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Nick's Classic Corner - No 45 - Leica R3

Discussion in 'Classic Models & Marques' started by Benchista, Nov 17, 2013.

  1. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    In the mid-70s, Leica were in trouble. The M5 had not been a great success, and the Leicaflexes weren't making them any money either. However, they were moving forwards with joint ventures with Minolta, both with the CL and here with the R3, their first electronic camera, with aperture priority and manual. Fundamentally, the R3 is a Minolta XE-1, with some changes - some tinkering with the shutter, but more usefully, two metering patterns - centre-weighted, and selective. The XE-1 is a very nice camera, and I really regretted selling mine, so when the chance came to get an R3 for silly money, I grabbed it. The original R3 Electonic model has something of a reputation for unreliability, with the autowinder-enabled R3 MOT considered a safer bet - however, mine is the earlier model, and seems fine.
    My camera was made at Leica's new factory in Portugal, and the lens, a 50mm f2 Summicron-R in Canada - not a traditional Leica in any way, then, but it feels like one - it's very well-made.

    Layout is traditional - film speed dial and exposure compensation around the rewind crank, metering pattern switch in front of the shutter speed dial, power switch on the back behind the dial. There's a multiple exposure switch under the windon lever, which has the biggest stand-off angle I've ever seen. There's also a finder blind.

    Aperture and shutter speed (or A) are shown at the top of the finder, metered speed indicated by a needle on the right.

    All in all it's a lovely solid camera with some very nice touches. It's great to use, and if anything, is even nicer than the Minolta.

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