Dog on wheels on Flickr.
Dog on wheels on Flickr.
mju 2 on Flickr.
urban abstracts on Flickr.
52x35mm - leica m4-2 on Flickr.
An earlier shot of the M4-2 with a Minolta 40mm lens rather than the Voigtlander 35mm i used this week.
I had spend last year mainly shooting compact cameras and old charity shop finds and i thought i really ought to at least try a really premium rangefinder to see what difference it made as both an experience and to my photos.
The Leica M series has an unmatched reputation, over 50 years of experience, the praises of many of the world’s greatest photographers and with the recent move to digital some of the most prestigious cameras on the market.
I chose the M4-2 for a wide range of reasons, some practical, some aesthetic and some sentimental:
The M4-2 is perhaps the most affordable of the M series cameras - for a brief period the manufacturing was moved over to Canada and the components were changed and as a result to some purists the cameras of this era (including the M4-2) aren’t as well made as previous models, and as a result aren’t as sought after.
To my mind the M4-2 is one of the cleanest looking of the series in terms of lines which i really like. Added to which they come in a black body version, and while other M series cameras do too they end up fetching a premium so a black M4 would be 3 or 4 times the price of a black M4-2.
Also this serial number is produced within a month or two of my date of birth which appealed to me.
Also after a year of shooting mainly compacts and point and shoot cameras i thought i ought to get back to a more manual camera and really master the light. The M4-2 has no meter inside (great in that it means fewer things to go wrong) but i’m rather than living off the sunny 16 rule i bought a voigtlander meter to accompany the camera to ensure better exposures (but more about that later).
Launched in 1977 to replace the M4 body
Fits M-Mount lenses
I’m not new to rangefinders - from the voigtlander best series, the olympus xa, to the agfa optima 1535 - i really enjoy the accuracy of the focussing and the compact size, however adding in the external metering combined with this focussing made for a different experience from the compacts that i usually have with me at all times.
The external voigtlander meter is a great help and you can check lighting before accurately composing the shots but it does still require some fiddling before taking the shot. It did mean that there were a few shots i’d have usually got that i missed but it lead to a more composed and measured approach to shooting and probably lead to fewer wasted frames.
The 35mm lens is as wide as the M4-2 can manage with its framelines. That’s not to say you can’t shoot wider but you run out of space on the hot shoe if you want to use the meter and external viewfinder. It’s not a major issue though as with the 35mm lines the viewfinder works well, i didn’t have any issues with flaring of the rangefinder spot which i know can affect these (and most old leicas) in certain conditions.
A selection of photos will appear on this blog and over on flickr here.
There’s no denying that the M4-2 is a well made camera (i’ve not had experience with the other m series cameras so i can’t comment how it feels compared to them) and a beautiful machine. I’ll keep shooting with it as i feel it’s one to really fall for over time, however it’s also worth noting that from the first roll i’d struggle to tell the difference between these shots and some of my more recent ones on the mju2. It could be me, the nature of my shots, the film, the lens or any combo of the above but i’ll keep at it.
Where to buy
When dealing with older leicas i’d suggest it really is worth paying the premium to buy from a reputed dealer (or if you find a bargain elsewhere factor in the cost of a service from one) so you have someone to go back to if you do have any teething issues.