Now THIS is a Beautiful Leica

s-l1600-2 s-l1600-3

Currently for sale on Ebay from a seller in France, what looks to be an unused, pristine chrome two-lug M5, #13553167. The serial number puts its production date as 12/1972, which is smack dab in the middle of the M5’s production run but late enough to avoid the shutter issues that beset the earlier models. Seller claims everything works properly.

What would I pay for it? God only knows. I wouldn’t be interested in it as a collectible but as a user, so the box and all the supporting stuff would be irrelevant to me except insofar as it confirms the claim that the camera hasn’t been used much, but, of course, this potentially cuts both ways – lack of use for the last 45 years might leave you with a camera in need of service, and the one downside of M5 ownership is that M5 specific service isn’t cheap, usually double what you’d pay for a traditional M.

In any event, in my opinion, a good working M5 is about as good as you’ll get in a Leica M, and the chrome versions are the aesthetically more pleasing. Granted, not everyone agrees with me. Some Leicaphiles loathe the M5, which is their right. It’s my observation that the folks who hold the most negative opinions about the M5 are those who’ve never used one.s-l1600-1 s-l1600-5

Hits: 681

9 thoughts on “Now THIS is a Beautiful Leica

  1. Arif

    I am a proud owner of Leica M5. I was one of those who think M5 is ugly. It was like a person with big head and small face. that was my impression when I first saw an M5 on the internet. But it really grows on you once you own it. Now I can’t stop looking at it. It really is a beautiful camera.

  2. Kodachromeguy

    The M5 certainly was a gorgeous camera, and may have represented the last of the traditional E. Leitz Wetzlar construction techniques. I used one for awhile in the early 1980s. But, in my opinion, it had three flaws:
    1. It was a big honking camera, almost the size and weight of a Nikon F (smaller M lenses, of course).
    2. The light meter had impressive low light measuring ability, but the window that illuminated the needles would barely transmit enough light so that you could see the needles in that low light.
    3. There was a minor delay when you pressed the shutter because the CDS arm had to swing out of the way. (But this did not affect users who were photographing static subjects.)

    1. Leicaphila Post author

      As for #1: I just weighed both on a postal scale, a plain prism F with nikkor 50mm f2, and an M3 with 35mm summicron. The F weighs 1 lb, 15.8 ounces (2 lbs); the M5 1 lb 13.2 ounces. Size is ‘about’ the same. Of course, a better comparison would be the F with an Ftn head, which would make the F significantly heavier and bulkier visa vis the M5. As a general proposition, I get that the M5 was bigger than the M4/3/2; however, to call it a “big honking camera” is unfair. Nobody calls the F a “big honking camera”, and it’s bigger and heavier.

  3. Kodachromeguy

    Oops, sorry, one more oversight on the part of the Leica M5 designers:
    4. There was no way to attach a motor winder. By the mid 1970s, photojournalists and many other photographers were using winders. Note that the M 4-2 had the option for a bottom-mounted winder, but for the M5, it was impossible.

    (Sorry if I sound negative – I really like the M5, but for the time being, I am using a 1962-vintage M2 which was purchased new by a family member.)

    1. Leicaphila Post author

      Talk about a “big honking camera”, try an M4-2 with a Winder. You’re talking a huge brick of a thing. Are you starting to see a certain bias in your view? 🙂

  4. Demetri

    I bought mine used in 1975 from Hove Camera. Black with two lugs. That would make it an early one. I have had no shutter or any other issues. It is built like a tank. On mine the light meter needles are always clearly visible. It was so well built and over-engineered that Leitz couldn’t charge what it cost them. The only way for Leitz to make a profit on the M5 was if they sold more than two lenses with each camera. It nearly bankrupted the company. It sports one of the most accurate and sensitive light meters to ever grace a camera. Seeing the shutter speed in the finder is also a bonus. The shutter speed dial is an ergonomic masterpiece. People who complain about its size might as well complain how the M3 is a “big honking camera” compared to a IIIC. For me the only downside is that I cannot use my Dual Range Summicron in the close-up range. And you need an adaptor (easily available) for replacement batteries as the original mercury PX625 is no longer available.

  5. RMR

    I would really enjoy having another M5; Yes, an excellent, and for my taste, the best of all the manual M bodies for it’s readable information in the finder, it’s easiest to use of all the M bodies control cluster, the informative and easy to use meter. As to replies for the lack if a motor/winder; the only real motor of worth for the M bodies was the M4 mot, which could crank out 3-4 frames a second.
    The ‘winder’ for the M4-P and I believe the M4-2 were pretty useless, almost as useless as the small winder for the M6ttl. I’ve written to Leica and posted on various blogs the NEED for Leica to bring back the M5’s clustered control dial on all M bodies, digital and analog, and make the finder read-out include shutter-speeds and any other pertinent info that space would allow. The M5 was ahead of it’s time with it’s features and usability and they should have included those features in the future M’s especially as tech made them easier to include.
    While they’re at it, improve the eyepiece – make it BIGGER – with a built in diopter adjustment and then have the capability for an add-on REAL motor/drive/booster that has storage room for an additional card or two. BECAUSE….not everyone is afraid to use a Leica M with a motor that increases handling and functionality. May the M5 live on forever in the hands of those M users that appreciate the difference!!!

  6. mike in colorado

    The eBay sale ended at $920. Lower than I had expected. More of a user price as opposed to a collector price.

Comments are closed.