Leica R5-Is it a good buy ?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by frederick_joicey, Aug 18, 2010.

  1. A 2nd hand Leica R5 is on sale for what seems to be a bargain price. It is described as in mint condition, and comes with a 35-70mm lens (Leica). I have never owned a Leica, and a lot of people have said that one is only paying for the name. I know they never received more than 1-2*(stars) out of 5 as regards value for money, but was wandering if this item was worth buying.
    Are there any Leica owners/users out there who can pass on their comments, thoughts, and observations, re this model, and how they found it to be when using it ? I would appreciate both negative and positive comments.
  2. Frederick, the Leica R5 is a fully loaded Leica film SLR that is a great bargain!
    • The silky smooth R3 bodies are also a bargain but are larger & not as solid state as the R5.
    • The R4 is the first of it's crop/re-design & needed time to work out some of the issues.
    • An R6 is too expensive & simply a manual version of an R5.
    • R7 bodies have a bit more features but also more size & expense.
    • R8 & R9 bodies similar to the R7 but on steroids.
    The folks that claim the name is the expense, don't have a clue about Leica's contribution to the Leitz/Minolta union. The spot meter option and crystal clear viewfinders are Leica exclusives. Not to mention the "R" mount for putting on stunning Leica glass.
  3. SCL


    Check the camera out to make sure there is no corrosion in the battery compartment, check that the seals around the back of the camera aren't crumbly or sticky/gummy, and check to make sure the exposure meter works. Look thru the viewfinder to check the condition of the focusing screen. If the lens is the 35-70/f3.5 with a serial number below 3393301 (1st version), check for wobble in the lens barrel, 2nd version seemed more sturdy. If instead you are looking at the 35-70/4.0 you should know it has better corner resolution than its predecessor. Whichever you are looking at, check for buttery smooth movement and shine a light thru the lens to check for dust, fungus, etc internally, as well as scratches or cleaning marks on the front or rear elements. Before switching to primes for most of my work, I owned the 2nd version of the f3.5 lens for a couple of years and it was a really good lens. Good luck in your purchase....Leica R line cameras (& Leicaflex) and lenses are a real bargain in the market these days. Some useful info can be found at a number of sites including this one: www.photoethnography.com/ClassicCameras/index-frameset.html?Lens-R.html~mainFrame, and of course there various active discussion groups online devoted specifically to Leica R products.
    stephen_morris|3 likes this.
  4. The R5 would be a good camera I think. I have a RE which is basically a stripped out R5. I prefer it to the R5 because it has everything that's needed and nothing more so there is probably less to go wrong. The earlier R4s had problems and the R6 is a different camera. The R7 is too big and has more useless features and the R8 and 9 are way too big. I would like a R6.2 as a second body sometime.
    One more thing to look out for is the finish. There might be what look like bubbles under the paint. Try to avoid this because there are reports that this can spread rampantly. Its apparently corrosion caused by impurities in the zinc casting or something like that. It usually occurs around the eyepiece and the wind lever.
    Also be careful of things described as mint. Very rarely are they ever truly mint.
    stephen_morris|3 likes this.
  5. The R5 is a very good camera with just a few niggles - namely no on-off switch (which is fitted to the R7), the power being switched via the shutter release. My R5 also has a long travel on the shutter release which necessitates using a soft release.
    For me, the lack of a power switch is a real issue with the R5: unscrewing the soft release helps avoid the camera being switched on in a bag, etc, but risks the loss of the soft release (which ain't cheap).
    Finally my R5 has clearer viewfinder led displaythan my R7. On balance, I think the R7 is a nicer camera. Prices can be pretty close if you shop around - even the R6 seems to be dropping in price (in the UK).
    Regarding value for money - the down-side of the whole Leica-R experience is that the choice of lenses is not great . . . and they ain't cheap. Also, the general view seems to be that there are some Leica-R lenses that don't offer significantly better performance than a top-ranking Nikkor or Canon lens - especially when the price premium is taken into account. My advice is that If you are looking at obtaining a 28-70mm and/or 80-200mm zoom, there are better options from other makers. If you are going to stick with a few 'modern' primes you will get very good lenses, though at a premium price. Frankly - I wouldn't advise my best friend to choose a Leica-R with anything like the same enthusiasm or confidence that I'd recommend a Nikon F3 and some good lenses . . .
