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Leica M3 35mm Rangefinder Film Camera Bo...
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Great, Iconic camera ...but Cavaet Emptor!
This is more a buyers guide than a review, and aimed more at the photographer who wants to actually use the camera as intended, not park it on the shelf and occasionally fondl...Read more
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The quintessential 35mm classic
In 1954 the Leica M3 inaugurated a completely new era of 35mm cameras. Though SLRs had started to appear earlier (e.g. the Exakta system from the late 1940s), the multiple-fra...Read more

Leica M3 35mm Rangefinder Film Camera Body Only

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PriceC $925.99
+C $32.68 shipping
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Excellent Leica M3 Silver Single Stroke Rangefinder from Japan
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    This item appears here because it is the lowest priced, Buy It Now item from a highly rated seller.
Condition:Used
Location:Japan
Returns:accepted
AuctionTime: ending soonestBuy it nowPrice + Shipping: lowest first
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Product description

Product Identifiers
BrandLeica
ModelM3 Body Only
MPN m3
UPC403163110911

Product Highlights
Video

Key Features
Camera TypeRangefinder
Film Type35mm
Lens MountLeica M

Focus
Focus TypeManual

eBay Product ID: EPID82815482
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Leica M3 35mm Rangefinder Film Camera Body Only
  • Average rating:
    Based on 23 user reviews
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  • 5 stars17
  • 4 stars4
  • 3 stars2
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Great, Iconic camera ...but Cavaet Emptor!

 | Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Created: 06/01/13
This is more a buyers guide than a review, and aimed more at the photographer who wants to actually use the camera as intended, not park it on the shelf and occasionally fondle it. I shot with an M3 for years in the 80s and to this day can pick out those Leica slides from the contemporary Olympus OM stuff I was also shooting. The lenses are that much better, and the rangefinder workflow of operating one of these seems to make me concentrate a bit more on composition. The price of these cameras has been trending down for some time as film is less and less popular as a medium, and I finally was able to replace my old M3 that I sold to get a Hasselblad back in the day.

THe M3 is a great camera - completely mechanical, with a solid, authoritative feel to it. Coupled with the excellent Leica lenses, yes, sure, you could shoot as well as Besson or Eisenstadt. But of course, if you are buying an M3, you are also buying at least a 50 year old piece of gear.

If the seller does not list a date that the camera was "CLA'd" (Cleaned, Lubed, and Adjusted) then I would strongly advise you go ahead and budget for that in your purchase price. The exterior condition of the camera does not indicate at all whether this will be needed - in fact, I could argue that a pristine, clean example may be more in need of adjustment than a battle scarred example.

Why? Well, again, this is a mechanical unit, with many small springs, gears, counterweights and such to make the various functions (shutter, film transport, focus coupling) work well. That pristine example may have sat on someones "Love me" shelf for the past 30 years...all the while lubricants are drying up, internal adhesives are coming apart, springs may be stuck under a certain tension...none of which is at al healthy for this little mechanism. That scratched up, brassy one may have gotten more exercise and therefore be in better shape than the a museum piece for actual photography.

Now, this doesn't apply to collectors, and if you are a collector, well, more power to you. I'm a photographer. I don't abuse my gear but I don't baby it either. A tuned up, CLA'd M3 will stand up to normal use just fine, that's what it was made for.

That said, do be cautious if your prospective M Series camera has any dents or depressions in the top surface or the upper sides. The M3 has a relatively delicate rangefinder assembly compared to later models, and a good shot to the top area may knock it out of adjustment or worse, delaminate some of the components. This will be expensive to rectify.

If I was going to ask one question about an M3 or any mechanical shutter camera, it would be "How are the slow shutter speeds?". Because of those little springs and such inside the shutter, a problem will usually show up first at the lowest speeds. A quick and dirty test is the old "One Mississippi". Set the shutter for one second, trigger it and say "one Mississippi" out loud. The shutter should close at the moment you complete the second word. I admit, this is not the most tightly calibrated test, but any wide deviance from the expected behavior indicates more extensive bench testing and repair are in the camera's future.

