photography and photographs understood

Repair Bill from Leica

writer: russell j.t. dyer; posted: May 2015; revised: Oct 2017; readers past month: 1088

I received today an email from Leica with the estimate of the cost to clean, lubricate, and adjust the Leica M3 (see earlier post about ). They say it will take about 5 hours to do everything and they want € 149 per hour for their time. They say also in their email that a frame needs to be replaced. I’m not sure what that is within a Leica camera—it may be the frame lines inside the viewfinder—but it costs about € 35, plus some more time for replacing it. The total for everything with tax is about € 898 ($ 980).

Leica Repair Estimate

Here’s the list of what they’ll do for the money:

  • Clean and relubricate;
  • Adjust shutter mechanism;
  • Adjust shutter brake;
  • Adjustment of shutter times;
  • Adjust delay mechanism;
  • Adjust film rewinding;
  • Adjust friction / winding;
  • Adjust autocollimation;
  • Clean viewfinder optic;
  • Adjust range finder;
  • Clean range finder;
  • Clean viewfinder optic as far as possible; and
  • Adjustment of all parts

This price seems excessive since I could find someone else to do the work cheaper and hopefully just as well. It’s not a high charge, though, from Leica’s perspective since I’m asking them to work on a camera that they manufactured 59 years ago and put it back in its original condition. Of course, the price may be that high because they may not want to be bothered with this kind of work and are trying to discourage it—or they at least want to make it worth their while to do. I suspect the latter.

As for whether I should pay that much, I complained in about losing the flanges for two Leica lenses and having to pay Leica about this same amount of money to put on new flanges and calibrate and clean them. And I also remember that when I got the lenses back, as I wrote in the same post (see, ), that I felt good about the lenses despite the costs. I also said that if I bought another Leica lens, especially one without the 6-bit coding, I would send it to them and willingly pay their fee. So this is nothing new and I know that I won’t regret it.

Basically, I own a Leica M3 camera in which the exterior is excellent condition. It cost me nothing since the woman who owned it gave it to me as a present (see ). If I get Leica to clean and tweak it, it will cost me $ 980, but it will be in excellent-plus condition. On KEH’s web site, I see that they have a single-stroke, Leica M3 camera in excellent condition listed for $ 1259. That seems a bit high. But, it’s an indication that getting Leica to repair my new camera at this price may be a good deal, considering what I will get in return. So, if I can find room on one of my credit cards, I’m going to pay them to clean and fix it for me.