Introduced in 1971, the Leica M5 was a progression of the M4, which continued to be produced simultaneously.
The M5 was the world's first rangefinder camera to feature selective through-the-lens light metering – thereby guaranteeing correctly exposed photographs even in unfavourable lighting conditions. The metering system is based on an integrated spot meter, combining standard, in-camera metering with the additional advantage of measuring specific small sections of the image.
The camera's shutter release was extremely soft, so that the camera could also be used in situations that required absolute quiet.
In addition, the M5 was the first Leica M with additional centre-contact in the accessory shoe, enabling automatic flash synchronisation of up to 1/500 second.
Around 35,000 models of the M5 were produced from 1971 to 1975, at which point both the M4 and the M5 were discontinued.