Wednesday, February 21, 2007

That Old Leica M2 Camera

For the past couple of years, since I've mostly been walking around with the 15mm Heliar lens with its 110 degree angle of view I've been using it on a lightweight Voigtlander Bessa L but every once in awhile I have a partial roll in one of my Leica camera bodies that I want to finish. I stick a thread mount to Leica M adapter on the Heliar and I'm good to go. This was one of those days.

I looked across the parking lot as I came out of Wallgreens and noticed this van. Even though I'd been to both my neurologist and my family doctor within the last few weeks I had some time to kill so what the hell! I went in and got checked out again. All my vital signs were normal, they made the usual remarks about my mop of thick hardly grey hair, assured me that if only I gave up smoking I'd live forever, and sent me on my way.

I managed to shoot a few frames inside too, while I was being checked out. The Leica M2 worked flawlessly. I'm always amazed at the build quality of those things. I first saw it at Brownes Photo Center way back when it was located at N.W. 79th St. and 22nd Ave. An Associated Press photographer was buying it to use at the Mexico City Olympics, and it was maybe ten years old at that time. A few years later he traded it in and a woman who shot for the paper bought it to cover the Democratic and Republican conventions which were both held at the Miami Beach convention center. She dropped it and delaminated the main prism in the finder. The finder was black! You couldn't see a thing through it, but the rest of that old Leica M2 functioned great. I bought it really cheap! I stuck it on a Visoflex II, a reflex housing that converted a Leica camera into a single lens reflex for close-up and telephoto work.

After a few years it was in need of a tune-up, and while it was getting cleaned and lubed I had the finder fixed. Since then it's seen continual use photographing everything from President Jimmy Carter to my kids playing at the park. This day it was sporting a lens not even dreamed of back when I bought it. What I did discover though, is that the Leica M2, being a much heavier camera than the Bessa L, is not as easy to hold out there at arm's length! One handed winding and release is no problem. The fifty year old camera will probably still be taking pictures fifty years from now, as good as new. I hope that nurse was right about my living forever. I'd love to be the one still using it on its one hundred year anniversary.


Anonymous Mukul Dube said...

If you decide that another immortal should have it, I'm available.

10:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I picked up an M2 really cheap on the big bay, and am looking forward to checking it out!

Cheers, Johan (CLE-RF)

6:45 PM  

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