Rangefinder n00b - M3 Condition Assessment
Old 12-09-2014   #1
cheeze
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Rangefinder n00b - M3 Condition Assessment

Herro,

I've recently bit the film bug hard and came across a Leica M3 with a 5cm f/1.5 Summarit. It seems to be in rough but serviceable condition. I can't be sure. Running a roll of cheap film through it as a baseline first. Dents strewn about the body, a bit of ancient adhesive on the baseplate, and some haze in the lens. Also, the rangefinder path is there but pretty dim.

Right now, I'm planning on a CLA, viewfinder cleaning, and lens clean/service.

What can I do about the body aesthetically? Can I clean the baseplate? And the dirt around the levers and crevices? Dents?


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Old 12-09-2014   #2
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'herro' ? interesting greeting
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Old 12-09-2014   #3
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I'm asian - it's an acceptable greeting.


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Old 12-09-2014   #4
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I figured. hear this among some of my friends but wanted to make sure

if it were me I'd just clean the dust and dirt but leave the rest of the grime alone lol. gives it character ha ha
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Old 12-09-2014   #5
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If the VF and lens need a cleaning, I'd just send it to a good service-person right away and just ask them to give the exterior a once-over cleaning as well. There are plenty of threads here about where to have quality CLAs done. The vulcanite on yours actually looks pretty good, but they could probably replace the leather too if it bothers you.

You've picked up an excellent kit here, and your M3 doesn't even look that bad - I've seen far worse!
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Old 12-09-2014   #6
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Very nice looking setup -- other than the residue, and a couple of missing pieces of vulcanite, it's very presentable. I wouldn't worry about the scratches on the top deck (from a meter, clearly).

The old tape residue on the bottom should come off pretty easily -- use lighter fluid or better yet, Goof-Off, which is great stuff (be careful using it on plastic, though).

The key is whether the rangefinder/viewfinder can be cleaned up -- the clarity of the RF patch is what makes the Leica Ms so great. So that's what I would be most concerned about. Any of the "usual suspects" -- DAG, Sherry, or Youxin -- will be able to clean the RF/VF and give the camera a CLA, but if the RF/VF needs new parts, they may or may not be able to help you.

As for the lens, I'll defer to others as to whether it can clean up. Some of the '50s era Leitz lenses don't respond to cleaning internally, and in fact the surfaces may be soft. But any of the three above should be able to open it up and clean it as best as can be done.
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Old 12-10-2014   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lonemantis View Post
If the VF and lens need a cleaning, I'd just send it to a good service-person right away and just ask them to give the exterior a once-over cleaning as well. There are plenty of threads here about where to have quality CLAs done. The vulcanite on yours actually looks pretty good, but they could probably replace the leather too if it bothers you.

You've picked up an excellent kit here, and your M3 doesn't even look that bad - I've seen far worse!
Thanks! It's been a real sensory pleasure just having in in my hand. Dusty 'n crusty vulcanite and all. Something akin to slamming a Porsche 993 door shut.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KoNickon View Post
Very nice looking setup -- other than the residue, and a couple of missing pieces of vulcanite, it's very presentable. I wouldn't worry about the scratches on the top deck (from a meter, clearly).

The old tape residue on the bottom should come off pretty easily -- use lighter fluid or better yet, Goof-Off, which is great stuff (be careful using it on plastic, though).

The key is whether the rangefinder/viewfinder can be cleaned up -- the clarity of the RF patch is what makes the Leica Ms so great. So that's what I would be most concerned about. Any of the "usual suspects" -- DAG, Sherry, or Youxin -- will be able to clean the RF/VF and give the camera a CLA, but if the RF/VF needs new parts, they may or may not be able to help you.

As for the lens, I'll defer to others as to whether it can clean up. Some of the '50s era Leitz lenses don't respond to cleaning internally, and in fact the surfaces may be soft. But any of the three above should be able to open it up and clean it as best as can be done.
Thanks for heads up re: lens cleaning, KoNickon. I was going to follow up with a question about the lens in this thread. I haven't snapped a satisfactory pic of the build up in the barrel yet, but it doesn't have the spore concentration (dots) of fungus. Looks to be grease/lube, which should be a considerably easier task.

