Tag Archives: IIF

Leica IIF – starting from the top

Well, I forgot I had not put this up on the Blog. This was the first Barnack rangefinder that I purchased.

After many decades of wanting to own a Leica I got one. Sadly there was a problem with it … one of the eye piece lenses was missing (which explained why everything looked out of focus).

Even though Leica has a nice service manual for the IIIF, and there are other numerous sites that describe this, I am providing my info on the procedure … including some images taken from the IIIF service manual.


Wind the film and set the shutter speed to Bulb.

Remove the two screws that secure the flash shoe. Remove the shoe.

Remove the reverse lever screw and pull off the lever.

Note that under this lever there is a cylindrical collar. Remove, or it will fall out while servicing the camera and get lost. This keeps the lever free to move when the screw is tightened.

Remove the flash shoe bed plate.

Unscrew the threaded sleeve around the shutter release button.

Pull the rewind knob up.

Loosen the screw until you can pull the rewind knob off.


Pull the lock collar off.

Use tweezers to unscrew the locking collar.


Remove the diopter adjustment lever.

Remove the two screws that hold the eyepiece cover.

Remove the cover and be aware of the lenses behind it.


Viewfinder | Rangefinder

These two lenses are not the same, so if you remove these (they could be partially adhered) mark which one goes where.


Sadly, in my case the viewfinder lens was missing.

Set the ISO to 125.

This will line up the hole with the internal screw.

Pull the dial up to access the screw.

Loosen the screw (do not remove it) so that the dial can be unscrewed counter-clockwise.

Pull off the film counter dial.


Pull off the gear.

This was the hardest part, because I did not have the best tool.

Remove the two retaining ring around the viewfinder and rangefinder ports.

Note that the rangefinder ring is larger than the viewfinder ring.

These are probably secured very tightly. I used pliers with very little force, just enough to loosen them so I can turn them off by hand. You would put a thin elastic between to keep the metal from being scratched.

A flexi-clamp would be the appropriate tool for handling Leicas.

Remove the viewfinder port lens by just prying it out. It is held by tension.


The rangefinder port lens is screwed in.

Remove the adjustment cover screw. Note the plastic washer.

Remove the two screws by the film winding side.

The shutter speed dial is secured by three screws around the edge. Loosen those to pull off the dial. This will reveal the cam that it is secured to.

The cam can be removed by pulling it up to expose the lock screws.

Loosen this screws to pull off.

Note that the shaft pull itself back down, and it will make it harder to put back on … so I am not sure if this part needs to be removed to get the top plate off.

The last two screws securing the top plate are underneath the film rewind knob section.


Pull off the top plate.

Be aware that the wiring to the PC socket is still attached.

Pull the top plate up. You will have to carefully pry the front section, above the lens mount, to get around the viewfinder/rangefinder ports.

Now you can access the viewfinder/rangefinder section for cleaning.

The end caps (noted as B in the diagram) of the view/rangefinder block are just lacquer secured so you can pop them off.

I can’t say much further as I just did a surface clean.


Put the top plate back on and proceed backwards.

The rectangular hole of the eyepiece cover is on the right (covering the viewfinder port).

When you get to the point of putting the winding mechanism back together you will need to fit the takeup spool correctly.

When putting the film takeup spool you have to position it correctly.

Under the top plate there is a hooked lever.

This lever is notched

The top of the takeup spool has a spring attached.

The spring must fit the notch in the above hooked lever so that the tooth on the lever locks into the gear at the top of the pickup spool

When putting the winding knob back on, you will have to pay attention to over tightening it. If it is screwed on too far it will interfere with the shutter release mechanism … so make sure the shutter is firing properly before tightening the locking screw.

After securing the winding knob, attach the shutter speed dial. Do not tighten it as you will probably need to make sure the cam is in the Bulb position (wind film and fire shutter to figure if you got it right). Once the cam is in the bulb position you can adjust and secure the shutter speed dial.

