I got quite a few rolls through an M3 I had in a quick fashion a while back. But one thing I just realized is that I never wrote a “This Old Camera” post about it. No idea why, but we are about to fix that right now.

Leica M3

Recently posted about the new analog M mount addition to the family, the Leica CL 50 JAHRE.


It filled a hole left by a recently let go of (liked a lot, but not loved) analog M mount Voigtlander Bessa R2.


Which was purchased to fill the analog M mount hole left when I let go of my Leica M3.

Leica M3

A truly great camera worthy of all of the accolades. For fun, I did a tongue in cheek comparison between it and a FED 2 for KEH.

Tried it with some impressive glass like the Summicron I borrowed from Manu for the KEH post and this goggle-fied macro thingy amazing-ness below on a trial run from Southeastern Camera, Carrboro.

Leica M3

That produced this.

Leica M3 w/ Elmar M 90mm f/4 & Fuji 200

Dabbled with the Leica Q for a bit. Great camera, but it is a wholly different animal


Even though I no longer own it I find it quite easy to recall every detail about the M3. Found it at KEH and paid a very reasonable sum at the time. A bit less than the current going rate. That is the cool part about these. If you take care of it you can sell it on for little to no loss. Hold on to it long enough and you might make a little back. It found a great home with another SE Camera customer, friend, and Customer Solutions Manager at CineStill Film, Andre (as seen below).

I am glad it found a home where it would be used as often as it should be.

Have used quite a few rangefinder cameras. But this was the best. Why did I like it so much?


  • Viewfinder and rangefinder focusing.
    • Hands down, the best I have seen. Bright. All the frame lines I could want. Top-notch. A wonderful focusing experience.
  • Build.
    • One of the best-built film cameras I have owned. Better than any digital camera I have owned. This from a camera made in the 60s. Just amazing.
  • Ergonomics.
    • One of the most confidence-inspiring cameras I have ever used. Everything clicks into place in a solid reassuring fashion.
  • Accessory integration.
    • Every accessory I tried worked flawlessly.
      • Macro goggles with the 90mm f/4 Elmar lens worked as an all of one piece. Amazing bit of engineering.
      • Leicameter. The Leicameter is integrated with the shutter dial so once you have the meter dialed in, the shutter is dialed in also.
Leica M3
  • Looks.
    • The thing is gorgeous. Like my Hasselblad or Polaroid, it is what comes to mind when someone says camera.
  • Cache or that certain something.
    • The Leica pixie dust is real. Cannot put a finger on it, but owning and carrying it just made me feel good. And while I had it I was inspired to take one of my all-time favorite images of my wife. As she walked away from me I guestimated the focus distance and when she hit the mark I called her name.
Leica M3 w/ Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 and Ilford XP2

Downsides? None that I would bother to list really. The pluses overwhelm for me. An excellent camera.

Would I recommend it? Yes. Without hesitation. Wholeheartedly. Very glad I owned it.

My love for it was why I sold it. Wait, what now?

My personal preference for a daily shooter calls for internal metering. The “obvious” decision would be to upgrade to an M6 then, right? But the Leica M6 costs considerably more. Worth it, but more than I am willing to spend for a 35mm camera. Also would prefer a more compact package. So when I was feeling rangefinder manual focus-ey the technically inferior, but very nice thank you very much, Canon Canonet QL17 GIII saw more use. (Now replaced by the internal metered, lower price Leica CL when an M lens is called for.) So I did not use the Leica M3 enough to justify ownership. Admittedly I also already have another 35mm camera firmly holding “the precious” status which made the decision to let it go easier.

The Leica M3 is too nice to play second fiddle or sit on a shelf so I passed it on with no regrets.

Here is a gallery of my time with the M3 and below are some sample shots.


Leica M3
Leica M3
Leica M3 w/ Summilux 35mm f/2
Leica M3 w/ Elmar C 90mm & Fuji 800
Leica M3
Leica M3 w/ Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 and Ilford XP2

27 Replies to “This Old Camera: Leica M3”

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: