Photographers using Leica M film cameras often say that they do not need flash and prefer to shoot in ambient light. However, if you go through websites related to Leica, the subject of how to use a flash on a Leica M film camera often appears, particularly M3 and M2. The reason is very simple: the Leica M3 and M2 do not have a hot shoe and although they have flash sockets for both electronic and lamp flashes, these sockets are not international standard and therefore it’s more difficult to find the necessary original accessories for shooting it with flash.
For reference this is not only a problem on the M3 and M2 but also the M1 as well. From the M4 on, the sockets become international standard and the problem of using flash on the cameras is easier to overcome. In fact, from M6 classic there is a hot shoe and with M6 TTL and M7, you even can enjoy TTL flash.
I’ve owned my Leica M3 camera for a long time, but until recently I hadn’t got all accessories needed to use flash on it. In fact, as an amateur photographer, I don’t use flash much at all. But sometimes, when it comes to indoor family get-togethers, it’s quite difficult without a flash.
So to begin with, here is the list of necessary items:
An adapter made by Kaiser, model number ‘KS-1313’. This adapter slots into the the flash socket of the camera, and a standard flash sync cable slots into the back of it.
A flash sync cable with a standard pc sync connector on both end.
An electronic flash that has international standard sync/multiple flash terminals. In my case, I use a second hand Nikon SB-20 that cost me about USD 40 locally in Hanoi Vietnam.
Among above items, the adapter is the “must” because without it, you cannot use flash on the M3. The other items are not so important as there are a few alternative options. For example, if your flash doesn’t have an international standard sync terminal, then you could use a hot shoe adapter with a pc sync socket on the side. There are also a large range of low cost remote triggers now available. All these options will work fine, provided you have a Kaiser KS-1313.
As I’ve said though, in my case, I just use the Nikon SB-20 – it has the correct terminal on the flash, and is a nice and versatile, compact flash. It is also very simple to put it into operation.
First insert the flash terminal adapter into the X terminal which is the left-hand terminal when you look at the back of the camera.
Put batteries into the flash (obviously), put a little it of tape over the terminals on the shoe of the flash to stop them from shorting, then attach the flash.
Then connect the flash and the camera by the sync flash cable. When you now release the shutter, the flash will fire with zero delay.
Here you can see a picture of the M3 fully equipped with Nikon SB20
And here are a couple of images taken with the Leica M3 with Nikon SB-20 on Kodak Ultramax 400.
Thank you very much for reading.