Do these older Summarits have an optical coat on any of the elements, and if so are the prone to age damage?

Also, leicapixie kindly sent me some great advice, and referred me to one Gus Lazarri for CLA, whom I cannot find information about. There is a Gus in NC, but the Gus I'm looking for is in the SoCal area.

Lastly, I was given this piece of advice: "Check mirror in RFDR spot." Does RFDR = Rangefinder patch?
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Old 12-11-2014   #8
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I'm not sure if your VF has separation or not, but here's a thread to have a look at:
http://www.rangefinderforum.com/foru...ad.php?t=79753
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Old 12-11-2014   #9
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Hey Cheeze.

Gus Lazzari used to, I heard, live in Southern California, but moved to North Carolina years back for family reasons. He has done an M3, 50mm f2.0 DR SUMMICRON lens and MR-4 meter for me about a year ago and his work is, as his customers seem to report, EXEMPLARY. His website is http://tlccamerarepair.homestead.com/ and you can also email him at [email protected] If you send your equipment he will provide you a very detailed estimate (free of charge of course.) Due to high demand for his services (well worth the wait) it may take 14 weeks or so. Other M3 repair / restoration technicians may be just a little faster, BUT THEY also seem to be in high demand. Hope all this info helps you with your endeavor. The M3 is IMHO the finest camera ever made and well worth restoring for decades more use. (Please note that I have no business interests or financial ties with Gus or his technical services. I am merely one of his multitude of very satisfied customers. I have also used DAG and Sherry over the years, and they, too, are exemplary.)
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Old 12-11-2014   #10
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Yours looks better than mine!

The glue and dirt can be cleaned off pretty easily.

Don't worry about the dents and scratches, you will come to love them.

Send it off to Youxin Ye to get the internals checked and cleaned.

When you get it back it will run like new for another 50 years.

If you run as much film through it as the previous owners did we will all be proud of you.
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Old 12-11-2014   #11
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That's a very nice M3 from the first year of serial production I believe.

The dents can quite easily be knocked out as part of a service (and I actually don't see many on the photos you posted). My M4 was very beaten up, esp the top plate. But after a service it looks like new. The service tech also cleaned the viewfinder so that brightened up a lot and the rf patch improved too.

Whether a service would be worth it depends on what you paid for it - there may be other ones in better condition for same money as (or less than) what the kit plus service costs.

vr
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Old 12-11-2014   #12
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Thanks for the responses, all! It looks like Gus is booked until 02/15, and will not be accepting cameras until then. Guess I'll look elsewhere. Most likely to the recommended ones on this forum. I am leaning towards Youxin because it seems that every one has been pleased with his communication.

I suppose the elephant in the thread is the price. Personally I have no problems sharing such information I bought it with the Summarit and a very slightly dented light meter for $450. It feels like a minor deal, or fair given the market and the CLA required. Maybe with the CLA, it'll tip past the "deal" end and closer to the middle of the spectrum. Either way, I'll be putting a bench player back into the game! That has to count for something. Thoughts on the price?
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Old 12-11-2014   #13
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I think you did well.
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Old 12-11-2014   #14
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I got my own M3 body for $495. You purchased body, lens and meter for less than that. I think you did exceedingly well.
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Old 12-12-2014   #15
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Cheeze, you did do exceedingly well with that purchase. We are all jealous! Many M3's being offered for sale are quite a lot worse off than yours for a lot more asking price. Your M3 is actually in very good condition overall. As far as service, I am reminded that if you have the "newer" MR-type meter needing calibration or service, Sherry Krauter does NOT service these, but Don A. Goldberg ("DAG") DOES (as does Gus, too.) Don repaired one for me in the past, for I think maybe $45? I do not know if Youxin services them, but you can ask. The older MC types can be serviced, too, but I forget where exactly. (The MR types are overall better, anyway.) Youxin, Don, Gus and Sherry also service lenses. Youxin Ye is always very quick to get back to you via email. According to posts here and at another "Photo net" site, his M3 service is also exemplary. A Leica forum has information on dates of cameras and lenses should you desire to look up that information. Your M3 751281 was made in 1955 and your SUMMARIT lens 1210787 was made in 1954.
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Old 12-14-2014   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AZPhotog View Post
Cheeze, you did do exceedingly well with that purchase. We are all jealous! Many M3's being offered for sale are quite a lot worse off than yours for a lot more asking price. Your M3 is actually in very good condition overall. As far as service, I am reminded that if you have the "newer" MR-type meter needing calibration or service, Sherry Krauter does NOT service these, but Don A. Goldberg ("DAG") DOES (as does Gus, too.) Don repaired one for me in the past, for I think maybe $45? I do not know if Youxin services them, but you can ask. The older MC types can be serviced, too, but I forget where exactly. (The MR types are overall better, anyway.) Youxin, Don, Gus and Sherry also service lenses. Youxin Ye is always very quick to get back to you via email. According to posts here and at another "Photo net" site, his M3 service is also exemplary. A Leica forum has information on dates of cameras and lenses should you desire to look up that information. Your M3 751281 was made in 1955 and your SUMMARIT lens 1210787 was made in 1954.
Thank you for the information regarding the production dates. May I ask where you got the information? If it's not kosher to link here, please PM me.

