Leica M2 Review (+ Leica M2 vs Bessa R3A)
Leica M2 vs Voigtlander Bessa R3A
Have you been struggling to decide between a Leica M2 film camera (or any Leica film camera) and a Voigtlander Bessa R3A (or any Voigtlander film camera)? I tried to do it on the cheap and ended up with 2 cameras!
This 2 part article includes a Leica M2 review and a Leica M2 vs Voigtlander Bessa R3A direct comparison. (Parts A&B below). After reading this post you should be in a better position to buy the camera best for your needs whether Leica or Voigtlander.
Part A: Buying a Leica M2/ Leica M2 Review
My first Leica film camera – a Leica M2!
The first Leica film camera I bought was a Leica M2. I am now a proud owner of a Leica trio – Leica M2, Leica M8 and Leica M9!
Leica M2 vs Voigtlander Bessa R3A
The Leica M2 camera was an unplanned buy. I was ready to shoot 35mm film last weekend but found my 35mm Voigtlander Bessa R3A camera shutter was completely jammed. I tried the usual tricks to rectify the problem per YouTube but no luck. The Bessa’s are well known to be a poor man’s Leica and although they are great when they work I need a camera body I can rely on. For that reason I turned to Leica.
Leica M2 Price.. Less than a Leica M3!
I looked online and the Leica M2 price was the lowest price Leica film camera listed (less than a Leica M3). I did some reading on the M2 and the rest was history!
Leica M2 Engineering
Some people call the Leica M2 the pinnacle of Leica engineering when it was released in 1958. I have one of the later Leica M2 models with a self timer and rewind lever. It has a bright viewfinder with 35mm, 50mm and 90mm frame lines. If I want to use a 28mm lens I just use the entire viewfinder area when composing a photo.
Leica M2 vs M6 Classic
I toyed with the idea of getting the newer Leica M6 Classic camera. The M6 has a built in light meter but cost more than 1.5x the cost of a used Leica M2. I did not need the light meter and wanted an affordable Leica film camera to mount my various Leica M lenses.
Leica M2 vs Nikon FM
I already own a ‘beater’ or ‘user’ brassed black Nikon FM 35mm SLR camera. It was less than 5x the cost of the Leica M2 and I asked myself can I do without the Leica film camera. I slept on it but it my M2 purchase decision came down to my Leica M mount lenses (a mix of Leica, Zeiss and Voigtlander lenses). Their compact size, the focal lengths available and most importantly the fantastic image quality made it a no brainer. For a small film camera setup to thrown in a bag the Leica M2 wins every time. I still have my Nikon FM to use with some of my nice Nikon glass such as the Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s.
Leica Film Photography
I have wanted to get back into shooting film for some time and I have done almost none since I got my Leica M9 last year. Getting a Leica M2 film camera is the quickest and easiest way to get my interest in film photography back very quickly!
Leica M2 Photos
My first test photo using the Leica M2.. it even makes rubbish bins look good!
More Leica M2 photos from my travels
Leica M2 Portraits
Part B: Leica M2 vs Voigtlander Bessa R3A
After buying the Leica M2 I own both a 1950s Leica M2 35mm rangefinder film camera and a more modern Voigtlander Bessa 3RA 35mm rangefinder film camera. Both these cameras accept Leica M lenses and are basically just a light box to mount the lens on and to shoot to 35mm film. So which do I prefer? Here are some facts for each film camera:
Leica M2 Specs – 8 Facts about the M2
- 0.72 magnification viewfinder for 35mm, 50mm, 90mm framelines (Leica M3 is 0.91 magnification for 50mm framelines and better rangefinder focus accuracy).
- 1/50 flash sync speed – uses 2 rear flash sync ports and can use with PC sync cable via adapter
- Fastest shutter speed 1/1000 (for when wanting to use wide apertures in daylight)
- Horizontal cloth shutter (quiet)
- Leica build quality – compact but solid with nice slimline ergonomics
- Leica prices despite the age
- Film loaded from the bottom
- No light meter (I use a separate Sekonic light meter or do a test shot with the M9)
Voigtlander Bessa R3A Specs – 8 Facts on the R3A
- Large bright 1:1 magnification viewfinder with 40, 50, 75, 90 framelines
- 1/125 flash sync speed with useable hotshoe without need for adapters
- Fastest shutter speed 1/2000 (for when wanting to use wide apertures in daylight)
- Vertical metal shutter prone to jamming
- Cheaper lightweight build but lighter to carry. Nice slimline ergonomics.
- More affordable (approximately half price)
- Film loaded from the back door
- TTL Centerweighted light metering
Leica M2 vs Voigtlander Bessa R3A – Which camera do I prefer?
For ambient light photography the Leica M2 is reliable and rugged and hard to beat. I use it with a 1.4x magnifier on the viewfinder with my Leica Noctilux lens. For flash photography the Voigtlander Bessa R3A makes Leica M film camera strobist work possible and far easier than using the M2. The large Bessa viewfinder is beautiful to use but the reliability of the metal shutter is a problem. I have used the Leica M2 camera more as the Voigtlander Bessa R3A rangefinder calibration gets knocked out of alignment easily (so much that it currently needs calibrating again so I don’t use it for portraits).
Voigtlander Bessa R3A Review
For a full Voigtlander Bessa R3A Review article see HERE
Leica M2 vs M3!
After buying my Leica M2 I got a taste for Leica film camers! My next camera purchase was a Leica M3! See my Leica M3 post to compare the Leica M2 vs M3.
Leica M2 Related Posts
- Leica M2 Sample Images (On the Cinestill 50D vs. Portra 160 Review)
- Leica M2 Wedding
- Buying a Leica M3
- Leica M2 Wikipedia
You may also like… What Gear I Use for Portraits!
- See full details of my portrait photography lighting kit (2018) – HERE
- See full details of my portrait photography equipment kit (2018) – HERE