the ‘red’ dot bugs

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It’s best NEVER to get the ‘red dot’ itch.
It’s one bloody bug that has NO antidote.
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buying a Leica is truly a stressful experience…

First, there’s all the jargon to be familiar with; Noct, Lux, Cron** to name a few.

Then, there’s the serial numbers and colours to note, and the hunt of getting the ‘correct’ unit without falling into the trap of exclusions and improvements along the decades; albeit far and between compared to the Nikons and Canons of the world. 

Finally, there’s the urge to take the plunge and splurge on the commemorative or special editions models.

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buying a Leica is an emotional roller coaster…

It’s all up to fate; there’s no guarantee you’d find the ‘right’ one. And even if you did, there’s no guarantee it’ll end up in your hands.

OK, maybe this applies to those…

  • with deeper pockets, or pure romantics who crave for the special editions …
  • who seek the ego gratifying thrill of owning 1/200 or 500 units …
  • rich and famous who would abandoned it in a cold vault only to be discovered in an estate sale decades later*.
but… love is triumph of imagination over intelligence 
Henry Louis Mencken
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more so when the ‘red dot’ bug bites!
Suffering from an acute ‘red dot’ bug rash … I yo-yo from one model to the other and slept for no more than 3 hours per night for 5 night straight researching the Leica enigma. Then came the quest of finding the right life partner {though when it comes to cameras, loyalty means nothing to Penelope!}
This proved to be harder in practice than theory and saw me yo-yo-ing again from model to model, playing devils advocate with oneself on “should I settle for less?”, “should I pay so much more just for that?”, “is that really worth so much more?”, “which can retain its value better?” …etc.
Walking on very thin air by now, elation being one of the symptoms created by the ‘red dot’ bug, coupled with little brain activity after sleep deprivation for more than a week now and overdose and energy inducement of caffeine … with shaky hands and incoherent thoughts … my eyes rested on this: 
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the M6 Titanium
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which rationally is a good in between at a reasonable price tag compared to the desired Leica M6 Platinum Plated Finish 150 Jahre Photographie in Karung leather, which I was half tempted to substitute with the Leica M6 Platinum Plated Finish Anton Bruckner in a bluish Iguana skinned leatherette that was slightly more affordable. Totally off reptile, strangely, I was attracted to it aesthetically. Thank goodness a bit of my geeky-ness kicked in early enough with the devil’s advocate testing the elasticity of my ear drum and thickness of my cranium and arrested the situation before it took the wrong turn.
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I mean on hindsight, seriously who is Anton Bruckner?
As a classical music listener and a Pianoforte Grade 8 certificate owner, I for the life of me have never heard of his name. Ever. Even ‘grandpa Robsie’ who is a gadzillion times more geeky than me with a gadzillion larger classical music collection could not fathom who this Anton Bruckner is. Was.
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Also what was puzzling was why was Leica paying tribute to an Austrian composer? I mean, what has Leica got to do with Austria? A German composer … perhaps I can relate… sort off. At a stretched of imagination.
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So deciding I ain’t gonna pay postage for a heavy box filled with CDs; albeit some special serialised CDs {who cares?!?!? seriously – its whoever Anton Bruckner is!}, my heart was doing a triple summersault when I stumbled upon the M6 Titanium with Emu leatherette. Definitely a practical choice compared to the Leica M6 Platinum Plated Finish 150 Jahre Photographie which I suspect will sit in a cold metal encapsulated air tight cubical either at home or a few feet beneath me in the Bank’s vault.
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Landing the deal and waiting for the M6 Titanium arrival, I decided to abate my ‘labour pains’ by diverting my thoughts to more productive activity {read: anything other than moaning, groaning and buzzing anyone with an ouch of interest in optical equipment}.
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Lens.
Yes, I need some glass to …err, let’s say test the ‘body’.
What else but the “NEED” to pair it with a Summilux M 35mm 1.4???
So the hunt begun and I found this 1/500 pieces sitting in Hong Kong. 
After a few correspondences it was agreed upon and just as I was going to hit the tip of my index on the left side of my mouse to effect the transfer, I received an email to say the deal was off unless I was willing to up the price by 48%!
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enraged . disappointed . {plain (tut tut tut tut) pissed}
Although after further research I had discovered that the new price approximate the actual value being traded in the market {despite still having the 15% premium vis-a-vis other sellers}, I refused to even renegotiate and revisit the deal.
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And so, out of principle I am without a lens.
Though this drives me to near insanity, coupled with the pressure of the Remuneration Committee and Board Meeting, I refuse to relent. There’s still 499 others out there … somewhere. If it’s mine, it’s mine. As for the seller, well, good luck finding a buyer who’s nuts enough to pay 68% more for a Titanium finish that has the exact technical specs as its black counterpart.
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… oh yeah, he forgot the scorn of a woman … wait till I get to Hong Kong. Ha!
