We're back to Leica. Today, the most influential 35mm cameras of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s:
Actually, they are a major upgrade of Leica A/Standard
. The main addition is a built-in rangefinder:
The rangefinder wasn't coupled with a viewfinder. You have two eyepieces - one to focus, the other to compose your picture.
Leica II appeared in 1932. Next year its improved, more expensive companion was born: Leica III:
See the regulator on the front panel? It's designed especially for the slow shutter speeds, from 1/20s to 1 second. Initially, the range of speeds of the Model III was from 1 to 1/500s, but in 1934 it was increased to 1/1000s.
You can use interchangeable lenses with your Leica. The viewfinder shows you the frame of a 50mm lens. With other focal length, special viewfinder attachments have to be used (there are different makes and models; I must admit that those made by Ernst Leitz are not the most user-friendly).
A Leica Reporter with 250-frame magazine was also produced:
Through its nearly 30-year lifespan, II/III was moderately modified. Prewar versions bear an 'a'-index or no index at all. 'b' is the wartime index:
This one served with the Kriegsmarine, the German Navy.
Here's a naval photographer with two Leicas (one on the right has an 'action finder' attached).
Ernst Leitz (a Nazy party member since 1942) also sold cameras to the Luftwaffe:
After the war, all Leica patents were made public. Leica clones or copies were made in different countries - USSR (where the production started long before the war), Japan and Great Britain*. But the Leitz company survived and continued to improve its camera. Meet the postwar Leica IIIf with a self-timer:
and with a Leicavit fast winder bottom (a short-lived Canadian IIIf is shown):
And in 1957, three years after the revolutionary Leica M3 premiere, the last modification of the venerable II/III was issued: the 'g' series with a seriously improved viewfinder:
The production ended only in 1960. Leica II/III proved itself as a highly reliable, quiet, compact and intelligent camera. You can find one in perfect condition - and make perfect pictures with it.
* Besides, there are fakes & forgeries of all kinds, mostly bearing German military markings and based on the Soviet Zorky camera. Beware!