Old New Leicaizm

I recently tested my old-new Leica M3 with a Summicron 50 f2 lens and I’ve been happy but not super happy. Happy because technically its sharp, doesn’t have any light leaks and the mechanism is cleans and smooth. Not super happy because I became a little sloppy with the test (took a whole month to shoot, very slow to develop etc) and hence the pictures are not spectacular with respect to composition or space.

All images shot on Fujifilm Superia 200. Leaks due to clumsy rewinding.
I was speaking to a friend and he told me that some lenses render contrast better than color. Its important to remember what you’re shooting (black & white OR color) and so you can choose your lens accordingly. For me the colors seemed quite vibrant and the contrast good with the Summicron but I will be able to tell more when I shoot some serious content with it.
There are different Leica’s out there in the market and very much like a Hasselblad, the serial number makes all the difference. If you’re going to pick one up, search the serial number and get information about the camera before buying it.
The final picture to show you what the negative holds. Here is the smaller size. The images tend to fly off with contrast super quickly, I guess a little practice can really make images from this lens spectacular.
And the same at full resolution.

If I was to just give out a few notes on the first experience, then I’d say that the best part about the camera is that its small, stable and spot on reliable. The bad part is that its heavy (100% metal body, something which is true with all premium cameras like the Hasselblad 500c or the 5dMKII), the double stroke shutter does sometimes take more than double stroke as you might miss winding it completely and focusing takes a little while to get used to.

With respect to comparison, I don’t think we can comment on the quality in terms of the photographs. Each camera has pros and cons and it excels in some spaces, it under-performs in others. And as it will grow closer to your heart, you’ll see it has a unique place in your workspace which no other camera can take. So if you like something, don’t think too much, go out and you’ll find a place for it.

7 thoughts on “Old New Leicaizm

  1. It totally depends on how long you have been using the camera. The Leica M3 certainly becomes an extension of your eye(Cartier-Bresson said that line). I have to been to many occasions and many more vacations with my Leica M3 hanging on my shoulder. It is very comfortable to use it and makes the workflow a lot faster. In fact i attended a cousins wedding carrying my Leica M3 in my Nehru Jacket. The focusing system in the M3 is the best of all Leica M mounts made ever. Its a gem that you own.

    As far as the modern 50 ‘cron goes, it has this unique characteristic of high contrast and high saturation. So when you’d click something in a sunny situation it doesn’t exactly give pleasant images. That’s all hear and say and no personal experience.

    1. Parth, I’m really keen on shooting some low contrast pictures with it too. Maybe something in the fog or in the rain when the light is flat..

  2. It’s a matter of what tool works for you. I loved my M3 double stroke, but ultimately moved to an M6, and now to an MP, since working with an external light meter became cumbersome. For me, when I’m working on the street in changing light environments, having a light meter is essential. The MP is pretty much identical to the M3 in a lot of ways, save for the viewfinder and the meter.

    I have an older version Summicron 50/2 and I have always loved the results. However, they do render more “classically” than new lenses, especially the Zeiss line. I’d say trying even older lenses if you want less contrast and a softer look.

    Keep up the good work, great blog.

    1. Thanks Trevor, I just saw on your blog an old picture of the M3 (you do miss it now that you don’t have it, I’m sure!).

      I was having a long discussion with Parth (see above comment) about the same meter issue on how it could (in certain situations) lead to losing a shot because you’d need to meter it. But I guess when the MP gives a certain convenience, it does take away something from the camera too.

      Also I don’t know if I mentioned it earlier in the blog but the lens was borrowed from a friend and my camera doesn’t have a lens yet (the one I got from the dealer was TERRIBLY scratched and ruined). So I’ve been recommended the 1956 Summicron Chrome 50mm Rigid.

  3. To my untrained eye, all the pics look lovely. I love the pic where you gaze out of the window and the first reflection image. Both appear to be straight out of a movie.

  4. Akshay
    Are you using a Leicameter with the M3? Mine needs a battery- am unable to source it in Hyderabad. Any chance of scoring one in Mumbai?


    1. Hey Bob,

      I don’t use a Leicameter with the M3, use a handheld meter instead. But if you tell me (or rather show me) what battery it is, I can find out from where to source it. But it would be highly unlikely that you’d find anything useful in Hyderabad. You’d have to head to Delhi / Bombay for stuff like that.


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