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M2 + 40mm f2 Rokkor

Discussion in 'Leica M Forum' started by nickthetasmaniac, Oct 15, 2014.

  1. nickthetasmaniac

    nickthetasmaniac SC Veteran

    201
    Jan 20, 2014
    Launceston & Sydney
    Nick Clark
    Hi everyone,

    I've been interested in dipping my toes in the mysterious world of Leica M for quite a while (who hasn't?) and it seems the stars have aligned to have a crack.

    I have some spare cash, and a seller I trust has a mechanically solid Leica M2 body and very clean Minolta 40mm f2 Rokkor available.

    Thoughts on this kit as the basis for a 'trial' of sorts? I've shot a fair amount of film with a variety of Pentax SLR's (mainly an MX) and have also spent a fair bit of time meter-less with the MX, so I'm comfortable investing (and reselling if it's not for me).

    I've also been looking at an M3, but at the end of the day I'd like the chance to play with a few M lenses, so I'd prefer the flexibility of the M2 finder.

    I've found a fairly comprehensive buying guide for the M2/3 but if anyone has any additional tips I'd appreciate it :smile:

    Cheers, Nick

    **edit** Typo in the heading, it is, of course, the 40mm Rokkor, not 42mm....
     
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  2. Lightmancer

    Lightmancer Super Moderator

    Aug 13, 2011
    Sunny Frimley
    Bill Palmer
    Hi Nick,

    Typo corrected :wink:

    I've used Leica Ms for more than 20 years; in that time I've had M2, M4p, M6(x2), M7.85 and MP4. Of them all, and the only M I still own, I prefer the M2. A well-fettled example (budget for a CLA) is a pleasure to use - butter-smooth, instinctive and with one of the best and least cluttered viewfinders out there. You are right to go for an M2 over an M3 - the latter is the first, but it was an evolutionary dead-end in terms of viewfinder magnification. The M2 has the "holy trinity" of 35-50-90mm framelines - all that you really need.

    Now - that lens. It is a good 'un, and no mistake, but not ideal as a starter. The framelines won't match; you will find it will bring up the 50mm 'lines, which is not ideal. Be wary, too - many were modified - some badly - for use with the M8 and bring up the 35mm framelines instead - again, not ideal on an M2. I could see you getting frustrated, and it putting you off the whole thing, which would be a shame.

    Better, if you can, to get a 35 or 50mm Leica lens. You have a wide choice, and personally I would try to find a mint example that is of the same era as the camera, so a rigid or collapsible Summicron 50, or a 35mm Summicron (f2) or Summaron (f2.8 or f3.5) would be the thing. Remember that you can also use LTM (Leica Thread Mount) lenses on the M with a suitable adaptor, and there are some bargains to be had there. particularly from Canon. If you want to go more modern and don't want to pay Leica prices, have a look at Voigtlander, with a good range in both LTM and M mount.

    The problem with all these lenses is that the mirrorless crowd have woken up to how good they are, so supply is tight and prices are climbing...

    In use, the M2 is a true photographers' camera. I use mine for street, mostly. I always use ISO 400 b&w film, and always shoot meterless, relying upon Sunny-16 (or the UK variant thereof, which is about Sunny-11).

    My M2 first saw the light of day in 1962, same as me. It wears a 50mm Elmar-M, one of the best lenses of it's type you will find. I'll have it for some time to come; in fact I might just take it out at the weekend... :wink:

    So, good luck with your purchase. Here's a little M2-porn for you to whet your appetite in the meantime:
    19852379.3d1eddf2.1024.
    M2 1962 3.5cm Summaron par Lightmancer, on ipernity

    18897121.c06993aa.1024.
    Planning the trip par Lightmancer, on ipernity

    18294663.f97905e7.1024.
    Seville M2 Cafe G7 par Lightmancer, on ipernity

    And in case you think it is a posey shelf-queen, here are some images captured with it:
    18294671.6c97cbf7.1024.
    Seville Street 4 M2 par Lightmancer, on ipernity

    18929145.6ec672b2.1024.
    Tate 1 par Lightmancer, on ipernity

    [​IMG]
    Seville Street 7 M2 par Lightmancer, on ipernity
     
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  3. nickthetasmaniac

    nickthetasmaniac SC Veteran

    201
    Jan 20, 2014
    Launceston & Sydney
    Nick Clark
    Hi Bill, thanks for the response, and the camera porn, not that I needed convincing :smile:

    I'm definitely undecided on which lens to go with... Originally I'd been looking at an M3 with a rigid 50mm Summicron, but on an M2 I'd prefer to start with something a touch wider. I'm going to have a look at the camera on Monday, so I should be able to fondle the 40mm and see if it's been modded at all. I've heard a lot of good things about the Rokkor... They also have a Voigt 35mm Colour Skopar, which looks seriously tempting at that size and price.

