Should I choose M5 over M6?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by wooi_loon, Aug 6, 2010.

  1. Hi,
    I have been shooting Canonet since early this year (Im new to rangefinder) and plan to upgrade to Leica M. Im quite interested in M5, because of its larger size and with meter. I saw one Chrome 2-lug version cost about US1200 at Tamarkin, stated Ex++, I assume it should be working properly. However, there are plenty of M6 classic on Ebay, which probably cost about the same. So the question: Is there any reason why shouldn't I choose M5 over M6?
    Many thanks for the comments and tips.
    Regards, WL
  2. If your going to purchase one Leica M with meter, the M6 Classic is probably the best value out there. The meter system of the M5 involves a moving meter that needs to physically move out of the way for an exposure whereas the M6 has the white dot on the shutter curtain that has become the Leica standard and is used on the M6TTL, MP and M7. That system is without peer for a Leica M.
    But the choice should really be made by actually using each and making the decision based on what you feel best with as they both will take the same picture with the same lens. Good luck!-Dick
  3. The M5 failed for many reasons.. My Dealer at time could not get rid of it. i liked the camera but since learned that it has flaws like any M-camera. The shutter problems though unique. i would think twice. The M6 in both issues, Classic and TTL have gone for well over 20 years.It is a great camera.I being somewhat of a rebel still prefer to shoot with my M3. i prefer 50mm lenses.(On RFDR or SLR). Check shutter speeds. See RFDR is hitting target. The Black "chrome" wears ugly but what the heck!
  4. M5 like the M6, are fine lens holders. Just remember that in the M5 you're dealing with a vastly more complex metering system that involves a lot more mechanical movements. The M6 is completely solid state. (The only thing that moves is the shutter speed wiper contact)
    The fact that the M6 is newer by decades, should also be factored in the "more economical to repair" category. (Should a major trauma/failure occur to the body)
    Finally, hold & click an M5 and then an M6; they're quite different in how they feel in one's hands.
  5. If you buy an M6 get one at a store. Easier to return if there is a problem.
  6. My first Leica was an M5, and I loved it. I have bigger paws, and it was a nice transition between the Nikon and Canon SLRs I had been using, and the M4-2 I would later get. I really liked the overhanging shutter speed dial (similar to my Canon EF of the time). I didn't have it long enough to run into any problems (a couple of years), but I've come to appreciate the svelte size and shape of the other Ms.
  7. The difference in size is not great. The commonest problem that users of the M5 face is that it takes a 1.35V mercury cell which is no longer available.
  8. Go with the M6 for all the above stated reasons. M5s are getting long in the tooth and their meters tend to fade away in accuracy. They can be rebuilt but it costs. Also, some lenses with extended rear elements cannot be used on the M5.
    I see the M5 as an exotic antique that needs special handling, somewhat like an Auburn or old Bugatti. It has special needs to keep going. Much less so, ironically, than a Barnack Leica.
    The M6 is a modern mechanical RF.
  9. I have both and am hard pressed to state which one I like better. The M6 works well with the 35/2 and I like the bigger size of the M5 to go along with the 90/2. Battery for the M5 is not an issue - I use Wein cells (as was recommended to me by Leica Germany). There are also options to use a standard 1.5V silver oxide cell with a special holder. I did not bother to have my meter calibrated - it's a non issue for me.
  10. rgh


    The M5 does have some features that are unique; shutter speeds visible in the finder, and easy to adjust over-hanging shutter speed dial, larger and easier to use rewind (but you do need to turn the camera over), more accurate frame lines than the M6 and without the 'white-out' problem, vertical hanging with the two strap lugs on one side (my preferred way of hanging the camera), self-timer AND meter, the older 625 mercury battering is very long lasting (years) if you can get ahold of some, double exposures easy to make, and that Wetzlar-made thing.

    Main problem is repair. There are only a couple people with the parts and expertise I would have work on an M5, many repair people don't work on them at all.

    The size of the camera is a main consideration; some love it for that, it does fine once you get over the 'its bigger than a traditional M', but for others it will never be a 'real' M-series.

    Buying one to try out with a return option may be the best way to go.

