Leica IIIf Black Dial 1951-52

Tomei Collection

The Leica IIIf model in its various forms was offered from 1950 through 1957.  In general, two variations are of interest: the Black Dial having serial numbers 525,001 through 611,000; and the Red Dial having serial numbers 615,001 through 825,000.
This example, serial #604,509, is among the last 6500 built in late 1951-early 1952 out of a total production of about 71,000 black dial models. It has the old shutter speeds used prior to the adoption international standard speeds although some Black Dial models do have the newer light weight shutter. The Summitar lens shown is a seven elements with the newly designed six-blade diaphragm (hexagonal opening) that appeared in 1951. The Summitar lens was produced from 1939 to 1955, although the decision to phase out this design was made in early 1952.
The accompanying signed tags confirm production quality control and indicate that the camera came equipped with the 5cm Elmar lens #906,089 (shown separately below) when originally sold. Also shown are the original red velvet box, blue-starred tissue packing paper, and the original Leitz brown paper wrapper with the matching camera serial number and lens number, all of which are an exceedingly rare find.

The top plate of the Black Dial differed from that of the later Red Dial models.  This transistional camera still retained the older "D.R.P." as well as the black numerals on the synch progression. About the time of this camera's production, German Law began to require that the "Gmbh" be added to the engraving which generally appeared on Red Dial models built in 1952-57.

The f/2 5cm Summitar shown is #90164 built in 1952 and has the curved blades and hexagonal opening. It is made with a flat groove to accept the spring loaded SOOPD, and the later E39 ITDOO and IROOA hoods similar to the Summicron.  The threads for a 36mm screw-in filter are located on a retaining ring very close to the front element and not on the inner 39mm diameter front ring as on the Summicron.  These threads have a slight taper and are unique to the Summitar filters.

Shown above with a Hektor 13.5cm f/4.5 which was produced from 1933 until 1960. This example (no. 1,440,700) was built in 1956 and has a minimum aperture of f/36 and focuses down to 1.5 meters. The Hektor was more expensive than the 13.5cm Elmar and it was often preferred for cinematography because of its sharpness and hign contrast. It was eventually replaced by a newly designed Elmar. 
Above:  The original Elmar lens with matching serial number.

The camera shown has the early shutter speed progression indicating that it is not the light weight shutter that was introduced in both Black Dial and Red Dial variations beginning in 1952.

The Summaron 3.5cm f/3.5 lens also shown was made from 1949 to 1960. This lens was made in 1951 (887,306) focuses down to 1m and has a minimum aperture of f/22.

Also shown is the VIOOH straight-sided viewfinder that was introduced in 1940.  Many variations appeared over the 23 years of of production. This example is #85598 which is engraved with the 8.5cm instead of the 7.3cm focal length. The nose of this example is threaded to accept the TUVOO 2.8cm adapter (see other Leica pages from the Home Page).

This camera is one of the more unusual acquisitions because it arrived in the original box with the original inspection tags (above).  However, as can be seen below, it was also accompanied by the original blue-star tissue paper and the original Leitz Wetzlar brown shipping wrapper.  Leica owners are a meticulous lot, thankfully.

Note that the box is labeled with the code LOOPN, the code for the model IIIf body with the 5 cm f/3.5 Elmar lens (shown to the left mounted on a Leica If).  In addition, both the body serial number as well as that of the lens were clearly marked on both the box as well as the shipping wrapper.


Right:  The stamped product code on the bottom of the box, LOOPN indicating a IIIf with a 5cm Elmar lens.  Note that both the serial numbers of the body as well as the lens are hand written beneath.




Left:  Even the Leitz brown wrapping paper is stamped with the same block and hand written serial numbers.