Leica M5 or M6?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by constantin_milea, May 8, 2011.

  1. Hi.Always wanted a Leica to supplement my Rolleiflex MF.Looking to several bodies in an old shop I was extremely well suprised by a M5.The body stayed perfect in my hands.I tried the M6 also.It was OK but I didn't feel any particular vibe.Checking the online reviews I saw raving ones for M3 and M7(or M6) but not M5.A lot of places just described it as "big and ugly".
    What do you think about it ?Should I go for M5 or M6?The price is not an issue.I plan to use a 50mm,35 and eventually a 90 for street photography .
    Many thanks,
  2. Sounds like the choice is clear- Go with your instinct. Some people love the M5, and as far as I know, it has no particular issues other than the size and aesthetics not being as popular.

    I didn't realize, until a friend showed me his M5, that the rewind knob is flush with the body on the bottom. Makes sense that would be more out of the way and less vulnerable to damage. From what he told me, Leica made other changes they felt were improvements, but the camera just didn't sell as well.

    The M7 does have aperture priority auto exposure, which some people find useful.
  3. Hi Constantin,
    In 1971, there was no way to produce a TTL M-camera but to make it as they did - big and ugly. So what do we have?
    1. The camera was technically advanced for the time - it isn't today.
    2. It was big and ugly in 1971 - and still is.
    So why buy it? Unless you are a collector, buy an M6 (or an M6TTL) for shooting.
    The M3 is a beautifully designed camera, it is a classic; and classic means constancy in perfection... Anything that disrupts those graceful lines won't work. An M6TTL was only 2,5 mm taller, but put an MP aside and you'll see what 2,5 mm can mean...
    PS If absolutely you want an M5 for shooting, check the metering mechanism (it has a moving cell which comes up every time you cock the shutter) - repairs might be very expensive or even not feasible at all...
  4. I have both - a black M5 and a chrome M6. I do not consider the M5 ugly and it is not particularly big IMO - only by Leica standards. Yes, it is larger than the M6. And I like to use the 35/2 ASPH on the M6 but find that the 90/2 is perfect on the M5. I use a Wein cell in the M5 - but there are also conversions to use silver oxide cells. I like the information provided in the viewfinder of the M5 and the shutter speed ring is a lot better than the one on the M6.
  5. If you ever want to use lenses that extend back into the body there will be problems with an M5. The meter cell can be damaged by the 21mm Super Angulon, and old version 28mm Elmarit. Any lenses that collapse will have to be modified with with a strip of DYMO tape to keep them from being pushed back into the camera.
    The 21mm SA is one of my favorite lenses and probably the main reason I no longer own an M5.
  6. Like Dieter Schaefer, I much prefer the M5's viewfinder to that of the M6. I had an M3 from 1985 to 2002, and have had another for two years now, but I do not consider its dimensions an "ideal" to be imitated by all -- and, for that reason, I accept the M5 as what it is: another excellent camera. No camera ever made does not have limitations.
  7. If you can live w/o TTL metering, I'd suggest an M4. If I inherited an M5, I'd shoot it. But buying one is another story. If you really need the meter, go with an M6. The M5 is actually quieter than many of the older M's. A plus for certain types of shooting.
  8. I can only think of two disadvantages to the M5. Glenn already mentioned one: the potential for damaging the metering stalk with wide-angle lenses that have a large rear extension. Also, collapsible lenses can and will destroy the metering stalk! The other is that if you ever want to use a 28mm lens, the M6 has the 28mm frameline; the M5 has not. In exchange for the latter, you get an uncluttered frameline set. Only the 35mm frame has to team up with a second focal length (135mm).
    The M5, meter is more sensitive by about one f-stop, compared to the M6.
    Anyone who buys an M5 should know about Sherry Krauter. She's one of the world's leading experts on the M5 and CL models. She is the go-to person for any maintenance needs, including the conversion of these cameras to use currently available batteries. She also has some info on a range of M5 serial numbers to avoid. She's at:
    krauter @ warwick.net
  9. I'd avoid the M5 leave that to the collectors. With the lenses you plan to use, find a Leica M2 and have it overhauled to last you another 40 years.
  10. I'd look for a late 90s M6, or an M6 TTL.
  11. Mihail, tread carefully...
    The M5 is the camera Leica owners love... and love to bash. Most current owners didn't buy an M5 as their first Leica. Like yours-truly, they have bought "into" the M5 after years of using other M bodies.
    Now, if this is going to be your first one... be aware that you're talking about a camera that was, very likely, made in the early to mid-seventies. There are no parts available unless cannibalized, and if you or something damages the metering arm, the camera becomes a meterless body. Besides, there's a number of things to consider as well: the batteries for which the camera was built are no longer available, but it can be adjusted to use 1.5 volt units. Also, there seems to be a problem with cameras with serial numbers under 135xxxx, so if this one is, say, 123, or 124 or thereabouts, you buy at your own risk.
    Also, buying an M5 gets you to call Ms Sherry Krauter by her first name, and to exchange frequent and alarmed e-mails with her. This is because she's the leading expert on M5 bodies and the only technician who will not take three to four months to do a CLA on one. And, be warned, chances are that this M5 will need a CLA.