I'm glad to hear that the price puts it in the steal category. I guess with all the recent mirrorless hype, these rangefinder systems are gaining traction in the second hand market.

Re: leicameter, it seems to be an "M" model serial no. #048758. from what I've gathered, these are of little value, and a repair would probably exceed the value of the unit.
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Old 12-14-2014   #17
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Pioneer (previous poster in this thread) took the words right out of my mouth when he said

"Yours looks better than mine!"

I love my M3 and I actually prefer using it to my M6. I bought it here on RFF for about $650. When it was advertised, there were comments like "I'm surprised this hasn't been snapped up already. Great price" So, I bought it for $650. You got your camera + lens for even less. You got an incredible bargain.

I had Youxin do a CLA on my M3. I was very pleased and the camera was back in my hands in less than 10 days from the time I sent it.

The M3 is a great camera to shoot with and pretty soon you won't mind the marks that, in your current opinion, make it less than desirable.

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Old 12-15-2014   #18
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Hi,

On this site you can enter the number of the lens (Objectif) or body (Boitier) and get a model and date.

http://www.summilux.net/numeros/index.php

It's in French but very easy to use and the answer will be in numbers so no problems translating.

Here's the answer from your body: "Le boîtier portant le numéro de série 751281 est M3 fabriqué en 1955"

Try it and see...

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Old 12-15-2014   #19
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"Thanks for heads up re: lens cleaning, KoNickon. I was going to follow up with a question about the lens in this thread. I haven't snapped a satisfactory pic of the build up in the barrel yet, but it doesn't have the spore concentration (dots) of fungus. Looks to be grease/lube, which should be a considerably easier task.

"Do these older Summarits have an optical coat on any of the elements, and if so are the prone to age damage?"

Since it looks like you're inclined to send the camera and lens out for servicing, maybe you don't need an answer about the lens -- but I would advise not trying to open on the Summarit and clean the haze. Whether it's haze from grease, or fungus, and whether it's on the lens surface or the coating, it's really easy to scratch the interior surfaces of Leitz lenses of this vintage. And you may not be very successful cleaning it off anyway. Best to leave this work to the pros who've been mentioned in this thread already.

Great price on the set, by the way. Spend the money to get it fixed up, and you'll basically never need to do it again!
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Old 12-15-2014   #20
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I use an old toothbrush to clean exterior camera crevices.
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Old 12-15-2014   #21
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You got a good user there, Gus, and at a really nice price. I was offered an M3 body at a camera store one day for $750, and it was definitely in worse shape than yours.

That stuff on the bottom plate looks more like crumbles from some foam to me, and you should be able to clean it off with some 91% alcohol on a cotton swab. And it could be all you need on the rangefinder is a new beam splitter mirror. I've got a few rangefinder cameras from that era with the same problem.

