The Leica M5 remains, after all these years, a controversial Leica.
Opinions about this camera tend to passionately diverge between love and hate.
Some people enjoy it precisely for the same reasons others despise it: a different shape and larger size than previous M’s, its vertical hanging from the two carrying-strap lugs at the left end of the body – later remedied with an optional third lug for horizontal transport −, rapid rewind-crank on the camera baseplate, are some of the grounds for the enthusiastic quarrel among the Leica rangefinder cognoscenti.
Paradoxically, quite a few of these changes in the characteristic shape of a Leica M are the direct consequence of some of the best and most innovative M5 attributes: through-the-lens spot metering (Cds cell), shutter speed and exposure information on viewfinder, are only some arguments impressive enough to treasure the Leica M5, which undeniably deserves a special status in the long Leitz/Leica tradition of manufacturing first-class tools for the discerning photographer.
Four decades later, this groundbreaking camera is still capable of producing first-rate photographs on film.
No matter what criticism it may arise − or praise, for that matter −, in my opinion the Leica M5 is the last true classic camera from Leitz Wetzlar, a beautifully made apparatus and a great performer on competent hands.
I will make a small transcription from a book that I bought many years ago:
“The Leica M5, introduced in 1971, is still what Leicas have been since 1932 – a rangefinder camera that combines the highest optical and mechanical standards with the greatest ease of handling. It is the first rangefinder camera to combine interchangelenses with a through-the-lens metering system.
The M5 has a rugged die-cast chassis like those of earlier M Leicas, redesigned and slightly enlarged to accommodate the metering system. It remains a compact and handy camera that can use most of the earlier M-Leica lenses and accessories”.
Leica Manual – 15th Edition (The Complete Book of 35mm Photography)
© Morgan & Morgan, Inc., N.Y., 1973.
I couldn’t say it better.
Long live the Leica M5!
Toquinho, Serpa, June 2009
(Toquinho is a wonderful guitar player who made countless memorable records with Vinicius de Moraes - Thank you for the invitation Fred and Ana!)
Crossing the river Sado from Setúbal to Tróia, March 2009
My best friend "Pakica", Évora, March 2009
(Photographs made with the Leica M5)