Leica cameras easily make it onto a lot of photographers’ wishlists and and become their tools of the trade. But for those who are also avid vintage camera fans, rare Leica models can be the Holy Grail cameras of a collection. If that sounds like you, we put together a roundup of five rare Leica cameras that we believe will make great additions to your acquisitions.
We spotted these rare Leica models on eBay over the years. While most of them are only one-off items, they also often get relisted quite often so you may have a chance to see them pop up again. You may also want to take note of these if you want to get started with collecting rare Leica cameras with interesting history. However, be ready to spend a fortune, as cameras of this caliber definitely won’t come cheap!
US Military-issued Leicas: KE-7A and M4 M with Leitz New York Motor Drive
Fans and collectors of military memorabilia should be on the lookout for military-issued cameras like the Leica KE-75 and Leica M4 M. Both were made especially for the US Army and there were only 505 units produced for the KE-75 and 315 for the M4 M.
While it essentially had the mechanisms of the Leica M4, the Leica KE-7A was built with a modified shutter and better sealing for dust and shooting in extremely cold conditions. In some photography forums, discussions also note the body was made in black chrome instead of black paint, just like the late production M4 cameras.
The military-issued Leica M4 M also had the same technical specifications as the Leica M4, with a few exceptions of compatibility with the Leica Motor Drive and the lack of a self-timer.
If you’re interested, we found a rare set of Leica KE-7A with three Elcan lenses that can be yours for $121,100.
Fancy a gold Leica to add to your vintage camera collection? Coming across a genuine 24K gold Leica M4-2, complete with original factory warranty papers, official Leitz documents, and a special wooden gift box would definitely be a dream. According to Camera Quest, this luxurious, special edition was made in 1979 to commemorate the 100th birth anniversary of Oskar Barnack, the inventor of the Leica camera. Only 1,000 of these were made, each engraved with Barnack’s signature and “1879 – 1979.” One important tip to make sure you would get an authentic unit: check for serial numbers 1527201-1527700 and 1528151-1528650 and ask the seller for the serial number if it’s not provided.
Luckily for you, we spotted a secondhand mint gold Leica M4-2 going for $6,080, if you’re keen on grabbing one of these rare beauties.
Another beautiful, rare unit to be on the lookout for, the Leica M6 Platinum 150 Jahre Optik Limited Edition was released for the 150th anniversary of the foundation of Carls Kellner’s Optical Institute (a forerunner of Leitz) of 1849. Only 150 units were produced, each engraved with the years from 1849 to 1999, along with “150 Jahre Optik” and the name and optical diagram of the lens bundled with the camera. Each body is dressed in elegant, grey snakeskin (Karung) leather and comes in an equally beautiful nut-tree root-wood box.
If this sounds like the unique special edition for you, here’s your chance to grab a Leica M6 Platinum 150 Jahre Optik for $35,500.
Eager to get a gorgeous, black vintage rangefinder? The Black Paint Leica MP + Leicavit MP Combo is one you should be on the lookout for. Interestingly, the 1957 unit we spotted some time ago belonged to a private collector in France 16 years ago and was sent to Leica Germany for a full restoration. The US collector who eventually bought it only learned about the camera’s provenance in the last six years. These details most likely commanded the whopping $237,500.
It may be challenging to find a combo this rare and with such an interesting history. But, for an equally eye-catching (and loads more affordable) alternative, you might also want to check out this limited edition Leica MP 50 Years Anthracite Set with Leicavit going for $7,850.
This is it, perhaps one of the most valuable Leica you can ever add to your camera collection. For the last Leica M3 ever made, you’d have to shell out the outrageously large sum of $595,000. Surprisingly, upon checking, the eBay seller hasn’t relisted it! Whoever has this unit, we salute you! In case you’re wondering if the seller has anything else interesting up for grabs, we suggest also checking out this extremely rare Betriebsk version Leica M3. Reportedly made for internal use in the Leica Wetzlar factory only and were never sold to the public, Betriebsk cameras rarely ever show up for sale.