That’s a lot of money, but this also a rather special Leica. It’s one of only 23 prototype 0-series cameras made by the father of 35mm photography, Ernst Leitz.
Made somewhere around 1923-1924, the 0-series no. 105 went up for sale at the 40th Leitz Photographica Auction and broke the world record for the most expensive camera of all time.
The Leitz Photographica Auction takes place twice a year and is the world’s most renowned vintage camera auction. This 40th event marked the auction’s 20-year history, and this was a camera was a suitable prize for both the auction house and its new owner.
This particularly camera was owned by the legendary camera designer Oskar Barnack, who worked for Leitz and whose name is engraved on the top of the viewfinder. It is considered to be the prototype for the Leica 35mm camera design, a line which is still in production today with cameras like the Leica M11 and Leica M10 Monochrom.
Before the sale, the Leica’s value was put at around 2-3m euros (about $2.1-3.1m/£1.7-2.6m/AU$3-4.5m), so the 0-series No. 105 not only comfortably exceeded the estimate, but beat the previous record-holder, an 0-series serial no. 122 also sold by the Leitz Photographica Auction, for 2.4m euros (about $2.5m/£2.1m/AU$3.6m).
Obviously that’s quite a lot to spend on a camera, but if you would like one for your cabinet, the Leica website does have a couple of used Leica 0-Series replicas from a much more reasonable 2,640 euros (about $2,754/£2,264/AU$3,970).
These early Leicas are distant ancestors of today’s Leica M-series cameras, and while this particular camera was clearly bought as an investment, the longevity of the Leica design is pretty remarkable. It still has many fans today, offering a very different experience of photography to a regular DSLR or mirrorless camera.