Reliability of R3 : LUSENET : Leica Photography : One Thread

Hi, I'm new to the Leica world of photograpy. I've been using medium format since a couple of years now but because of the weight of my gear (Mamiya 645) I decided to acquire a not too expensive 2nd-hand 35mm SLR to always carry with me, wherever I go. I ran into a very cheap Leica R3-mot body (200 euro's) and bought it instantly. I bought a very nice summicron-R f2/50 lens which was much more expensive, but makes stunning pictures. Anyway, I love this thing so much that I want to take it on my next holiday to Norway and leave my Mamiya stuff at home. However, I've heard (read, actually) that the R3 might suddenly stop working (I read that the CdS cells or the electronics might fail). Anyway, my question is, "how reliable is an old R3-mot?" and "can it always be repaired, for instance, when the CdS cells die, can they be replaced?" Thanks!

-- Martijn Spitters (, June 06, 2002


Martijn, the R3 reliability problems were found mostly in the earliest produciton runs, and where there was a problem it was immediately apparent. Since you have an R3 MOT you don't have an early model. I wouldn't worry about it suddenly failing.

As for repairs, the typical selling price of a used R3 is less than the cost of a typical repair so unless you are emotionally attached to a particular R3 body, it may be financially wiser to replace a malfuncioning R3 than to repair it. The CdS cells in my Leicaflex (standard, SL and SL2) cameras are still working well so don't spend too much time worrying about a sudden failure.

-- Douglas Herr (, June 06, 2002.

As above the problem cameras were the early R3's. By the time the MOT came out these problems were addressed and in fact according to Gerry Smith at Kinderman these cameras have a very good reliability rate. They can be iffy to repair, cost-wise, but always check with a good repair person before tossing an R3 for a newer one. I've used an R3 MOT for 4 years now and really like it. When I bought it the battery check button wasn't working and since I it for next to nothing I decided on a CLA. Gerry at Kinderman fixed the LED, replaced the foam around the back door and did a CLA for 180 US. I look at it this way. For 180 US I have a CLA'd camera with a 3 month repair warranty. When you take the attitude that you could buy a 'new' used one for not much more you could just be buying someone elses problems. Of course if the repair estimate had been 300 or more I may have decided against having the work done. But I don't agree with the blanket statement often made that R3 are so cheap they're not worth fixing. An estimate usually costs nothing and is a good idea IMO.

-- Bob Todrick (, June 06, 2002.

With any brand a backup body is a good idea for travel. With Leica it's even more important because they aren't available everywhere. Drop your Nikon F100 and almost anywhere in civilization you can find a working Nikon body (even a new n55)for not too much money. Same with Canon. Buy a Novoflex R-EOS adaptor and you could pop into any local store and pick up a cheap Rebel as backup...but the adaptor costs $150 and the Rebel will be around $200...good economy for someone who has an R8, but more expensive than picking up another working R3 or R4 and tossing it in your luggage.

-- Jay (, June 06, 2002.

I shot a store test with one R3 (a MOT version, incidentally). Everything looked hunky-dory while shooting - the auto readings in the finder corresponded to what I'd have shot manually (sunny 16, etc.)

When I got the film back the exposures were all over the lot - mostly 2-3 stops under or even darker, but some 3 stops over, at random.

Scared the pants off me and I jumped for an SL instead.

One camera does not a trend make - but I just can't risk whole rolls down the drain without even a warning in the finder that something's screwy. I wish it weren't true - I did like the handling/view etc.

-- Andy Piper (, June 07, 2002.

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