In my opinion the M5 is one of the best Leica M ever build, despite its somewhat larger size.
++ rangefinder patch does NEVER flare!!
+ match needle metering allows to see deviations from the ideal value more accurately
+ shutter speeds are displayed in the finder
+ metering is more selective than that of the M6/7
+ metering area is indicated for 50mm and with other lenses it corresponds to smaller frame (28mm lens -> 90mm frame) or (approx.) to the RF/patch (90mm,135mm)
+ exposure can be measured for speeds below 1s
+ build in selftimer
- CdS cell may have lost some of its sensitivity over the years
- metering arm restricts the use of lenses that penetrate deeply into the body. (collapsible lenses,Hologon, Super-Angulon, old Elmarit 28mm).
Way back when, when i was in college, i wanted the M5 more than anything else but couldnt afford the $900 retail price for the body, let alone the lens. So, i waited and years later i saw an ad in Shutterbug for a new M5 for $2,000.. but this time i bought it. Subsequently i got the lenses and primarly use the 90mm Tele-Elmarit today for abstracts and archetectrial shots. I do my own processing and printing using Tech Pan film exclusively. I thought back then and still do that the looks of the M5 are brutally cool. I dont know why it was discontinued in light of complaints about size when it really isnt much bigger than an SLR. Oh well. I love it and use it and it has performed perfectly after all these years.
By 2002 standards the M5 is small compared to a motor driven auto focus zoom lens equipped SLR. In 1975 people compared it to the tiny Olympus OM series and the Pentax ME and MX which were about the same size as the Leica M4. By the time the added the third lug they'd alienated all those folks whoi want a horizontal hanging camera. At the same time the CL came along with pretty much the same features, tiny, light, cute, and relatively inexpensive. Goodbye M5!
My own experiences and from discussions with other users at the time when the M5 was new boiled down to this:
1. Most eyeglass wearers found the meter/viewfinder image difficult to use. I could not see the metering info and frame the subject at the same time.
2. Price shock. The continueing devaluation of the dollar starting in 1970 quickly doubled the price of Leitz products. Then the wage/price freeze hurt even more.
3. The slightly larger "square" body did not "feel" the same in the hands of those who already had M cameras. This as well as the lug placement you mentioned turned away many of the Leica owners who were, shall we say, "conservative".
I first used the M5 in the mid-seventies and loved it. I simply could not afford the camera at the time. After quite a while using M4s and Nikons, I decided to go shopping. I finally got my M5 about three years ago and will never part with it. I still use my other Ms, especially for B&W, but the M5 is my favorite.
It certainly doesn't seem overlarge to me, though my hands are fairly large - in fact, I think one of the things I like best is how well it fits my hands. The meter is quite sensitive and I too like the graphic depiction provided by the match needle set-up. I wear glasses and have no troubling framing and reading the exposure info.
In sum - the M5 seems to me a misunderstood masterpiece.
I used the M5 from its inception and found it a remarkable camera. The meter was highly accurate even in moonlit settings (I checked the readings against a Lunasix). Seems to me that there is considerable prejudice against this instrument because of its size. I prefer a 'solid' camera, and currently use an SL. Leitz compromised with later 'M' models, simply because Japanese electronics are better than the Germans could ever conceive.
Mike - you might be right about the Japanese electronics.
On the "ergonomic" issue - I also just reacquired an SL, and have rediscovered how awesome that camera really is. I had and used for years a Standard, an SL, an SL2, and an R3 - but sold them in a fit of stupidity.
The SL is tops - great finder, super solid feel, best lenses in the world (more pleasing rendition than even M lenses IMHO).
Don't get me wrong - I'm not an equipment Luddite. I also use a NIKON F4 and appreciate its qualities, too.
But the SL is simply great - in very much the same category as the M5 and the other classic Leicas.
> Hi, Max, My contribution to the excellence of Japanese electronics, I suppose, is my appreciation and retention of my (now ageing) Canon A1 system, which I adore. The bottom line for me is, naturally, the excellence of Leitz glass combined with precise engineering principles. The SL 2 was probably the last entirely German-produced R-series Leica and, for that reason, is a complete gem. If I want a Minolta I'll buy one
Justin - I remember that the SL2 did have some parts produced either by Minolta or developed with Minolta engineers. I think it had to do with the mirror swing up and hinge change that permitted lenses with longer back focus to be mounted on the SL2.
I owned and used an SL2 for some years - the only trouble I had with it was a desilvering prism, which I had replaced at Leica NJ for about $600. Otherwise, the camera seemed identical in quality and construction to the SL, which I also owned and used. Personally, I prefer the SL.
But good grief - don't give away the secret about the SL! They can still be had in great condition for reasonable prices - unlike the very similar SL2 which goes for megabucks. The same thing happened with the M2 and M5 - fairly unpopular with collectors, big with users, decent prices - then the collectors swoop in and people are paying $1600 for an M5 and over a grand for a 2.
What's a poor sod who just wants to use the camera to do?
You are right Max. I am not considering the important people who take pictures. Collectors are a strange lot. On the one hand they remove anything worth owning from the market at silly prices. On the other hand without them I suspect Leica would have gone out of business. Occasionally they part with something that was overlooked such as the mint Leicaflex I recently bought still in its vacuum pack. I intend to use it as I like the mirror lock-up.
You and I have been fortunate in buying our cameras before this all happened. I bought my SL new in 1969. It has done a lot of work, but periodic visits to Wetzlar then Solms have kept it like new. I tried an SL2 twenty years ago but exchanged it for an SL MOT.
One of the technicians in Germany some years ago demonstrated how superior the mirror action is with the Leicaflex, SL & SL2. Set the shutter on B and then release only the first curtain (keep the shutter pressed down). Subjectively I feel it is better than the M3 which is saying something.
Agree about tinking with orig. camera. However the only thing I don't like about my 5 is the way it hangs on the shoulder strap. A conventional lug setup would suit my way of working, particularly when using more than one body. The vertical hang can be a bit awkward.
The system is a little odd considering you are supposed to hold the camera horizontaly for metering!
But I've lived with it for many years now. Just canvassing if it is possible without too much trouble.
How much am I prepared to pay for a 9+ 2 lug black Chome M5? Good Quesition. I don't know what a fair market rate would be. Australia's third world currency exchange rate compared with US and Euro tends to put a nasty sting in Leica purchases. Haven't you got a three lugger? I'd be sorely tempted.
The M5s are a fine working camera. Some call me ludite but the match needle meter readout is by far the superior system. All the info needed in one place and easily read. The position of the M5 VF eyepeice also fits snuggly against my big nose. Handy for slow SS stuff. Ah but I digress sorry.
BTW has anybody got a spare (white) plastic thingy that fits into the centre of the self-timer arm for Blk M5. I lost mine somewhere. I think that they are the same as those used in the orig. M4s.
> Tell you where the advantage comes in hanging the M5 by one end rather than > by both - when you wear the camera over one shoulder and shoot with it from > there (ie without hanging it round your neck - ideally from under a jacket. > The strap needs to be on the long side. I've been hanging my M2 like that > (strap connected to the normal lug and to the key of the screw on the M > handgrip. It works very well for quick shooting - reach into jacket, take > camera by the upper end and it comes to the eye surprisingly comfortably. I > found that even with the camera hung in the "normal" way I end up dragging > the strap round till it is hanging near vertically.