It might seem a bit odd to do a review for a camera that is 58 years old and has likely been shot by hundreds if not thousands of people (not my particular camera, hopefully), but this Leica M2 is completely new to me and I thought it might be interesting to talk about a few things that I didn’t see mentioned when I was endlessly watching YouTube reviews or asking people about them on Twitter.
Firstly, the shutter is really quiet. The first time I had film in the camera and pressed the shutter, I thought I’d messed my settings up. It didn’t sound as though the shot had fired off correctly. Then I remembered that the camera didn’t have a mirror, so that clunky mirror slap sound you normally get with old cameras was never going to materialise. Apart from being initially alarming, I’m sure this will eventually be a big plus.
Next up, the film advance lever feels really, really nice. So nice that before I knew it, I’d taken 14 shots. It’s not ‘buttery’ as you hear some people call it, but it offers just enough friction, there’s some weight behind it, and it snaps back to position in a really satisfying way. My favourite thing about this camera, hands down.
One thing I learned the hard way is that it is possible to advance the film past the end of your roll if you force it. Let’s say, purely hypothetically of course, that you were an idiot and noted down that a roll you had in the camera had space for 36 exposures when it only had space for 24. Let’s say you then forced the advance on a few times after the end of the roll, felt it was clunky and then called the dealer you bought the camera from to say something was wrong with it. If all that were true, you would probably feel pretty stupid when you got the developed film back and realised it was a shorter roll. Why I didn’t check the film after removing it from the camera I’ll never know, but we all make mistakes!
The Leica M2 viewfinder is fantastic. Coming from mostly shooting either small rangefinders like the Olympus Trip or SLRs, I’m used to quite a dim viewfinder or at least quite a small one. The viewfinder on the M2 is so large that I have trouble seeing the 35mm frame lines as a glasses wearer. The framelines are also fantastic for shot composition. Because of my impaired vision, I often have to shoot and hope a little when using cameras - I can’t always see the edge of the frame - but that’s no issue here.
The only other thing you could probably only learn through holding a Leica M2 is how heavy it is. Combined with my 7artisans 50mm 1.1, which admittedly isn’t a light lens, it’s a really hefty thing to carry. It feels nice in the hand, though, and the extra heft makes it feels durable and well put-together.
Here are a few shots from my first few rolls with this fantastic camera.