I wanted to write a brief post about my adventures with the things listed in the title, namely: the Macro Elmar M 90mm F4, the modification that allows a Leica M3 to focus closer than 1 meter, and my experience with Golden Touch camera service. I hope my experience can be a useful reference for people interested in using the MEM on an M3.
First of all, I love my Leica M3. It was the first Leica I bought, and my second rangefinder camera (my first was the Oly XA
). It is in great condition and works great, I'm a little sentimental about it, and well, there's just nothing like an M3. But the roughly 1 meterish (90cm?) close focus is a somewhat prohibitive feature of the camera: when you put a 50mm lens that has rangefinder coupling down to 70cm, you can't help but feel like they just don't belong together. Now, I don't have any modern 50s in Leica mount, so this hasn't been an issue, but I still wanted a high mag finder camera that couples closer for when I put my 35mm Summicron and external finder on it, or in case I got other closer focusing lenses
. I tossed around the idea of getting a 0.85x finder Leica, but I wanted to keep my M3 in my bag, and keep using it because its so great. I looked into having a 0.85x finder installed in my M3, but this modification is just too expensive to make sense: Leica Japan told me they would be happy to send my camera to Wetzlar for the finder swap, and it would only cost me ¥300,000-¥350,000 and take 4-5 months
So I just kept happily using my M3 with my classic 50s and my sweet little M-Rokkor 90/4. But recently I decided really I wanted to step up to the MEM. I have had my eye on this little tele lens for several years, but the incompatibility with my M3 had kept me from taking the dive, since the native close focus of Leica's M mount macro lens is 77cm, well beyond the M3's 90cmish limit. But one day recently after luckily getting Ms K. from Golden Touch on the phone, and hearing my camera could be brought down to 70cm MFD, or close to it, I realized I could get the MEM and use it with full compatibility on my trusty M3. So off my camera went to Golden Touch, to New Yawk.
I had mailed Ms. K before to ask if she could do the 0.85x finder swap, but never heard back from her. I don't know how I managed to get her on the phone that day I talked to her, because I haven't been able to since, but when I did, we had a delightful conversation about my camera, how nice M3s are, how it would be great if I could keep using my camera that I was sentimental about, and yada yada. When I told her the serial of my sub-one-million SN camera, she knew right away that it would take the modification. After I sent my camera, I called a few times to check on it, but couldn't get through. The waiting ensued. Then about 3 weeks later she mailed to tell me it was done and to send payment. My camera came back packed securely, modified, adjusted, and even had the vulcanite patched (thanks Sherry!) . The modification now allows it to focus to just shy of 70cm. Parallax compensating framelines start to move just after the rangefinder kicks in, at I would say about 72-73cm focus distance.
While my camera was away, I found the lens I was after: a chrome copy of the MEM. These don't come up often, but if you can find one they match beautifully with the classic chrome Leica bodies. I didn't know when I bought it, but it seems there really aren't many chrome MEMs in existence: the LUF Wiki lists just a couple runs of them made back in '03.
With the modification from Golden Touch, my M3 has coupled focus and parallax compensating frameline movement all the way to the Macro Elmar M's MFD of 77cm. It is a delight to shoot, and lovely to handle. I have been using my ITOOY to shade it, which works great, suits it quite nicely, and doesn't intrude in the frameline.
I ran my first roll shot with this setup through my Pakon today, and have a few photos I can share. These were shot on Fuji's ISO 100 Industrial film.
Infinity focus, wide open