« The Ricoh GXR and Hybrid Cars | Main | The Ricoh GXR M-Module(s) »

Saturday, 28 May 2011


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I'm not paying any attention to Leica until they offer live view. End of story.

Yes, I agree, it's really funny to find the mention of the camera still working but, isn't it a little poignant to know that we'll probably never see such a claim in the future when our awesome cameras of today are auctioned?

Just imagine, a 25-unit limited edition of a digital Leica sold by, let's say, 1.5 million future dollars, with the disclaimer 'camera does not work'. That will, indeed, be funny...

What I like about this beast is that after so many upgrades the new M9 can stil crearly and unmistakingly trace it's origins to this baby.....now that means that mr. Barnack designed a design icon in one go. Talk about being ahead of his time.

Greetings, Ed

"the new M9 can stil crearly and unmistakingly trace it's origins to this baby"

Not really. The M9 traces its antecedents to the M3 of 1953. Erwin Puts: "Willi Stein designed the camera, the rangefinder is from Stein and Ludwig Leitz, the finder optics are from Heinrich Schneider and Willi Keiner, the M bayonet is from Hugo Wehrenfennig." And the M9 is essentially a replica of that camera, not a descendant of it. Barnack's camera didn't have all that much in common with Willi Stein and Ludwig Leitz's--different viewfinder, different film loading, different shutter, different film wind, different lensmount, etc.

The Barnack "line" came to an end when the IIIg went out of production in 1960.



I'm not sure how much you can say the M9 is a replica of the M3. Yes, the bodies are superficially the same, but there are some real changes inside. Aside from the obvious change to digital, the M9 has TTL metering, aperture priority auto, and an electronically controlled metal blade shutter in place of the M3's mechanical rubberized cloth shutter. That seems more like "descendant" rather than "replica" to me.

Well, "lookalike" then.


Surely the first roll taken by a committed Leica owner would be titled 'Meine Katze'. The utility pole, wall and random bush photos would be shot later while taking Meine Hunde for its daily walk.

Rodolfo: software obsolescence might be a bigger problem than hardware failure. The exciting world of technological progress is littered with perfectly working devices which are no longer functional because the companies that provide the software necessary to use them either withdrew support or went out of business.


Software obsolescence should be less of a problem for the Leica than for some other cameras. It uses DNG as its raw format, which is well enough documented that a dedicated programmer could write a program to read and convert the files. In fact, DCRAW already does that, and it's open source so the program should continue to exist even when its author gives it up (or gives up the ghost).

A bigger problem is likely to be reading the data into future computers. Even assuming the camera still works, how are you going to read the files it generates? The card format it uses will be long-since obsolete, with nothing but obsolete hardware left to read it. You won't be able to use the camera itself as a card reader because no computer will have a USB port to plug it into. It's possible that there will be archivists who maintain obsolete hardware for that purpose (or hobbyists who do it for fun) but it will probably be hard to do.

Of course this kind of obsolescence is by no means limited to digital devices. The Leica 0 depends on the availability of 35mm film and developing chemicals to take its pictures. How much longer will it be until 35mm film is completely obsolete and available only to dedicated hobbyists? This kind of thing is a potential problem for any piece of complex equipment. It's not enough to have a working piece of gear, you need a whole infrastructure to back it up. Once a "better" technology comes along, the support infrastructure crumbles away and working equipment winds up being abandoned for lack of spare parts and consumables.

Some people just don't know the value of a dollar (or Euro)

Dear Johan,

Yeah, no accounting for taste.

I've never found Leicas in any shape form or generation appealing (and yes I've used them). So spending any sum of money for this camera, other than as investment, would seem pointless to me. I'd much rather have the Sherman.

'Course buying for investment is a fool's errand 99% of the time. You should buy stuff 'cause you WANT it, and no one gets to say what you want other than you.

But, something a really smart buyer (can't recall who) told me 30 years ago -- if you're trying to buy for investment, buying the older, more fugitive chromogenic prints (they're NOT "type C's" by the way) can be a very clever strategy.

Why? 'Cause you can make those prints last a very long time in very easy-to-maintain cold storage-- hundreds of years. Buy your chromogenics, put them in cold storage and the odds are good that in several decades you will likely have many unique items -- the only really good prints that have survived.

Assuming the Sherman buyer takes proper case of that print (big assumption I know), down the road that C print will be worth a lot more than if Sherman had been having, say, dye transfer prints made of her work.

pax / Ctein

Quote: 'It's just that it made my brain jump to a vision of the new owner posting some pictures of utility poles and wall textures and random bushes on a sharing site under the heading "My New Leica—First Tests." "

hah haha.. So true, so true. Should also include a shot of the spouse, and the favored pet (depending on the owner, that order may vary.)

This camera was part of a series used to test the market and a 35mm still camera was revolutionary in 1923. "Serious" photographers of the day probably reacted to 35mm much as they did when micro 4/3 came out in 2008: "The sensor is small and there's a loss of image quality, but darn it I love the low weight and high portability. Mmm...the image quality is acceptable so I'll get one as my carry-everywhere camera".

In 1923 24x36 was "small format", now it's "full format".

Wow, maybe I should sell mine !

And people complained that the X100 is overpriced!

$h/t I have a much nicer M2 that I'll let go for 1/2 the price.

