How Much to Fix a Leica m3 Rangefinder? – All-in-One Guide with FAQs, Tips, & More

Most people ask, how much does it cost to fix a Leica M3 Rangefinder?

Let’s find out!

How Much Does It Cost to Repair Leica M3?

The cost of repairing a Leica M3 will depend on the condition of the camera. If the camera has only minor damage, then it should not be too difficult to repair. However, if the camera is damaged beyond repair, then you may want to consider buying a new one instead.

Leica M the Original M Rangefinder

This is a classic example of how you should never use a 35mm film camera as your primary camera. You need a digital camera for everyday photography. A 35mm film camera is too slow and heavy for daily use.

In April 2002 Roberto Watson- Garcia gathered together a dozen photographs showing the scores of parts required for making an M3. So, you never imagined how complicated a mechanical rangefinder camera could be, eh?

Note: If you want to know a complete guide about rangefinder click HERE.

Which M to get?

A single-stroke model costs about twice as much as a double-stroke. Serial numbers over 1 million attract a premium. Above 1.1 million, collectors go sky high. Our advice is to buy an inexpensive single-stroke camera with a clean VF because prices should be low.

Later models had larger ear holes than early ones. Ear holes were also more rounded. Early models had a strap that was attached to the back of the headrest by two thin metal wires. Later models had a thicker leather strap that went around the back of the headrest and was fastened by three thick metal rivets.

Buy with a Warranty

These cars are 40+ years old. They are pretty much antique now. They wear out, crack, break, and jam. You should buy them with a warranty if you want any recourse when something goes wrong. If you are buying a car for less than $1000, then you shouldn’t expect any warranty.

Our experience will be instructive. When we bought a camera, the wind-on/shutter mechanism jammed after only seven minutes! Fortunately, the camera came with a 12-month warranty (as a result of having paid top dollar at a major Sydney camera shop). So we sent the camera back to have the problem fixed, for no extra cost.

Leica’s repair service is very reliable. They send the camera to Solms for a thorough checkup and make sure everything works properly. Leica offers a free replacement M7 as a courtesy to customers who need to wait for repairs.

Note: If you want to know How Does a Pridesport Rangefinder Work click HERE.

Loading Film

The M3 inherited the earlier LTMs’ needlessly tricky film spools. When buying cameras, ask the sellers to show you how to use them, as it’s much more easy to learn from experienced users than trying to figure it out by yourself.

One tip though: when inserting the film leader inside the removable take-up reel, make sure you press the film leader in until the dotted arrow cut-out on the spool shows the entire length of the film leader.

Keep your camera open while loading. Close the camera after you’ve loaded the film. Scrounge around for extra film spools if you run out.

It is because of the M3’s fiddle-loading scheme that the “Rapid Load” mechanism was invented ten years later for the M4 (and then again for the M5). Good-bye, good-riddance, and notice how it didn’t come back as a retro feature in the otherwise screw-by-screw M3-clone, the current Leica MP (which is also called “M3”).

Speeding up Film Loading

There are three ways you can shoot your movie:

  1. Buy some more film spools and preload them before you leave home.
  2. Buy the M2 quick load kit.
  3. Have a cameraman replace the film loading mechanism with the rapid load apparatus.

Note: If you want to know Who Makes Halo Rangefinders click HERE.

No RF Patch Flare

Erwin Puts was correct when he said that the M3 had a flare-free viewfinder. He was also correct about the M3 is the only M model without a flare.

A trusty M3 may be your savior if you’re overly bothered by RF patch flares and cannot afford the new M3.

Tinted Viewfinder

The M3 has the following features.

  • Large rangefinder base and thick frame lines
  • Wide angle of view
  • Clear viewfinder
  • Easy to focus
  • Lightweight
  • Big image sensor
  • High-resolution display screen
  • Fast shutter speed
  • Low noise level
  • Built-in flash
  • Large battery capacity
  • Excellent ergonomic design
  • Weather-sealed body
  • Manual mode dial
  • A tripod mount
  • Hot shoe
  • Full-time auto exposure lock
  • Dual control wheel
  • The full manual control mode dial

There’s a downside in that it’s dimmer than current M cameras. In dark conditions, it’s a pain. Although M3s after S/N 01M are slightly brighter, it’s still dim enough for indoor use.