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..Special Editions of Leica M
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M4 50 Jahre prod. year 1975;1750 bodies made, all black . It was an M4 with engraved “50 jahre”
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M5 50 Jahre prod. year 1975;1750 bodies made (1400 black 350 chrome) . It was an M5 with engraved “50 jahre”
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.Jahre prod. year 1975; 3500 bodies made, all black . It was a CL with engraved “50 jahre”
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M4-2 Gold prod. year 1979;1000 M4-2 bodies made, gold plated with engraved 100th year of the birth of Oskar Barnack 1879-1979 and his signature(with Summilux M 50/1.4)
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M4-P “Everest Edition” prod. year 1982; 200 M4-P bodies made to recognize the Canadian Mount Everest Expedition (they used Leicas). Black bodies, engraved Leitz on top plate with the Everst’82 logo above the hot shoe. The complete logo forms a triangle, it consists of 3 small triangles with a circled maple leaf in the middle, all above “EVEREST82”. Serial number range in the high 1586xxx’s. 200 similar R4s were also made.
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M4-P “1913-1983” prod. year 1983 2500 made, all silver chrome. M4-P body with engraved “1913-1983”
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M6 for Swiss University prod. year 1987 3 bodies (1712001-003) made of brass and engraved on top rather than front plate.
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M6 Platinum prod. year 1989; 1250 bodies made, platinum coated with a body cover by karung leather. Engraved “150 jahre photographie” and “75 jahre leica photographie” on top plate (with Summilux M 50/1.4)
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M6 Titanium prod. started in 1992 and still produced. M6 with titanium surface light gray tint. Body is covered by Emu leather
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.M6 Colombo 92 prod. year 1992. 200 bodies made, all chrome with green body cover and engraved on top plate “500 Colombo 1492-1992”
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500 SCOPERTA DELL’AMERICA (with Summicron M 50/2)
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M6 “Year of Rooster” prod. year 1993. 268 bodies made. M6 on a special order of Schmidt Scientific Group of Malaysia Leica Far East agent. All chrome bodies covered by Emu leather with engraving of a rooster and four chinese characters(with Summicron M 50/2)
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M6 Royal Photo prod. year 1993.101 bodies made. Covered by red leather
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M6 LHSA prod. year 1993.151 sets made for Leica Historical Society of America sold with 35, 50, 135 lenses.
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.M6 RPS prod. year 1994 102 bodies made for Royal Photographic Society (England)
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.M6J (J means jubilee) prod. year 1994.1640 special M3 bodies made, with TTL exposure metering of M6, no self timer, M3 frames, all chrome, engraved “40 jahre Leica M”(with new 50/2.8 Elmar)
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M6 Gold for Sultan of Brunei. prod. year 1994. 24 M6 gold plated bodies made, covered by a special leather and engraved with a very special red and black Malay emblem. (with Summicron M 50/2)
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M6 Demo for Italy prod. year 1995. 90 black M6 demo bodies with special engravings of Italy map on top plate.
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.M6 Gold Dragon prod. year1995. 300 M6 gold plated bodies made engraved with a dragon on the top plate and covered by a special leather. It was delivered to the Schmidt Scientific of Kuala Lumpur for chinese Leicaphile (with Summicron M 50/2)
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M6 Royal Wedding prod. year 1995. 200 M6 bodies made engraved for the wedding of Danish crown prince. with Summicron M 35/2)
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M6 Demo Benelux. 70 black M6 demo bodies with special engravings of Benelux map on top plate. There are also an unknown number of silver versions with the Benelux map on top cover and the European flag (BLUE square with 12 GOLDEN stars). They are engraved “Leica Demo Ausrustung Benelux 96.”
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LEICA HISTORICA prod year 1995 . 150 M6 bodies made, all chrome covered by a blue leather (leica blue) and engraved “Leica Historica 1975-1995” on top plate
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M6 Golden Thailand for environmental project in Thailand, prod year 1996. 700 bodies made, gold plated covered by special leather and special engravings. (with Summicron M 50/2)
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M6 Anton Bruckner prod year 1996. 200 bodies made, platinum plated covered by a blue-gray leather, engraved “A. Bruckner 1824-1896” (with 50/2.8 Elmar and 12 CD audio with the 10 symphonies composed by A. Bruckner)
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.M6 Ein Stuck Leica prod year 1996. 996 M6 black bodies made, engraved with a stock share on top plate and covered by a special black leather with Leica logo. Built for entering of Leica in stock exchange. (with a 35/1.4 summilux)
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Leica Partner-Aktion Deutschland 1996 500 M6 bodies and 500 R7 bodies both in black chrome. The M6 came with a Summilux 35/1.4. The R7 probably came with something similar? According to Leica the intension for this edition was to “demo and test for Leica prospects.” (info from Peter Zaretzke)
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.M6 HCB prod. year 1998. One (yes only one) platinum body covered by a special lether and engraved with signature of Henri Cartier Bresson. Made for 90th birthday of HCB 22 August1998

