1970's Leica

LeicaFlex SL2

LeicaFlex SL2

Now here’s a camera that’s considered the Mercedes Benz of SLRs. A camera whose production spared no costs. One so remarkably built that it still performs perfectly today as it did back then. First produced in 1974, the SL2 was Leica’s third and final camera in the Leicaflex series.

Built on the foundation laid by the Leicaflex standard and Leicaflex SL, the SL2 came with several improvements that make it the best mechanical Leica SLR for your vintage classic camera collection.

Here’s why the Leicaflex SL2 is the mechanical SLR to own.

Features of the Camera

One of the first things you’re likely to notice once your eyes land on an SL2 is its classic and elegant aesthetic. The SL2 body is characterized by sharp angles giving the camera a profile that’s practical and timeless. 

With the SL2, you can be sure you’ll leave heads turning and will always have someone looking to strike a conversation about this gorgeous machine.

Another feature that makes the SL2 the mechanical SLR to own is its big bright viewfinder. The SL2 finder is an improvement of the one found in the SL. With the SL2 viewfinder, you can clearly see the selected lens aperture and shutter speed.

And that’s not all

The SL2 viewfinder came with a split-image focusing screen that made focusing easier and faster.

Coupled with the large bright viewfinder, the SL2 made taking photos effortless.

As if that’s not enough!

The SL2 also came with an impeccable metering system. Building from the Leicaflex SL TTL metering system, Leica made the SL2 metering more sensitive and accurate.

To make the SL2 even better, Leica also added a more accurate CdS metering system.

To add to the excellent viewfinder and metering system is the lens.

Like its predecessors, the SL2 came with a Leica R-bayonet mount. With this camera you can use any Leica-Minota R-mount lens.

Best of all!

The SL2 features a redesign of the mirror system. This redesign allowed the SL2 to be compatible with wide-angle lenses—something its predecessors were unable to do.

Is using the camera complicated?

The SL2 Is a camera that both professional and novice photographers can use.

It doesn’t come with a myriad of controls and menus that complicate the photo-taking process. The SL2 only has a few knobs, dials, and levers, whose placement makes it simple to take photos.

This simplicity is further enhanced by the fact that the SL2 only shoots in manual mode. With this camera you have full control of the shutter speed, lens aperture, and focusing.

If you’re a new film camera user, the SL2 provides an excellent opportunity to learn the basics of film photography. 

This appeal to both the novice and expert photographer is a feature that’s lacking in many 35mm SLRs.

What about the shutter?

Like it’s predecessors, the SL2 came with a mechanically-timed, horizontal-travel rubberized cloth shutter that could achieve a maximum speed of 1/2000 sec, and 1.100 sec on flash sync.

Build and Physical Description

Like other Leica cameras before the SL2, no cost was spared during the production process.

The brass body is ergonomically shaped. It’s sturdy and solid, which makes the camera feel indestructible.

Looking at the camera, you can’t help but notice the minimalist look. All controls are ergonomically placed, and everything on the body serves a purpose.

On the top plate, you have the

  • Shutter speed selector
  • ISO dial, which also acts as the exposure compensation dial and multiple exposure lever
  • Film type indicator
  • Film frame counter
  • Rewind knob
  • Hot shoe

On the front, you have the

  • Depth of Preview button
  • Lens release button
  • Self-timer

Shortcomings of the camera

The SL2 has one major shortcoming.

It’s a heavy machine.

If you’re an adventurous shooter or someone who travels a lot, the SL2 is not the ideal camera for you.

However, if you’re looking for a camera that you can shoot moments around the house, or on a special set, the SL2 will be great.

Another shortcoming with the SL2 is its price.

Thanks to the philosophy of sparing no cost, the SL2 was and is still a pretty expensive camera.

Final Thoughts

Do you see why the Leicaflex SL2 is considered the Mercedes of mechanical SLRs?

Not only is it an aesthetically pleasing camera, but it’s also a great photography tool that you’ll be able to use even in the next fifty years.


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