Once it's all serviced, you'll have many years of enjoyment ahead of you.

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Old 12-15-2014   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KoNickon View Post
"Thanks for heads up re: lens cleaning, KoNickon. I was going to follow up with a question about the lens in this thread. I haven't snapped a satisfactory pic of the build up in the barrel yet, but it doesn't have the spore concentration (dots) of fungus. Looks to be grease/lube, which should be a considerably easier task.

"Do these older Summarits have an optical coat on any of the elements, and if so are the prone to age damage?"

Since it looks like you're inclined to send the camera and lens out for servicing, maybe you don't need an answer about the lens -- but I would advise not trying to open on the Summarit and clean the haze. Whether it's haze from grease, or fungus, and whether it's on the lens surface or the coating, it's really easy to scratch the interior surfaces of Leitz lenses of this vintage. And you may not be very successful cleaning it off anyway. Best to leave this work to the pros who've been mentioned in this thread already.

Great price on the set, by the way. Spend the money to get it fixed up, and you'll basically never need to do it again!
Hmm, that advice runs counter to some other I was given by my local camera shop. I'm actually in the middle of cleaning it, I was told these lens have a very hard surface, so I've taken some fine grit sandpaper to them. Seems to be working. I'll be using 3200 grit tonight, then a buffer (on slow) to finish it up. I'm worried about reassembly however.
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Old 12-15-2014   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheeze View Post
...I was told these lens have a very hard surface...
That is about the last term I think someone would use to describe the glass in a Summarit.
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Old 12-15-2014   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by burancap View Post
That is about the last term I think someone would use to describe the glass in a Summarit.
I may or may not have been joking.

Lens and camera are still relatively untouched. I'm slowly cleaning the foam/adhesive grime off using a gentle alcohol wipe. It's coming along quite nicely. All the input is greatly appreciated!
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Old 12-15-2014   #25
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One often finds Summarits which have lost their coating on one or more surfaces where someone may have polished away fungus, haze or whatever. Hmm.

I would be wary of messing with it. The glass is very soft and and in my experience this is a lens that doesn't magically get a whole lot 'better' when cleaned. A bit maybe but not a damascene transformation.

'Tis what it is'
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Old 12-16-2014   #26
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Cheeze, here is the info link to all the Leica series lenses at the Leica forum:
http://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-..._Lenses_x_Type

As to cleaning gunk off the body, if it is glue residue from tape or stickers, you can also try using a cloth and a product called Goo-Gone. LIGHTLY dampen the cloth only, to avoid excess product dripping or running. Goo-Gone is available at many hardware stores. Use it sparingly, ONLY on the metal body, and keep it off the Vulcanite as I do not know if / how it might affect that item. It will NOT affect the metal body at all. Do not let it migrate inside the camera at the glass windows, knob, levers, etc.
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Old 05-16-2015   #27
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So, it's been a while since I've last checked and browsed this site. I thought I'd give everyone a bit of an update since you've all been so helpful.

I had a CLA performed on the body and lens by Mr. Youxin Ye. Turnaround time was quick and the work good, but given the money I paid, I half-expected it to be absolutely spotless. Leica tax, I suppose.

I took it on a trip to NYC recently, just mindlessly snapping away (something which upsets me now in hindsight).















Anyways, I'm finding that I love shooting with the M3, but not so much the Summarit. To that end, I've recently picked up a 35mm Summilux pre-ASPH for $1580. Not sure how that fairs? I think much closer to current mean price on the used market.
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Old 05-16-2015   #28
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Now, onto my current dilemma!

I've traded an old Apple PowerMac case in exchange for a Mamiya C33 medium format camera, and a few lens. The only working lens is the 135mm. Fine. I also have a spare body for parts. Thing is this eems to have a mind of its own. It refuses to advance with seemingly nothing jamming it. Film counter is wonky, and the shutter refuses to go down in roll mode.

