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Leica M4-2 favori envoyer Print
Photos by DL fils text by DL père. From the collection of DL
France Version française

Chronology of the Leica brand  New window

Manufactured in Germany from 1977 until 1980.
Index of rarity in France : Rare (among non-specialized garage sales)
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Inventory number: 11436

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Leica M4-2

Traduction de Christian Surle.

Leica M4-2 is a slightly modernized version of the M4. The body can be fitted with motor-winder M4-2, and there is no more self-timer. On the other hand, it gets another direct flash contact in the accessory shoe, in addition to the twin classic sync contacts. Besides, it is marked “LEICA M4-2” on the front cover, and the ultimate versions get the so-gaudy red Leitz badge (thanks God, mine is an older one and stays more discreet).

One must notice in M4-2 history that it has been marketed and made on the persistent demand of “Leicaist” phot ographers. Indeed, Leica had some financial difficulties in the mid- seventies. These were partly due to a lower demand for rangefinder cameras of which Leica  was the undisputable specialist. Leica M5, issued in 1971 to replace M4, even fitted with a TTL cell and a semi-auto exposure mode, encountered a possibly unjust but real success. So, in 1975 Leica stopped producing M4 and M5 models, thus all rangefinders.

Besides, since Leicaflex SL2, good but expensive, was not sold enough, Leica decided in 1977 to listen to the “Leicaists” and remake M4. However, these financial difficulties lead to manufacture this model in Midland factory, Canada, and no longer in Germany, together with some cost cuts (no more self-timer, modified mechanism and making modes (becoming more industrial than handcrafted), and building tolerances allowing mass production. The Canadian plant was already assembling lenses, and it seems that it had also manufactured the very demanded 1974 M4 black Leica’s .
However, it appears that early M4-2 models experimented some making and conception defects. This gave a bad reputation to this body, which is not reputed among fans and collectors, who considered it not a true Leica , or at least not a true M4. Nevertheless, and according to the specialists, its mechanism was kept on further models, including M6.
It was more a transition model in fact, manufactured from 1977 to 1980 up to approximately 16.000 units, much less than the original M4 (60.000 units) and M5 (33.000 units all the same). It was replaced between 1980 and 1984 by M4-P, which only additional feature is to provide twin extra viewing frames (28 and 75mm). One had to wait until 1984’s M6 to find (at least) an integrated cell and the success (24.500 units).

My second-hand M4-2 can be fitted with a Leicameter cell from Metrawatt, and features a f : 2/35mm Summicron that is a marvel of accuracy and contrast. This Summicron is part of  a special series marked 1913-1983 commemorating the seventeenth anniversary of the first Leica prototype (some M4-P have been marked so). Thus, it came after the body.