In 1959 Leica introduced the M1 model as its least expensive bayonet mount ‘M’ body. The M1 was designed as a simplified M2 for use primarily with scientific instruments or the Leica visoflex accessory.

No built in rangefinder
“M1” engraved on blanked out rangefinder window
No self-timer
No 90mm frame lines in viewfinder (it does have lines for 35mm and 50mm lenses)
Shutter speed range and flash synchronization are the same as for the Leica M2 and M3
Production figures:

Made from 1959-1964
About 9,500 produced with chrome top and base plates
About 200 produced with olive green top and base plates

Early models below serial number 966730 had a rewind release button instead of the later rewind release lever. Military model, produced in olive green enamel with olive green vulcanite body covering
Chrome cameras with MD top plates within the normal serial number ranges for the M1


Introduced in 1958 as a less expensive alternative to the M3.

External manual reset film counter.
Viewfinder frames for 35mm, 50mm and 90mm lenses.
Optical depth of field indicator.
Accepts Leicavit rapid winder.
Production figures:

85,200 made including all variations.
Produced from 1958-1967

Early models below serial number 1004150 have push button rewind release (later models have lever release.)
Early models have no built-in self timer.
About 1800 cameras finished in grey enamel paint for the German Luftwaffe.
Associated models:

MP2 – M2 with experimental motor drive system (not related to Leica MP.) Only 15 made.
M2M – M2 adapted to for motor wind (early M2M cameras are not engraved M2M.
M2-S – M2 produced for the US Army in 1966 with M4 rapid film loading system. Not designated as M2-S on top plate.
M2-R – Same as M2-S but engraved M2-R and produced for public market after US Army cancelled contract for M2-S.


This was the first Leica camera to feature a bayonet lens mount. Its many innovations have made it increasingly valuable to collectors worldwide.

From 1954 to 1966 Leica produced one of its most popular cameras ever. The combined rangefinder-viewfinder eyepiece on Leica’s new M3 allowed photographers to use 50, 90, and 135mm lenses without accessory finders. The M3’s double stroke film advance lever became a quicker single stroke lever in 1958 at serial number 919,251. Leica continued to make minor changes throughout the total production run of over 230,000 M3 cameras. The most valuable variants include rare black paint finished M3s as well the olive colored model made for the West German military.


Rewind crank slanted at approximately 45 degrees with fold away lever.
Wind lever, preset lever and self-timer lever are all a new shape (compared with earlier M cameras) with plastic tips and inserts.
Lens release button has no guard.
No depth of field indicator in viewfinder.
Viewfinder has parallax corrected frame lines for 35mm, 50mm, 90mm and 135mm lenses.
Rapid film load system as seen in M2R
Production figures:

Production began in 1967 at serial number 1175001
Production ceased in 1975 at serial number 1443170

About 1850 M4 cameras were made in Canada (100 of them are finished in silver chrome, while the remaining 1750 are black.) About 130 M4 cameras were finished in olive green paint for military use (serial numbers 1266101-1266131.) Some M4 cameras have top and base plates finished in black paint.
Associated models:

M4-M and M4-Mot – M4 for use with New York Leitz motor drive units.
KE-7A – Equipped with winterized shutter and sealed against dust and dirt


Leica introduced the M5 in 1971. It was marketed concurrently with the M4 and its production ceased in 1975 shortly after the M4 was discontinued.

M5 Chrome 3-Lug Characteristics:

New styling and body size: 150mm long by 87mm high.Through the lens metering system using a CdS cell sensitive enough to determine up to 30 second exposures. Shutter speeds from 1/2 second through 1/1000 second with a bulb setting for a manual timed exposure up to 30 seconds. Shutter speed dial mouthed coaxially with the film advance lever and overlapping the front of the top plate for easier setting. Frame selector preview lever for 35, 50, 90, and 135mm lenses (also operates as a battery check.) “Hot” accessory shoe Bottom mounted rewind crank. Three prong rapid loading system as used on M2-R and M4.

Production figures:
27,000-33,900 M5 cameras produced from 1971 to 1975.

About 2/3 of M5 cameras were made with black chrome finished top and base plates.
About 1/3 of M5 cameras were made with silver chrome finished top and base plates.
M5 cameras below serial number 1,345 usually have two strap lugs mounted on the same side of the camera. Later models have two strap lugs on one side and one strap lug on the other so that they can be carried horizontally or vertically.
In 1975, 1,750 M5 cameras were produced to commemorate Leica’s 50th anniversary. Commemorative models are engraved with oak leaves surrounding a “50 Jahre” inscription. Each commemorative model also had a special 3 digit number prefixed with one letter from the word LEICA, and came with a special certificate.


Leica first produced the screw mount rangefinder 50/2 Summar lens with a rigid, rotating, non-collapsible mount in 1933. It had a round iris and was nickel plated. It was the first 50 mm lens with a maximum aperture of f2 designed for the Leica. Later Leica changed the design of the 50/2 Summar to a non-rotating collapsible mount with a hexagonal iris. While the later 50/2 Summar collapsible is one of the most common Leica screw mount rangefinder lenses, the earlier 50/2 Summar rigid is a rare lens sought after by many collectors.



90/4 “Fat” Elmar SM

90/4 “Clickstop” Elmar SM

90/4 “Collapsible” Elmar BM
Leica has produced several variations of the 90mm f4 Elmar lens in both bayonet and screw mount for Leica rangefinder cameras. The earliest, and one of the more rare versions is the screw mount “Fat Elmar.” It has a large black barrel with a chrome focusing ring scaled in either feet or meters.

The most valuable Elmar is the three element “Click stop” made in both bayonet and screw mounts. At the time it was first produced it was a new optical design. It has a larger chrome barrel with a narrow black vulcanite band and “click stops” at full and half apertures. The screw mount variation is most valuable.

Another more sought after variation is the collapsible, bayonet mount 90mm Elmar. Other, more common varieties are considerably less valuable.