The M5 was a sales dud when it came out, but recent demand for used ones indicates that it's become a collector's item and probably not a good bargain. The M6 has two versions -- the original M6 and the M6TTL. Both have through the lens metering, but the latter has extra contacts for controlling flash -- not a really significant improvement. Either one is reasonably plentiful on the used market. The M6 and MP have small classic shutter dials. The M6TTL and M7 have larger shutter dials that turn the opposite direction, which makes it more intuitive with the LED meter display. The MP has the original rewind knob, which is sturdier and less likely to break than the fold out crank on the others. The crank system is easier but really quite sturdy, so the MP advantage is not much unless you really shoot a lot or subject the camera to rough use. If you handle the MP beside the others, you will notice that the operation seems smoother and the controls have a bit more "finesse." Again, this is in comparison with the other fine handling models. Also, the MP is just a bit shorter. The M7 has an electronic shutter, and if your batteries run down, you have only 1/60 and 1/125 shutter speeds. The others have mechanical shutters and if you lose the battery, you lose only the metering.
I believe you're talking about quick focus and shutter adjustment for street shooting, so I would count the M7's auto exposure as a definite advantage. You probably don't need extra wide apertures, either, since you will be into fast but approximate focusing -- sometimes using zone or hyperfocal settings for speed. This implies that you can get by with f2.8 lenses since you will probably do most of your shooting in the f4-f8 range. Where I'm going with this is the lens choice. My favorite for street shooting is my f2.8 35mm Summaron. It's a compact and nice handling lens that produces excellent images. And 35mm is a very natural focal length for Leica photography. You might want to start with it and add others as you expand your system.
Thank you all very much for this rich information ! It has brought me closer to a decision. I have always liked the M4 and M3, but somehow feel I cannot do without a good TTL metering system. I liked the M5 because it´s a bit different and has spot metering, but have no info on its finder in comparison to the other models. Let me pose another question here: is it really an advantage to invest in the fast lenses (i.e. 35/1.4 and 75/1.4 in my case) ? How do they perform at this wide aperture ? Thanks again ! Wouter
This link may be of some interest:
Digital is best taken with a grain of silver.
Has other information on the M5. It spot meters TTL, but the shutter operates without batteries, so you only lose the meter if your batteries go. It sold poorly when new, so is somewhat rare, especially in chrome. The references to 2-lug/3-lug are about strap lugs. The 3-lug version can hang vertically, which may not seem like a big deal, but is very nice. It lets the camera hang off to the side in the crook of your elbow, almost hidden, and better protected, and it doesn't swing forward when you bend over. I love this in my Leica CL and Bessa rangefinders. You might be competing with collectors to get an M5, which drives the prices up unreasonably relative to other models. It appears to me that pressure from new Leica mount rangefinders from other manufacturers has recently driven used prices down a bit.
You can also get a nice sturdy aftermarket rewind crank for the MP, which makes it faster than the knob, and less different from the other models in that regard.
I have read that some versions of the M6-TTL eat batteries quickly, which might vary with how you handle them (putting them away switched on). So if you get an M6-TTL, carry extra batteries.
If the nature of your work requires the wider aperture - either for low-light situations or for subject isolation via shallow DOF - the 'Lux versions of the lenses are worth the extra cost. (The lens naming scheme assigns Summilux to the f/1.4s, Summicron to the f/2.0s, and Elmarit to the 2.8s.) Some of the newer 'Luxes also have aspheric elements, which adds to sharpness, designated as "ASPH". The 75mm 'Lux is somewhat of a special case, as it's an older design with a distinctive "signature". All of the f/1.4s perform well wide open, but do increase in sharpness even more when stopped down a bit.
Originally Posted by Wouter from Brazil
If size and weight are more important to you, the Summicrons or Elmarits may be better choices, however. Weight specs are available on the Leica site.
[COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]
Rio Rancho, NM
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Thank you all for this info. The issue has changed a bit, or maybe returned to its pre-apug condition: should I keep it cheap and buy a Bessa r3a ? No advice needed on this one, plenty of info already. I´ll start breaking my children´s savings porkies now ..
During the 1970's I owned (2) black M5 cameras with 21 f4, 35mm f2, 50mm f1, 50mm f2, 65mm black 3.5, 90mm f2.8, 135mm f4, 180mm f2.8...very rare, 280mm f4.8 in foc rapid, Visoflex III and bellow II with compendium and a v35 enlarger with 40mm focatar and 50mm focotar II The economy finally forced me to part with the equipment. The equipment was totally satisfactory. I have no experience with any of the other models listed.
IMHO, get a black MP and a black 50/1.4ASPH!! Not cheap to be sure, but not equalled by anything else!
"My idea of a good life is that I wake up in the morning, go out and look around and make four rolls of film a day." - Josef Koudelka
"There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are." - Ernst Haas
"Nothing happens when you sit at home. I always make it a point to carry a camera with me at all times…I just shoot at what interests me at that moment." – Elliott Erwitt
Thank goodness poverty has mercifully interceded and spared me such a difficult decision
That is called grain. It is supposed to be there.