It's not worth too much, so I don't want to pour money into it. I am more than willing to work on it however. What is the best online resource for Mamiya TLR information?
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Old 05-17-2015   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheeze View Post

I had a CLA performed on the body and lens by Mr. Youxin Ye. Turnaround time was quick, and the work good, but given the money I paid, I half-expected it to be absolutely spotless. Leica tax, I suppose. ..
Anyways, I'm finding that I love shooting with the M3, but not so much the Summarit. To that end, I've recently picked up a 35mm Summilux pre-ASPH .
1/ There is only so much that can be done for a camera to look spotless. Pretty much if you hand in a scratched, dinged camera for service, only the insides can be made spotless. The exterior can be cleaned, but you're not going to be able to remove scrapes, dings, scratches. It's the same as taking your car to be serviced, and expecting them to give it a new paint job too.

But I understand where you are coming from. When I started out I had my M3 serviced by a place recommended by Ken Rockwell. (like I said, I was starting out!). He claimed the place he recommended returned stuff that looked like new, it was incredible! Yeah, not so much... Anyway, live and learn.

2/ Are you using that 35mm lens on your M3? Because the widest the M3's VF covers is 50mm. You'd have to buy an external finder if you want accurate framing.

3/ The TLR question? No idea, you should post it on the TLR forum.
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Old 05-17-2015   #30
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2/ Are you using that 35mm lens on your M3? Because the widest the M3's VF covers is 50mm. You'd have to buy an external finder if you want accurate framing.
Yep, the deal was too good, and I'm not too concerned about the framing. If it becomes a concern, I'll try to find an M4 or M6.

Thanks re:TLR forum. It's been a while since I've been on here and I forgot about it.
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Old 05-17-2015   #31
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If you block the light window next to the viewfinder, the frame-lines disappear, and your viewfinder should give a pretty good approximation of a 35 mm angle of view.
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Old 05-17-2015   #32
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If you block the light window next to the viewfinder, the frame-lines disappear, and your viewfinder should give a pretty good approximation of a 35 mm angle of view.
The entire viewfinder fits the 40mm length perfectly on the M3. I've tested that. The 35mm is too wide. Tested that too.. (which is why I bought the very sweet CV 35mm finder)
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Old 05-17-2015   #33
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P.s the photo of the poor, wet, miserable looking dog is hysterical!
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Old 05-19-2015   #34
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A great set of photos!
Beautiful lovely captured moments and expressions.
The response of the M3 so very fast..
Don't worry about another lens, use that 50mm.
I use the Collapsible Summicron 50mm.
Had it since 1968..
Keep shooting!
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Old 05-19-2015   #35
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Now, onto my current dilemma!

I've traded an old Apple PowerMac case in exchange for a Mamiya C33 medium format camera, and a few lens. The only working lens is the 135mm. Fine. I also have a spare body for parts. Thing is this eems to have a mind of its own. It refuses to advance with seemingly nothing jamming it. Film counter is wonky, and the shutter refuses to go down in roll mode.

It's not worth too much, so I don't want to pour money into it. I am more than willing to work on it however. What is the best online resource for Mamiya TLR information?
Graham Patterson's Mamiya TLR site has all the info you could want:
http://grahampatterson.home.comcast....erson/grahamp/
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Old 05-19-2015   #36
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A great set of photos!
Beautiful lovely captured moments and expressions.
The response of the M3 so very fast..
Don't worry about another lens, use that 50mm.
I use the Collapsible Summicron 50mm.
Had it since 1968..
Keep shooting!
Thanks! I'll try my best to heed your advice, but that cabbage bean burrito is giving me quite a bit of... well, you know.
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Old 05-19-2015   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by summar View Post
Graham Patterson's Mamiya TLR site has all the info you could want:
http://grahampatterson.home.comcast....erson/grahamp/

Thanks!!! I'm pretty close to calling up a firefighter buddy, having him grab all the confiscated fireworks in the county, and sending this surprisingly hefty tin heap into geosynchronous orbit.
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Old 05-20-2015   #38
hendriphile
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May I ask what film you used for those shots? I like the colors.
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Old 05-20-2015   #39
cheeze
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Sure thing; I used Portra 400, and I HAD to buy something from B&H, so I also used a roll of Cinestill Tungsten xpro 800t.
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