How do I inspect a Leica?

Discussion in 'Collector's Corner' started by nealjpage, Apr 6, 2007.

  1. nealjpage

    nealjpage multi format master in a film geek package

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    I'm going to look at a Leica tomorrow. The owner doesn't know much about it, but thinks it's from 1938 or 1939. What should I look for? Are there any things in particular that I should look at to see if it's a good camera?
     
  2. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I have purchased a few used Leica's over the years but I always take it to a Local Leica dealer I trust to evaluate. I can tell you that a camera of that age will require a good CLA which should be performed by a qualified technician. Unfortunately, a CLA can cost quite a bit as well so make sure you figure that into the final cost.

    A good place to start:
    http://www.cameraquest.com/leicamchecklist.htm

    good luck.
     
  3. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The most common problem with old Leicas is the shutter. It is a cloth focal plane shutter and it almost always needs replacement on a camera that old. Shutter timing is also a common issue. Be sure the camera works at all shutter speeds. They may not all be accurate but they all need to be there. Check for fungus in the lens and in the viewfinder. Check the film advance. Take a roll of film and load it and advance it and rewind it. If everything works just plan on a CLA as mentioned above and probably a new shutter.
     
  4. Mitica100

    Mitica100 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Neal, the advices above are sound. If you plan to use it, then by all means do a CLA on it. If you plan on just displaying it, then you can do away with a CLA. Actually they're quite simple to take apart and clean. The most delicate is the focal plane shutter, fabric seems to deteriorate faster than metal. But don't despair if that's the case, there are replacements to be found.

    If and when you check the camera make sure that:

    • It has all the parts, such as viewfinder glass, rings, rewind knobs and levers, the take up spool
    • The rangefinder is clear, even if it's misaligned
    • The shutter curtains are there, no wrinkles, no holes
    • There are no markings on the metal, such as someone's name or SSN (that would bring its value down by quite a bit, unless the person who belonged to is or was famous)
    • Lens is not cloudy, scratched (light cleaning marks are ok), dinged or with fungus
    • Lens barrell is clean, not dented
    • The back has the film pressure plate still attached to it and it's not heavily scratched
    That's pretty much it, the shutter speeds can be adjusted and RF aligned. Maybe he's got one of them rare Leicas, in which case you get it the way it's found. ;) The common Leicas are the IIIa, IIIc, IIIf (Red Dial and Black Dial), IIf, Standard.

    Let us know what the condition of the camera is, will ya?...
     
  5. nealjpage

    nealjpage multi format master in a film geek package

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    Thanks for the advice everybody. I inspected it and it looked ok. (See my other thread with pics of my new toys.) The price was right at $75 so I bought it. I cleaned it up a bit and have loaded it up with some film. Just waiting for tomorrow's bright sunshine to squeeze off a few rolls and see what I get.
     

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