    The M6 is a great camera. Its also is getting a bit 'long on the tooth', 20+/- years and needs to be checked just as much as any M5 for working function. Its a traditional size M and that may be its strongest advantage for most. I don't feel its any more or less dependable than a good M5.
  11. I bought my chrome 3-lug M5 five years ago with a hard case and a 50 Summicron Rigid. It was in nice cosmetic condition, but needed a service as it's shutter speeds were erratic and it wouldn't fire above 1/250. I had our local camera repairman Chris Wood service it. Chris trained at Leitz, Linhoff, Zeiss (East & West), Minolta, Nikon, Canon, Pentax etc. in the 1960's and routinely services Leica equipment. The M5 is a rare camera and not many made it down this way, so this was only the third one he has ever had to work on.
    My camera, being an early model, had the problem with the take-up drum developing a hairline crack. This issue was fixed with a modified drum early on in the production of the M5. Leitz were trying to improve the M shutter in the M5 and made the drum spindle bracket from alloy to increase the curtain speed acceleration. Clearly they made the first ones too light, so they usually crack. The serial numbers of the cameras affected by this problem are available on the web or Sherry Krauter or Don Goldberg should be able to tell you. Most such cameras were repaired long ago, but I had the good fortune to purchase one that hadn't been fixed...
  12. I've tried to photograph the crack, but my crappy digital can't resolve those sorts of fine details. Chris was able to obtain a new replacement take up spool from Leica for $180.00.
  13. I am quite amazed that I was able to obtain brand-new parts for a camera manufactured in 1971! As Chris said "you'd be right out of luck if it was a 1971 Nikon or Canon you needed shutter parts for."
    Indeed, just ask anyone about obtaining new shutter blind brakes on a Canon F-1!
    Chris commented that the M5 was one of the most difficult cameras he has ever worked on in over 50 years of commercial repair work on a wide variety of professional equipment. Quality in the M5 is very high, as good as the M3 or M2, and much better than the later M4, M6, M7 etc. Chris refers to the M4 onwards as being cheapened designs. Another Leica repairer locally has confirmed this too. This is not to say they are not good, clearly they have lasted well and many people are completely satisfied with them. I have used an M6 and it's a great camera.
    The M5 however, is a better camera. It's wonderful spot-metering system is a joy to use, particularly for slide work. It's speed dial which allows the use of intermediate speeds between the usual 1/250; 1/500 etc. is excellent. Sure, you can't use the 21 Super Angulon's or the early 28 Elmarit, but what does that matter? Just get another M body if you are lucky enough to own one of those rare wide-angle lenses.
    If you are considering buying an M5 there are some good reviews on Photo.Net:
    "The Leica M5: Leitz's big ugly failure, or not..."
    Leica M5 Thoughts:

