The JCH Leica M2 Patina Edition


by Bellamy /

4 min read

The JCH Leica M2 Patina Edition
Recently some of you may have seen a camera that has popped up on my instagram and whatnot. Some people have even been mailing me and asking about the camera. So I thought I would share with you a project I have been working on.

I have been working with Kanto camera for a while now to bring people some pretty amazing cameras, and there are many more in the pipeline. But whilst many of the cameras that we work on are quite straightforward, it is nice to push the boundaries too.

I had wanted to get something special done for a while but could not for the life of me figure out what I wanted done to the camera. I knew I wanted something different, that has not been done before. And I was wracking my brain for an age. Taking pictures with my phone of different colours and textures that interested me. I even put a few sketches of Leica M bodies together, trying out different colour schemes (some of which will no doubt come to fruition).


But that thing that I wanted eluded me still. I couldn’t put my finger on it until I saw something that reminded me of work I used to do.
Back when I was a student at university I studied metallurgy among other things. Part of the course was learning about heat and chemically treating metals to achieve different effects or ‘patinas’. I had really enjoyed this part of the course and excelled in it. I love anodising, coating, heating and treating metals, and found there was really no limit to what you could do, provided you had the right equipment and a lot of patience.

One of the processes that I really liked was creating verdigris through the application of various compounds to copper. Which is also, by the nature of the alloy, applicable to brass too (though not as pronounced). Verdigris happens to copper, brass and bronze naturally over time, through various organic compounds reacting with the metals to give the green/indigo tint you see on architecture and statues. But it can also be forced, so that you don’t have to wait 100+ years for the item to change appearance.

And that is when it struck me! The top plate and bottom plate of the M2 that I had sitting around waiting to be transformed is made of brass (underneath all that chrome), so why couldn’t it be treated to achieve a verdigris finish? There was nothing to really stop me from doing this other than a distinct lack of workshop and access to some rather unpleasant compounds.

So that is where Kanto stepped in. We worked together for several months to find the right compound, which was actually pretty difficult in Japan as some things are not allowed apparently. We finally found a method of doing it that was not damaging to the structure of the camera, would not take several years and crucially was not toxic upon handling. It took a while and it was difficult to achieve a complete and uniform colour as the surface area is actually quite small.


But Kanto overcame the issues and this is the result. The JCH Leica M2 Patina Edition. As you can see it is rather different to most cameras you have seen. I have had mixed reviews on this. The wife thought it looked like it had been left in a well. Others say it look amazing.

The verdigris has been given a coating to stop it from just brushing off through handling. Though I am very interested to see how it will weather. We decided to keep the original leatherette as it was unblemished and once you take it off, you cannot replace it with the original stuff. Though some have said this camera would benefit from brown leather. I am unsure, what do you think?

I have also thought about getting the dials and levers stripped to the bare brass and putting them back on, which would give it a steampunk look. But we will have to see.


This is not a camera for everyone though. Some people tell me that cameras should not be customised etc. But I don’t really understand why, we customise everything else in our lives, why can we not do the same for the cameras that we love. This camera will be used, I can assure you of that, it is not going on a shelf to fade into the past.

I am working on some fun new projects now, and hopefully I will be able to share some really special JCH edition cameras soon.
If you would like to get a camera like this (or something even wilder) made for you then contact me and we can make it happen.
Please comment too. What camera would you do and how would you do it?


16 comments on “The JCH Leica M2 Patina Edition”

    greuh November 25, 2014 at 10:54 pm / Reply

    To make it more like a true, desired style, in my opinion : paint the “Leica” engravings in black and clean up the front screw. It will make it more like something you desired and volunteered for and less the “forgotten in a well” your wife said.
    I think it’s the random mix&match of new and corrugated elements that makes think it is not fully desired. I believe that if you paint the engravings and clean the screw, it will show that this was a completely controlled and asked for design and make the perfect look you were looking for.
    Maybe change the black leatherette to something more steampunk… On my side, I’d put a brown leather cover but with an open part where I’d put clockwork cogs to make it more look like “steampunk”.

