Leica system value & more

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by leon_werdinger|1, Feb 11, 2019.

  1. We inherited a bunch of Leica gear. Interested in selling it but I'm not familiar with Leica. Did some research to determine what the gear is but want to make sure my understanding is accurate so that I can sell it with accurate descriptions. I'd appreciate any feedback on this: Do I have the items identified correctly? Does my rating of the conditions seem accurate based on the photos? Also interested to know how much you think these items are worth. Game to sell on PhotoNet

    Leica M3
    single stroke rangefinder camera (serial # 736489). The camera seems to be in working. Tried the film advance lever and the shutter - both appear to working fine. Cosmetically, some of the leatherette coating is missing on the back (see photo) and otherwise seems in really good shape with just some light scratches. There are some numbers engraved on the back.
    Leica Summaron 35mm 3.5cm f3.5 lens (#1176477)
    The 35mm lens appears to be in excellent condition. The glass looks flawless. There is a number engraved onto the side the of the lens.
    Leica Summicron 50mm 5cm f/2.0 collapsible lens (#1169242)
    Appears to be in excellent condition. The glass looks flawless. There is a number engraved onto the side the of the lens.
    Leica Meter light meter - the meter's needle changes with light so it's likely working fine.
    Quantaray pro flash & manual - flash appears to be in very good condition, but I didn't test it.
    Leitz UVA filter - glass seems to be in very good to excellent condition
    Also includes Leitz lens shade, Leica lens case, Leica lens cap and Albinar camera bag.

    Thanks much!


























  2. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Nice kit - just like my Dad,s now mine. Engraved number appears to be owner's Social Security Number, often done in the old days - made them easy to I.D. and hard to sell. You may need some proof of inheritance - not sure though. The coating on the back of my Dad's had broken exactly the same way - I was able to get a replacement piece from DAG Camera and easily repair it perfectly. Best way to value things is to search sold (not asking) prices online. Roberts Camera Used has a good bit of Leica gear, and I have found their prices to be fair - any of the other online retailers B&H, KEH, etc. can also give you a general idea. They do require a markup for profit which private sellers do not. Best of luck with it!
  3. Thanks Sandy. That's helpful. Looks like ordering a new leatherette will be well worth it. In trying to value the kit I'm a bit stuck in trying to figure out the condition of the lens glass. Both appear pristine but I'm not sure what haze or mold on a lens look like. Are they usually obvious?
  4. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    The one lens with fungus I have is a 3.5 cm just like yours - shining a bright flashlight through the front reveals whitish areas inside the lens around the edges toward the rear. Photos come out slightly soft & foggy.
  5. Thanks. Will give a look when I get back home.
  6. SCL


    I'd also check the shutter curtains to see if they have any"pinholes" of unwanted light coming thru. Likewise see if the rangefinder patch is clear and contrasty and if the images properly align at the distances indicated on the lenses. Do the diaphragms operate smoothly and click into place? Does the self timer work properly? If you are aware of any repairs, professional cleaning/adjustment, it would be helpful to potential buyers to know what, when and by whom the work was done. The body and lensews all have what appears to be a SS number scratched on them, which will diminish the value of the kit for most users and all collectors. Are there any instruction books or original receipts included in the sale? The light meter, being an older selenium meter may be responsive to light, but probably isn't accurate any longer. I would be hesitant to describe the glass as flawless without a thorough checking for fungus, haze, cleaning marks, scratches, as most potential buyers will thoroughly check for these things, as well as overall smoothness of operation, and factor in the cost of a CLA (cleaning, lube & adjustment). If you're selling to other than a dealer, consider offering a money back refund if the buyer isn't satisfied and returns the gear in the same condition it was sent. And finally, always, always insure it.
  7. Sandy has given you the basics.

    The social security number engraving will have a negative effect on value (subtract as much as 20%).

    If you have an active eBay account (with positive feedback) you should be able to sell each piece on your own and get pretty close to market value based on an open auction and a low opening bid. But first, have the camera body checked out (I'd have the lenses looked over too) by an experienced Leica user/seller; except for the SS engraving the body looks very clean, but it may need a CLA - you'll need to make sure to disclose that to any potential buyer (a CLA can run as much as $400 with shipping to and from).

    You've done a nice job taking pictures of everything, which will help you get full value. If the meter works it's worth around $100 - maybe a little more.
  8. I think you identified everything correctly. Unfortunately, the description of condition is a little unreliable, in that statements like "Leica Meter light meter - the meter's needle changes with light so it's likely working fine.", is a bit of unsupported conclusion, that though unintentional, is a little misleading. You need to actually test the meter to be able to say its likely working fine, because most Lecia meters of that era, even if the needle moves aren't accurate at all. Likewise, the speeds on the camera need to also be tested and the glass. I don't say this to discourage you at all. But when you go to price the gear, you might want to say with certainty, how well stuff works. But that's not so bad, people will generally look at what shape the gear looks and when people buy a camera, they will want to factor in the cost of having it CLA'd (cleaned, lubed adjusted). You can have that done yourself and add it to the cost of the kit, but you just need to be clear about how well stuff actually works. For example, you might say something like "the meter needle changes with the light, but it hasn't been tested for accuracy.". Or "the film advance is smooth, but the shutter speeds haven't been tested for accuracy." That gives the buyer a clearer idea of what they are looking at and cleans up any misunderstandings that could be taken as misleading statements. You also might putting a few rolls of film through it if you haven't already and see how it actually works.

