Cheers for the Good Ol' M2

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by frederick_muller, Mar 9, 2008.

  1. Just acquired my second M2 beater and pumped a few rolls through it. Despite
    being cosmetically challenged, these M2s remain the smoothest Leicas I own. Far
    smoother than the M4, M6, or M7. Not sure why the M2's are smoother than the
    M4, as I have always thought of the M4 as being among the classically
    manufactured Leicas, from the period before they started cutting costs. The
    softest shutter release I have is the Olympus XA, which has an electromagnetic
    shutter release so sensitive you can set it off by accident. The shutter
    release on both M2's is almost that sensitive. A gentle pressure can be enough
    to set it off even before you are ready. I don't get that with any other Leica.

    This later model M2 has an odd film loading spool. It isn't an M4-type
    mechanism. You still have to remove the take-up spool and insert the film
    leader into it for loading. But the spool has a slit at the bottomas wll as
    along its length, that makes it easier to load. The baseplate also, looks
    unlike the normal Leica baseplate, because it seems molded inside to fit the
    base of the take-up spool. Anyway, I do prefer it to the older M2 take up spool.
  2. If looking down into the spool looks a bit like looking down into a calla lily, that's a quick-load kit, added later.
  3. And if that's what it is, you don't have to pull the spool to load--just stick the leader end down the flower, and the finger on the baseplate will push it home.
  4. I have one M2 and have always felt there was an unnecessary clunk at the end of the film
    advance procedure. The shutter is tripped half way through the travel and I like that much
    more than my M6 which must be depressed almost all the way - no doubt that could be
    adjusted. I think the M6 is smoother in the film advance than any other Leica I have used
    with the possible exception of my science teacher's M5, last tried 30 years ago. I had an
    M4, 1211427, stolen, that was very smooth and I now miss my black M4-2, pretty
    smooth as well. I never considered an M3 in my early interest in Leica as it seemd too old
    fashioned in its appearance in comparison to the cleaner lines of the M2. That was sheer
    ignorance, but I still love the M2, just serviced and still perfect after 50 years.
  5. I agree the M2 is very smooth. The only Leica I have that beats my M2 for smoothness is my Sherry Krauter CLA'd M3, which is beyond smooth--it's silky!
  6. Michael, thanks, that's kind of what it looks like. Once I finish the roll in the camera, I will try out the quick load feature. Thanks again!
  7. These machines are a great reason to shoot film. You get to use great old mechanical Leicas!
  8. Be sure you pull out as much leader as you can easily get in the core--don't force it, but don't settle for just the tip of the film, either. There may be a sticker on the inside of the baseplate that shows how much film to pull out--that was part of the kit, but I didn't stick mine in the camera.
  9. I have the original versions of both the M2 and M4. The M4 developed some separation in the viewfinder, which was replaced, and the vulcanite on the back door started to chip and was replaced. Never had any problems with the M2. Both cameras had a CLA by Gerry Smith at Kindermann and are very smooth, but in my opinion the M2 has an edge in build quality. If I could have only one camera it would be the M2. I don't mind taking the spool out to reload since I am not a "street shooter" and the few extra seconds it takes really don't matter.
  10. Somehow, Leica engineers just got it right when they designed the M2. It had all the things it needed, such as 35, 50 and 90mm frames, and none of the things it didn't. At 0.72, the viewfinder magnification was sufficiently large for focusing to remain accurate even when using 90mm lenses at large apertures in dim light. It fit the hand well, was relatively simple and straightforward to operate, and had a quiet shutter. While it was best with 35, 50 or 90mm lenses, it had sufficiently flexibility to handle others with accessory viewfinders. One of its great strengths was the wide range of lenses one could use with it. Due to the availability of adapters, it could use LTM as well as bayonet mount lenses. There were a number of good Leitz, Canon and Nikkor lenses available in LTM mount, as well as Leitz lenses in bayonet mount. In recent years, the issuance of a variety of newly designed Leica lenses in bayonet mount, as well as of Voightlander/Cosina lenses in LTM and Zeiss lenses in bayonet mount, has improved that situation even further. While many technical advances have been made in camera design since the M2 was developed, it remains a highly effective classic capable of taking pictures whose quality is limited only by the abilities of the photographer. I am sure that modern DSLRs can take excellent pictures, and I have a Nikon F with lenses ranging from 24 to 200mm that has its own virtues, but the M2 with a hand-held meter and 35, 50 and 75mm lenses is what I use most often. The combination of lenses with high optical quality and large apertures for available-light work, accurate focusing, directness and simplicity of handling, reliability, and reasonable size and weight, make it a pleasure to use.
  11. Yes, I agree. My M2 is much smoother than my M6TTL. However, a few decades of heavy use may have contributed to that situation!

    Right now, though, there's a rubber gasket underneath the exposure indicator disk that is causing it to jam. It works fine except that I can't reset it at the start of a new roll. Maybe time for another CLA--the last one it had was in about 1985...
  12. Yup. I want one. A nice 'beater' but in perfect working order is high on my list.

    Problem: They are expensive. Not that I cannot afford one, but buying a camera that old from eBay or at a fair/swap meet? That's a bit of a lottery.

    A 60 euro Nikon FM I can buy locally and handle it before I take out the cash. But an M2 is much harder.
  13. I agree all the good things everybody has to say about the M2 and have never understood
    why it never seems to get much respect. Good luck with your, Frederick.
  14. I recently bought a beater M2, had one twenty years ago, hated to sell it. This one is also a button-rewind, but it's later, so I don't have to hold the button in during rewinding. It's incredibly smooth, and the thrill is back. Had to soup it up with a Abrahamsson Rapidwinder, and a Wasserman film rewind. Original black leather strap, and it's a total thing of retro beauty. Built like a tank, it's an incredible machine.
  15. The M2 and M3 are fraternal twins. I have one of each. IN what way does the M2 have cleaner lines than the M3?
  16. Many prefer the unraised windows of the M2s to the more "baroque", raised window frames surrounding the M3. Also, the M2s without the self-timer, in their simplicity, possess the cleanest lines of any Leica.

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