A Leica M3 User Report in Pictures By Logan Norton

A Leica M3 User Report in Pictures

By Logan Norton – His website is HERE



Hello Steve and readers, I would like to present a review of my favorite documentary camera, the venerable Leica M3. As a long time Leica lover I have tried or owned every M camera iteration and I continually find myself drawn back to the original for its impeccable style, exquisite viewfinder and solid, mechanical feel. The M3 does not require batteries, as it has no light meter. It features a .91x magnification viewfinder that is exceptionally well matched to 50mm lenses.

The M3 started a long history of Leica use for reportage and street photography. Greats such as Imogen Cunningham, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Gary Winogrand, Helmut Newton and Diane Arbus all chose Leica cameras for their work. A Leica camera provides near silent operation in a small, easily ignored package; something that allows street photographers and reporters to blend into their surroundings and operate with minimal disruption of the events surrounding them. It was for these characteristics that I chose to bring my trusty M3 along when I went out to document a Peace March in Salinas, CA earlier this year.

In response to escalating violence involving the Salinas Police Department, members of the Hispanic community organized a Peace March. The march highlighted three shooting deaths of young Hispanic men at the hands of the Salinas police and called for open dialect between the city and the Hispanic community leaders.

In order to cover this event I paired my M3 with two of Voigtlander’s best lenses; the 50mm Nokton f/1.5 and the 28mm Ultron f/2. One of the downsides to the M3 is its lack of 28mm (or 35mm for that matter) frame lines. For my work I do not use an external finder for this lens, instead choosing to shoot with both eyes open and guestimate the framing. I have found this to be suitable for my purposes but would definitely not recommend it for everything. The images were all captured using either Kodak 400tx (my favorite film for these events) or Fuji Acros 100. The film was developed at home using Kodak Xtol developer and scanned with a Kodak Pakon F-135 Plus.

















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  1. Great photos, thank you for sharing. I restarted film since one month and sold all my digital gear. I bought a used M7 (before digital era i previously owned a leica M4 and M6) and a Zeiss Planar 50 (great lens) a full load of Kodak Tri-X and Portra 400. But I don’t know wich 24×36 film scanner should i buy to get great result… If you have any advice i’ll take it with pleasure.

    • So glad to hear that Nicolas! I cannot recommend the Kodak Pakon F-135 Plus highly enough. It is an amazing scanner that produces really excellent results, scans a whole roll in under 5 minutes and is available for a very reasonable price! Check them out.

      Here is a super helpful group dedicated to the scanner:


      I think the next review I do on here might be for this scanner (if Steve is interested in hosting one 🙂

      • Thank you for your answer, i check this scanner on the net and find this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llthINnRSYA , it’s interesting because the video demonstrate the process of scanning a film with the scanner (it’s really fast for an entire 36 views film).
        I’ll be very pleased if you can write a review about the Kodak Pakon F-135 Plus.

  2. Man, you can still do great work with this old gear.
    The last picture is priceless, that is my understanding of decent people. It is an honor to be able to look at this reportage.

    Thank you so much for sharing!

  3. Sorry Herr Leitz GMBH Bleivers but my M3 refurb model has yet to be used as for the Sunny 16 rule fine but I still Blieve in my trusty Sekonic with asa dial and to be sure of accurate exposure One set at light meter setting and under or over the set to cover my bases-Called Bracketting and to save on Bad shots take your time folks its not an exact science lighting conditions change try out at sitting down bring scruffy clothes good food stay hydrated and in the spirit of the moment you’ll be surprised what you think you might be able to capture-If your heart is in the right Karma-zone will the good spirits may direct you in obtaining some Special shots A bit of zen but the shots above are for the dignity of decent folks trying to provide good working conditions and a better future for them and their families so if your passionate about this particular subjects some things in life are worth much more then money or awards the satisfaction in knowing these shots may improve this bad situation may Inspire others to do the same social reportage and doc shooting are a passion of mine as well as for 400 TX one of my faves stock love the high contrast and home dev fantastic and less then 3 cents per frame Obtained a HP film strip scanner Yesterday in a curbside find still works and I want to keep on shooting film always until it’s my turn to go to the great darkroom in the sky
    In Leica heaven do we all get the dream gear of our choice and Is the great saint of leica Arc Bernack ready to announce well come avid user free printing and dev for all eternity…oh reality cheque?
    Great shots very inspiring.

  4. Great images. I love my 1960 M3 – – an occasional CLA and everything is perfecto. Out of interest Logan, do you use a light meter or ‘sunny 16’?

    • Hi Steve, thank you, for this I took one reading with A light meter before I left my car and then adjusted as needed the rest of the day. Basically sunny 16 with A quick check to re-assure myself.

  5. Nice job of traditional-style reportage, and yes, the M3 is still a great tool for this… as long as you can cover your story with one roll! Otherwise… well, I still remember when I was trying to reload mine in a dark theater, lost my grip on the removable takeup spool, and listened to it roll far, far away under the seats. Couldn’t find it again until intermission! I switched to a Canon 7s after that: finder wasn’t as nice, but the takeup spool was fixed, and crank rewind was built-in! I later had an M3 with the rapid-load kit, but it was still a bit fiddly… I guess Herr Leitz wanted users to be verrrrry disciplined with their film usage!

    • Haha, yeah that would be an incredibly frustrating experience! Fortunately I carry a second spool and have yet to need it! In some ways I actually prefer the loading style of the M3, I never have to worry about the film not catching and getting taken up – something that I have had happened a couple of times with other Leicas.

  6. Nice work, Logan. “Let’s Talk..”, “Sin Justicia..”, and the flag shot are particularly good. I think the M3 is my favorite camera, period. Just a blast to use. And I, like you, use it with wide lenses all the time. My impression is that the entire viewfinder is pretty close to a 35, and I’ve had a lot of success using my Zeiss 28. But, yes, it’s not the best camera for many things. Just the most fun.

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