If the shutter speeds are ok, and the rangefinder works correctly, you have a good camera. Taken care of and maintained, it will last the rest of your life. There is no shortage of these, so take your time and find a good one.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
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The quintessential 35mm classic

Created: 07/03/11
In 1954 the Leica M3 inaugurated a completely new era of 35mm cameras. Though SLRs had started to appear earlier (e.g. the Exakta system from the late 1940s), the multiple-frameline rangefinder by Leica offered the smoothest, fastest, most robust shooting experience available, coupled with the then-already optically superior Leitz lenses.

These cameras were constructed to the absolute highest standards of quality and maintainability (everything was designed to be adjustable over a long, long lifespan). As such, as long as the rangefinder optics are clean (the balsam glue of the beam splitter have a tendency to fail after about 40 years on some examples of the M3, fading or completely disabling the rangefinder) this is a very 'safe' camera to buy on eBay.

My copy (a late-model, single-stroke coming from dry Australia) truly looks and functions like a new camera, despite it's age of 52 years. It's quickest, smoothest, quietest camera I own. Rangefinders are, of course, much more limited than their SLR counterparts, and this could not be considered a "general purpose" camera anymore, but for anybody still practicing the art of developing and printing their own photographs in an analogue manner, the Leica M3 offers arguably the best body to obtain the ultimate image quality possible from the 35mm format.

Being the first "M", the collectivity (value) of the M3 is sure to increase with time, and finally, as an object considered in its own right (not as a tool) the M3 has timeless beauty and pureness of design.

Regarding lenses, nothing fits a Leica M3 better than a Voigtländer Heliar 50mm f/3.5 - it's small, chromed, collapsible, and likely the highest-performance M-mount lens yet made (according to several tests). With this lens, you can imagine the M3 being a fixed-lens camera, it's so compact and well-matched. If the light is good, shoot some Ilford Pan F, and be prepared for prints of unmatched quality from the 35mm format.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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Leica M3. The finest 35 RF Film Camera ever produced.

Created: 03/06/10
Having been on the lookout for a good sample of this fine camera has been a pleasurable task.
When I purchased the one I found I was lucky in that it was just short of perfectly mint. The little
well known original seal was still in tact. This afforded me to have the finest craftsman perform an excellent cleaning, lubricating and adjusting service. This camera with my choice of the finest lenses has rendered pictures far beyond of what digital produces. (and digital is really great these days). There is a romance and realness to film that has yet to be matched. There are also the true photography experiences you get with a fine vintage camera as this Leica M3. One has to think a little when using this camera and in this day it is good to think and plan that perfect shot.
When going on a trip, no matter how near or how far, it's great to have a record of those places on film. For fast impulse shots, a good quality digital is very handy and easy. (you can be almost as quick with film). But it's the film that will bring back the most dramatic scenes and memories.
I recommend to anyone that wants that special clarity and natural real life appearance in their pictures to explore film photography. If you are sparked by this idea, find a nice Leica with a great Leica lens and
take that leap into real photography. You will be in for a pleasant journey.
L.L.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
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The great rangefinder classic: the Leica M3

Created: 15/12/09
Fantastic rangefinder camera. The Leica M3 is still among the best out there even when compared to its modern descendants. Provided you find a good example, it gives you Leica quality for a fraction of the new prices. The mechanical parts are all solid. The camera body is heavy compared to modern cameras, but that only indicates its sturdiness. Everything is built to last. It'll outlast you. Coupled with a 50mm Summicron DR lens it makes a great start before you start exploring other lenses. Put on a classy looking Voigtlander VC Meter II and it'll give you some exposure security for those who want to shoot with a light meter but don't want the hassle of a handheld version.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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satsfied

 | Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Created: 03/06/13
I bought it as a second body for my m-6, then I sent it in for an overhaul and to update the flash contacts. It was a little high for the price and the overhaul & update will cost me another $500.00 or so including recovering in "grey grip tac." so for less than $2000.00 total I get a totally refurbished m-3 leica rangefinder. to me it's worth it in spades & I know what I own.
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