The Leica IIIf – A Complete Model of Barnack Leica
The Leica IIIf is often known as Barnack Leica.
If you are going to get a Barnack Leica series, I will highly recommend you to choose the IIIf!
Barnack Leica is a general term for the older style 35 mm rangefinder film cameras before shifting to the Leica M models. As it is the origin of 35mm film cameras, the IIIf enables you to experience the history of the progress of the cameras through shooting photos.
The IIIf added the flash synchronization to Barnack Leica. With a comfortable and smooth operation, the IIIf can offer opportunities to enjoy a camera that is also considered to be a precision machine.
In this article, I am going to focus on the IIIf’s special features based upon Barnack Leica.
About the Leica IIIf
Do you know what you can do with the IIIf?
Let’s take a look at its history at first!
About Barnack Leica
Barnack Leica is a camera produced by the Optician Ernst Leitz and the optical engineer Oscar Barnack.
It is often said that the Ur-Leica (the origin of Leica) was introduced in 1913 or 1914. Its remarkable feature is using 35mm films commonly used for movies. It was believed that motion picture films were too small to use for photography, although roll films including “the Kodac 120 film” had been already widespread at the time.
By attaining high-resolution lenses, Leica has achieved high-quality images even after expanding an image and printing it on a printing paper directly from a film.
Leica provided an enlarger as a system when Leica was released. As a result, 35mm film cameras had become a mainstream until the shift to digital cameras in the beginning of the 21st century.
In 1925, the Leica A was released as the first model. Then, the Leica II with a coupled rangefinder followed and had completed the basis of rangefinder cameras in 1932. After that, Barnack Leica had been steadily advancing by adding slow shutter speed, and the IIIc moved to a die-cast body from an original sheet metal body.
Features and Specifications of the Leica IIIf
Introduced in 1950, the IIIf is an advanced model based on Barnack Leica with a flash synchronization. It has been produced until 1957. In terms of performances and features, the IIIf basically has the same technical attributes as the early models.
The IIIf can handle shutter speeds from 1 second to 1/1000th of a second, in addition to B (bulb), and then the two different dials for high (faster than 1/25th of a second) and slow shutter speeds are installed on the body. Just like other Barnack Leica, it can be totally different from current shutter speeds system.
(Sutter speeds of the IIIf: B-1s-1/2s-1/5s-1/10s-1/15s-1/25s-1/50s-1/100s-1/200s-1/500s-1/1000s)
It is possible to use L39 screw mount SLR lenses through a coupled rangefinder.
In addition, a bottom lid can be removed to advance a film in the same manner as Barnack Leica.
The Leica IIIf with Built-In Flash Synchronization
The IIIf’s feature is to be equipped with a built-in flash synchronization. There was no uniform standard for flash synchronization with focal plane shutters at the time.
The IIIf has to set contact numbers by moving the dial around below of the shutter dial, depending on the kinds of flashes. Behind this, there was a necessary reason that not only a flashbulb was mainly used instead of electronic strobe at that time but also it took a burn time depending on flash bulbs.
Generally speaking, there is no strong reason for flush shooting when using the IIIf today. But, using this perfect mechanical product would rather be the greatest advantage.
Black and Red Synchronizer Contact Numbers
The IIIf can be divided into the early model (synchronizer contact numbers engraved in black) and the later model (in red). The difference between the two is shutter sync speeds and contact numbers. Then, their name derived from their contact numbers’ colors.
For shutter speeds, there is a slight difference as below.
Black Dial IIIf：1s-1/2s-1/5s-1/10s-1/15s-1/25s-1/50s-1/75s-1/100s-1/200s-1/500s-1/1000s
Red Dial IIIf：1s-1/2s-1/5s-1/10s-1/15s-1/20s-1/30s-1/40s-1/60s-1/100s-1/200s-1/500s-1/1000s
Barnack Leica – High-Quality Exquisite Rangefinder Film Cameras
Among Barnack cameras, especially the IIIf remains a good condition because of the production date.
Though the IIIc (a previous model) apparently has lost its quality due to the World WarⅡ, the IIIf can eliminate worries about poor quality plating produced during a post-war recovery.
The shutter is originally equipped with ball bearings.
If you are looking for Barnack Leica in a high quality and good condition, you may start searching from the IIIf!
The last model of Barnack Leica “IIIg” was produced after the IIIf, but this has an unusual appearance compared to other Barnack cameras. As such, I will recommend to get the IIIg for those people who prefer a normal appearance.
Recommended to Get the IIIf for the First Leica
As I have mentioned above, the IIIf can be the best option for getting your first Barnack Leica. With a good condition and finishing, you will be satisfied with a high level of precision machine made in Germany.
Why don’t you feel a real Barnack camera on this occasion?
You will surely see the origin of small compact rangefinder cameras through the IIIf!