Leica M4-2 and the 50mm collapsible Summicron, almost 1 year on28. October 2018 | link this post
It is not really one year yet, but I felt like giving some of my impressions on what my time with this camera has been like and what I feel like this has done for me.
Before I start with this maybe a bit of personal history on how I’ve gotten into photography. I started at around 2004 and originally what really inspired me were the images of the likes of Cartier-Bresson. However, being rather shy and apparently at the time all to willing to give in to that for the longest time I did neither reportage nor street or portrait photography. Instead I focussed on landscape and nature, something where I wouldn’t have to face other people. One of my reasons for getting a rangefinder was that I felt they lend themselves to kind of things I’d like to do in a nice way and thus would make it harder for me to make up excuses. While I can’t say that I’m totally there yet, I can say one thing: this has set me on my way. This is of course more a thing about me then about the camera but it’s relevant to what this has done for me.
Why the M4-2
When I began to consider getting into the M system I quickly came across the M4-2 as being a combination of a few things I wanted to have: it’s relatively affordable, it offers 35mm framelines (unlike the M3) and also I prefer(ed) the design of the film-rewind to the M3 and M2 (yeah, because that’s really important …). So, I found one on ebay and one day I finally succumb to it and was on its way to me.
After almost a year of using this camera I can say that my initial impression of this being a totally pleasant to use and rock-solid photographic tool has been confirmed. I know that rangefinders are I bit of a thing of personal taste: some people love them, and others don’t – it turns out that I like this way of working a lot. The viewfinder that show everything in focus gives me a much more direct outlook on the world out there. Focussing with the rangefinder patch, once you have grown used to it, is a dream. Plus, and this is also a thing about typical rangefinder lenses, the lenses for these cameras often have a focus tab that assists with focussing quite a lot. After a while you develop a feeling for where the tab or infinity lock is in relation to what distance from you is in focus. Also, can I just say that this camera feels like the most solid piece of kit that I’ve ever used? It really does.
50mm collapsible Summicron
When I got the M4-2 I wanted to have an actual Leica lens to go with it and the first generation 50mm Summicron M was what I came across on ebay. It is a pleasant and fun to use piece of 1950 optics best pared with a UV filter to protect its rather fragile front element. In the long run I’d like to get a more current 50mm lens in addition to this one, but that’s not a priority right now for me. Also, it’s not through any fault of this lens – I’m simply curious for the newer ones. All I can say after all is that I am having a lot of fun with this lens and I am happy with its output, even knowing that more modern lenses will deliver a higher optical quality.
For me certainly trying to get a 35mm lens I like and then use that a lot. Something I really like about the Leica system is that I somehow don’t feel like I have to own all the lenses. A 35mm and maybe a 90mm (for some rare occasions) lens and I feel like that would be it.
More importantly: getting people into my pictures. While I’m slowly getting used to shooting in the streets and feeling good with that (seeing that nothing bad happens when you are seen taking a photograph) I’m still shying away from photographing people. I should probably just dive into a tourism-heavy place (like cologne where I’m going every day anyways) and make use of the fact that people there are used to folks taking pictures. So yes: that’s what’s next.