Minolta CLE or Leica M5
Old 01-03-2018   #1
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Minolta CLE or Leica M5

Don't want to spark any controversy, but what are people's thoughts on the Minolta CLE? Aside from the usual aspects about it not being serviced and difficult to repair, what do people think of it as compared to the M5.
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Old 01-04-2018   #2
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The CLE is light and small, when compared to the M5. But most examples I have seen, including mine, are now less reliable than the M5. And it's a lot easier to get an M5 serviced.
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Old 01-04-2018   #3
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Aside from the service/repair aspect, what do you think? I'm kinda looking for a short term or starter in film.
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Old 01-04-2018   #4
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How about an M6 or one of the Cosina bodies, if only looking for a starter in film?
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Old 01-04-2018   #5
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It depends on what you want. What are you looking for in a camera. Are you looking for a camera for daily use? A conversation piece? An impressive example of 20th century tech?
I found the M5 rather heavy to carry around all day. Especially when combined with a large aperture lens. If you find weight and size important, then the CLE is a good option.
The auto exposure setting of the CLE useful too.
I find the M5 a much more interesting camera. The CLE feels a lot like a Canonet or any other compact rangefinder camera from the seventies. The M5 feels like a precision instrument; it's what you expect from a Leica and a bit more.
I think the Leica CL is a nice compromise between these two.
Of course all these cameras are excellent at making photos...
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Old 01-04-2018   #6
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From a reliability standpoint I’d take a CLE. But in either case get a copy that hasn’t been abused.

These are very different cameras, only the individual shooter can prioritize the different features of each.
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Old 01-04-2018   #7
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Or a Konica Hexar RF.
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Old 01-04-2018   #8
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My first Leica was a CL back in 1975 and my latest Leica purchase was an M5 from Sherry last summer. If you don't mind the size, the M5 feels like a real Leica. It's ergonomics are great and I am still trying to decide if it or the M2 is my favorite film M.

Memories are that I did not get along well with the CL. But if you want small size and an intro film camera and can find one in good shape, the CLE might be a great purchase. I know the M5 is easily repairable but since it was the last Leica built by hand, it should go forever. They are actually pretty different cameras.
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Old 01-04-2018   #9
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I've got a CLE and absolutely love it. Small, nice viewfinder and handles great. The Minolta lenses that are made for the CLE are great too. Downside (not for me though), light meter only works with aperture priority. Really like the +-2ev dial. Just be careful for rain, it doesn't handle that well at all unsurpringly.

Never had an M5 and never will. I just think it is a very ugly camera, which is enough reason for me not to ever want one.
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Old 01-04-2018   #10
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I think, Minolta CLE isn't Leica. M5 is Leica, but not usual one.
Why do you think of two very different cameras? Metering?

Short term, starter on film, less likely for service, standard/cheap batteries, less expensive and less expensive lenses - Bessa R. Does exactly the same M5 does.
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Old 01-04-2018   #11
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It really DOES depend on what you want from a film camera.
As has been said before the M5 and CLE are VERY different animals.

Why are you considering these two in particular? If it were me trying to choose my first choice as a starter Leica-M type body - and one which has TTL metering built-in - I would definitely go for an M6. It combines good build-quality in a classic-shaped body; is not totally battery-dependent and has good metering capabilities.

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Old 01-04-2018   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by janoow10 View Post
I'm kinda looking for a short term or starter in film.
...is what the OP said. One might suggest many very good cameras that are a lot less expensive than Leicas, OK a Hexar was mentioned but still pretty rarified air...
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Old 01-04-2018   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by janoow10 View Post
Aside from the service/repair aspect, what do you think? I'm kinda looking for a short term or starter in film.
Any special reason why it has to be a rangefinder? SLRs shoot film too and there are a tremendous variety of them available.
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Old 01-04-2018   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by janoow10 View Post
Minolta CLE or Leica M5
Will you be shooting the classic 28/40/90 Leica CL or Minolta CLE lenses on either body?
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Old 01-04-2018   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dralowid View Post
...is what the OP said. One might suggest many very good cameras that are a lot less expensive than Leicas, OK a Hexar was mentioned but still pretty rarified air...
As the title of the thread is "Minolta CLE or Leica M5" I think we can surely agree that the OP is specifically thinking along Leica / Leica-inspired designs and that an M5 is, presumably, within the OP's proposed budget...

