Leica M2 - Stewart Marsden

Leica M2


The Leica M2 is a 35 mm rangefinder camera by Ernst Leitz, of Wetzlar, Germany, introduced in 1957. Around 82,000 M2s were produced between 1957 and 1968.  They were introduced after the Leica M3 and are considered to be more aesthetically pleasing by many and was certainly a more affordable version of its predecessor.

I have 3 lenses with my kit, the Leica 35mm Summicron-M f/2.0, Leica 90mm f2.8 Elmarit M, and the Leica Elmarit-M 135mm f/2.8 which is a ‘goggle lens’ as the M2 only has 35mm, 50mm and 90 mm frame lines which are selected when mounting the appropriate lens.  What is notable about this camera is what it doesn’t have.  There is no internal light metering and no automation.  It has one shooting mode, and that’s ‘manual’.

Shooting the Leica M2 requires you to have some basic knowledge of exposure, personally, I use the sunny 16 rule when shooting film.  In basic terms, on a sunny day, a bright sunny day, if the shutter speed and film speed are the same, then set the aperture to f16 and you will get a balanced exposure. 

As a rule of thumb, if the sun goes behind a cloud, depending on the density of the cloud, you should open up the aperture to F11 or F8, alternatively make the shutter speed slower to let more light in. I spent the day in London walking around shooting on 400ASA film at about f8 and 1/1000 sec.  As when shooting film every shot counts (and costs) I also use a small free light metering app that I installed in my phone to check my estimations before committing the shutter.

Shooting the Leica M2 rekindled some childhood memories of shooting, the excitement of not knowing the results immediately, and having to wait for the Lab to get your prints / neg scans back.   That anticipation for the results was awesome and I was certainly pleased with what I captured.

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