Leica Announces M3D Film Camera

Leica has quietly released what they bill as a "new edition of a legend" some three weeks ago. The film camera M3D. Based off of the current Leica M-A, albeit with a "reverse panda" look - black with chrome dials. It's based on the original Leica M3D, which was a very limited set of customized cameras; only four were made - and explains the "-5" in the name/photo above. This time, only 16 will be produced. Furthermore, it will have a film counter reminiscent of the M2, and both a film rewind knob and smaller shutter speed dial, complete with a cutout for a Leicameter. The rewind, frame preview and film wind levers are the old style. There even appears to be a PC sync port out back, a Leicavit on the bottom and a special edition Summicron-M 50mm f/2 lens. All in all, a rather accurate reproduction - "new edition of a legend" indeed.

Article in LFI

From an LFI article on David Douglas Duncan and the Leica M3D:

...His visit marked the presentation of a highly exclusive Leica M special edition: the M3D ‘David Douglas Duncan’. Lars Netopil, owner of the Leica Store in Wetzlar's Old Townand Duncan's long-time friend, initiated the edition, with the aim to honour the acclaimed former ‘Life’ photographer as well as to celebrate 60 Years of M Photography with a symbol that embodies Leica's manufacturing concept in the most fitting and aesthetic manner. Limited to 16 units (with serial numbers from 5 to 20), the M3D is a most elaborately crafted, minutely detailed reproduction of the historic M3D (numbered 1 to 4), which the company of Leitz created specifically for DDD back in 1955. This original M3D was a re-designed M3 which deviated from the serial version by accomodating a Leicavit rapid winder. The custom-made camera went on to serve as a template for the Leica MP, which was manufactured in a small production run from 1956, and was specifically aimed at the professional photojournalist – see also our feature ‘The Improbable’ in LFI 1/2015...

Additional Photos

More shots; the first two from the back cover of LFI magazine, the last three provided by Gilbert_Leica:

The Original and Auction

Here's what the original camera looked like, which is from 1955, serial number M3D-2. Only 4 M3D’s (M3D-1 to M3D-4) were produced by Leitz. All were custom made for LIFE magazine photojournalist David Douglas Duncan. Each was mated to a black Leicavit without the standard MP engraving. (Note the auxiliary rewind crank, presumably added by Duncan after the fact). This very camera recently sold for €1.68 million ($2.18M USD) at a Westlicht auction, earning it the distinction of "most expensive camera from a serial production ever."

Here's the press release on the auction:

November 26, 2012 /Photography News/ A Leica M3D owned by former LIFE photographer David Douglas Duncan has become the most expensive camera from a serial production at the latest WestLicht Photographic Auction in Austria.

David Douglas Duncan is best known for his dramatic combat photographs of Korean and Vietnam War and his work with his close friend Pablo Picasso. As a result of this friendship seven books were published, all photographs were taken with the Leica M3D.

Duncan's M3D had an opening bid price of €150,000, but went on to fetch €1,680,000 ($2.66 million) becoming the most expensive camera from a serial production ever sold.

Manufactured in 1955, the camera is one of four ever made, and the price is a world record for a commercially produced camera. David Douglas Duncan's Leica M3D is also the second-highest price ever paid for a camera.

Two other cameras from a serial production sold at the WestLicht auction: a gold-plated ‘Luxus’ Leica dated 1929 sold for 1,020,000 Euro, and the very first serial-production M3 (1953, serial number 700001) formerly owned by Willi Stein, chief engineer of Leitz, sold for 900,000 Euro.

Official Brochure

Here is the official brochure for the Leica M3D camera:

Leica M3D brochure

Leica M3D brochure

Leica M3D brochure

Leica M3D brochure