Leica M3
5 frames with...

5 Frames With a Leica M3 & 90mm f/2.8 Elmarit – By Wyatt Ryan

May 26, 2020

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.

Leica M3 Red Wing Minnesota

Red Wing, Minnesota – Ilford HP5+

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.

Leica M3 portrait of dog

Miah enjoying some play time in our backyard – Ilford HP5+

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.

Miah patiently waiting for me to throw a rock – Ilford HP5+

Downtown is thankfully very quiet at night – Ilford HP5+

Miah napping after going for a hike – Ilford HP5+

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!

For more of my photography, check out my website here.
Personal Instagram – @thewyattryan
Business Instagram – @eclectic.adventures

In the meantime, everyone stay safe and gift medical personnel coffee! We really need it during these grueling times!

You can find more articles about the Leica M3 on 35mmc here

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  • Reply
    Castelli Daniel
    May 26, 2020 at 10:25 pm

    Thanks for the timely post… I’ve got an M2, and before I got it 20 years ago, someone installed a M4 viewfinder. I’ve got the 90mm framelines & I’m thinking about adding the 90.
    None of us mortals know how we’re going to emerge from the pandemic. The days of the 35/28mm lens style of street photography may be over for the foreseeable future. Now, I know this sounds a bit callous in our present circumstances, but I feel it’s truly important to make visual records of our lives right now.

    • Reply
      Wyatt Ryan
      May 26, 2020 at 11:44 pm

      It’s definitely a fun focal length to shoot with and many of the 90mm lenses can be had for pretty cheap (relative to other Leica products)!

  • Reply
    May 26, 2020 at 11:39 pm

    First I react to Daniel post. Yes, we have to enjoy the present, and record now. And take decisions. My last decision, because I have stopped to consume Ois devices, but work with Android, and bought a phone made in Korea !!! We have to find our total freedom again. Stop to be dependents.
    I return on the topic : the dog is so cute, and images very great.
    I like my M3, simply because I can focus better with 50 mm and 90 mm, this is the best one. I use a tele-elmarit Leica 90/2’8 made in Canada, and this is a great pocketable lens. It is very sharp. For wide angle, just external viewfinder ;-).
    The M3 is the best Leica M.
    For lenses, I only buy now from : Germany, Japan, Korea. 😉
    We have to enjoy our lifes and our rights, peace, freedom !!!
    Return to history to remember who were the starters of dark times.
    Photography help us to keep memory, to find peace of mind, and also show the truth. 😉

    • Reply
      Wyatt Ryan
      May 26, 2020 at 11:43 pm

      I honestly think I’d be happier with a Leica with a light meter honestly! I’ve gotten pretty good at Sunny 16 and the subsequent rules but it’s just one less thing to have to think about in the process!

      But in terms of rangefinder magnification and the base length, the M3 really stands ahead of the crowd!

  • Reply
    Castelli Daniel
    May 27, 2020 at 12:58 am

    I had DAG perform a CLA on my Leicameter MR-4. It cost $85.00 and it’s working as intended. He upgraded the battery to accept the current 625A. It was worth it. The meter is really handy, and it gives the camera a chunky, throwback industrial look.
    The point I was trying to make was a lens like the 90 allows a photographer to work a safe distance from a subject and still maintain the look of candid shots.

  • Reply
    Andrea Bevacqua
    May 27, 2020 at 6:20 pm

    Hi Wyatt,
    I’ve got ab M2 which I really love but I agree with you: the light meter would be a top feature to have.
    Other than that, the M2/3 are just nice to look at and very enjoyable to use.
    I also love the fact that is almost pocketable. I use it most of the time with a 35mm and it is very small in size.
    I’ve got also a retractable Elmar 90mm which to be honest, once closed is not too bad.

    Love it!

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