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Problems loading film in Nicca Type-IIIS

David Haynes , Apr 13, 2001; 02:50 p.m.

I'm really enjoying using my father's early 1950s Nicca Type-IIIS (Leica rangefinder copy), the camera that made the first photos of myself and my brother in 1954 and 55. But I always have a helluva time loading the thing. In 1997 I had the shutter curtain replaced and in doing so the repair technician cleaned and adjusted everything and said it's in very good shape. However, every time I load the camera, it takes several tries to fish the film into the slot behind the shutter and onto the removable take-up spool. Is there something I'm doing wrong? Am I missing a step that I'm unaware of in the loading sequence? If anyone out there is familiar with this camera or this problem, any assistance will be greatly appreciated. Other than this problem, the camera (now fitted with a leitz 5cm Summitar f/2 lens) is a joy to use and easy to pocket. It goes everywhere with me, loaded with HP-5. Thanks - David Haynes

My Nicca IIIS camera


andrew schank , Apr 13, 2001; 07:28 p.m.

Loading those old Leica screw mount type cameras is a real pain. The technique I used when I owned a similar Leica years ago was to load with the lens off the camera and the shutter held open on B so I could help coax the film where it needed to go from the front of the camera. Definately a camera for 36 exposure film only!

Akira Sakamoto , Apr 14, 2001; 12:53 a.m.


I used to use a Canon IID rangefinder with virtually the same construction as your Nicca.

The older 35mm film had a longer leader part (the film end cut half of the width) so that the film wouldn't hit the sprocket. So, if you load the film at home, you can simply lengthen the leader part by an inch or an inch and a half with scissors and load normally.

However, there is another solution: put a business card (or any thin and hard piece of paper) between the sprocket and the film pressure plate so that the card isolates the film from the sprocket, put a new film with a takeup spool between the card and the pressure-plate, then pull the card off. I think your HP-5 will be in place.

Hope this helps.

Alex Lofquist , Apr 14, 2001; 02:04 p.m.

Leica used to make a special template to cut the film leader for loading into the screw-mount cameras. This was originally for those people who loaded bulk film into the Leica cassettes, but will work for factory loads. Actually, I don't use it anymore, as I can pretty well guess the shape needed after all these years (more than 50). A small scissors works better than a knife if you don't use the template.


David Haynes , Apr 14, 2001; 02:25 p.m.

Thanks for the excellent answers I've received from this posting! My problem, I'm now convinced, was the length of the trimmed leader is too short on modern film loads. I received an off-forum e-mail from Dave Doyle with an attached scan of an original manual page from Leica showing the steps in loading and the longer leader length (Thanks, Dave!). What was happening was the untrimmed film would hit a sprocket on the cassette end of the film, preventing it from seating all the way into the camera body. Since trimming the leader back about 4 inches, I've loaded the camera perfectly twice now and it seems to work great! Thanks again!¬óDAVID HAYNES

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