"The description went on to say that "The camera is in excellent and fully working condition," which made me chuckle. I mean, sure, you don't want to spend your 1.9 million bucks on a busted camera"

It looks like that camera is missing one key part - the lens cap:
As any user of the 2000 reproduction re-release of this camera can tell you, the shutter is not self capping and needs to be covered when winding on.

The purchaser is going to be mighty disappointed when they collect their film from walmart and find it's fogged ;-)


Point taken, but hey, those iconic perfect circle sides.....you just love to hold these things in your hands.

Greetings, Ed


By that time even 120 rollfilm (now considered a truly professional format by any standards) was "Browny film". I restore pictures from these times (for familymembers as a passtime and probably as a future profession) and these are usually quite small (3 x 4 inch) but if they are made by professionals on the large formats of these days and you'r lucky and the print hasn't suffered to badly and the lens was decent and the photographer knew what he was doing (not to many she's involved in those days), you can print them A3 without to much of a hassle. But if you happen to come by a Browny shot, well some of them are crisp I must say, but most of them....well A4 sort of sets the upper limit.

Greetings, Ed

The situation: You're a camera manufacturer. You love the work, but have struggled to make a living. For much of your life you've gone more or less hand to mouth, being shuffled from corporate restructuring to new ownership to renewed restructuring, contenting yourself with quite small production facilities, never quite having access to capital markets, etc. Recently your star has risen and you've come into some modest prosperity and things are easier for you, although you're still several neighborhoods away from easy street, considering the deep financial pockets of your Asian competitors.

The trouble is that you did what has become far and away your best-known body of work in the middle of the twenties; that was several decades ago. There were a number of products in that set, but at the time you limited each camera production run to about 25. Why 25? It was a number your production manager decided arbitrarily one boozy summer night in a Biergarten in the twenties, when the suppliers convinced him he had to start with a small production run to limit the financial risk.

As the years went by, the value of these early cameras has done nothing but go up. Your newer digital cameras have been well-received too, just not nearly as well as the early film cameras you're famous for. You're not starving. But it's getting pretty frustrating watching your early cameras owned by other people sell for dazzling sums on the auction market. Finally, a few years ago, you got an offer you couldn't refuse: an august French luxury product manufacturer offered significant capital for your brand and entire production facilities. You accepted. After taxes, that investment was earning a return which, though inferior to Treasury bonds, was still a palatable bit of income.

You now own no copies of any of the early cameras of the series you're famous for, and you're constrained against making any more by the fact that the original tooling has long been lost.

Then, one bright day, something amazing happens. A copy of just one of your early cameras sets an all-time auction record for a camera. Let's pick a random number out of a hat and say it sold for, oh, I don't know, €600,000. You didn't own the camera, though, so you don't see an eurocent of that.

Your sales reps keep fielding requests from camera collectors offering to pay insane amounts of money for copies of the same camera. Yes, they understand the early production runs were limited and that they've long been sold out. Such collectors swear up and down that as long as you are the one manufacturing it, new copies will be considered as good as the original ones, and that such cameras will be for the collectors' private enjoyment only, and will never be used for actual photography in public. You have modern numerical control milling machines in the production facilities for your current cameras. You have the old camera blueprints in a binder in the closet. All you have to do is make the replicas, brand them, and engrave "NACHBILDUNG" (replica) on them, and that's it.

The dilemma: would you do it?

"The camera is in excellent and fully working condition."

You never know. The new owner might be a TOP reader who decided to commit to the Leica year project. ;-D

I bet it doesn't even do video.

it's not like new DSLR user on camera boards post anything different than cats, dogs, spouse, walls, gardengnomes, glass of water on the table, the unpacked box or whatever is within 5 meter of the excited new owner of camera x.

because it really doesn't make sense to chose anything special for the first shot...come on, the first shot probably was done in the factory...

still, it's redundant to post that picture online, the walls look all the same, except of the leica ones which are of solid gold ;)


Mike, I have Leica 1A "not in working condition" I was thinking of putting the lens on my Canon 60D.
The image quality should be great, right, after all it is a Leica lens.
If & when I try it -- there are some electric poles (telephone poles went out with cell phones) that I haven't photographed yet. I'll send a few shot to you....

Whether photographs or cameras (or baseball cards or stamps) the mindset of a collector is a wonderful thing. It creates a completely self-contained economy out of thin air by confering levels of desirability on otherwise useless objects.

I am fascinated but fortunately not a participant in any sense of the word.

You haven't quite got the narrative right, but they DID do it:



Came out in 2000 I believe, although I'm not sure of that.


On Sunday, 29 May 2011 at 09:58 AM, Mike Johnston wrote:
> Bruno,
> You haven't quite got the narrative right, but they DID do it:

Any similarity of the narrative with an already published story, or with real events, would be purely coincidental ;-)

It looks like that camera is missing one key part - the lens cap:
As any user of the 2000 reproduction re-release of this camera can tell you, the shutter is not self capping and needs to be covered when winding on.
Posted by: Donald |

I'm told that nobody actually used the lens cap -- they just held the lens against their body while they wound the film.

Wow! I hope the buyer used PayPal. In case he/she gets it and finds cleaning marks on that lens! I'd sure want PayPal to back me up on a return. :-)

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007