Since getting a Leica M3 the year before last, I’ve come to really appreciate the combination of compact design, excellent build quality and fantastic lenses that the system offers, so when I saw a 1965 M2 for sale locally, I decided that I really needed a backup body and snapped it up.
The camera itself is great; there is some cosmetic wear as is to be expected on a camera of this age, but after a bit of a clean up, and some dry-firing of the shutter, everything is working smoothly. The deal was also sweetened by the inclusion of a 1955 90mm F/4.0 collapsable Elmar lens, and although I already have two other lenses of this focal length, I was intrigued to see how it would perform.
As the name would suggest, this lens can be collapsed into the camera body for carrying or storage and, in this position, it is no larger than some 50mm lenses of the era. To take a photograph, the lens is pulled out from the body and rotated into the locked extended position, which also disengages the focus lock mechanism that prevents the focusing ring from turning while collapsed.
Mechanically, this lens is a jewel! The quality of the fit and finish is superb, and the aperture and focusing rings operate with a precision that is sadly missing from a lot of modern gear. The solid all-metal construction gives great confidence in use, and feels great, although it’s no lightweight because of it.
Optically, it’s a simple lens, based as it is on the Tessar formula, but what really matters is how the photographs taken with it look, and in that respect, it really performs! The following images are all shot at the maximum aperture of F/4.0 and show very well the sharp, low contrast characteristics of this fine vintage lens.