Leica M3 Calibration

Matthew Osborne Photography

September 2015

Leica M3 Calibration

This is is photo from last weekend – me having coffee with my trusty Leica M3 Double stroke after it was recalibrated by the amazing guys at Aperture Photographic, London. I think that they are probably not the cheapest repair option but they do go the extra mile when it comes to customer service. I admire the in house technician and he’s a good guy, as are the other staff. For example there was a tiny part of the black leather ‘wrap’ missing when I bought the M3 yet when I got the camera back it was repaired and looked as good as new. They tested the M3 on their calibration machine (I forget the correct name) and checked the camera accuracy at infinity. I tend to shoot most my photos up close so I was hoping the camera would be accurate for my film portraits. I won’t know for sure until I shoot another roll of film. I took some photos with the Leica Summicron 50mm f2 DR lens and the images are still not as sharp as what the lens is capable of. The Summicron 50 DR seems fine when focusing using the close focus goggles at less than 1m distance but at 1m or more it looks soft (unless I just took a sequence of poor focus images!). I then tried the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2 lens wide open at f1 for a self portrait in a mirror and it was sharp (as sharp as the Nocti can be when used wide open!) . I took the same photo with my Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v5 lens and the photo was also sharp (sharper being at f2) so I am hopeful that the camera is back to its former accuracy / glory. I need it to be.

Following on from my above statement about the Aperture Photographic service, they also looked at my Leics Summicron 50f2 v5 lens while I was in the store. I have not used my Summicron 50mm f2 v5 for a long time as I thought it was mis-calibrated. I say this as when the aperture was set at f2 for portraits the resulting images were too soft to accept. Such a shame as it is the perfect 50mm lens in terms of size/aperture ratio so I miss it. I asked the Aperture guys to to test it for me so the technician took it out in the street and returned with sharp photos at f2. Hmm. I tried again and soft! He thought it was my eyes until I explained that I normally use a Noctilux at f1. He looked how I took the photo and diagnosed that I have a tendency to focus as close as I can and at 0.68mm on this particular lens hence it was always soft. We tried at 0.8m and hey presto it is perfectly sharp. Soo happy!

I returned the Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm lens I recently re-bought for the M3 as that was too soft (compared to the previous version I owned) so now I will use the Cron 50 v5 instead of the Cron 50DR on the M3. I have the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 but it is just too long and upsets the handling of the camera (for me). My favourite lens on the M3 ergonomics wise is the tiny Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens but I often pick faster f1.4 lenses for my work.

I plan to pack the Leica M3 DS and Leica M240 cameras for my next overseas trip so fingers crossed it is sharp this time. On that note and slightly off topic I weighed my new Hasselblad 501C with 45 degree prism finder attached plus the new (and preferred lens of choice) Zeiss Makro-Planar 120mm f4 CF lens and it weighed 2kg! Not a camera for a week away when I only have 8kg hand luggage. 10kg hand luggage however and it is already packed!

New Leica M3 images coming soon!

Example test photo with Leica Noctilux –


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