A super special Leica M4


by Bellamy /

3 min read

A super special Leica
I don’t often make posts about the cameras that I get for people…..er…actually, yes I do. But this one deserves its own post for sure. Come and look at some serious camera porn.

Now everyone who knows their Leica’s knows that the black paint versions are the most desirable of all. Produced in limited batches they often command a premium with collectors. But bizarrely for antiques, it is often the brassed versions that command some of the highest prices. Yes, of course the mint ones will always get the biggest money, but a brassed up and abused Leica M is still going to get a high price. And there is a good reason for that. They look amazing!

This is a black paint M4. And it has seen something that we will never know. I was looking at this camera for a long time, wishing that it could talk and tell its story. Where has it been? What has it shot? What has it seen? This camera looks like it has lived several lives. I know that it was in the USA for a long period, but that is all I know. Has it been in a war? Maybe. It looks as if it has seen some pretty rough situations.

Going by the serial number, this camera was made in 1969. Now there were 1900 M4’s made in 1969, but the majority of them would have been chrome versions. The black paint/enamel versions were made in much more limited amounts. They were not made as collectors items in those days though. These were made to be offered to the press and professional photographers. So chances are that they were going to be used and used hard. Like this one.

This camera looks like it has seen better days. The leatherette is basically dead and falling off, there is not a single space on the body where the paint hasn’t been scratched or damaged and there is rust showing through from under the peeled leatherette. But you know what? Looks can be deceiving, as this one runs like a dream. I am serious. Wind on that advance lever and it is smooth as silk. The shutter has that lovely ‘ping’ to it and it is perfectly on time for all speeds. And the window. Well, they guy who bought this put it to his eye and was completely blown away at how clear and bright it was. It was as if it had just come out of the factory.

So you know what the guy did? He slapped a lens on it, chucked a roll of Tri-X into it and immediately started shooting with it, right there on the street. Yeah, because this is not going to be a shelf queen, nor is it going to be retired and pampered. It is going to be worked and shot, and I am very happy about that. This camera has got another 40 years in it and I am happy to see it go to someone who is really going to make the most of it.

I hope I am still around in 40 years time to see what this lovely Leica looks like.


20 comments on “A super special Leica M4”

    Matthew Richards October 27, 2012 at 8:08 pm / Reply

    You really do get what you pay for. People always complain about the prices of Leica cameras, but a camera that can last for the better part of 50 years, whilst being scratched, dropped and abused, but still shoot like a dream is a really rare thing to find in today’s digital market.

    Jukka Watanen October 27, 2012 at 8:19 pm / Reply


    InFrame October 27, 2012 at 8:32 pm / Reply

    I would replace the leatherette… Just saying..

    David Green October 28, 2012 at 12:17 am / Reply

    Cool! Looks like it’s been to hell and back.

    sean keenan October 29, 2012 at 8:32 am / Reply

    I hope my M9 will look like that some day

      Pavel K. November 4, 2012 at 3:21 am /

      Very doable and soon! Put some gaffer tape on all of the parts that you don’t want damaged or scratched, such as the display, viewfinder, and rangefinder port, and then toss it into a box full of pebbles, wood, and metal scraps, and shake very well for an hour. It should come out looking like this.

    Jon October 30, 2012 at 3:50 pm / Reply

    Fabulous…..did the buyer specify something that beaten up?

    Pavel K. November 4, 2012 at 3:27 am / Reply

    This is ridiculous. I hope it was cheap. Leica aficionados will never cease to amaze me. Perhaps the company should take a note from Pottery Barn and sell “distressed” cameras, with fake tarnish, scratches, peeling paint, and cracked leather.

    Erik December 10, 2012 at 2:21 am / Reply

    I think I would prefer a Leica that looks like this.
    That way I don’t have to be afraid to scratch it and all. Then you can actually use it to its full potential. Just toss it in your bag and have it with you all the time. AND have it ready when you need it. So you won’t have to take off some fancy soft cloth and protectionbag/case before you can get the shot.

    I like it…for the right price of course .

    InFrame April 29, 2013 at 12:36 pm / Reply

    I’ll say it one more..it needs a new leatherette. :-)

    Jukka Watanen April 29, 2013 at 5:13 pm / Reply

    I have a M4-2 with Abrahamsson rapidwinder. It does not yet look that great but it is certainly USED… I was once sliding down a hill almost dropping to ocean in Portugal. My friend grabbed a hold of my leica, One eyelet popped off but the other was holding me from sliding, With the rapidwinder lever acting as a ice hammer, I could climb back up. The camera was ok after I fixed the eyelet with industrial epoxy. I just say: I never would have been able to do that with some other camera. Blessed Leica, I will trust you everywhere…

    Jukka Watanen April 29, 2013 at 5:18 pm / Reply

    pavel K: You are missing the point: That comes with USAGE. Those marks and “street credibility signs” are an antidote against that “Collector craze”.
    I took sandpapaper and treated my M8 so I never will get an idea of selling it…
    It is also a subconsicuous statement: I can afford to do this with my leica…

    Eric Labastida May 13, 2014 at 8:33 am / Reply

    I liquidated a CD and bought one 4 years ago. I LOVE THIS CAMERA. It’s got so much soul. Mine was made in 1969 and it runs better than ever. I highly doubt the new M’s Leica cranks out will live past 10 years much less 44. The M4 black paint: Leica does NOT make em like this anymore.

    eric September 12, 2015 at 7:37 am / Reply

    well pavel, actualy they did 3 years later. the reporter edition

    Jukka vatanen October 19, 2016 at 10:03 pm / Reply

    I would say this Leica M4 looks just like the M4 of our famous photo journalist CAJ BREMER`s camera that was sold to america. google him, you might get some info on him…

    titoufx October 20, 2016 at 9:03 am / Reply

    allready done.
    Lenny Kravitz edition.

    titoufx October 20, 2016 at 9:05 am / Reply

    not surprised that a well used camera is very smooth and fine to use.
    if you think about it a few seconds and now how it’s made, it’s pretty obvious

    John Gulliver October 23, 2016 at 12:53 am / Reply

    Shintaro has been doing this for years, he even did one foe Tom Abrahamson

      Bellamy October 23, 2016 at 6:40 pm /

      Thanks for the comment. Thing is, Shintaro stopped painting some time ago now. So despite how good his work is, you cannot get it any longer.

    ROMANO BULGARELLI February 25, 2017 at 2:10 am / Reply

    The main value of an M4 like that is it can increase its value during time, while a Leica digital, as i.e. the Monochrome it iwill became obsolete very soon… may be less than my Nikon D2xs, but this will be its destiny. Compliments for your wonderful site.

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