Leica is stopping the à la carte scheme which provides made-to-order versions of its film and digital M rangefinders. But if you are thinking of designing your very own special camera, there’s a small rangefinder of opportunity left. Get your à la carte order in by the end of May 2019 and you should be ok, I’m told. But time is of the essence on this one.
It’s a pity to see the end of this relatively little used but wonderful special service. I can’t think of any other manufacturer that approaches this level of personal attention.
I have the pleasure of owning an à la carte M7 called Neil. Since I bought it (him?) secondhand from Red Dot Cameras in London, Neil should more accurately be described as left-overs rather than à la carte. But I am sure this M7 was very special to Neil when he ordered it, specifying the luxurious lizard-skin covering.
Sadly, this particular à la carting is too personal and, because of the name, I was able to buy Neil for the same cost as an unadorned M7. How many potential Leica M7 buyers called Neil are there out there in the wild? Had the camera been a little more restrained, perhaps with a nice paint job and a pretty coat, it could have fetched a premium. As it was, Neil was the architect of his own undoing. But, I am sure, this didn’t even enter into the thought process at the time.
I like it primarily because I am not called Neil. There’s no overweening pretence there, just a camera with a rather incongruous name. Many Macfilos readers actually do name their cameras, just as they would name a dog or a cat, but having that moniker engraved on the body is another matter. I, for one, would feel self-conscious sporting a rangefinder with “Mike” writ large on the top-plate.
So the à la carte service retires from the menu, along with Neil, and it will be missed. It is these little foibles that set Leica apart from other mass-produced and soulless photographic confections. One by one they are being stripped away. À