Anyhow;
If the OP hasn't already read this report from everyone's favourite reviewer this link might be of interest and, what's more, compares the CLE directly with the M5 in several areas;

http://www.kenrockwell.com/leica/cle.htm

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Old 01-04-2018   #16
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Pip,

I think I my have been a bit obtuse in my attempt to ask the OP why he had chosen these two cameras. For this I apologise but I'd still like to know.
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Old 01-04-2018   #17
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CLE is my favorite camera. The form factor, the excellent metering off the film plane (or whatever it is metering off of, if I'm incorrect), the joy of the small-light-quiet-dense object that is also sturdy... It's a winner. And I love the effects on my contact sheets of switching between two tiny excellent lenses - a 25mm and the 40mm Rokkor - in my case. It feels like they made this camera to get hooked directly into my brain.

Sadly, mine is down for repairs. And that's the rub, the electronics that can fail with the possibility of no replacement parts.

The M5 is serviceable, but that's the only clear win it has, for me, over a CLE.
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Old 01-04-2018   #18
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I would likely pick the CLE over the M5 purely for the size difference.

Although!

I was considering the CL,CLE, and Hexar RF. In the end I chose to go Voigtlander and with a very minimal wait found a mint R2M that is everything I wanted and more!

I've owned a M5 and I will never go down that road again.
For the price of the R2M I will likely never buy another Leica M body.
The little screwmount bodies keep me occupied and are much cheaper than anything mentioned above.

My suggestion, find a user IIIc and a bargain Elmar, then go have some fun! Cheap and reliable.
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Old 01-04-2018   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dralowid View Post
Pip,

I think I my have been a bit obtuse in my attempt to ask the OP why he had chosen these two cameras. For this I apologise but I'd still like to know.
Ah!
Apologies, Michael. I'm pretty new hereabouts and have not yet got a handle on everyone's senses of humour.

I, too, would like to know why the CLE and M5 were singled-out for consideration. M-bayonet and metering apart they have little in common...

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Old 01-04-2018   #20
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If considering the M5 and CLE, then the CL should also be considered. It has the small size of the CLE, plus the repairability of the M5.
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Old 01-04-2018   #21
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I use an MLE body with a Zeiss 25mm f2.8 because the MLE's screen, edge to edge, approximates the 25's coverage. This is great for me because this means I don't need a 24/25mm viewfinder widget on the hot shoe. I don't like those pesky viewfinders - I think they just get in the way, but YMMV. The fact that it is aperture-preferred means that I change the film speed setting to suit black and white film, usually shooting 400 ISO film at 250.

I use my M5 for its spotmeter, which is really accurate. I only shoot HP5-plus, so I make my metering values accordingly to get white whites, black blacks, etc. I have an M5 with an M6 viewfinder, so I also get the 75mm lens frame, as I use a 75mm Summarit, a great lens IMO. Some people hate the M5, but I don't care. I just shoot with mine.

I also have an M2 with a Tom Abrahamsson Rapidwinder. I love it. I use that as well.

I agree, it's a weird comparison. Sizewise, the MLE and M5 are kinda Mutt and Jeff, but I like and use them both.
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Old 01-04-2018   #22
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Combine the CLE with the M5 and you get the M7.
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Old 01-04-2018   #23
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Not sure I have anything much to add, but my 2¢:

M5 is repairable, CLE not always so.

+1 on the CL as a good compromise between size and repairability.

Wrist strap? Neck Strap? no strap? the 2-lug CL or M5 was extremely annoying to me.


I'd suggest a read through the recent thread about issues with the CLE metering readout (I haven't, but it has been active lately.)
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Old 01-04-2018   #24
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I loved my CLE - a nice compact, quick and lightweight camera that felt really good in the hand. I'd pair it with the 40mm Summicron to start - I wouldn't bother with the other C-lenses. If you want other lenses get a 90mm Tele-Elmar and/or a 28mm Elmarit afterwards, and if/when you move to an M-body you can take these with you.
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Old 01-04-2018   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by janoow10 View Post
Don't want to spark any controversy, but what are people's thoughts on the Minolta CLE? Aside from the usual aspects about it not being serviced and difficult to repair, what do people think of it as compared to the M5.
You mean the M5 is difficult to service and repair? My last CLE I had serviced by a national camera repair shop about 5 years ago for $100. Unless the board is fried it isn't that difficult to repair. Where the rumor started that the CLE was failure prone I don't know, probably by people trying to sell their Leica CL which had a very, very high failure rate.