    You’re very lucky to be able to try and have fun with LeicaS (note the “s” for plural). I still have to get my M3 CLA’d :(

    David November 25, 2014 at 11:45 pm / Reply

    Possibly a “sun bleached” tan brown shade, something that would go quite pleasingly with the pinkish tones you’ve got on the edges may be quite effective. Perhaps partly painting back to black on parts of the engravings (the tighter curves/bends of the lettering) could set it off quite nicely – base it on some of the more worn examples you have come accross.

    Brandon November 26, 2014 at 12:14 am / Reply

    I think what I’d like to see done to a camera is have the top and bottom plates taken off and then have them acid stone washed.
    Or something a bit harder, I would like to have the top and bottom plates replaced with those made out of damascus. If you wanted to stand out a bit more you could opt anodized timascus but I imagine that would not be easy or the slightest bit cheap to do.

    Tobias W. November 26, 2014 at 12:16 am / Reply

    Hi Bellamy,

    interesting approach, but it doesn’t hit my personal taste. I’d replace the black leather to match the green metal better. Maybe some kind of dark green leather that’s rough in texture.

    Just a thought.


    Kryštof Korč November 26, 2014 at 12:36 am / Reply

    Thats wonderful, it would be nice to see more cameras this way, the “standard” gold plating editions look lame compared to this one. Mainly the uniqueness of the pattern itself is nice, I presume you can not make two identical pieces.

    Brian November 26, 2014 at 12:53 am / Reply

    Not to my taste, especially as the frame level, timer, rewind, film advance etc look so new and stick out like sore thumbs. The overall distressed look isn’t at all aesthetically cohesive.

    The levers, rewind, advance etc need similar treatment. The body covering, too, would look better with aged, distressed brown leather.

    Matt November 26, 2014 at 1:17 am / Reply

    I think it looks cool as is. I wonder what could be done w/ powder coating. I saw a bike once that had a very realistic looking ‘rust’ powder coat. It is supposed to be very durable and not bad at all for the environment. Does Kanto work on Zeiss Ikons?

    Carlos November 26, 2014 at 6:06 am / Reply

    Customize Leic’ my ‘ass.

    Of course you should customize a cam, to the wildest extend or just by touching it year in and year out. It doesn’t matter. Do what ya leic!

    Leica does it too, constantly with the most stupiest labels and versions to most and sensible to others.

    good stuff, more like that Bellamy.

    ben wilhelmi November 26, 2014 at 8:48 pm / Reply

    Vert-de-gris would be an appropriate spelling if you want to use a French word….which loosely translated means green from grey.

    Dave November 27, 2014 at 2:21 pm / Reply

    This looks horrible, please stop it.

    Erwann November 28, 2014 at 3:04 am / Reply

    To go with the vert-de-gris patina, I’d cover the body with the kind of brown leather you find on a club armchair.

    Colin Corneau November 28, 2014 at 10:14 am / Reply

    Cool idea. I like the notion of creativity and artistic freedom…why not apply it to cameras.
    My gut feeling is this is an idea not fully realized. You mentioned the option of brown leather – I’d go for that on this particular camera. And the dials being stripped to brass would really accentuate the idea, too.

    Go for it!

    Dave Powell November 29, 2014 at 8:42 am / Reply

    I think this is pretty cool. I like the suggestion of a power coated camera. That would be super durable. You could chrome all the metal like on a bike. #fantastic

    Rosa November 29, 2014 at 3:18 pm / Reply

    I’m afraid this camera can ultimately do you more harm than good .

    Wolf Heilmann November 30, 2014 at 8:18 pm / Reply

    I think it’s an excellent idea, and a good starting point.
    I would also strip the dials to brass, and change the leather – which I know can be a horrible difficult job getting it nice again. I’d choose either the typical british racing green or a light brown leather, but this one as well stained. Than the camera would look like coming from 19th or early 20th century!

    Chris Vighagen December 24, 2014 at 3:41 pm / Reply

    I’m guessing you used something similar to what Japanese electronics enthusiast use to etch their own printed circuit boards, just from the top of my head I’m guessing you used something like a solution of vinegar + salt + hydrogen peroxide (hair bleach or stain remover usually contain this in a 1%).

    This solution can be used without salt for a “slower” etch.
    But then it’s really sloooow.

    very cool project I like it. =D

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