M3, Single stroke or Double stroke? Which is Better?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by esq.jack, Apr 14, 2003.

  1. Which one should be better/dearer?
  2. sl


    I have both. I do NOT think that one is better than the other, but, believe it or not I think the single stroke may be a bit slower to advance, because of long throw, than the DS. Both versions are good.
  3. All that matters is:
    CONDITION, CONDITION, CONDITION.....especially in regards to
    the condition of the viewfinder....some of these cameras are
    50 years old, and the beam splitter in the RF is starting to
    separate...a very common and expensive repair.....and if you're
    buying an M3 for the VF, that's a disaster as there are NO new
    ones...although a later (.85) can be installed.

    Also bear in mind that there were more than just "double" and
    "single"....there were MANY, undocumented changes in the M3
    from 1954-1958...and perhaps several more after the "single"
    came out...none of these changes are significant to the "user"
    though, although many are interesting. Some were external, some
    internal....Any fine condition M3 is a thing of joy....MOST
    are NOT in top condition...you can't imagine how finely crafted
    these M3 (and M2, for that matter) until you handle one in fine
    mechanical and optical condition. (I now use M4/M4P, but I still
    like to occasionally handle a fine M2/3...there REALLY is a difference...and regardless of what a certain "unofficial" reviewer
    thinks, NOTHING since the sixties comes close to the finest of
    these old cameras....the M4 is great, the M4-P(M6) is decent, but
    they feel more comparable to a good Nikon than an M3...
    Also, look at (and feel) a dual range or rigid 50 'cron, then
    compare to a 70s-90s 50 'cron....the latest may be "sharpest",
    but it looks and feels like junk compared to the 50s-60s lenses.

    To each his own.....

  4. well said Walt.

    Jack: apparently the 1,000,000 and over M3's are the sought after ones. Supposedly the craftsmenship was at its peak. But I don't buy that.

    Build wise, I think the d-storke is prob better. as for useability, the single stroke, but that depends on your own preferences. D-stroke may seem slow at first thought, but one can get use to two short and sharp bursts quickly
  5. If shooting a frame at a time, slowly, the dual-stroker has a significant advantage as a kind of shutter-lock. I've gotten in the habit of taking my picture, stroking once, then waitng for the next opportunity to finish the advance of the film. This prevents accidental shutter release and the waste of film. Maybe that's a reason they built them like that? Even when I'm firing away it doesn't seem any slower than my OM-2.
  6. mike dixon

    mike dixon Moderator

    You do have the option of using a single stroke as a double stroke. The advance is ratcheted.
  7. I find that I don't have to shift my grip on the camera if I double or triple stroke the lever. All that has to move is the tip of my thumb.
  8. 1) Double-strokes have a unique smoothness, without doubt.

    2) If the double-stroke wind mechanism breaks, there are NO replacement parts - it can be repaired only as a conversion to single-stroke.

    3) But any given double-stroke M3 may go on for years and years without breaking or having the finder fall apart. Just be aware...

    4) As mentioned, you can double (or triple/quadruple) stroke single-stroke cameras if you choose to.
  9. As Andy was saying : Buy a DS, cheap. Send it in for CLA @ Leica. Get a SS back ----> ??????? This is not a perfect world, ya know!
  10. I don't know how valid this is, but in 1990, Bob Shell from SHUTTERBUG magazine traveled to Germany as part of a report on the Leica M. While at the factory, he asked all of the "old hands" (his words) which Leica M was the best one ever built. He said that the answer was 100% unanimous. All chose the M3 Double Stroke. This was in the Sept 1990 issue on page 62 in case you have access to older issues.
  11. I have also heard that the DS mechanism is more robust than the SS version and will last longer, and that this opinion came from the factory workers, too.
    <br>The design was intended to prevent ripping the sprocket holes by advancing the film too fast.
  12. Well, I heard the exact opposite to Charles: the SS is more
    robust than the DS because you don't wind it as much. I've used
    both and both are smooth. The only trouble is the DS's clutch
    mechanism: if there's something wrong with it, it doesn't wind on
    perfectly. The SS has DOF cut-outs on the rangefinder patch; the
    earlier one doesn't; otherwise there are very few if any functional
    differences. I second the advice above: get whichever model in
    the best possible condition. You will enjoy either equally.
  13. Guys, thanks for the info. One more Q. Which one is better? M3 or M2? Generally, M2 is cheaper than M3, presumption right? Mehanically, M2 is better than M3, presumption right?
  14. M3 vs. M2:

    No, I don't think the M2 is 'better built' than the M3 (many people actually argue the opposite) - but it does offer 35 frame lines, and that's a benefit if you consider the Leica-M to be a 'wide-angle' camera. For some of us THE classic Leica setup is a .72 viewfinder (M2/4/6) body with a compact 35 f/2. For others it's an M3 with 50 DR f/2. (etc. etc!)

    M2s are also rarer: c.87,000 made vs. c.230,000 M3s. Combine that with the viewing and you get the price difference, when there is one.

    When they were being built, the M2 was actually the 'cheap' Leica - with a manual-reset external frame counter and (at least in the beginning) no self-timer. And possibly a cheaper rangefinder design as well (but I can't testify to that - it's just an opinion out there).
  15. My M4's, M4-2, and M6TTL LHSA all have a click-click-click... sound as the rachet makes noise on the "backstroke" as the wind lever returns to neutral position. The M3 DS does not suffer from the rachet noise and is wonderfully silent when you finish winding the shutter. Adds to the impression of smoothness and precision. Incidentally my preferred method of winding the newer M's shutter is to double stroke them anyway so the M3 DS is no bother at all.

    I like rangefinder patch with top and bottom borders straight lines. I find the DOF cut outs on the newer M3 rfdr patch to be distracting.

    The older M3 strap eyelets are in a more lateral position than all subsequent M's. They make even lightweight lenses mounted on the camera lens tilt downward compared to neutral balance on newer M's.

    Are there advantages/disadvantages to having a glass pressure plate?

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