Analog photography refers to photography using film film with a fully analog camera. Whilst it seems that the ubiquity and the huge amount of digital cameras has squeezed film photography out of relevance however the slow process of film photography is still dear to many street photographers even till this day. Famous names such as Bruce Gilden, Joey Meyerowitz, Louis Mendes , Trent Parke and Jamel Shabazz are all film shooters till this very day. It's the mystique and organic feel of the film look that these street photographers prefer over digital cameras.
For street photography, many photographers including myself love the rangefinder cameras simply because it is fast and being unobstrusive. The ability to zone focus is a huge plus point and the no frills operation makes it a joy to use. If I were to only choose one cameras, my pick would he the legendary Leica M5 and here's why .
1. It's a RANGEFINDER camera
Rangefinder camera has always been the camera of choice for street and war photographers due to it's compact size, extremely easy operation, amazing optics, fast focusing and the ability to do zone focus. With practice, zone focusing can be even faster than any of the auto focus out there in the market. For those who would like to further understand what is aRANGEFINDER Camera, you may check out my past article HERE.
2. Amazing ACCURATE METERING
Not many film cameras come equipped with spot metering and M5 is just one of it. The M5 metering is certainly one of the best I have used to far. More accurate than most center weighted metered cameras such as the M6, M7 and alike. It never fails to produce amazing results in all lighting situation. This old school CDS cell meter may seem quirky in operation as it positioned right in front of the shutter curtain and it swings down once the shutter is depressed but it worked flawlessly.
I often say the M5 is a user camera even though it is not much of a looker ( for some ). The layout of the buttons are so strategically placed. The ISO button is positioned on the top plate which gives the photographer a good reminder which ISO they are working with and for easy adjustment. The huge shutter speed dial which over hangs a little on the edge of the top plate enable the photographer to adjust with just one finger with ease. Also due to the slightly larger and heavier body, it balanced off with heavy lenses such as the Summilux and Noctilux really well.
4. Amazing VIEWFINDER
Looking through the finder, you will see the shutter speed visible in the lower portion of the finder, and to the right of that a horizontal bar. I have not seen any full mechanical rangefinder camerathat has this function ! Hence the photographer can see the shutter speed setting without lifting the eye from the finder. This may seem like a norm in the modern digital cameras but not for a cameras which was designed back in the 19971. For metering, the two meter needles intersect that bar, one is controlled by the ASA dial and one is controlled by the light intensity. Adjust shutter speed or f/stop until the three bars intersect. It may sound rather complex but it's a lot easier in real life operation. Also not to mention that the viewfinder is totally flare proof. The M6
5. It has a BATTERY CHECK FUNCTION
You wouldn't want to caught off guard without battery on critical moments. The frame line selector lever when pushed to the right indicates the current battery level on the viewfinder. Like all of the Ms, the M5 can still operate even without battery.
6. Affordable PRICE
As compared to all the German made rangefinder cameras such as the Leica M as well as the Zeiss Ikon , the M5 price is often lower then most of the M series cameras. Being plague by the ugly duckling syndrome and it's non-conforming to the traditional Leica look, most cameras collectors avoid this camera like a plague hence making it still very affordable. A good used copy will set you back around USD 800 while the M6 would be around USD1300 and above. For the price I think it's an amazing value for a fully hand assembled cameras with such an amazing history.
Below are some images taken with the M5 on various lighting condition