Metal Eyepiece Scratches Your Glasses?

There’s a lot of hand wringing over this in discussion forums. Yet there are several simple solutions: Leica M 2/M 3 Eyepiece patch 4 pc around $3.50.

The Lutz konermann designed scoop pet plastic eye cup $6 paint around the offending ring with liquid electrical tape cut out a leather donut & glue it into place using a craft glue which could be pulled apart at a future date.

Babar Khan recommends using Leitz snap-in lenses for scratchy eyepieces. He also says you should buy them from Don Goldberg. Kenneth Frazier sends a tip about buying Leitz snap-in eyepieces.

Keyminders are great for keeping your keys organized. You can use them to mark your keys or you can use them to color code your keys.

Silicon o-rings are great! They’re cheap, easy to use and work well. You should buy some.

Note: If you want to know How to Change a Simmons Rangefinder From Meters to Yards click HERE.

M Viewfinder Dimming Separation Blackout

The materials used in the M2’s viewfinder can be replaced by new ones. However, problems can also manifest themselves in two ways.

Prism Desilvering

This is where the silver coating on the rangefinder beam-splitter gets oxidized. It goes from shiny silver to dark greyish silver oxide, resulting in the central rangefinder patch becoming unusable. Be aware that you need to get a replacement rangefinder before you lose your game. Usually, the only way you can fix it is to replace the entire rangefinder mechanism with a new M3VF or 0.85M6/TTL rangefinder. At a cost of major expense.

Finder separation

Transparent adhesives dry out over time. This causes optical problems when the lens separates from the body. A few people experience this issue, but most do not. Some people may see some yellowish spots on the viewfinder, but this is normal.

You can fix your prism problems by gluing them back together again.

M Finder Repairs

CCR Luton (UK) claims that they can repair your camera for less than half the price of replacing it. Their website says that they can fix your camera if you don’t want to spend $500 on a new rangefinder.

An M3 main prism is an optical component made from glass. It is used to focus light onto the film or sensor in cameras. It is usually found in the middle of the camera lens assembly. In some cases, the M3 main prism may be replaced by a plastic insert.

There’s still hope for VF separation anxiety after all!

M Fame and Glory

The M3 has been around since 1966, but it wasn’t until 2006 that it became an iconic symbol. It was voted as the best gadget ever made by and Stuff Magazine.

Leica is very proud that the old Leica M3, the first camera ever made by Leica, beats other gadgets such as the Apple iPod and the Sony Walkman. A true testament to Leica’s durability and iconic status.

The 1997 film “In Too Deep” has a lengthy scene where Oscar winner Omar Epps drops out to study photography with his M3. Natalie Merchant’s music video for “Carnival” features her walking the streets in New York City, using a Leica M3 to take black-and-white street photos.

Rangefinder Focus

In the 1950s, the M lens was designed to focus down to 1 meter. But some M lenses could be adjusted to focus closer than 1 meter. So we should be careful when using old M lenses.

Replacement flash sync plugs

Lost the little PC plugs at the rear of the camera or want to replace them? No problem you can get new brass or black paint for around $10 each from

how much to fix a leica m3 rangefinder

How Much to Fix a Leica m3 Rangefinder?


Double-stroke motors were invented by Roger Michel in the early 1960s. He believed that using two strokes instead of one would reduce the stress on the film.

This new design allowed the use of more powerful motors, which made it possible to develop faster shutter speeds.

Leica’s DS-M was designed for the low speed of the film. It was also designed for the high speeds of modern digital photography. The DS-M is still being manufactured today.

It is still widely available and many people use them. The DS-M has a clutch system that allows the user to change gears without stopping the motor. This makes it easier to shoot fast-moving subjects.

We hope that this article was helpful. If you have any queries feel free to reach out in the comments section below.

If you want to know more information about rangefinder click HERE.


  • John Moses

    John is the Editor in Chief here at The Outdoor Stores. His area of expertise ensures that there is no one better to suggest which rifles are most suitable for your hunting experience. He is also available for you to contact him personally to discuss the types of animals you want to hunt and the terrain you will be hunting on. Feel free to read his posts for expert opinion on Rifles, Scopes, Rangefinders, Bonoculars and Monoculars.

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