I bought the Leica M3 and 90mm f/2.8 Elmarit nearly two years ago, and finally received it back from being fully serviced just as COVID-19 began sweeping through the United States. As such, I’ve had quite a bit of down time during my weeks off (medical personnel here) to really test out the camera since I bought it. It’s an absolute joy to use, and the rangefinder inside puts my Fujica GL690 and Canonet QL17 Giii to shame. I think we’ve all heard the hype surrounding the Leica M3, and after using it the past few weeks, I’d say the hype is real.
Since we’re all (hopefully) social distancing, I haven’t had much for subjects besides my dog Miah. We’ve been out hiking three to four times a day, so plenty of opportunities to take pictures with my new set up. Miah tends to hike quite a ways ahead of me, so having a 90mm lens helps isolate her (and other subjects) against the background. I’m quickly getting used to the 90mm angle of view, and having a generous amount of room around the frame lines helps quite a bit for planning out shots and waiting for things to come into the frame.
The only issue I have found with the rangefinder in the Leica M3 is focusing on subjects with lots of texture. Matching up tiny little details in scenes with foliage has proven to be exceptionally difficult. If you’re shooting solid objects with defined edges, focusing is an absolute breeze. I have heard lots of gripes about loading film with this camera, and while slow, it isn’t as bad as some make it out to be. A little bit of practice goes a long way into getting better at it. I’m only 5 rolls in, and for the most part I have it figured out.
Overall, using the Leica M3 has been a very fun and enjoyable experience. Now that I have more C-41 chemicals, I’m looking forward to shooting some color negatives. I was using the Leicameter MR4, but the battery died after a couple days. Most of the shots are guesses on exposure, and for the most part turned out really well!
In the meantime, everyone stay safe and gift medical personnel coffee! We really need it during these grueling times!
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