The CLE is a lovely camera and the 28/40/90 lenses are fantastic. The only user issue with the CLE is the meter doesn't work in manual mode and there is no way to lock in the AE meter. If you want to expose for a portrait in daylight (suject's face is in the shade) you need to meter in AE mode and then switch to manual mode and make the necessary adjustments.
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Old 01-04-2018   #26
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Originally Posted by Beemermark View Post
You mean the M5 is difficult to service and repair? My last CLE I had serviced by a national camera repair shop about 5 years ago for $100. Unless the board is fried it isn't that difficult to repair.
There is a difference between service (rf adjusment, clean, new foam seals) and repair.
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Old 01-04-2018   #27
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Ah!
Apologies, Michael. I'm pretty new hereabouts and have not yet got a handle on everyone's senses of humour.

I, too, would like to know why the CLE and M5 were singled-out for consideration. M-bayonet and metering apart they have little in common...

Pip.
No problem, I was hoping to stem the inevitable flow of myriad Leica opinions and experiences by getting back to the OP's basic requirements and intentions. It would appear that I have failed...

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Old 01-04-2018   #28
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As a place to start either with serve you well.

What sort of equipment do you have today?

What sort of pictures do you want to take on film?

Lots of other alternatives, why the CLE or M5?

B2 (;->
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Old 01-04-2018   #29
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Originally Posted by Dralowid View Post
Pip,

I think I my have been a bit obtuse in my attempt to ask the OP why he had chosen these two cameras. For this I apologise but I'd still like to know.
I know an odd comparison. But two I've been recommended from a friend. Just trying to figure out, as a starting point, where to even begin. Budget-wise, I can get these two at similar price-ranges, second hand of course. Trying to get myself to start using a rangefinder camera, but I don't have a huge budget.
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Old 01-04-2018   #30
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As a place to start either with serve you well.

What sort of equipment do you have today?

What sort of pictures do you want to take on film?

Lots of other alternatives, why the CLE or M5?

B2 (;->
I mostly shot digitally. I have a leica camera, but a v-lux at that, not a digital rangefinder. I want to get myself to start and learn to shoot with film, mostly street photography. But I'm pretty experimental in my photography so wanna try my hand at film. Why those two? Firstly, as a starting point recommendation from a few friends. Secondly, price-wise, they're comparable at second hand. I am a beginner at shooting film, so want to delve into it without investing a lot and work my way up the ladder, so to speak..
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Old 01-04-2018   #31
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Should have clarified further in initial post. So basically, I want to start to experiment with film, having solely shot digitally before that. I haven't got a huge budget and don't want to invest so much at my current stage or level - beginner. These two cameras had been recommended to me as a starting point with the budget I have. So let's say as a beginner, which camera would you recommend I start with?

In terms of what I'd shoot on film, it'd mostly be street photography (people, portraits etc.)
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Old 01-04-2018   #32
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If the point is to begin from zero, it's very simple.
The choice in my view would be the lens you plan to use.
If 40mm lens, or 28mm CLE is the choice.
If 50mm or 35mm, then M5.

Remember that a good lens can be more expensive than the body.
Cheap "for M lens" (Jupiter with adapter) may be a choice but you may prefer Voigtlander or Canon LTM + adapter may be sensible choice.

I used the two (M5 , CLE ) for different types of photos for years, those with other gears.
They are quite reliable.
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Old 01-04-2018   #33
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With that info I'd go CLE over an M5 every day and twice on Sunday. The M5 while small, I think you will find the CLE a better street camera. If you can find the 28, 40 and 90 you should be well set for everything you mentioned and more. I remember something about the 28s have white-spot issues, but that might be 10 years ago. All of the bad ones might have washed through the system by now.

There are lots of other options, some better for this, others for that. You can spend a life time figuring out what is best and miss a lot of opportunities. For many folks here it's a journey finding the right camera. Some have many, crazies like me had too many. While I got back into RF with Leicas, I moved to Bessas, back to Leica and then of all things to Nikon. I started out years ago with Nikkormats and Nikon SLRs so they just felt right. Everyone's journey is different. Joe has bounced between so many cameras I've lost count. Keith has a stable stable of cameras, digital and film and moves between them as needed.

Go for it!

But please, please, PLEASE keep us in the loop on your journey. Ask questions, share results, feelings, etc.

Good luck and stay in touch!

B2 (;->
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Old 01-04-2018   #34
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I hated the CLE and got rid of it fast. Averaging light meter, no center weighted option. You cannot use light meter if you set exposure manually, battery cover falls off at the worst possible moment spilling the batteries
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Old 01-04-2018   #35
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With that info I'd go CLE over an M5 every day and twice on Sunday. The M5 while small, I think you will find the CLE a better street camera. If you can find the 28, 40 and 90 you should be well set for everything you mentioned and more. I remember something about the 28s have white-spot issues, but that might be 10 years ago. All of the bad ones might have washed through the system by now.

