Home Cameras/Lenses Leica Leica à la carte off the menu

Leica à la carte off the menu

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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.

Your wish is (or was) Leica’s command. A fancy coat, a smart paint job and, even, your name in case you forget who you are….

Neil

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.

Neil with his à la carte box, lizard-skin coat and matching strap: An M7 for keeps

Foibles

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 la carte, RIP: You’ve brought a smile to many faces in your time.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. I would have thought that a la carte would have been somewhat busy for Leica but I guess the collectors are looking for known limited edition models and the users are spending their discretionary cash on glass.

    I would buy a lovely camera such as the Neil at a great reduced price and be proud to use it (hint, hint) to capture great images… and be grateful for the savings. I suppose this means I should not get the names for my special cameras and glass engraved on them – I better quickly call the jewelry store and stop the engraving of Max on my Hasselblad X1D and Bad Boy on my XCD 80/1.9, and so on.

  2. Back in 2009 I bought a second hand MP a la carte with no engraving on the top plate.
    The model and number are engraved on the accessory shoe which is chrome, unfortunately as every other part including the lever for film winding is black chrome in M3 style with the M3 knob rewind.
    The camera is lovely to use and looks very discrete.
    The previous owner said he had difficulty persuading Leica to leave the script off the top plate.
    Kangaroo 2012

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