Saturday, August 5, 2017

LEICA M2-250

Recently I sold a few Leica items on eBay.  One of the buyers struck my interest with his eBay screen name of Schmirgelpapier.  Taking a closer look revealed that it was Don Goldberg of DAG Camera Repair, one of the best Leica repair technicians in the country.  I hadn't talked to Don for a while and it was nice to catch up.  Needless to say, we also talked about the LEICA Barnack Berek Blog.  I asked him if he would be willing to contribute some of his wisdom to the blog, only to be totally surprised by his answer.

One of the items he was interested to talk about was a Leica M2-250, an off the shelf camera that his father Norman Goldberg had converted in the 1960s to accept film for 250 exposures.  I had never heard of this camera and I was eager to learn more about it.

Norman Goldberg was born in Chicago in 1931 and, after serving a five-year apprenticeship in camera repair and attending the Illinois Institute of Technology, he moved to Wisconsin in 1951. There he established Camcraft, an independent workshop which specialized in repairs and custom modifications to professional photographic equipment. In 1966 he became a technical consultant to Popular Photography, devising a lens testing program for them and creating their testing laboratory, and in 1972 he joined the staff of the magazine. He retired in 1987 after working for Popular Photography for 22 years.

While running Camcraft, he became the first Leica authorized service facility for Leica cameras in the US.  He also published a book about camera technology in 1992, titled “The Dark Side of the Lens.

Goldberg is perhaps best known as the creator of the Camcraft N-5 electric motor drive for the Leica M2 and MP. However, he has also several other inventions for Leicas and other cameras to his credit.  For instance, the clip he designed to permit wearing an M Leica on the belt was widely used, and he also offered modifications of the Visoflex, utilizing either a prism or a pellicle mirror.  He also designed and built a considerable amount of testing equipment to test cameras and lenses, including the equipment used at Popular Photography, and he held numerous patents.

 Camcraft N-5 motor with power supply

Camcraft N-5 motor attached to Leica M2

The first camcraft N-5 motor was introduced in 1961.  After several modifications to the original design, the final version was made by TPI (Technical Photomation Instruments) of Los Angeles.  Eventually Leitz bought the patents and the rights to the motor.  Over the years they made over a thousand units of what was often called the NY Motor.  It was sold for the M2-M and later for the M4-M.

With the motor in place, 36 exposures could go very fast, and the need to change to a new roll of film was ever present.  This lead to thoughts of a larger capacity of film and Goldberg began to design a 250 exposure conversion of a Leica M2 which incorporated the successful N-5 motor.  The modifications are based on a standard Leicavit rapid advance.  They included larger film compartments at both the supply and take up side of the camera which were attached to the camera and the Leicavit.  The manual film advance of the Leicavit was replaced by the N-5 motor.  Power was supplied via a cord, connected to a separate power supply which contained the batteries.  Only one of the M2-250 cameras is in existence, making it also one of the rarest Leicas.





 M2-250 original design sketch by Norman Goldberg

Far from walking in the shadow of his father, Don Goldberg is very accomplished in the Leica community himself.  In 1970 he worked at Leitz Wetzlar for two years.  There he received the skills of a Feinmechaniker (Precision Mechanic) a prerequisite for Leica technicians.  With the town of Giessen close by, he also decided to learn about Minox cameras at the Minox plant there.  He worked for Minox for three months and then took a position at the Leica Service department in New Jersey.  In 1980 Don established his own camera service business, DAG which he still runs today.

Don is interested in determining what the M2-250 might be worth and he might consider selling it.  Anyone interested can contact Don directly at:

DAG Camera Service
2128 Vintage Drive
Oregon WI 53575 USA

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