    Leica M5 Light Meter Operation:
    I use my M5 on a daily basis. For me it is THE BEST 35mm camera, other than my Leicaflex SL when I need an SLR. It's larger size makes it easy to hold big glass steady, such as the 90 Summicron v.2, effortless to use with 135mm lenses and it's spot metering makes use of a wide angle's fast and accurate.
    The M5 is expensive and difficult to service, but once you have used one, you will come to appreciate it's virtues.
  14. Thanks guys for the valuable advices, and thanks Peter de Waal for the great details. Will do some search before decided which to go, however Im slightly toward M5.
    Regards, WL
  15. I would ask first about the availability of replacement photocells (not the batteries) for the M5.
  16. Apart from the cons already pointed out regarding the M5, one should also remember the lens restriction issues vis-a-vis collapsible lenses and some retro-focus W.A. In addition only the very latest Visoflex III will fit the body.
    Personally, I would choose the M6. 20 years is not a long time for a mechanical Leica. I have had my M6 (first Solms issue)since new and whilst it has never had a CLA, it has been checked by Leica and found to be "within factory specifications/tolerances".
  17. The M5's Cds photocell is a standard industrial part. They are still available. What is different on the M5 and the CL is the filter Leitz fitted over the Cds photocell, which changes light's access to the surface of the photocell depending on the incident angle of that incoming light. This was done to avoid problems with wide-angle lenses radiating light at extreme angles of incidence and being mis-interpreted resulting in incorrect exposures. Luckily the Cds photocell on my M5 is still functioning correctly.
    Leitz put a lot of work into designing the M5. It was a great pity that it wasn't released 10 years earlier. By 1971 most pro's didn't want to know about rangefinders. It may have been irritating for a 1970's professional not to be able to use their 21mm Super-Angulon or 28mm Elmarit on their new M5, but that same professional already had a Leica-M that could mount such lenses.
    For somebody starting out in Leica-M today, it doesn't matter so much that the M5 won't accept a few old, rare wide-angle lenses or collapsible lenses. They can just buy what they need from all the other Leica and third-party lenses available. For example the Voigtlander 4/21mm fits on the M5 and had no problem with the meter, and comes at a much friendlier price that a 21 Super-Angulon.
  18. I agree with Peter that the M5 is an incredible machine and in many respects better made than all M that followed. If you want an M body that will give good mechanical service for decades to come, the M5 will out perform their current offerings. However, after owning three M5s and several M's (including an MP) in over 25 years, I now only own an M6 Classic that I picked up used from a dealer for $995. My only beef with the M5 is with the meter in that it's accuracy is not good enough when using slide film. Meter readings can vary at least +/- 2/3 a stop of absolute accuracy when properly adjusted due on tilt of the camera, spectral variation of the subject or possibly fading in sensitivity after 30 years. Newer battery cells given less consistent voltage discharge than the older discontinued mercury cells which may also play a very small roll in meter accuracy. If you shoot B&W or color neg film, my first choice would be the M5. If mainly a slide shooter, the M6.
  19. Alan stated: "the M5 will outperform their current offerings."​
    Huh? Sorry but that's a wild statement without ANY foundation.
    (Shutter, meter or physical attributes)
  20. Sorry, outperform was an incorrect term, I should have said "outlast". Leica M repair expert Sherry Krauter has expressed this sentiment to me and I think she more qualified about this than any of us. I do know for a fact that even with their best recent effort to date, the MP, there are remaining cost saving changes made that have potential risks of malfunction, e.g. the frame counter mechanism is a good example. The original M3/M4/M5 design was mechanically perfect according to DAG and later versions were oversimplified increasing the risk of malfunction. No M is perfect, but if Leica is going to claim their MP is "mechanical perfection", they shouldn't have mucked around with components that were nearly mechanically foolproof to begin with just to save a few $$.
  21. To actually use it to shoot pictures , buy an M6. definitely!
    6 are smaller , easily available SH, more recent and cheaper. The potential advantages of 5 are insignificant for any practical purpose.
    Only buy a 5 if you fall in love with it's peculiar appearance or feel.
  22. I would love to try carrying a 3 lug camera. Holding the camera in a horizontal position around my neck is uncomfortable, hanging vertically around a shoulder seems much more natural. A very exaggerated example would be a rifle.
    Does anyone have a three lug carry preference?
  23. I always kept the camera in the Leitz ER body case that was set up for horizontal positioning with the case's built-in staps in the conventional location. That's the way all other cameras were set up, so a vertical orientation was always foreign to me. The meter is also more accurate if the camera is held horizontally. Early cases were a soft slip-in pouch that allowed only vertical carry with the strap attchment to the actual body.
  24. I sold my M5 many years ago.
    I kept an M3 and and M6.
    There are no regrets.
  25. Michael, the two lug is the one that hangs vertically. The third lug allowed it be hung horizontally. The M5 belonging to my science teacher was the first Leica I used, back in 1973,74. I thought it was the most beautiful thing in the world. When I got my M2 I considered the M5 ugly like everyone else, independent of learning that that was what they all thought. But just as I deplored the Citroen DS in favour of my father's Jaguar at the time, and now own Citroens, I have come round and acquired a chrome M5 a couple of weeks ago. It's my go to camera all of a sudden. The overhanging shutter speed dial, the shutter speeds in the viewfinder, the size and heft I love. Its looks are accentuated in chrome: a brutalist conception. I love it. The M6 is what I'd recommend, however, just as I could not recommend that someone buy a Citroen.
  26. Richard, I know what you mean. I own a 1963 iD19 too....
    I'v had 12 D's over the years. Perhaps there's some strange synthesis between the M5 and the DS/iD?

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