leica III

Period; 1932 - 1939; serial numbers: 71200 - 358650: total about 76000
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; T-1-2-4-8-20; Z-(20-1)-30-40-60-100-200-500
Shutter control and type; mechanical, horizontal cloth
Film transport; manual by lever, rewind knob, mechanical
Measurements in mm; 133 x 67 x 30
Weight body (grams); 420

The Leica III Series started with the Leica III in 1933 and ended with the IIIg in 1960. Basically the III is identical to the previous model II that added the coupled rangefinder and established the iconic silhouette and shape of the Leica CRF for three decades.

The Leica III (F) stays in the catalogues from 1933 to 1940 (start with serial number 107601 and end with number 343100) and should not be confused with the later IIIf model. The Leica III did introduce in 1933 the slow shutter speeds of T-1-2-4-8-20 (in addition to the fast speeds of Z-(20-1)-30-40-60-100-200-500) and a novel magnifying telescope system for the rangefinder that gives a 1.5 magnification and the eye-piece can be adjusted for several distance settings between infinity and 1 meter and also functions as a dioptre adjustment. It has to be noted however that the finder (however ingenious and complex) gave the photographer only limited support and, seen with modern eyes, the viewing is not really clear. The Zeiss Contax did a better job in this respect.

The III was equipped for the first time with strap lugs, a feature that was seen in those days as an important innovation, because the photographer could now wear and use the camera without the cumbersome case that might get in the way when taking snapshots.

Between 1932/1936 film speeds had increased so much that snapshots were possible in almost every situation: emulsion speeds were increased to ASA/ISO 12 - 16, and some years later ASA/ISO 25 - 80 was the norm. These emulsions had very fine grain as the example of the Agfa Superpan Feinkorn Film with 17DIN/ASA shows.

The Leica III sold in large numbers and around 76000 left the factory.

Leica III blacknickel, serial no. 119653 (1933)

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