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M3, Single stroke or Double stroke? Which is Better?

J Wong , Apr 14, 2003; 11:26 a.m.

Which one should be better/dearer?


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Steve LeHuray , Apr 14, 2003; 11:45 a.m.

I have both. I do NOT think that one is better than the other, but, believe it or not I think the single stroke may be a bit slower to advance, because of long throw, than the DS. Both versions are good.

walt delesandri , Apr 14, 2003; 12:16 p.m.

All that matters is: CONDITION, CONDITION, CONDITION.....especially in regards to the condition of the viewfinder....some of these cameras are 50 years old, and the beam splitter in the RF is starting to separate...a very common and expensive repair.....and if you're buying an M3 for the VF, that's a disaster as there are NO new ones...although a later (.85) can be installed.

Also bear in mind that there were more than just "double" and "single"....there were MANY, undocumented changes in the M3 from 1954-1958...and perhaps several more after the "single" came out...none of these changes are significant to the "user" though, although many are interesting. Some were external, some internal....Any fine condition M3 is a thing of joy....MOST are NOT in top condition...you can't imagine how finely crafted these M3 (and M2, for that matter) until you handle one in fine mechanical and optical condition. (I now use M4/M4P, but I still like to occasionally handle a fine M2/3...there REALLY is a difference...and regardless of what a certain "unofficial" reviewer thinks, NOTHING since the sixties comes close to the finest of these old cameras....the M4 is great, the M4-P(M6) is decent, but they feel more comparable to a good Nikon than an M3... Also, look at (and feel) a dual range or rigid 50 'cron, then compare to a 70s-90s 50 'cron....the latest may be "sharpest", but it looks and feels like junk compared to the 50s-60s lenses.

To each his own.....


Tommy Baker , Apr 14, 2003; 12:45 p.m.

well said Walt.

Jack: apparently the 1,000,000 and over M3's are the sought after ones. Supposedly the craftsmenship was at its peak. But I don't buy that.

Build wise, I think the d-storke is prob better. as for useability, the single stroke, but that depends on your own preferences. D-stroke may seem slow at first thought, but one can get use to two short and sharp bursts quickly

Jack Lo ... T-O , Apr 14, 2003; 01:23 p.m.

If shooting a frame at a time, slowly, the dual-stroker has a significant advantage as a kind of shutter-lock. I've gotten in the habit of taking my picture, stroking once, then waitng for the next opportunity to finish the advance of the film. This prevents accidental shutter release and the waste of film. Maybe that's a reason they built them like that? Even when I'm firing away it doesn't seem any slower than my OM-2.

Mike Dixon , Apr 14, 2003; 01:31 p.m.

You do have the option of using a single stroke as a double stroke. The advance is ratcheted.

Al Kaplan - Miami, FL , Apr 14, 2003; 03:21 p.m.

I find that I don't have to shift my grip on the camera if I double or triple stroke the lever. All that has to move is the tip of my thumb.

Andy Piper , Apr 14, 2003; 03:30 p.m.

1) Double-strokes have a unique smoothness, without doubt.

2) If the double-stroke wind mechanism breaks, there are NO replacement parts - it can be repaired only as a conversion to single-stroke.

3) But any given double-stroke M3 may go on for years and years without breaking or having the finder fall apart. Just be aware...

4) As mentioned, you can double (or triple/quadruple) stroke single-stroke cameras if you choose to.

Gabriel Hanson , Apr 14, 2003; 05:58 p.m.

As Andy was saying : Buy a DS, cheap. Send it in for CLA @ Leica. Get a SS back ----> ??????? This is not a perfect world, ya know!

Albert Smith , Apr 14, 2003; 06:24 p.m.

I don't know how valid this is, but in 1990, Bob Shell from SHUTTERBUG magazine traveled to Germany as part of a report on the Leica M. While at the factory, he asked all of the "old hands" (his words) which Leica M was the best one ever built. He said that the answer was 100% unanimous. All chose the M3 Double Stroke. This was in the Sept 1990 issue on page 62 in case you have access to older issues.

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