Leica blues

In the middle of my 3rd roll of film, I noticed a strange aberration showing up among my exposures. Occasionally, the left third of the frame was coming back badly overexposed.

Sample images of problem with Leica M3: left third of the frame gradually exposed
Sample overexposure aberration from roll 3

By the time I got through my 4th roll, the overexposed portion was appearing with a clearly demarcated line. What ever was going wrong seemed to be evolving—and ruining a significant number of shots.

Sample images of problem with Leica M3: left third of the frame abruptly exposed
Sample overexposure aberration from roll 4

I showed the scans to some people who professionally service Leicas, and they suggested that it was likely a result of failed lubricant affecting the curtain brake. In other words, the camera, which doesn’t even have a battery, needed a lube job. Or in Leica parlance, it needed to be CLA’d: cleaned, lubricated, and adjusted. Which means sending the camera away for a few weeks (and parting with another couple of hundred dollars). Sigh…

So don’t be alarmed if you see a few photos in full technicolor return to Justinsomnia while the Leica is in the shop. Fear not, delayed gratification photography will return!

6 Comments

corey

I kinda like the effect

Yeah, the top shot doesn’t look too bad, and as you saw previously, some of my exposures from that outing were less affected than others (thank goodness), which I was able to compensate for with a gradient mask. However there also seems to be some vertical banding that I’m thinking might also be related.

But the effect in the bottom shot (almost like I’m taking the picture through a window) is kind of annoying and encroaches more on the subject of the photo.

awh sorry to hear this :( I’ve been shopping Leicas ATM. The whole CLA thing is a bit of a worry :/

Nick, I guess it’s the par for the course. The Leica tech I talked to suggest that they can go about 10 years between CLAs (not too shabby when you consider the lifespan of present day technology). When the person I bought it from mentioned that it had last been CLA’d 15 years ago, I knew what I was getting myself into.

Funny, those light leaks and shutter delays are a feature on my Holga. Ok, not really, but they are “atmospheric.” So far, I can just keep re-taping and adding more asparagus bands to deal with most of it. Is the CLA process Leica-specific?

Csg, I’ve only heard of it in the context of Leicas, but then that’s the only context I’ve been operating in. A quick search online suggest it might be something endemic to all old mechanical cameras.

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