Camera Geekery: The Leica MP Classic
Over the years Leica has released lots of special edition cameras, actually scratch that, they have released an insane amount of limited cameras. There have been some seriously special cameras that have gained notoriety, like the MP-3, The M3J ,the MP Titan and the MP-6. And then there have been some I am sure people would rather forget about entirely. But there is one that often gets overlooked. And this is it, the Leica MP Classic.
The Original MP
Back in 1956 Leica decided to make a camera specifically for photojournalists after listening to what they wanted from a Leica camera. Based on the M3 but with beefed up internals to take on the rigors of the field, no self timer and a Leicavit rapid winder, it was not marketed to the public apart from a mention at Photokina that year. The MP had a very short lifespan of only one year and has gone on to become a legendary camera. With prices for them also the stuff of legend, as you can see from the last Leitz Auction. There is a great article about the MP here.
Nowadays unless you are a billionaire you probably cannot get your hands on an original MP. So when Leica announced the M-A-Type 127 as a camera that would hark back to the days of the famed meterless MP, people were obviously pretty excited.
The Leica M-A Typ 127
Leica markets the M-A as ‘Pure Mechanical Excellence’. When it came out people were quite excited by the purity of a meter-less camera and much comment was made about how the M-A was the first pure Leica since the M4-P. But that wasn’t the case. You see, although the M-A is a great camera, it was not the first purely mechanical Leica since the early Eighties. That is where the MP classic enters, stage left.
The Leica MP Classic
Ten years before the M-A came out another meterless MP was released to little fanfare. The MP classic was produced for a trading company based in Hong Kong by the name of Schmidt. 500 numbered sets were made for the Hong Kong and mainland China market and little was known about them outside of these markets.
The top plate is engraved with the legend Leica Camera AG Solms Germany, which is reminiscent of the original top plate on the MP and the same as the MP-3 top plate. But the touches didn’t end there, as Schmidt really pushed the boat out and released the camera as a set with a black paint 50mm rigid Summicron. The lens is designed to look like the type 2 Summicron except with modern glass and coatings. This is truly a stunning lens. Even the lens hood is painted black. It’s those little touches that make all the difference.
I recall going to Hong Kong 10 years ago and there were several unsold sets on the shelves of stores. The MP Classic was a real sleeper. Everyone was chasing the LHSA special models and the black paint M3’s so they completely overlooked this stunning camera. It is a very pure interpretation of the Leica M and I think it is one of the most beautiful Leica cameras ever made.
But now things have changed and the world has become aware of this very special Leica camera. They are very hard to find now and rarely pop up on the market. Well, that is….apart from this one. As we have it available now.