    Is there anything body-wise you'd recommend checking? Stuff I've been told to look for:
    - 1" shutter speed accurate
    - Shutter curtains fully closing/opening
    - Pin-holes in the shutter curtains
    - Finder separation
    - Bright and aligned RF patches
    - Sticky frameline preview
    - Smooth film advance

     
  4. Lightmancer

    Lightmancer Super Moderator

    Aug 13, 2011
    Sunny Frimley
    Bill Palmer
    Hi Nick,

    If they have the Color Skopar (the f2.5) go for it in preference to the Minolta. It is at least 25 years younger, will bring up the correct framelines (35mm) and is a cracking lens in it's own right. I had two, of the LTM pancake variety and preferred their rendition to the V4 Summicron, the much-vaunted "Bokeh King" - in fact I sold mine and replaced it with the second lens.

    As to what to look for, run all the slower shutter speeds (1/30 and below) each should "sound" slower than the one before. You are not going to be able to tell exactly, but to be honest, being a little out is not the end of the world with the latitude of film. At 1/15 and below, you should hear the escapement. This sounds like a whirring noise followed by a little plink like a tiny ball-bearing being dropped.

    Shutter curtains should be clean, and unwrinkled. Watch them at slow shutter speeds with the lens off and the back open, held up to a light source, and make sure they run parallel. Check for pin holes, as you say, and for finder separation (can be costly) and alignment (can be cheap). Sticky frameline preview is not an issue - in 20-odd years, I used it once or twice, and the lens mount sets the framelines automatically anyway. Film advance - and rewind - should be butter-smooth. There may be some play, but not too much. Check that the baseplate is not warped, and fits snugly, with no play. Check that the strap lugs are firm to the body, and are not worn through. Expect some scrapes on the top plate, from where a meter may have been fitted - these are cosmetic, but may give you some room to bargain. Be wary of top-plate dents; these may again only be cosmetic but can lead to rangefinder problems.

    Last but by no means least, smell it. Hold it to your nose and give it a really good sniff. Avoid if there is any mustiness or smell of mould.

    Hope this helps!
     
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  5. asiafish

    asiafish SC Rookie

    18
    Sep 13, 2013
    Bakersfield, CA
    Andrew
    For lenses I would add the collapsable 5cm f/2 Summitar to your list. With an LTM to M adapter you should be able to get into a decent one for about $350, and it is an absolute joy to shoot. Tack sharp even wide open in the center, with a delightful swirly bokeh that nothing short of a vintage (or modern) Zeiss Sonnar can match.

    Speaking of Zeiss, for a little more money the current ZM Planar 50mm f/2 is fantastic and reasonably priced, while the slightly more expensive and exotic ZM Sonnar 50mm f/1.5 is my all-time favorite lens for Leica M (I have its 1937 ancestor).

    Here is what my ancient Sonnar does on the Leica M Monochrom.

    Leica M Monochrom with 1937 Carl Zeiss Jena 5cm f/1.5 Sonnar (uncoated from 1937) at ISO 320, f/1.5, no post

    13391678905_35fd390b8c_b. L1003267.jpg by Lawman1967, on Flickr
     
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  6. nickthetasmaniac

    nickthetasmaniac SC Veteran

    201
    Jan 20, 2014
    Launceston & Sydney
    Nick Clark
    Sounds good, I'll see how I feel about it after a play!

    I'll be sure to sniff the M2!

    I love the look of the 50/f2 Planar but its beyond the budget for my first M-mount lens. If I'm enjoying the format after 12 months I'll probably be looking at either the Planar of the CV 50/f1.5 Nokton.
     
  7. nickthetasmaniac

    nickthetasmaniac SC Veteran

    201
    Jan 20, 2014
    Launceston & Sydney
    Nick Clark
    Well, I had a play with the M2 today and ended up walking out with the body and 35mm Color Skopar. Have a look at the new toy here.

    Thanks again for everyones input!
     
  8. Lightmancer

    Lightmancer Super Moderator

    Aug 13, 2011
    Sunny Frimley
    Bill Palmer
    You are more than welcome - post the results!
     
  9. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen SC Regular

    110
    Jan 10, 2014
    If you could find one, IMHO, the best of all would be to get your hands on a Minolta CLE, to use with that wonderful 40mm lens. IMHO, it was the first modern "Leica".