Leica M3

Considered by many to be the *first 35 mm camera, the UR-Leica “miniature” camera went into production in 1914. The Oskar Barnack design used
35 mm motion picture film and the camera and subsequent systems became a global success. The original Leica cameras used screw mounted interchangeable lenses.

The introduction of the Leica bayonet M mount came with the Leica M3 in 1954. Other innovations included a lever film advance, and parallax corrected viewfinder with bright framing lines. The M3 is considered to be the “classic” Leica - rugged, extremely accurate, no electronics and probably the best selling Leica ever (more than 220,000 were made).

The superiority of Leica optical design is legendary. Photographs taken with Leica exhibit extreme detail and very high contrast. Leica continues to dominate the rangefinder camera market and has introduced a digital model. The brother R series Single Lens Reflex cameras also share the same level of quality and optical performance.

The M3 shown here is a later 1960 model having a single stroke film advance - early M3’s had double stroke. Recent shutter tests confirm that the timing is still 99% accurate after 40 years!

The 50 mm Dual-Range Summicron is a novel lens. In addition to being a normal lens with a focus range of 3 1/2 feet to infinity, a close up range of 19 to 35 inches can be accomplished with the addition of a special optical finder attachment. The finder “eyes” serve two purposes - a mechanical interface allows close-up focusing and rangefinder parallax correction is also provided.


  • Ernst Leitz, Wetzlar, Germany
  • Summicron 50mm - f/2.0 Dual Range lens
  • Focal Plane cloth shutter. B, 1.0 - 1/1000 second
  • 35mm film