The rangefinder alignment is done like the Canon … vertical by turning the rangefinder port (after removing the cover ring), and then the horizontal by turning the rangefinder port (remove the screw beside the viewfinder port).



Leica IIF – some history

This is a Barnack screwmount camera … which you should know already. They are probably the most collected and discussed cameras. There were many different models of this design … but you will note that there was no printed model name on the cameras. Which is why you will occasionally see these cameras up for sale describing them as a Leica DRP model. Leica DRP was printed on the top plate … D.R.P. means Deutsches Reichs Patent.

The Leica II series first came out in 1932. The last model type, the IIF, was produced between 1951 and 56.

Most of the classic Leica rangefinder cameras look similar … I figure that they thought there was really no need to make any major physical changes. The IIF is identical to the IIIF with exception of the slow shutter speeds, the IIF didn’t have any below 1/25s (except bulb). There were two variants … the red dial and the black dial. The black dial had shutter speeds from 1/30s to 1/500s, while the red dial (brought out in 1952) had 1/25s to 1/500s or 1/1000s speeds.

These Leicas had two windows … one rangefinder window to focus the image, and the other viewfinder to frame the image. The F models introduced flash synch.

This was my first Leica that I ever had (I actually wanted an M series but I couldn’t justify the cost of the lenses). Actually it was the first Branack type camera I ever had. This was my into into screwmount rangefinders.

It came to me with a missing lens on the viewfinder, the seller did give a partial refund so I decided to take it apart … I did eventually find someone on the rangefinder forum that sold be the part, and did have a working camera.

The living dead

“It is not more surprising to be born twice than once; everything in nature is resurrection.” ― Voltaire

I thought I would post an image with all three of the cameras that I have worked on so far.

All three are now in working condition. Actually I have gone through four Autocords, three 35’s, and two chrome 50mm’s … these just happen to be the last ones that I have now off the bench.

The Minolta Autocord has new grey Griptac leatherette from Cameraleather.com. The Minolta-35 has some nice brown leatherette, from eBay seller camera-shop-pl, that I custom cut. The Canon IIF didn’t need a recovering.

I will say that restoring/repairing is quite satisfying … cameras are supposed to take pictures, so having one that is just a broken mantel piece does not fit well with me. I would like to restore all the cameras that I have, but sometimes you just can’t … some things are just broken beyond repair or replacement parts no longer exist (though that leads to buying more cameras).

Canon IIF rangefinder – the inside out

OK, so back to the Canon IIF. This time I am going after the slow speed gears, as it appears that some of the speeds from 1/25s to 1s were off key and I needed to get a good look at the shutter curtains. Getting the inside out wasn’t too much of an effort, and is the only way to really visually check the shutter curtains … as this is a bottom loader Barnack style camera.

Tools: screw drivers, tweezers, Ronsonol, q-tips, and liquid electrical tape.

First remove the bottom film loading cover plate and set that aside.

Remove the bottom cover plate.



Unscrew the flash trigger wire terminal.

The lens mount has to come off as there are two retainers, behind the ring, that will get in the way in removing the body.

Unscrew the four screws on the ring, take the two left first. This will cause the retainer to fall into the body. Note that this will be different in shape than the one on the right.

Carefully pull off the lens mount ring as there may be brass shims behind it. Make note of exactly where the shims are positioned as they will need to go back in the same place.

The slow shutter speed dial will be removed next. There is a small lock screw on the side of the knob, loosen it and unscrew the knob counter-clockwise.

Unscrew the retaining nut with tweezers. Pull off the low shutter speed dial.

Remove the three screws that hold the slow shutter speed registration pin, and pull it off the body. Remove the spacer plate.

The body is held on by the four screws on the front (the short one was hidden under the slow shutter speed dial plate), and the six screws (three in front and three in back) connected to the top plate.

Push down the rangefinder coupling lever to get it out of the way and pull off the body … note that the film pressure plate will pop off, including the two springs.