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* auctioned at Christies for GBP 25,300 {HERE}

About the camera above …

Leica Camera AG, Sölms, and Louis Vuitton Malletier, Paris, have combined their respective talents to produce this unique and distinctive camera and presentation carrying/display case.

In conjunction with Christie’s South Kensington the set is being offered at auction with the proceeds being donated by Leica and Louis Vuitton to the French international charity les petits frères des Pauvres. For the first time Henri Cartier-Bresson, arguably the twentieth century’s greatest photographer, and a leading Leica user, has agreed to endorse the camera and has allowed his signature to be engraved on a camera.

Leica, as a camera manufacturer since 1925, and Louis Vuitton, as a maker of fine custom-built luggage since 1854, have unsurpassed reputations for the quality of their products and this camera and case mark a high-point for both firms. The camera and case are unique and no further examples will be made – making this an exceptional opportunity to acquire the ultimate Leica collectable, while at the same time benefitting a charity that works in Europe and the Americas to combat the isolation and exclusion of the under-privileged. The charity has used photography and its own Paris gallery to raise funds and the auction of this camera is an extension of this.

Camera and case
From its origins and the start of commercial Leica camera manufacture in 1925 the company and its products have been associated with very high production standards and reliability. The current production camera, the Leica M6, can trace its lineage directly back to the Leica I of 1925 and the Leica M3 of 1954. It says much that many of these earlier cameras are still being used to make photographs.

The Leica M6 Cartier-Bresson camera has been hand-made to the same very high standards. A single Leica M6 camera was specially produced and parts platinised. It contains 1000 individual components. The lens was similarly constructed from eighty parts. The original lens design dates to 1957. This example is unique and has been specially constructed in homage to Henri Cartier-Bresson who has always worked with 50mm. lenses which he regards as most closely representing the human eye.

The camera and lens both carry the serial number 22-08-1908 which is the birth date of Cartier-Bresson.

The special presentation case has been designed and made by craftsmen within Louis Vuitton’s workshops. The one-off case will display the camera for exhibition and protect it during transit. It also contains storage space for the key fob and certificate of authenticity.

Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-)
Cartier-Bresson is feted as the twentieth century’s greatest living photographer. He has been a Leica user for over forty years having taken up photography seriously in 1930. He was strongly influenced by Man Ray and Eugène Atget and he later credited André Kertész as his ‘poetic source’.

Cartier-Bresson’s purchase of the 35mm. Leica camera formalised his approach to photography. The small, inconspicuous and quiet camera allowed him to merge into a situation becoming oblivious to his subjects. He called the Leica an extension of his eye, one through which he could perceive and organise a scene with the speed of vision itself, and capture the ‘decisive moment’.

In 1937 he began photographing picture stories for magazines and newspapers and continued working with photography until the 1970s when he started concentrating on his painting and drawing. He was a founder member of the Magnum photo agency in 1947 and remained a member until 1966. The agency still represent his work.

1998 has seen a number of major exhibitions celebrating Cartier-Bresson’s work and his ninetieth birthday.

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** Noctilux means f/0.95-f/1.2, Summilux means f/1.4, Summicron means f/2, Summarit means f/2.5 in the current lineup, Elmarit means f/2.8, and Elmar means f/3.5-f/4. Noct, Lux and Cron are commonly used as short forms for Noctilux, Summilux and Summicron, respectively.
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7 thoughts on “the ‘red’ dot bugs

  1. Was just hunting for more leica M write up and stumble upon your blog. Has the same exact feeling when I first got got myself an exact leica just fews months back .haha…it's such a pretty camera. Glad to know that we share the same taste :P Have fun with yours ! your friend MunKeat

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