The Leica IIIB was introduced in 1938 and succeeded the Leica IIIa Model G. Compared to the previous model only minor changes were made. The dioptre correction lever is now situated under the film rewind knob. The Leica IIIb is the first Leica that offers a combined eyepiece for the viewfinder and the rangefinder. The hotshoe is screwed with four screws (instead of three). The Leica IIIb was manufactured continuously from 1938 to 1941 with a total of 32 105 cameras being manufactured. Although, when launched, the camera was initially produced for the export market, hostilities during WWII meant that part of the production was diverted for military purposes.
The Leica IIIb is the first Leica that offers a combined eyepiece for the viewfinder and the rangefinder
Leica Code: ATOOH
Total Production: 32 105
Weight: 700 g
Baseplate length: 13.7 cm
Speeds: 1 / 1000; 1 /500; 1/200; 1/100; 1/60; 1/40; 1/30; 1/20; 1/8; 1/4; 1/2; 1/1; Z; T
Previous Leica Model: Leica IIIa Model G
Following Leica Model: Leica IIIC
The Leica IIIB has serial numbers ranging from 240 001 to 368 563.
The Leica IIIB was also produced for the Army. These cameras are marked either “Heer” or “Luftwaffen Eigentum” on the back. These army cameras also have a special serial number starting with “FL” that is engraved below “Ernst Leitz Wetzlar” on the top plate. The vulcanite was sprayed with grey paint. Army cameras are highly collectible and expensive. Be careful: there are a lot of Army Leica fakes around.
Buying a Leica IIIB
Leica IIIB cameras are, like all other Leicas, collectors items. Try to find one that is both technically and optically in good condition. A good way to be on the safe side is to double check the serial number. Like any other Leica purchase: keep away from golden cameras or any camera with WWII or Olympic symbols as you have a 99,999 percent chance that these are fakes!