The Process of Restoring a Leica Film Camera

As a film photographer, the need for camera repair and restoration is not a new one. Watch as someone goes through the step by step process they went through to obtain the camera, details the camera's history, and the restoration of the camera. 

In this video, Max from Analog Insights is gifted a family heirloom — a Leica IIIa which was later upgraded to a IIIf. This camera had been in his family for many decades and at the time he received it, in a state of disrepair. Max walks us through the journey the camera has taken starting in Germany in the 30s, and the restoration which a friend of his did for him. 

While I have never personally attempted to restore a camera to its former glory (much less a Leica!), I have repaired lesser expensive film SLR cameras. This process typically involves cannibalizing another broken version of the camera for parts. Among film cameras which are generally pretty aged and can be heavily used, it is not uncommon for a camera to not work or have a severe impairment which limits the functionality. While there are repair services out there, some better than others, these services can be time-consuming and depending on the repair shop, can take a long time just to get through the queue. The finite supply of film cameras and the limited offerings for repair services can act as a bottleneck for getting into film. 

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Michael Harris's picture

Extend a lens for 200 Alex.

Richard Freilich's picture

Hi, great story! Its nice to have a family heirloom like that. That's a IIIa top plate onthe camera. IIIf top plates are one piece. Someone added flash sync. There are other differences, the biggest being that the later cameras have the range and viewfinder eye pieces close together in a bakelite mount, the earlier Leicas have two separate range and viewfinder eye pieces.

ian Maitland's picture

I have a IIIA and a IIIB. Both work, and despite having the worst viewfinders in the world, produce perfectly framed photos with great regularity. I print them with the black borders to show they are not cropped.

anthony marsh's picture

GIFTED; having natural ability or talent OED definition. Mr. MADISON, in the interest of proper grammar he was GIVEN the camera.

Lawrence Sawyer's picture

Mr. Madison, please reveal how your friend managed to have the lens re-coated with the anti-reflection coating. To my knowledge, that’s a very expense process, especially when only doing one lens.