Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1996/10/08

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Subject: Re: M3 and Summicron 50, production differences
From: Stephen Gandy <>
Date: Tue, 08 Oct 1996 07:55:07 -0700
References: <v01540b02ae7fc431a24b@[]>

Erwin Puts/imX wrote:
> Question one: are there differences between M3 bodies from 1955 and 1961?
> To start with the last question. There is a suggestion by McKeown that
> M3-models  with a serial number above 1.000.000 are in some mysterious way
> better than their predecessors. I dismantled a 1955 model and a 1962 model
> with the help of the chief repairman of Leitz and compared part for part,
> including the washers, gears, spindles and whatever. There is no
> discernible difference between the two models. By the way, the same
> exercise with an M6 revealed very few differences. Most parts from an M3
> fit in an M6 and vice versa.
In popular opinion the M3's over 1 mil, and especially those over 1.1,
are the finest M cameras ever produced in terms of craftsmanship, fit,
and finish.  The story is that they represent the last cameras assembled
by hand in Leica's longest production line by very experienced
technicians(before retirements during the M4 period) .  Whether it is
true or not is another matter, but it is undoubtedly true in terms of
the marketplace.  M3's with the higher serial numbers sell for a

As to the internal differences, I recently had a different experience.

I bought a beautiful M3 which was jammed. Serial # 1078254.  I brought
it into my Leitz trained technician with over 30 years experience.   It
turns out that someone was inside the camera that did know what they
were doing, messing around with settings and tiny springs that are
normally never serviced.  

He already had a M3 in the 970xxx range on his bench.  The cameras were
different internally in very minor details.  He needed another camera
over 1 mil to use as an example in order to complete the repair!   He
explained that the differences were so minor that he himself had never
noticed them, and that without having the camera stripped down to its
bare disassembled parts, that he probably never would have noticed them.

Stephen Gandy

In reply to: Message from (Erwin Puts/imX) (M3 and Summicron 50, production differences)