The Leica M2. This is by far my favorite 35mm film camera to shoot with. It’s fully mechanical and void of any electronics. The beauty & challenge of that is there is NO light meter within the camera. It forces you to either use a hand-held meter or “do it old-school” and rely on the Sunny 16 rule. I use two lenses; an older rigid type Leica 50mm f/2 and a Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5. Eventually I would like to find a 35mm f/2.8 or a 35mm f/2, but for now, those are working wonders for me. The 15mm especially. Some Leica-snobs might scoff at the fact that I’m not using a Leica lens on a Leica body, but I could care less. The results I get with it are wonderful.
Because the 15mm is such a wide lens (100 degree horizontal viewpoint), you can capture the world in a very unique way. Along with this however are some characteristics to the lens you might want to be aware of. Because of the ultra-wide perspective, there is distortion around all edges of the frame. I’ve found it’s typically best to keep people out of the very edge otherwise parts of their body will be distorted. Also, with any ultra-wide angle lens, there is some natural optical vignetting that will occur when you’re shooting wide open.
One of the cool things about this lens, is that anything beyond ~ 5 feet is in focus when you’re shooting wide open at f/4.5. It turns the camera into a 35mm point & shoot. There’s little need for focusing unless you are shooting something within the 5 foot range. For me, that’s maybe 5-10% of the time. I’m usually shooting landscapes & architecture with this lens and that is where this thing excels.
My experience with the 15mm is mainly film-based. I’ve shot slides, color neg and b+w with it for about a year now. I did sneak it onto a Leica M9 digital one day in my friend’s shop but I can’t really call that “experience”.
The first time I had my hands on this lens was when I was visiting my Dad in Washington, D.C a few years ago. I immediately fell in love with it. I was able to get everything I was seeing on the frame and then some. I captured some really cool images of Washington when I was there on a Leica M7 & the 15mm; one of which was selected to be in the New Texas Talent competition, back in 2009, at the Craighead-Green Gallery.
Over Christmas of 2010, my wife surprised me and she gave me a Leica M2 with a 50mm lens. She’s always been supportive of my drive & passion for photography and I can’t thank her enough for that. A handful of months later, I saved up and finally picked up a 15mm of my own. Ever since then, using this lens has helped me capture unique images that are only possible with an ultra-wide angle lens.
If you have the time, enjoy some of my favorite images I have taken with the 15mm & the Leica M2.
ALL of these photos are available as prints. If you’d like more information on purchasing, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org