Leica M2: What to look for while inspecting?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by mechs, Feb 16, 2021.

  1. If you expect that this camera/lens will bring you improvements in that area, you are in for a disappointment. The Elmar is basically a Tessar and the Tessar/Sonnar on a Rollei 35 is just as good, or perhaps better if the previous owner of your Leica had OCD and overpolished the Elmar's front element.
    You do get better ergonomics with the M2, and that may enable you to take better pictures - but better sharpness: only if you couldn't figure out how to scale focus your Rollei 35.
    jimnorwood likes this.
  2. I basically agree with NHSN, but the ability to precisely hit focus should make the shots sharper unless you are stopped down a lot and/or shooting at infinity. I suggest that any slight lack of focus in the shots you took may be due to a rangefinder that needs precise adjustment, or you need to tweak the sharpness levels in your scans (on the assumption of course that there is minimal camera shake). Are they as sharp as another film camera results? If it is the same, then it may suggest that your scanning system/software could be better optimized.
    jimnorwood likes this.
  3. Thanks. That's really interesting feedback. Is there an alternative 50mm lens that you would recommend that would bring improvements in this area ?
  4. Mind you, I didn't say that the Elmar is a bad lens. I personally love the 4 element lens family for the often beautiful renditions and transitions from sharp to out-of-focus. The "less than clinical" something I like a lot.

    I don't know what you are expecting or want to achieve, thus advise is difficult to give.

    Leica represents the peak of optical engineering from the beginning of 35mm photography up until today, but excellence is not a constant.
    Computation, material and manufacturing methods improves over time, so a 1955 Elmar is not as sharp as a 2000 Elmar. The old is likely better manufactured, but the newer is likely sharper.
    If you are into Leica for sharpness you should probably look at the contemporary lens offering, Zeiss and Voigtlanders latest lenses are also very good in that regard.

    I personally wouldn't turn to film photography if sharpness was my goal, digital is much better at that. Film to me is about process and reflection more than anything else, and Leica cameras support that for me.

    This Contaflex camera from the mid 1950's and lens cost me around $60. and the lens is absolutely as good if not better that the lens on the Leica below also from the mid 1950's (the latter cost me 20 times more after it was overhauled and brought to like new condition). The last picture shows my M2 from the late 50*s with an Elmar from around 2000 and the results from that is the best of the lot although only marginally, but it comes at a price.

    The M2 is an absolute joy to use, the others are quirky at best but the Leica IIIf is so genetically close to the original Barnack Leica that it gives me a certain historical connection to the early days of 35mm photography, which I treasure:

    jimnorwood likes this.
  5. The film itself is another factor. High speed B/W will not appear as sharp as an emulsion with a lower ASA. Hand held, don't expect a sharp image if your shutter speed is lower than the ASA and less than two stops from wide open. As the M2 is new to you, I recommend that you do a fair amount of dry fire practice with your shutter release and you'll see improvement in the number of good shots on film. With a 50 lens, I have difficulty getting good images below 1/60th hand held so I'm using a mono-pod support more now. I still dry fire practice before going out if I've been inactive for any period of time. Best wishes.
    jimnorwood likes this.
  6. Purchased used Leica M2 button rewind (BGN) - most obtainable Leica to me. Most importantly, I listened to 1s, 2s shutter speed accuracy, clarity of 35-50-90 framelines and focus patch, film advance smoothness and shutter curtain condition. The body had slight dents, leather was intact although not original; overall acceptable cosmetically and complete. Can't be mint obsessed when buying BGN. With functional criteria being met, the pictures with 2/35 ASPH were predictably outstanding. RF alignment is something that could only be checked out with 2.8/90 Elmarit-M. With sharp pictures at 2.8, I was lucky there. Solid, small, and agile camera, the M2.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2021 at 9:43 PM

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