Leica IIIc


Period; 1940 - 1951; serial numbers: 360101 − 525000: total about 138000
Type; film-cartridge loading 24x36
Finder; fixed Galilean telescope for 50mm lens
Rangefinder magnification; 1.5 x, dioptre adjustment
Rangefinder: coupled, built-in, separate eyepieces
Exposure meter; none
Shutter speeds; Z-(30red-1)-40-60-100-200-500-1000 (later B-(30red-1)-40-60-100-200-500-1000) and slow speed dial 1-2-4-10-15-20-30-T.
Shutter control and type; mechanical, horizontal cloth
Film transport; manual by lever, rewind knob, mechanical
Measurements in mm; 135.5 x 68 x 30 (some authors note 136 mm, that is 2.5 mm more than previous models, but 2.8 and 3.0 mm are also quoted)
Weight body (grams); 420


Later models had IIIf type speed dial and Black Dial flash synchronization.

Some cameras were fitted with shutter blinds that are red on one side and black on the other, presumably because of temporarily shortages of more suitable fabrics)

The IIIC has been made with two different types of top cover: earlier version has a raised step on which the release lever for rewind was mounted; later version (post-war) was without the raised step (from serial# 400001)



The body (outer shell) of all Leica cameras till 1940 is made of a piece of extruded aluminum tube. The inner shutter cradle, made of brass holds the distance between lens flange and camera back/film plane. This is a construction that is stable enough for the lenses that were introduced at the beginning. Remember that the camera was designed with a fixed collapsible lens. With the much heavier lenses of later production the body could not handle the strain and at the end of the 1930s a stronger die-cast body is introduced. The advantages are a stiffer body for the user and a simpler production process for the manufacturer. Preparations for the production of the Leica IIIc (internal code: 42215) with the new die-cast body started in September 1939 with serial number 360001. The actual serial number for the beginning of IIIc is difficult to pinpoint: 360001 is mentioned in the internal documentation, but this may be the intended starting number; for some reason the IIId was given preference and this model was allocated the batch from number 360001 − 360100. This batch was not fully filled in and it is unknown what has happened with the gaps. These might have been used for regular IIIc models. In this case the IIIc might have been started with #360021! The original internal Leitz documentation refers to this model as Modell 3 C and the companion Modell 3 D. For special orders (military) the shutter could be fitted with ball bearings, but from serial# 388926 this feature has been incorporated in the regular production. These models have an additional letter K at the end of the serial number and this letter K can also be found on the second shutter curtain. K = Kältefest = winterized. Some authorities refer to K as Kugellager = ball bearing, but this is not the original German designation. It is true however that ball bearings are required for operation in low temperatures (-45 degrees C). When Leitz could resume production in May 1945 the IIIc was the only model being manufactured. The sprinkling of other types that have been recorded as being produced (Standard and 250) may have been assembled from spare parts for special orders.

The Leica IIIc has the same specifications as the previous IIIb, but internally it is a different design. The last serial number allocated for the war period was #397650 in 1944 and the first number after the war had beeb fixed to #400000

The factual production numbers may be lower than the quoted production numbers and may be close to 135.000 or less. The camera is quite common, but the many wartime versions are a walhalla for collectors. IIIc cameras are quite plentiful and most wartime cameras are of this type. Later ones have ball-bearing shutters (like the IIIc-K).

Postwar models show a large number of small changes in top plate design and engravings, number of securing screws, type of vulcanite and quality of chrome plating. Internally Leitz used code numbers to identify the several types of cameras and these postwar models have codes: 1357/2357/2457/2467/2468. The match of type-codes to serial numbers indicate that Leitz did not produce the cameras in numerically chronological order. The department that set the allocation numbers for a certain camera type operates independently from the manufacturing and engraving departments that actually produce the cameras.

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