There are lots of other options, some better for this, others for that. You can spend a life time figuring out what is best and miss a lot of opportunities. For many folks here it's a journey finding the right camera. Some have many, crazies like me had too many. While I got back into RF with Leicas, I moved to Bessas, back to Leica and then of all things to Nikon. I started out years ago with Nikkormats and Nikon SLRs so they just felt right. Everyone's journey is different. Joe has bounced between so many cameras I've lost count. Keith has a stable stable of cameras, digital and film and moves between them as needed.

Go for it!

But please, please, PLEASE keep us in the loop on your journey. Ask questions, share results, feelings, etc.

Good luck and stay in touch!

B2 (;->
Thanks! Definitely agree - don't want to spend ages researching and finding the best or perfect camera; it's more about the experiences and journey that help you determine what's best for you. In my case, going to film is something I'm keen to do this year (as a mini new year's resolution), but it's a little bit daunting having used digital SLRs the whole time, hence don't want to start off on the wrong foot, but I guess it's a whole learning journey.
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Old 01-04-2018   #36
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Never had an M5 and never will. I just think it is a very ugly camera, which is enough reason for me not to ever want one.
Well you live up to your username that's for sure. The M5 is one of the greats. I take mine everywhere.
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Old 01-04-2018   #37
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I sort of hate to add on to this expanding thread, and potentially add to the confusion, but there are a couple of things to consider. Pablito (#34) said he hated the CLE partly because of its averaging meter. The M5's meter is essentially a spot meter -- it meters only a small central portion of the frame. You may take right to that, but I think it's not everyone's cup of tea. I'd hate to have you get the M5 and then realize you don't like its metering pattern. On the other hand, the CLE meter is very accurate (but watch for the "dancing LED" problem).

The M5 takes a battery, the 625 mercury 1.35 volt, that's no longer available. There are workarounds, including just having the camera adjusted for a 1.5 volt 625 alkaline, but that costs money, and the alkaline battery's performance over time isn't as reliable as the mercury's. You can find good discussions of how to substitute for the mercury batteries on this forum and elsewhere -- or send me a PM if you like. The 625 alkaline is hard to find except at camera stores these days. The CLE takes two readily available 1.5 volt batteries.

The CLE has one of the very best viewfinders I have ever used, with easily visible 28mm framelines, even for a glasses wearer. The M5's widest frameline is 35mm, though it also goes out to 135mm. This difference may be important for you.

Finally, as others have mentioned, the two cameras are very different in size. You may find the M5 too big, or the CLE too small. I hope you get to try them both out before deciding.

Stephen Gandy's Cameraquest website has excellent profiles of both cameras, if you haven't seen those yet.
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Old 01-04-2018   #38
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I like the M5 for it's great ergonomics and feel in hand.
Could write a whole page about the overhanging shutter speed dial alone
The spot meter stands out the most as compared to the CLE.

The M5 spot meter is the easiest of all Rangefinder meters to use.
It's one of the best features of the M5 especially for B+W users.
Place a zone and you get the exposure you want for the frame.
No more exp +/- with AE hoping you understand what the meter will do.
There is a time for AE cameras like the CLE but, when you need control the M5 is gives a better hand at it.
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Old 01-04-2018   #39
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There is a difference between service (rf adjusment, clean, new foam seals) and repair.
The CLE metering was wonky. Everyone extols that the CLE is failure prone and un-fixable. I sure a very few are, but I've never actually seen multiple threads in the last 40 years with the header "My CLE died and is un-repairable". I have seen hundreds (if not thousands) of threads to the effect hinting the camera is failure prone and everyone knows it can't be repaired. None of these threads are by anybody that actually owned a CLE. The electronics of the CLE are on par with other cameras of the era, which is quite robust (except for the Leica R3,R4, and CL).
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Old 01-04-2018   #40
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Never had an M5 and never will. I just think it is a very ugly camera, which is enough reason for me not to ever want one.
Which was the general feeling of professional photographers (the main buyers back then) when Leica brought out the M5 - big and clunky. One of the main reasons that Leica almost went bankrupt. Leica dropped the M5 and brought out the M4-2; a cheapened M4. Another failure back in the day finally rectified with the M4-P (still nothing but an M4).

I've owned a couple of M5s and while loving the meter just couldn't take to them.
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