    Cosmetically, the etchings will lessen the value for a certain type of purchaser and will cause a reduction in sale price, but people looking for a good user may not be deterred, not really caring about cosmetics if the camera is solid. The great thing about these cameras is that they can be adjusted and cleaned up into great working order. It's a nice set of stuff. I hope you get a decent price for it. I've had good luck with KEH for buying stuff, but they won't probably give you as much as you could get with a personal sale. But if there is a good camera store in your area that carries used Leica gear, maybe they could at least evaluate what they would offer for it and that might give you a good idea. Also looking on completed sales on e-bay is useful and look at retail prices for used Leica gear at KEH and all the other stores that have been mentioned. Good luck!
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
  9. I'm concerned about the M3 body description. The lugs are the original triangle riveted style, the film pressure plate appears to be the framed glass and the serial number is 67,000+ lower than my M3 Double Stroke. Furthermore the shutter speed dial is the old 5,10, 25, 50, 100 rather than than the geometric 15, 30, 60, 125 speed dial. It is possible this body is an M3 Double Stroke, not a Single Stroke and if the shutter is cocked with one stroke, it was converted sometime later from DS to single stroke. So is it a DS or a SS body? For an accurate description, a confirmation of whether it is an M3 DS or SS, a shutter cocking review is needed . The type of M3 body does affect the value as some prefer one type over the other. Good luck with your research and sales, this is a nice starter Leica outfit.
  10. Its an inheritance, aka "found money". As such, you need to make a distinction between cashing it in painlessly and pocketing the easy money from a commercial dealer, or coping with the unbelievable amount of aggravation and risk you will endure if you attempt a more lucrative private sale (given your admission you know absolutely nothing about Leica gear, or how to evaluate pieces like lenses in general). Frankly, the minute you included the flash at all in your question, you marked yourself as a dead man walking in terms of a private sale (the flash is less than worthless today). Then there's your risky assumptions about exact M3 model identification and shutter condition: you should step back, and seriously consider liquidating the kit thru an expert dealer like KEH or Tamarkin.

    Leica gear is unlike any other photo gear you could possibly try selling privately with no specific prior education. The potential Leica buyer is almost always picayune and OCD beyond the pale, and will find something to complain about even if you pay the Leica museum to write up a forensic evaluation for your listing. Most venues for private sale (esp eBay) involve 9-14 percent commission fees, and unpleasant penalties for complaints or returned items (likelihood is high this camera will be returned for refund by the first buyer). Returns mean lost fees and shipping money, plus risk of shipping damage, loss or fraud.

    The social security engravings, torn leatherette, and probable conversion from double to single stroke reduce the value of this kit. If it sat unused for years, the shutter probably needs a tuneup, and possibly the rangefinder needs cleaning (servicing costs as much as the camera is currently worth, if not more). So private sale of the M3 body might fetch $400-$700. The untested bruised meter is worth $20-$40, more if confirmed accurate. The ITDOO lens hood fetches approx $80. The 3.5cm with SS engraving worth $300- $400 depending on glass/aperture condition. The 5cm Summicron with SS engraving worth $400-$600 depending on glass/aperture condition.

    A professional dealer will offer you approx 50-60% of these estimates. If I were you, I'd take that and be happy. Private sales of this sort are difficult enough when its your own gear that you've used and understand quite well: flying blind, with no experience of what you're actually selling, can be unexpectedly traumatic if you hit the "nightmare buyer lottery."
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
    John Farrell and AJG like this.
  11. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    There is always - "As Is" and price reasonably. It is always possible to run across a difficult buyer, or even occasionally a dishonest one.
  12. Thanks. That's all helpful - I really appreciate you guys taking time to give your thoughts on this! I'm a pro shooter but sure feel like (and am) a complete amature in dealing with this vintage Leica gear.
    If I sell via eBay I'm in good shape with 100% positive feedback (over 400). There sure seem to be pros and cons to selling "As is" vs allowing returns. It might be best to split the difference and sell "As-is" but allowing returns if anything in my description was inaccurate. Will also explore the option of selling to B&H or KEH.
    Is there a simple way to tell if it's a M3 DS or SS?
    Ordered a new leatherette back to replace the torn one.
    Sure interested in hearing more feedback and suggestions.
    Thanks again!
  13. The problem with eBay is they now offer zero, nada, zilch support or protection to sellers of this kind of item: you are totally at the mercy of your buyer. While this can be tolerable and managed with gear you are familiar with and know well, its highly risky with gear you are not totally familiar with and can vouch for personally. The risk doubles or triples with collectibles like Leica, which has a special market niche unlike Nikon, Canon, Hasselblad or Mamiya. True Leica enthusiasts who actually use these cameras as their daily driver tend to buy from dealers, not eBay.

