the way folks use Leicas today with faster films.
    I think the most important difference is the magnification of the rangefinder. This is 1X on the II, but 1.5X on the III. This makes focus more accurate with the Leica III. Important for lenses like 50/2.0, 50/1.5, 73/1.9. The diopter adjustment on the rangefinder is a consequence of the higher magnification, the stronger optics make adjustment to your eye necessary.
    The IIIa adds a 1/1000 shutter speed, but adjusting it to be accurate is rather "challenging" at best. The IIIc makes big improvements in the shutter design allowing a 1/1000 shutter speed that can be adjusted separately.
    With ISO 400 film and a lens that only stops down to f/12.5, you'll wish for a 1/1000 shutter speed in bright sun with your Leica. (Or a neutral density filter.) So that's the advantage of the IIIa. But the 1/1000 shutter speed of the IIIa may be 1/650, or it may not expose evenly across the frame...
  4. I'd prefer a III or later for two things: one, the improved R/F, with focussing telescope (above described as a diopter adjustment); and two, the strap lugs. There were further improvements beginning with the IIIc. Except for the IIIg, no screw Leica can compare, for finder image clarity (and automatic parallax correction), with an M Leica.
  5. Good point. Actually the best screwmount camera for use is probably a Leica M2 or M3 with screwmount to M adapters.
    The M is a lot nicer to use than the II and III, though those cameras are a little smaller (probably prettier too). A less than
    pristine M2 or M3 and some cheap screwmount adapters for the lenses would give you a camera that is a pleasure to
    use. The II and III are more for the nostalgic quality of the experience. If you do go for a screwmount, the sweetspot as far
    as cost/performance is probably the IIIc and IIIf BD.

    Keep in mind that if you go for the II or III you will need external viewfinders for every lens except for 50mm. And though
    there is a universal viewfinder that isn't too expensive for those Leicas, I don't much like them myself.
  6. Yes, I should have made it clear that the adjustment is for the rangefinder, not the viewfinder, and 'telescope' is indeed correct. Although adjusting the lever can indeed "compensate for slight eyesight defects (between -2 and + 1.5 dioptres" [IIIc manual], it's also necessary to change the setting to get sharp RF focus at different distances even if your eyesight doesn't need correction.
    The M cameras have obvious technical advantages, but the smaller size of an LTM (especially when fitted with a collapsible 50mm lens) can sometimes be a real advantage. A II or III is a much more pocketable camera than an M.
  7. The adjustable R/F magnification introduced with the III is brilliant (not a pun -- nor even the truth, come to think of it); and I shall always wonder why few other camera makers (including Leitz themselves in their M series) adopted it.
  8. Yes the IIIf is smaller and more pocketable than the M2 ... BUT the M2 can use the same collapsable 50mm lens and it's not MUCH bigger. And the IIIf will still pull your pocket out of shape. It's pretty heavy for it's size -- all that nice chrome and glass. All that said, for actually using the camera day to day, it's incredibly not worth it to buy the III instead of the M.
    If you must buy an actual screwmount camera, try a Canon 7. Cheap and very nice. Or a Canon P. I find the IIIf is great to take out every now and then and reacquaint myself with the early days of photography, but I wouldn't want to use it all the time. Especially not at age 55 with eyeglasses. Just loading it makes me crazy.
  9. There's no doubt that M's are better daily shooters than the III-series, however they are a joy to shoot with. The work flow is slower- no doubt about it- but that is not always a bad thing. I use both systems daily and like them each for different reasons.
    An external VF like the VIOOH should run you about $50. I keep mine on camera.
    Here is an excellent thread where people give their comments on the III-series. I started the thread and was made fun of at first, but momentum increased and people posted their love for the III-series.


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