The slow speed gears are on the bottom with a cover that is held on with two screws. The front screw is easy to take off, while the back one is in an awkward position. I tried to access it from the back with the shutter opened (bulb) but I could not get enough catch on the slotted head due to the angle. Possibly a screw driver with a long and thin shaft may be able to do it. I just put Ronsonol around the openings and soaked the general area, and it eventually got to the gears.

Note: refer to Graham’s comment about getting to the slow shutter box …

You can exercise the gears by pushing on the lever to the right (relative to the image above) of the gear box, which is attached to the arm that is pushed by the slow speed dial mechanism.

Now you can check out the shutter. Use a flashlight to check for pin holes and make sure to check both shutter curtain (this is best done in a dark area). I use liquid electrical tape to seal up the tiny holes … use a toothpick (or shave down the end of a q-tip) to apply very small amounts. Check for holes again. Make sure to let it dry before winding up the shutter so not to get it attached to the curtains when rolled up.

To put this all back together … put the springs and pressure plate on first. Press it down with your thumb while you slide the innards into the body, then press the rangefinder coupling lever down to clear the lens mount hole.

Then you can put the one body screw that is located under slow shutter speed dial. Secure the body with the ten screws.

Assemble most of the slow shutter speed dial … leave the knob off. If your slow shutter speeds are off then you can now adjust them. Take out the inner screw. You can then turn the inner slotted nut … clockwise to speed it up (and you can figure out how to slow it down). Put the inner screw back on then check the speed again, when you are satisfied put the knob back on.


Canon IIF rangefinder – cleaning the viewfinder

I got this Barnack style rangefinder for the lens that was included with it. The camera turned out to be in very good condition. All it needed was some cleaning of the view/rangefinder.

Tools: slotted screw drivers, flexi-clamps, tweezers, spannerwrench, q-tips, cleaning solutions.

The first thing to remove is the cover for the rangefinder window. If you do not have flexi-clamps then you can use pliers and a thick rubber band (to keep it from scratching the metal) … or even try removing it by hand if it is loose enough.

Pull out the window cover.

Unscrew the adapter ring.

Unscrew the collar for the shutter button.

The shutter speed dial is held on by three tension screws. Loosen them and pull off the dial.

The film rewind knob is unscrewed … you will have to hold onto the column to keep it from turning.

Completely unscrew and remove the collar lock. The rewind column will fall into the body.

The magnifier is held on by the ring screw, unscrew it with the spanner wrench or even your tweezers.

Pull off the magnifier lever.

Remove the two screws.

Remove the single screw just behind the hot shoe.

Unscrew the four screws to remove the hot shoe

Pull off the top plate.

This is a front view.

The rangefinder prism is on the left and the viewfinder mirror/prism is on the right.

Behind that is the rotating magnifier.

Clean the surfaces.

Watch out not to get any fluid behind the rangefinder prism.

If the secondary viewfinder image looks weak, it could be either dirt/liquid behind the rangefinder prism or the main viewfinder mirror has de-silvered. You can’t do much about de-silvering, but you can remove the rangefinder prism and clean the back. On the Canon IIF the rangefinder prism is held in place by two small screws and lacquer. Acetone or nail polish remover can soften the lacquer … do that or you may strip the screws. Once you clean it and put it back in you should check the image alignment through the viewfinder.

Attach a lens to the camera. Set it on infinity. Look though the viewfinder and then make slight adjustments to the rangefinder prism until it matches up or at least gets very close. Then you can tighten the prism.

Put the cover back on. Put the three screws and hot shoe back in to secure it. Attach the rangefinder adapter ring and cover window.

Turn the cover window to change the vertical alignment.

The vertical alignment screw is covered by a screw by the viewfinder window. Remove it, and then you can use a thin slotted screw driver to change the horizontal alignment. It the horizontal alignment is way off, it means the prism is not positioned correctly.

Once that looks ok, but the rest back on … make sure you put the shutter speed dial back in the right position by first pulling/turning the column until you find Bulb, then wind the shutter and attach the dial.