    stephen_morris|3 likes this.
  6. Follow S. Lewis's advice and, if the R5 is up to snuff, buy it & enjoy. Get a motor for it at some point too.
  7. Thanks all, for the information so far. It is pushing me towards buying this particular camera. The photo shop selling has pictures on line at ebay, and it does look immaculate. Light seals, and everything else mentioned by you all, are in good condition. Told that it looks brand new inside, and only had about a dozen films through. It was traded in for a digital camera. I bless the day folks fell for the digital "upgrading". I may even upgrade my Halina 35x ! The lens was below the serial no. 3393301, but I have been assured that it too is smooth moving, and clean throughout. What I will pay for it in the U.K. is approximately 1/6th of its price when they were both brand new.
    Regards to you all, and info. appreciated.
  8. It will allow you to use some of the finest SLR glass ever made too. The newer Summicron R glass is stunning.
  9. How about this - I get to respond, and in doing so am introducing myself to the photo.net community by way of my inaugural post...
    I went down the R5 route to replace a stolen R3 and an original Leicaflex (which I am trying to ease out of use to preserve its longevity!) and have not been at all disappointed. The R5 seems robust and has the advantage over the R4 of a 1/2000s fastest shutter speed, which can be useful when trying to shoot at wider apertures on bright days. Before purchasing the R5 I had read on the internet that the R4 and R5 suffer from terrible vibration caused by inadequate mirror damping, and was led to believe that in this respect they were inferior to the R3. This has not been my experience, and I have found the camera entirely satisfactory in every respect. I prefer it to the R3, although overall I still prefer the original Leicaflex as a uniquely funky, satisfactory, sensory-photographic experience, but this is a far more reasonable weight to carry around. As for lenses, download Erwin Puts's Leica Lens Compendium if you haven't already. It contains all the information you will need on lenses, and good reviews. If you google it, you should find it easily enough. If you shop around and play it patient you should be able to find some great R glass at reasonable prices. As far as the 35-70 lens you mentioned, as you will see from the comments on various forums, there are mixed views on the different versions of this lens, but it is a good versatile lens to start you off with. You may wish to ask the vendor about 'wobble' and misting in the lens just to be safe. Probably 70% of my R5 use is with a 50, and another 20-25% is with a 35mm lens, so certainly in terms of composition and focal length, I could happily live with that lens. Most importantly, enjoy your camera! As Steve has just noted, you will be able to use some of the finest glass ever made. Good luck with your purchase!
    stephen_morris|3 likes this.
  10. I stayed with RE, R5, R4 because of smaller size. 2007 was the last year I used Leica R for travel photos. Now I have taken out the battery from RE and put it back into original box for collection purpose; I use Canon EOS 5D MARK ii plus REOS adapter and a set of R lenses for travel.
  11. Thanks all for your contributions. Camera and lens arrived on Fri. inst. and both are in a very good condition. As I said, my first Leica, so just perusing the manual and taking it slowly. Re the lens - it has a 60mm diameter, not a 67mm diam. which was on the 35-70 lens shown in Amateur Photographer test years back. No problem I thought, but I now find that 60mm filters are not made. There had been such a one fitted to the lens, but when I phoned back the photo shop they had already sold it on.
    The solution to the problem, at the moment would appear to be a stepping up ring, 60-62mm; then fit a 62mm uv; daylight; or polariser. What are you thoughts on that ?
    I suppose if I keep scouring the dealer ads., and the internet, I might eventually come across such a 60mm filter. Keep the info. coming as it keeps me busy, and keeps me out of the way of the wife !
  12. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/30601-REG/Leica_13381_E60_UVa_Glass_Filter.html
  13. Forget the filters -- just use a sunshade. Get a motor -- completely different feel when shooting
  14. Fred,
    Congratulations on your purchase.
    You can get all the 60mm filters you want, and more, from B+W.
    Not as expensive as the Leica ones but every bit as good.
  15. Thanks for all the info., etc from you all. Camera is in very good condition. First film through was print film for testing, and I was stunned by the sharpness in some of the shots. Photos of my dog in a barleyfield. Each stalk of barley was pin sharp. Next steps are 1) Put a slide film through; then 2) start saving for another Leica lens. Being a pensioner, if any of you have any LEICA lenses for sale at about £30 in mint condition, let me know !
    Thanks again,
    stephen_morris|3 likes this.

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