Home Cameras/Lenses Leica Leica Special Editions: Desirable or a complete waste of space?

Leica Special Editions: Desirable or a complete waste of space?

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“I’m done with Leica” was the attention-grabbing headline over an article by Stephen Shaub at figitalrevolution.com. What had Leica done to deserve this? It seems Stephen is brassed off with Leica because of the most recent special edition, the Leica M-P Correspondent designed by Lenny Kravitz. He wasn’t too complimentary about the M60 Edition either: “The Dumbest Idea Ever”.

Now I respect Stephen’s views and, to some extent, I can understand his point of view. But really I cannot agree. While I confess I was not too familiar with Mr. Kravitz before he started rubbing the paint off his Leica, I do rather like the brassy look. I have a twelve-year-old MP that is brassing nicely and I think it is beautiful. Paint wearing thin over brass has a cachet that aluminium of other bright alloys can never match. What harm does it do to issue a pre-brassed version for all those armchair war correspondents? If it sells and makes a few people happy, where’s the harm in that? 

Leica has a long history of special editions, some still very desirable, some regarded as something of a joke. But I cannot see how any of them detract from the marque and would make someone decide not to buy a modern Leica.

Take the Dumbest-Idea-Ever model. Again, I disagree entirely with Stephen’s verdict. The M60 Edition is not a dumb idea. In fact, it is rather inspirational. A digital version of a film camera with just three tweak able options—speed, aperture and ISO—is something many Leica fans would welcome. If I whisper very quietly, those are basically the three adjustments I use with the new M-P. Since I shoot in RAW, many of the available options that clutter most modern cameras are redundant. And as for the “movie” button, nothing more needs be said. If Leica turned the screenless M60 into a production model at a realistic price I could be first in the queue.

Special editions are fun and help bring attention to the marque, something that Leica does pretty well. So no, Stephen, I can’t agree with your stand on this.

  M-P Safaria, a whole £10k cheaper,but one lens only
M-P Safaria, a whole £10k cheaper,but one lens only

If you are in the market, the M-P Correspondent, complete with two brassed-off lenses, a 35mm Summicron and 50mm Summilux, comes in an attractive leather attaché case and will cost £17,800, including VAT. On the plus side, however, is the fact that only 125 sets will be produced (unlike the M60 Edition which ran to 600) so it likely to be pretty exclusive.

If you are not tempted with the M-P Correspondent and are feeling a bit of cheapskate, why not save yourself £10,000 and go for the M-P Safari with a 35mm Summicron? Pretty much the same camera, minus the destructive hand of Mr. Kravitz, all for a bargain-basement £7,850.

 

4 COMMENTS

  1. Whatever one might think of Mr Kravitz’s strong views about specific Leica limited editions and those able and perhaps daft enough to afford them, I rather think the more important thought process at whoever designs what for Leica should instead be aimed somewhat urgently at developing and improving those products aimed at a far wider market. Don Morley

  2. Mike

    Having owned a few limited edition Ms in my time (yes, in Don Morley’s words, I am able and daft enough!) I find the Correspondent a step too far.

    This approach has been very successful for Fender who make guitars, where one can order via their ‘custom shop’ a seemingly infinite variety of pre-distressed guitars at a premium price. I have one such Fender bass and it is a superb instrument, despite looking as if it has been through 20 years of gigs.

    But in reality for all of these items, Leicas included, surely the attraction is building up a patina of use, via your own adventures with the camera (or guitar etc etc).

    On the other hand that’s fine for my film Ms which are companions for life, but perhaps less so for the digital Ms which are Implicilty ‘shelf-lifed’.

    Which brings me to the conclusion that those who can’t or won’t wait have always been prepared to pay a premium.

    Regards

    John

  3. Mike, having owned Leicas for over two decades I was dismayed to see the "correspondent" . They have really "jumped the shark" with this one. Don’t get me wrong; Leicas have been available in special editions ever since the Luxus first saw the light of day in 1929 but this is just wrong on so many levels. As I type I am looking at my Leica II on the desk in front of me. It first saw the light of day in 1930 as a I and was upgraded a few years later. It bears the marks of it’s 85 years of useful life with style; the brassing speaks of use, of adventure, and of travel. I am proud to have added to that patina in the decade or so that I have owned and used it. I have taken it as far afield as Vietnam and San Francisco, but nobody knows what else it has seen over the years as it earned those marks.

    Then Leica releases this. It is clearly trying to "channel" the cachet of a well-used camera – but it fails dismally. A spotty apprentice attacking a brand new body with a piece of wet and dry sandpaper is no substitute for the marks left by experience.

    Two other things spring to mind. Firstly, it is a great way for Leica to "upcycle" those black paint body shells lying about at Wetzlar that were rejected during manufacture due to paint imperfections. Secondly, they have inadvertently produced a forger’s wet-dream. buy a well-used M-P, attack it with sandpaper for an hour or two, find a cash-rich, sense-poor mug to buy it (they exist, believe me) at a "bargain" price, no questions asked and presto – a £10k profit is yours.

    There’s one born every minute – and sadly Leica appear to be counting upon that with this… thing. It saddens me greatly.

    • It occurs to me that the "spotty apprentice" could be the same guy in Portugal who spends so long polishing the Leica T. Perhaps one hand on a T, the other on a Correspondent.

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