I already know what people are going to say.
- Cameras are just tools. Who cares what they look like?
- It's hideous. I hate beat-up cameras.
- Would you really want a camera that has no built-in light meter? (Answer)
- That's cheating; it's not "earned" wear—buying that would be like buying blue jeans that already have holes in them, or furniture that's been "distressed" at the factory.
- Any fool who pays double for a brassed camera deserves to be parted from their money.
- The most beautiful camera is the one you have in your hand.
I know, I know. It's just that...well, I'm a total sucker for the "brassed Leica" look. Love it. And this is the prettiest camera ever. As my e-friend Stan said, "That is the most beautiful object I've ever seen that one could load film in." I hope somebody buys this soon, so I can untie myself from the mast.
It's a cruel irony that black paint—originally a cheap option that embarrassed Leitz so much it switched to black chrome as being more suitable—should be so prized now that it commands premium prices (and doubly ironic that special new "black paint" cameras get put in glass cases and handled with cotton gloves and never come close to showing wear).
I'm not buying the camera at the link—shouldn't, can't, won't. Shouldn't even have thought about it, which I confess I did before realizing I was insane.
But...I want. What can I say? We all have our weaknesses.
P.S. Is it just me, or have there been a suspiciously large number of "black paint" Leicas showing up on Ebay for inflated asking prices ever since Shintaro first showed the world how to strip a chrome camera and repaint it? Shintaro himself is evidently busy being a photographer now and keeps his camera repainting customers waiting for up to two years, but there are now other services that do it. There just seem to be a lot more black-paint Leicas on Ebay than there ever were in the past—many of them looking suspiciously pristine. I'm not saying the repainters themselves are doing anything shady, but there's nothing to stop their customers from trying to pull a fast one, and nothing to stop someone from learning how to repaint cameras themsleves for unscupulous purposes. Caveat emptor.
P.P.S. And to show you just how quirky human nature can be sometimes, Pentax collectors value black Spotmatics and chrome ESII's more highly—because most Spotmatics were chrome and most ESII's were black!
P.P.S. I seem to be becoming incapable of writing short posts. This one should have been about three sentences long. Hope you don't mind.
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Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Dogman: "Prettiest camera ever? The standard chrome Pentax Spotmatic. Or maybe that's because it was the first 'serious' camera I ever used, although I've never owned one."
Featured Comment by James: "There's something about a Hasselblad SWC that gets to me, especially the version with the chrome lens. Prices for good ones are still above £1000 in the U.K., which rules it out. I do still have however about 30 rolls of Velvia 120 in the freezer, just waiting for the day....
"I've got my grandfather's draughting pen in front of me as a desk ornament: a 1920s German pen. It too has a brass body, from which the paint has mostly worn off by 60 years of use. He was a designer working in the aviation industry in its early days (he got the first patent for the electric de-icing system in aircraft wings just prior to the Second War). I wouldn't use it myself, but it does work well and I'm sure would have another 60 years of service left. Just as with those cameras, it's a wonderful and well-constructed working tool."
Featured Comment by David Vaovec: "You may call me insane but for me the prettiest camera is my Ixus 70—a minimal brick!"
Featured Comment by J. R. Lennon: "A vote for the Pen FT: here's mine. Brassed anything is extraordinarily lovely."
Featured Comment by Edward Taylor: "To me, the most beautiful camera is the black Canon F-1. (It only came in black). When I was working as a press-photographer and writer, I had one that was worn down to the brass. I bought extra bodies way back then, but the two I hung around my neck all day never wore out; so I still have two brand new (literally never used) F-1 bodies. One is still in the original wrapper. I look at the other every so often because it is beautiful, but I can't imagine ever using film again."
Featured Comment by Dave Kosiur: "Sorry, but what is it with you Leica fans? I think that old hunk looks pretty ugly...."
Featured Comment by Patrick Weyer: The Linhof Technikardan. View cameras are beautiful in general, as their form perfectly matches their function. Runners-up: all Sinars, all Deardorffs."
Featured Comment by Matt Needham: "My 'prettiest camera ever' is the Rolleiflex. When it comes to beat up Leicas I've always been reminded of buying pre-damaged blue jeans. If I'm not the one doing the wear and tear it somehow seems like a poseur."
Featured Comment by Bill Mitchell: "Prettiest camera. Contax II."