And I've been mulling over the idea of doing it with—get this—an M5.
It sounds quirky and contrarian. But there's a method to my madness. It comes from something our friend Stephen Gandy says on his mighty CameraQuest Classics website. He mentioned that Leica, in its entire long history, created "only five substantially new production Leica rangefinder designs. Those five are the Leica A, the M3, the M5, the CL, and most recently the M8. Most Leica rangefinders are modifications of the A and M3."
Stephen has "camera intelligence." A feel for what's real. Here, he's bang on. I'd never thought of it that way before.
So why would I do a year with an M5? One good reason: because I've never used one before. I've owned and used an M3; owned and used two M6's; used an M4 on long-term loan (I mean a year+); owned and used a CL-derivative, the Minolta CLE; owned and used an A-derivative, the IIIf; used an M7 on long-term loan; and tested and reviewed an M8. So of the five major Leica designs, the M5 constitutes the only major gap in my personal hands-on experience.
I'm all about learning experiences.
We'll see. No decisions yet. Things like this are fun to think about, though, ain't they?
ADDENDUM: Oren, who also has "camera intelligence" (and a lot more kinds besides), tells me that there might be more than one gap in my experiences with Leica rangefinders. "With apologies for messing up your nice taxonomy, the CLE ain't no CL," he writes. "It's an XG-M in drag. The CL is really different—it loads differently, the shutter release feels different (the shutter is mechanical, and the release action has to shove a meter semaphore out of the way to boot, à la the M5), the sound is different, the finder's different. So no, if you've used a CLE, you haven't used a CL."
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Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Ann: "Mike...your recent post on the Canon s95 and the enthusiastic comments on the s90 by some of your readers made me rush out and buy an s90. It is my pocket camera and I am loving it. Just fix the focal length and shoot. But I can't buy another old film camera and i certainly can't buy a Porsche! Stop!"