Leica M3 Review
The Leica M3 is considered to be one of the most revolutionary and well recognized camera of all time due to its groundbreaking innovation, popularity with the best photographers of the time and its status symbol among the famous. Released in 1954 the Leica M3 was Leicas first M mount camera which supported a new range of lenses while being able to adapt old lenses from the screw Leica’s. The Leica M3 combined the viewfinder and rangefinder into one window allowing the photographer to frame and focus through one viewfinder. This made the camera more accurate and faster to use than the older screw Leica’s which required the photographer to focus through one viewfinder and frame through another. The Leica M3’s viewfinder supported 50mm, 90mm and 135mm frame lines which, at the time were the most common focal lengths used by photojournalists. This would soon change with photographers preferring wider angle lenses which resulted in the Leica M2 with 35mm frame lines.
After picking up the Leica M3 for the first time I instantly knew it would be a camera that would always be with me. It is hard to explain but the way this camera feels in the hand is like no other, its perfectly weighted, not feeling to heavy but being built to last a lifetime. For me everything on this camera feels perfect and although these days I am shooting both 35mm and 50mm lenses I have never thought about swapping it for another camera as the viewfinder is one of the best I have ever used and after about a week using this camera became second nature. Though when I first was using the M3 I had a 50mm lens and this suits this camera perfectly. Later on I would switch to a 28mm lens which required an external viewfinder. At first I thought that this would detract from the simplicity of the M system but if anything it taught me the importance of pre-focusing and improved my skill with the Leica M
I have been using the Leica M3 for well over four years now and not once has it let me down. This reliability means I know that when I raise the camera to my eye I know that it will capture the image I want. From the freezing winter of Eastern Europe to the humid climate of South East Asia and even the radioactive wasteland of Chernobyl, this camera has worked perfectly without fail. In my opinion the Leica M3 is the perfect travel camera when paired with a fast 50mm lens as if you load a 400iso film you can shoot in any condition day or night. As well as this the Leica M3 does not require any batteries to function so you just pick up the camera in the morning and let your eyes do the rest.