Monday, November 26, 2012



The old saying goes that a picture is worth a thousand words, but does that make a camera worth over 2 million bucks? It does for this one, the favorite camera of LIFE magazine photographer David Douglas Duncan, known for his war photographs and intimate images of his friend Pablo Picasso. The Associated Press reports today that Austria's WestLicht gallery announced that a Leica M3D, which the gallery says belonged to Duncan, sold for $2.19 million over the weekend, setting the record price for a "commercially produced camera." 
Suzy Banks, writing at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, which has Duncan's archive, explained: 
By the time Duncan began photographing the war in Vietnam, he was shooting with Leica M3Ds (D for Duncan), which the company manufactured and designed especially for him, limiting production to four. The battle-hardened camera, curiously enough, also proved ideally suited for one of Duncan's subsequent and more intimate topics: Pablo Picasso and his family. With its soft-click shutter, this camera helped the photographer document the artist's private moments as unobtrusively as possible.
Here are some of Duncan's more iconic images from Vietnam...

...and of Picasso

The Above article was written by Esther Zuckerman and published in the Atlantic Wire

While it's claim of this being the most valuable commercially produced camera in history is correct, the most valuable camera in history is also a Leica.  That title goes to one of the original pre-production Leicas, the so-called 0-Serie, which was sold for $2.79 million, also by WestLicht.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012


If it appears that there have been no new posts from me for a few days, you are correct.  I just went through knee replacement surgery and have not recovered enough to work effectively on new posts.  But i will be back, with new and hopefully exciting news and articles.  Just a hint, I have heard of a 250 exposure M Leica and am working right now to obtain information and pictures.  Stay tuned...please.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


A Leica enthusiast sent me four photographs that appear to have a close resemblance to early Leica cameras.  But there are no visible engravings and the pictures were not accompanied by any explanations.  To the contrary, the sender was wondering what we are looking at.

My first thought was that it might be the exposure testing camera that Barnack built prior to the UR-Leica, the camera that recreated his interest in a camera that takes small negatives.

One thing that points strongly in that direction is the fact that this camera has no apparent means to change exposure times, something that was unnecessary with motion picture cameras since they had a fixed exposure time of 1/40 second. 

On the other hand, looking at the back of this camera, it appears to have a rectangular image size extending along the length of the film.  As a matter of fact, the entire camera appears to be laid out like the UR-Leica, which already covered the standard 24 x 36 mm frame size.

Rear view of the camera.

We do know that Barnack experimented with several lenses in order to find one that adequately covered the negative and one that could do so with adequate sharpness.  This camera obviously has a very crude, but quick way to attach a lens.  The round opening visible next to the leans mounting tube seems to be in a dark slide which apparently could protect the film from being exposed when another lens was attached.

After inspecting the pictures and after giving this matter some thought, I tend to look at this as a crude testing device for a variety of lenses rather than Barnack’s exposure testing camera.  Nothing that I have ever read has given even the slightest hint that this was the case.  I am simply applying some logic, and that does point in a direction other than the exposure testing camera because there was no reason to design that with a negative size larger than18 x 24 mm.  There was also no reason to run the film horizontally as is obviously the case here.

Even though there is no information available on this camera, I am rather certain that we are looking at a Barnack design.  There are too many design similarities to dismiss it as something made by someone else.  The screws holding the top cover and the apparently removable bottom plate are classic Barnack.  In addition, the large screws protruding from the top plate on the right and left side of the camera are very much the same as similar screws visible on the Ur-Leica.

Bottom plate with locking dial

Lens mounting tube and dark slide

Ur-Leica.  Please note the large srews on the left and right on the top plate, 
very similar to those on the unknown camera.

If anyone has any other information or thoughts on this, I would greatly appreciate hearing about it.

Addendum 12-26-2012:

Since I wrote the article, I have been able to verify that this camera is indeed a Leica product.  One reader even sent me a picture which shows it on display at the Leica Museum in Solms.  It must be a new addition because on my past visits to Leica I have never seen it.  I am planning to be in Solms in a few months.  At that time I will make sure to obtain as much additional information as possible and then pass it on here.

Friday, November 2, 2012


  • To all of our USA customers, we are aware that some of you are worried about your orders and repairs at the Leica Camera USA offices located in New Jersey. The office was affected by Hurricane Sandy and doesn't have phone or email access; however, there is a team at the warehouse making sure all packages are received and properly processed. If you have any questions, the best way to reach us is by messaging us on Facebook. We feel very fortunate that everyone is in good health and appreciate your patience while we get the office back online and fully operational.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


The most widely read article of this blog is “Fine art Nude Photography” from March 19, 2012.  Considering its popularity, I decided to expand on the theme by publishing a second gallery.  As I mentioned before, historically, the human form has fascinated artists probably more than any other subject. Therefore it should come as no surprise that the same fascination has extended to photography as well.

Many of the great photographers have produced fine art nudes like Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Edward Weston, Man Ray, Helmut Newton…, just to mention a few.

When it comes to fine art nude photography, it is quite easy to take a photograph of a person without any clothes.  That, however, is not art and should not be attempted to be presented as such.  Instead the emphasis should not be so much on nudity but on shape, form, lighting, design and composition.  It is my hope that today’s gallery meets those criteria.

Marlies Amling

Marlies Amling

Marlies Amling

Marlies Amling

Marlies Amling

Marlies Amling

Heinz Richter

Heinz Richter

Heinz Richter

Heinz Richter

Heinz Richter

Blaine Schultz

For more on the same theme go to: