We’ve been writing a lot about film recently and the word Leica crops up in every second sentence. When you think of film cameras these days it is easy to be obsessed with the Leica name to the exclusion of other cameras that can do a similar job. Tim over at Leicaphilia has put together a list of the best buys among rangefinders that aren’t Leicas. There just one anomaly: The Leica film camera that is often unfairly dismissed for not being a true Leica, the oddball M5:
Yes, I know it’s a Leica…but it really isn’t, at least if you listen to the internet hive mind, most denizens of which have never seen one, let alone used one. The M5 is, in my mind, Leitz’s great, misunderstood masterpiece, the high-water mark of Leitz’s hand-assembled, cost is no object rangefinders. The M5 made its debut in 1971, the first M with an exposure meter – in this case, a TTL spot meter still the best meter ever put in a film Leica. Big, bright .72 viewfinder, .68 base rangefinder, well-thought through ergonomics unbeholden to the “iconic” M design.
Unfortunately, it flopped in the marketplace, no fault of its own, rather a function of broader industry trends (the move of professionals to SLR systems), boneheaded decisions by Leitz ( introducing the CL simultaneously at 1/5th the price), and, most importantly, rejection by Leicaphiles because it didn’t conform to the iconic M2/3/4 design. Which isn’t to say it wasn’t a brilliant camera – it was, and still is, even today, a better camera than the M6 that proceeded it. However, all but the most discriminating Leicaphiles continue to simply ignore the M5, as if it didn’t exist, usually because they’ve bought into the common view that it’s too big and too ugly, “not a real Leica M.” Bullshit. It’s the best metered Leica M ever made.
Read the full article at Leicaphilia and find out what bargain alternatives there are to Leica’s expensive rangefinders. Also you might be interested to read this article on the M5 at Japan Camera Hunter.