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How to Adjust and Realign your Leica M Rangefinder

Recently, I’ve had to adjust the rangefinder in my Leica M film body, namely my Leica MP. I was annoyed when I realised that it needed to be done. The focussing patch was out of sync at infinity. Setting the lens to infinity, pointing at a subject far off in the distance, I could see it was out. As I often shoot wide open with the F1.4 Summulix lenses, the rangefinder being out of alignment and in need of calibrating is a problem for me.

Normally, I’d get my usual service agent who has always been great to sort this out but they had a backlog of work. So, keen to shoot with my camera I wondered, how easy is it to recalibrate and realign your own rangefinder in a Leica?

I did my research, and found this:

A shout out to Peter here at Adventure8. Amazing work, great job. Notwithstanding the money saved in having a technician fix my rangefinder, this 15 min job saved me 5 weeks without the camera, and gave me a perfectly calibrated, aligned Leica rangefinder in my MP film body.

Seemed easy to do, much like sensor cleaning. When I bought my first Canon DSLR, a 400D in 2007 as a student I was terrified of the very idea of cleaning my sensor. The $1299 I’d spent on it was a fortune to me, and had taken months to save for. But after cleaning sensor once, I was OK with it. I remember the first time I had to wet clean my digital Leica M with a sensor swab. My hand was shaking due to the fear of damaging the sensor in my >$10,000 camera body. Now, I feared the idea of putting an Allen key tool anywhere near my camera body.

But, Peter’s very calm explanation in this video helped me out. I gently moved my rangefinder adjustment screw a little to one side, and saw I’d pushed it too far one way, so tried again in the other direction, and made small incremental adjustments bringing it back to alignment.

Is your Leica rangefinder in need of calibration?

I recommend trying to adjust it yourself if you feel confident you can do it. It isn’t hard to do. Be careful. Follow the steps in this video. Do it at your own risk, but I can say from my side it was an easy process and has achieved a good result.

Thank you, Peter.

I recommend reviewing Peter’s YouTube channel, he is a better photographer than I. I often say Leica camera equipment is wasted on me, but I just enjoy using it. Peter has some shots I think you’d like looking at, and his commentary and style is captivating.

Speaking to him myself, I found him an interesting gentlemen to listen to and he has a lot of insightful, useful information to share when it comes to Leica photography.

4 Responses

    1. Thanks for the good question. As long as you move the rangefinder to infinity, and calibrate to that, the other distances will follow and be ok. If you adjust them to other distances like the writer is suggesting, the infinity will go out of sync, because rangefinder adjustment is a linear process, not specific to certain distances on the lens. Also, since adjusting my rangefinder, I have not had focus issues. I think that writer is more touching on back in the M8 days before full frame, when users were convinced they needed to calibrate Leica lenses they’d bought for film cameras to the smaller digital sensor of the day. And the APS-C sensor format of the M8 had its challenges. But with full frame on the M9 and up, it is no longer an issue. After talking to Peter directly late last year, I was convinced of his ability. Also, manual adjustment of older film rangefinders in this way is ok. Pick you infinity point, if you calibrate your rangefinder to the infinity point (a very long way away) on a full frame M240 the other distances on the lens will be all lined up.

  1. Thanks so much for this. My M10 was slightly out since I bought it used, but in practice was never an issue with the 35 Lux I most often shoot with. When I picked up a 50 Lux used that tiny bit out meant I was constantly missing focus. This page and video plus a tiny turn of a the Allen key and it’s spot on at all distances. Super easy to do.

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