First roll with the Leica M3 DS and m-mount Leitz Elmar 50/3.5

By Hamish Gill

If you’ve read my Leica M3 post you might be aware that I went to some pains to buy a late model M3 with all the various “upgrades” Leica made to the camera over the course of its production run? Had you read that, you might now be surprised to read about me shooting with a M3 DS (double stroke) early model… It was, after all, a firm conclusion that a late model was the right camera for me.

Well, whilst I did conclude and act on the idea a late model was right for me, I remained more than slightly intrigued by what I’d read about the early model cameras. That intrigue came to a head when, at the photography show in Birmingham a month or so back, a 1955 DS with all the first version parts was taken in second hand by the London Camera Exchange stand. I happen to be on good terms with the guys from LCE Worcester, it also happened to be Gareth from LCE Worcester who took the M3 in. Knowing he could make a quick sale, he tweeted me and a deal for the M3 was done for the camera in the condition it was taken in. That condition being best described as ‘not great’!

Long story (which I shall no doubt regale in a later post) short I had it serviced almost straight away. It was subsequently returned to me in all its loveliness just after the M-A landed from Leica. Given the timing, it was of course shelved for a week or so whilst I collected and posted my thoughts on said M-A. Suffice to say, it was the first Leica I picked up after the M-A had to be returned to Leica.

I’m currently mulling over a follow up to my original M3 post, so I shan’t go into too much detail about this camera and its function, but one thing I will tell you is, it is undoubtably a lovely camera. More lovely in fact than the later model in a few fairly minor but actually previously unconceived ways. I actually haven’t yet decided to what extent my aforestated viewpoint has changed, if at all, but for the sake of this particular post it doesn’t really matter.

For now, this post is just an introduction to its existence in my world, and perhaps moreover a chance to talk in brief about what adorned the front on it when I bought it. It came with a somewhat dilapidated M-mount 50mm 3.5 Leitz Elmar. It’s come up a treat after a CLA, but I must admit with the whole front part of the lens being lose and a filter being jammed on the front, I wasn’t sure if it was a goner. As it turns out, I was wrong, after a few days with Phil, it feels like a new lens! From what I’ve read, these lenses aren’t necessarily uncommon, though I’ve not seen one before. As far as I can work out it must be one of the earliest M-mount 50mm lenses. I’m pretty certain it is the same as the later coated thread mount version. That is admittedly just hearsay picked up from the little bit of research I’ve done on forums, but I can’t see why they would change the optical design.

What’s really special about this particular lens is that from the little info I was given when I bought it, is that along side the M3, I am actually only its second owner. Apparently the guy that parted with it at the photography show had owned both camera and lens from new for 60 years.

Unsurprisingly, like its thread mount relative, it seems surprisingly good. I really must get around to writing a bit more about some of these old lenses I’ve been accumulating, but in the meanwhile here are a few photos taken with it. So here it is, my first roll with the Leica M3 DS and m-mount Leitz Elmar 50/3.5 – Just snaps taken around and about the place with some cheap Fuji 400 superia film…

Leica M3 with 50mm 3.5 elmar-m Leica M3 with 50mm 3.5 elmar-m Leica M3 with 50mm 3.5 elmar-m Leica M3 with 50mm 3.5 elmar-m

Leica M3 with 50mm 3.5 elmar-m

Leica M3 with 50mm 3.5 elmar-m Leica M3 with 50mm 3.5 elmar-m

Cheers for reading

Hamish

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About The Author

By Hamish Gill
I started taking photos at the age of 9. Since then I've taken photos for a hobby, sold cameras for a living, and for a little more than decade I've been a professional photographer and, of course, weekly contributor to 35mmc.
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Comments

jason gold on First roll with the Leica M3 DS and m-mount Leitz Elmar 50/3.5

Comment posted: 29/03/2022

Beautiful photo of Blue Russian! They are really hard to snap! We had a slightly darker one, absorbed light! They can look "mean" but are very affectionate.. Use of old M3 great! Mine is in well used condition being used in pro and now my retirement for 55 years from new! Personally if digital had not come, it would still be my main camera! Oh! 50mm Collapsible Summicron. I love my M3 like my M6...
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Scott on First roll with the Leica M3 DS and m-mount Leitz Elmar 50/3.5

Comment posted: 16/08/2018

Oh, and just a heads-up: I used to have a lovely model like Connie. Over time, she grew up, went to university, and then got married, without even asking permission. Oddly enough, she less interested in modeling than she was. The upside is that now I can take pictures of her infant son. Maybe a little scary to think about from where you are. But it all works out. :-)
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Hamish Gill replied:

Comment posted: 16/08/2018

Hah, cheers Scott - its a path I am looking forward to and dreading in equal measure ;)

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Scott on First roll with the Leica M3 DS and m-mount Leitz Elmar 50/3.5

Comment posted: 16/08/2018

Pretty sure I wouldn't want to argue with that cat...
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Hamish Gill replied:

Comment posted: 16/08/2018

His bark's worse than his bite ;)

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Colin on First roll with the Leica M3 DS and m-mount Leitz Elmar 50/3.5

Comment posted: 30/05/2015

It's websites like this, Hamish, that can cost me a fortune. Here I am with a Leica IIIc (CLAd) which I like for its size and ergonomics but whose shutter sounds too noisy. But it now has a nice pre-war Summar f2 collapsible. A Contax II with a really quiet shutter and excellent Zeiss lens, some Soviet RFs (including a really nice FED2). And so on. And I've been reading your Leica reviews and now this page and now I want (but don't need) an M3 to pair it with my Zeiss Sonnar 1.5 LTM. The wife would kill me! I do like the photos, BTW. Especially the whippet eyeing the food and that look of pure malevolence in the 'guardian' cat's eyes. At least, it looks to me that the cat is guarding the girl. (Your daughter I presume but don't know for sure.)
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Hamish Gill replied:

Comment posted: 30/05/2015

Yes, I have been told more than a few times that I am a bad influence ... ... The M3 is a glorious camera, despite now owning a spanky new M-A, the M3 is getting used just as much still! CLA'd, as mine is now... I can't tell you how lovely it is. Though, I would still recommend a late model over a DS, just... Does that help with the GAS?? ;) It's nice to receive positive comments about pets. I know the archetypal "cat photo" is something that some people mock, but they are just as much a part of my life as, well, anything else in my photos. Capturing their personalities and quirks - those you have pointed out - is fun! (and yes, Connie is my daughter :))

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