M2, a story

My first Leica was an M2.

My previous rangefinder experience included a Canonete QL17 GIII, a Konica Auto S2 and a Minolta Hi Matic 7s, all interesting cameras and great performers but I always felt that something was missing when handling them.

After some thoughts I decided to take the plunge and buy a Leica. I knew little about Leica M’s at the time and decided to get an M2 mostly because of the price and the fact that it had the frame lines of the focal lengths that most interested me at the time: 35, 50 and 90.

I knew little about where to look to buy a used Leica and consequently ended up at Ebay where I bought a bargain condition M2 which I paired with a leica thread mount Canon 50mm f1.8 Thus my first professional rangefinder kit was assembled.

Handling the M2 was an amazing experience: the camera felt solid, real; the smoothness of the film transportation lever and of the release button; the sound of shutter curtain; the definite rangefinder patch, the floating frame lines, the easiness of the focusing process… I was impressed by the whole overall experience, right from the film loading, setting your shutter speed, the lens aperture, focus through the viewfinder, compose, click, know that you got the picture… I felt home. The rangefinder camera was the photographing system that I was just looking for and the M2 was more than I have just expected, it summarized

That day I loaded the M2 with TriX 400 film and went to the theater with Gabriela. I still was getting used to the sunny 16 rule and how to read light and figure out the correct exposures; at the Bart station I got one of my favorite pictures, the lens was fully open at f1.8, the speed 1/30, I called her by her name and asked for a smile

After a month or two of having acquired the M2 I decided to give it a better look by removing the vulcanite that was falling apart from various sections of the camera and replace it with some nice camera leather calf skin, in a bold move Gabriela suggested the red cardinal color…

To remove the vulcatine was not an easy task

it requires a lot of patience and care

but is well worth the effort

Now the M2 was in presentable condition.

But, as in any great story there is joy and there is tragedy…

I have owned the M2 for 4 months when I went downtown with my friend Mario to do some shots, I grabbed the mini backpack that I wanted to use, the cord unleashed and it slipped from my shoulder. The viewfinder died instantly. It blacked out. This issue is called prism separation and requires the recement of the prism, a very difficult task.

This was the last picture taken with the M2 with the viewfinder already black

This was the beginning of the reparation journey which included, investigations and studies about this problem, being turned down by repair people, wait for the next trip to the US… it took 6 months and more than $200 to have the M2 viewfinder repaired, a job greatly performed by Don Goldberg (DAG).

Now the M2 has finally returned and a fresh roll of Ilford HP5 is already loaded. I’m sure it will be in service for many more years, writing its history and recording mine while at it.