    Those looking for Leica on eBay fall into several primary categories, most of whom are not worth the aggravation. Bargain hunters and ethics-challenged dealers, hoping you don't know what you have, so they can buy cheap from you and then flip for a lot more money. Hipster kids and new Leica converts with hopelessly unrealistic tight budgets, hoping to score a flawless kit for way cheaper than they see at dealers. Illiterate fools who don't register flaws listed in your headline or text, buy the thing, then are irate to discover it isn't brand new. Sneaky collectors looking for a naive seller, so they can steal the good parts of your Leica gear, replace it with theirs, then return it for refund in worse shape than what you started with. Chinese collectors who want it shipped to Hong Kong or Bejing. And of course, there are some well-intentioned local people who do buy all their used photo gear on eBay.

    The trap with Leica is that you're far more likely to get one of the troll buyers than a "normal" buyer. Because its so expensive to buy and service, most Leicaphiles hunting eBay are looking for unicorns: in perfect operating condition for far less than the going rate. They "audition" used Leica gear repeatedly until they find exactly what they want. Vintage Leica is a hot commodity: it attracts eBayers who play games. Such buyers are more aware of hidden eBay policy than most sellers: understand, there is NO SUCH THING as "no returns, as-is" protection for eBay sellers. Buyers can return any item for any reason they dream up, at any time, up to six months after purchase. You can argue with eBay staff, and if the buyer is being blatantly suspicious they might back you up. But usually: you take it back, you swallow the cost of shipping both ways, eBay penalizes your rating.

    Note also, eBay is divorcing PayPal as we speak in favor of a fly-by-night foreign transaction service. In a few months, all sellers will be required to accept payment by this new broker, and many buyers will switch from Paypal to direct credit card payment (and the credit card rules override eBay: the buyer can pull a chargeback scam). So, mull it over before making a final decision. Perhaps send the kit out to a respected dealer for an offer first (if you decline, they'll send it all back and you're just out the postage- worth it in your case for a professional evaluation). Since you didn't pay for any of this stuff, you could then gamble on an eBay sale with less worry than others might have.

    Given how fate loves to make a fool of me, chances are your eBay sale will proceed perfectly now that I've played my Cassandra role. ;) Good luck to you, whichever option you choose.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
    Dieter Schaefer likes this.
  14. Does it take one or two strokes of the film advance lever to cock the shutter? As was mentioned above - the camera looks like a DS but may have been converted to SS.

    Run film through it - best way to find out what is and isn't working. A CLA can easily cost you more than you can make from the sale of the camera in its current condition (but the CLA cost might be fully recoverable through a higher sales price) - but certainly would be the preferred route if you want to make sure what you are selling is in good working condition. Any chance you may actually want to keep the camera and use it yourself?

    I have done my fair share of business on ebay - but have cut back significantly about a decade ago when I got scammed by a seller (at a time when seller protection was strong and buyer protection all but non-existent). As Orsetto pointed out above, this has now been turned totally upside-down: all the protection is on the buyer's side and the seller takes all the risk and bears all the costs.

    I have sold a few Leica R cameras on ebay but when time came to sell some Ms, I contacted one of the specialists who service and sell these kinds of cameras and happily paid the sales commission as there was no hassle for me.
  15. Dieter, research double stroke M3 cameras on the internet where there is a concise explanation of the function and Leica's original reason for using a double stroke shutter cock and film advance. Later M3s were built as single stroke shutter cock and film advance along with several other changes, not all regarded as positive. Many early M3 owners sent their cameras back to Leitz to have them converted to single stroke function.
  16. In the case of this particular M3, those of us alluding to the discrepancy between DS serial # and apparent SS modification are simply considering the impact on resale value. Owner inherited it and naturally seeks maximum return from it: given the big hit in value it suffers from the engraved ID number, being in original DS condition might have added back some of the collectible value lost by the engraving. As it stands, the camera has two strikes against it for any collector: personal ID engraving, and modification to single stroke. This throws it totally to the mercy of the non-collector market (or worse- collectors with an agenda).
  17. I believe I am aware of how a double-stroke film advance and shutter cock works - but apparently the OP is not since he asked the question on how to distinguish DS from SS in a simple way (just try it out and see if you can achieve your goal with one or two strokes). But maybe I misunderstood the question (which I took in the context of a possible conversion of a DS to an SS) - I did not go into how distinguish a (unmodified) DS M3 from a SS M3 (the easiest distinction is the numbers on the shutter dial).
  18. Dieter, my error, I meant the original poster. You are correct, regarding the shutter speed dial. I've yet to read of a M3 DS where in addition to the SS modification, the shutter speeds and dial were adjusted to geometric speeds. We'll know more if OP comes back with his confirmation of the shutter/film advance method.
  19. Not sure if I'm understanding correctly. It definitely only takes a single stroke to advance, but I don't know if it was that way originally or modified.
  20. Then the camera has been converted from DS to SS; the serial number and the numbering scheme on the shutter speed dial indicate that the camera was born as a double stroke.

Share This Page