    Now, if despite all these warnings, you go for it... congratulations!!!! You have a strong backbone, a firm will and very likely are a very determined person. The M5 is often maligned as "ugly and big" but it's a wonderfully practical and proficient camera. For someone like me, who has big hands, the camera is so much at home I ended up with two bodies (black is Mulder; silver is Scully). They are the ideal bodies for 35mm lenses... to me. The meter allows for quick adjustments because the shutterspeed dial hangs over the edge, and you can change shutterspeeds without taking the camera off your face. Also, because of its configuration, the meter is actually a spot meter, which comes in handy for tricky situations.
    If you remain daunted about the M5, just go for an M6. That was the first M body with a meter that did not elicit as much wrath and indignation from the purists as the M5 did (it almost bankrupted the company).
    Wanna take a look at my babies and learn even more about this camera? Click HERE Then, it's up to you to join the ranks!
    Take care!
  12. I owned a M5 when new. I really liked the feel and particularly the speed dial that extended over the front of the camera. It was very convenient. The only reason I replaced it is because I wanted a winder on my M4-2 and to use wide lenses, that wouldn't clear the metering arm.
    As for ugly, I really disagree with this. It is not ugly to my eyes, but has been called this by so many people that it stuck. You have to decide for yourself on this matter. If you want the full Leica experience, though, you should probably go with the other camera. The M5 has been going up in value lately.
  13. I'd go with an M6 or M6TTL. I looked into an M5 some years ago but was put off by the size (too big for me) and the cost of servicing / repairs.
  14. Simply put, the M6 is the practical choice. Unlike the M5 it has an advanced meter that doesn't stick out dangerously and will be far less likely to die on you. Unlike the M5 the M6 has a 28mm frame (unless it is a 0.85 model). Unlike the M5 the M6 can be motorized, or use a Leicavit or a Rapidwinder. Parts are more in abundance for the M6.
    It think the M5 is an interesting and exotic Leica with many admirable feature. But I would not want it as my own Leica.
  15. M6 meter is very easy. Just do as it says. Classic M size and form with the M6. With a 35 it fits in the palm of your
    hand. But the M5 is beautiful and feels solid in both hands not just the right. The shutter read out in the VF, the spot
    meter which takes some understanding, the overhanging shutter speed dial, the recessed ratcheted rewind, the self
    timer, the rugged looks and feel and the fine fit and finish all make it a wonderful experience. Ideal for a fast 50 or 90.
  16. Sherry Krauter deserves all the kudos she's receiving here. She overhauled my M6 before I bought it from the local shop. At her recommendation, I had her do the MP modification to decrease glare and flare in the viewfinder and improve contrast in low light. She rated it a 10 on her 10-point scale. I can't imagine a better day in the sun (or shade) than a "shoot" with this body and a like-new 50mm Summicron f/2. Not bad in a fog, either (see attached).
  17. John, that's an interesting point... I thought about this upgrade for my M6TTL a couple of years ago, when the MP came out. Finally, I never did it.
    Will the difference be that noticeable? For the M6 VF is really flare-prone in some conditions...
  18. While the M5 is a fine camera, I'd get the M6. As other have said, you will have to send it to Sherry Krauter. She uses one herself so that says a lot by itself.
    Now if someone gave me one or sold it for less than $500 I'd use it. But my M3 and M4-P are doing well so I have no need for an M5 or M6.
    Good luck!
  19. I think if the M5 feels good go for it. I ended up with an M6 but almost got an M5 and I am sure that at some point I will get one...
  20. Leo, neither of my M6TTL bodies has an upgraded VF and I have experienced the flare on only three or
    four occasions, when shooting backlit subjects. I may, perhaps, eventually, have the VF fixed, but thus
    far, it hasn't been an obstacle when using the cameras. And when the VF flares, all you do is change
    your position, move to the right, left, forward or backwards so that the flare disappears and you're done.

    BTW, the M5 has no flare in the VF.
  21. I just went the expensive route and bought an M5 direct from Sherry that is "Pretty" on a scale of 1 to 10. Very expensive, but she assured me I will love it.
  22. I have M5 and M6. Much prefer the M5. Needs a "Grip" to feel as ergonomic as the latest SLRs. M5 Viewfinder is MUCH better.
  23. I want to add to this old thread because after thinking a lot, I also bought a Leica M5, and I found it to be the most beautiful thing ever. It is also a lot much better than the Leica M6. The metering system is wonderful, you can see the speed, set up aperture or speed without removing the eye from the viewfinder. I have had no problem at all with the meter, or with the battery. I bought an adapter to use alkaline batteries without problem or corrosion. This camera rocks. I am talking about this after having the M8, M9, M3, M2, and now M5. I still have those, and the one camera I use the most is the M5. I do recommend it. The meter potential damage? Just be careful with the collapsible lens if you still use them. I have the Elmar 50/2.8 and Elmar-M 50/2.8, I put the Dymo tape around it and never had a problem. The photo below was taken with the M5 and I think the CVColor Skopar 35/2.5.

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