Leica IIIa(G) 1935-48

Tomei Collection

Following the introduction of the III(F), Leitz announced the availability of the new IIIa with an increased maximum shutter speed of 1/1000 sec.  Otherwise, it was identical to the III(F).  Rogliatti comments that this increased shutter speed was important to the new German emphasis on international sports competition, especially in the field of German auto racing.  This model also marks the end of the use of letter model designations.


Leitz produced only chrome IIIa models, code AGNOO.  However, if a black version of an earlier model was sent to the factory for upgrading, a black IIIa version was provided to the client in return.  The IIIa model turned out to be very popular and by the end of 1937, sales had exceeded that of the III.  It is the most common pre-WWII model encountered today.

This example is well worn and has the scars to prove it.  The 1935 f/2 5cm Summar (SUMUS) is a bit foggy and shows some typical surface marks that are characteristic of these lenses since the glass employed to produce the increased speed was also particularly soft and vulnerable to cleaning scratches.   This lens is a non-rotating mount with a special mark at the f/2.9 position indicating that it was produced to be compatible with the short-lived Agfa color film process which required that particular f-stop.  The shutter works flawlessly on this example and the lens still performs well.  Although it isn't prized as a collector's camera, it is a fine Leica to use.

As with many Leica cameras throughout these decades, owners added flash synchronization ports.  Prior to the IIIb and IIIc, the framing and RF viewing windows were separated making it necessary to place a synch plug on the front of the body as seen in this example.