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?