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Gear Reviews: Leica M2, A Shooter’s Camera

The Leica M2, a pure shooter’s tool.

I’ve heard quite a few questions pop up most of the time in photography forums, friendly chats on people who are new to the Leica World. Most commonly would be which M system would one go for as a first M. I’ve decided to write up this article based on my experience & pure user opinion on the Leica M2 & why I think it is a real shooter’s camera be it your first or one of the many Leica Ms.

I believe the Leica M2 was introduced sometime back in 1957, made by Ernest Leitz Gmbh of Wetzlar Gernany. According to wiki, 82,000 sets were produced from 1957 to 1968. 2,400 sets were black painted, these are extremely highly collectable. There were a few variations as well, earlier models came without the self timer, this was added onto the later models. Earlier models also had a push button for film rewind instead of the known rewind lever that the later models are fitted with. The M2 came after the first M, the M3. It was considered by most to be the more affordable & simplified M compared to the M3. The thing which I love about the M2 is the frame lines. I think I would be safe to say the most popular focal length for RF shooters would be the 35mm & ever popular 50mm.

Upon fiddling around with frame line preset lever, one would notice that the M2 has unobstructed frame lines. It has one one frame line at a time, namely 35mm, 50mm, 90mm.I believe so far, the only other camera with such unobstructed frame lines would be the Leica LHSA MP-3 or a ala carte Leica M which cost an astronomical sum compared to the M2. The unobstructed frame lines are a joy to be looking at, one would be fully able to concentrate on shooting with the proper frame line without any other obstructions in the viewfinder. I do personally shoot a lot of street photography & 35mm is one of my all time favorite focal length. The use of zone/scale focusing to capture those fast decisive moments are a breeze on the 35mm lens from F5.6-F22. The M2 excels perfectly at street photography with the 35mm focal length.

Back in those days, most photojournalist would prefer the M2 compared to the M3 due to the availability of the 35mm lens, a wide angle. I think the M2 makes a good starter kit as well. You can shoot wide, standard & tele lenses all on it. It’s frame lines are 35mm, 50mm , 90mm with a VF mag of x0.72, perfect all rounder compared to the frame lines of the M3 which are 50mm, 90mm, 135mm with a VF mag of x0.91. The simple looking counter, which in my humble opinion looks better than any other current Leica counter is simple to operate, practical & completely classic.

Given the choice to choose which M. I believe most go for the M6 which no doubt is a real value for money M on the re-sale market. But I still prefer the classic-ness of the M2 which current Ms do not have unless of course you have the dough to get limited edition runs or ala carte models.

The M2 has:

- solid piece metal film forwarding crank.
- classic knurled rewind button.
- solid brass body.
- classic Leica script on the top plate.
- unobstructed 35/50/90 frame lines.
- classic small shutter dial.
- classic counter.

Well, I guess if you are looking for a classic mechanical cameras that will suit into a shooter’s lifestyle, the M2 has it all. Classic mechanical looks & lovely frame lines to go with it without a huge credit bill…. I’ll leave you now with some pictures I’ve taken with my M2.

Review Contributed by Gary Wang

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