Leica (RED) M Revealed!

You may recall the story about the Custom Special Edition Leica Auction where Apple designer Sir Jonathan Ive and Marc Newson worked with Leica to produce a custom, one-off special edition camera. This camera has now, finally, been revealed!

Let's just say that this is a very Ive-ish design. We'd go so far as to say it looks a bit like an Apple Mac Pro... With its perforated aluminum grille look. What's particularly interesting are the things that are missing from the regular Leica M (Type 240) body; form over function - a bit like the M9 Ti edition - or an Apple mouse perhaps?

The list of missing/changed items include:

  • No hotshoe (forget using a flash or Thumbs Up, ever)
  • No EVF port (for the EVF2) - (this is quite an oversight in our opinion)
  • No "M" (Movie) button (but Focus button remains on front of body)
  • No microphone (and no EVF port means no Microphone Adapter Set)
  • No cable release socket (like the M9 Ti - you must use self timer)
  • Non-standard (for Leica) strap lugs (a lot of fancy straps won't work)
  • Setting Dial replaced with up/down buttons, and...
  • No thumbrest (which surrounded the former Setting Dial)
  • The lens is missing the focus tab

In all fairness, this camera wasn't designed with a photographer in mind. It does however, rank among the top of collectible editions - as there is only one. Somebody will surely bid a lot of money on it, and If this camera ever takes a photo, we might be surprised... But stranger things have happened. In any event, as long as there's enough money left over for (RED) and designated charities - three cheers to all involved! Apple has raised $65M via (PRODUCT)RED on their own thus far. If nothing else, this camera has lit up the Internet, as everyone's posting about it - photography sites, Apple sites, and everything in between.

Leica Camera is pleased to present The Leica M for (RED), designed by Jony Ive and Marc Newson. The camera, based off the Leica M, will be auctioned off at Southeby’s on November 23rd 2013 to raise money for The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

From a design standpoint, it features a laser machined aluminum body and an anodized aluminum outer shell. A total of 561 models and nearly 1000 prototype parts were made during the 85 days it took to create of this unique, one of a kind camera.

The camera has s a full-format CMOS sensor, high performance processor and new Leica APO-Summicron –M 50mm f/2 ASPH lens representing the best in photography along with its innovative design.

Just to add to Leica's statement - an article in the November issue of Vanity Fair ("Designing Men") on this states, "The process of designing and making the camera took more than nine months, and involved 947 different prototype parts and 561 different models before the design was completed. According to Apple, 55 engineers assisted at some part in the process, spending a collective total of 2,149 hours on the project. Final assembly of the actual camera took one engineer 50 hours, the equivalent of more than six workdays." Think about this, had you tried to order a Leica M any time since it was introduced a year ago.

Additional Images

Collaboration and Design Cues

It's clear who had the most design input on this camera, and it's not the first camera that Jonathan Ive has designed. But one can see influences from both. Let's compare two typical Jonathan Ive designs to one by Marc Newson.

Jonathan Ive designed Apple Mac Pro and iSight (notice the similarities?):

Marc Newson designed Pentax K-01:

Finally, we'll just leave this right here...

Being superficially different is the goal of so many of the products we see... Rather than trying to innovate and genuinely taking the time, investing the resources and caring enough to try and make something better.

Jonathan Ive