Leica’s M camera system (the M stands for “Meßsucher" or "Messsucher" meaning “Rangefinder” in German) has been in production for nearly 70 years. Since the debut of the first M3 in 1954 to the current day M10, each new generation gave rise to several limited edition variants. Here’s a look at our ten favorites.
MP Hérmes Edition
Leica has collaborated with a number of prominent fashion houses over the life of the M camera, but this MP Hérmes is a favorite. 500 sets were produced, each wrapped in signature Hérmes Barenia calfskin leather. Matching Barenia camera strap and sexy dust bag
MP Anthracite edition with matching grey Leicavit M attachment (Japanese Market)
Available only to the Japanese market, this titanium special edition is a standout in the otherwise meh grey hammered special editions. The matching Leicavit M rapid winder makes it a fully capable and practical kit in the hands of the experienced photojournalist.
M Monochrom Stealth Edition
I know, I know - the “Rag & Bone Leica.” But this special edition designed in partnership with Marcus Wainwright (founder and creative director of Rag & Bone) is a tasteful study in simplicity. And it glows in the dark, so there’s
M10 Monochrom Leitz Wetzlar Edition
Designed to commemorate the 150 year anniversary of Ernst Leitz Wetzlar taking over management of Leica and branding it with the Leitz name, this edition was limited to 650 units. There is an M typ 240 version as well, but this M10 edition with tonal gray and white inscriptions is everything that the Hodinkee ghost edition isn’t - and that’s a good thing.
Leica M-P Typ 240 Correspondent
Mr. Kravitz’s most current Leica collaboration is the “Drifter,” a python skin (vegan friendly, of course) wrapped camera, but the older M-P Correspondent is the standout. The Correspondent pays homage to a weathered camera his father brought back from his time in Vietnam as a war correspondent. The brassing, smart moniker and included Cold War era briefcase make this one of my favorites.
M-6 TTL Black Paint Millennium Edition
Released in January of 2000 to commemorate the new Millennium (2000 units were made) this particular M6 saw the return of the Leica script to the top plate and featured black paint, red index engravings, an all metal advance lever and incredibly gorgeous all black lugs. A special edition for the true enthusiast.
M2 Black Paint with matching black paint Leicavit
Favored by war correspondents for the ability to shoot up to 2 frames per second, this black paint M2 with Leicavit fast winder is a beautiful, war proven specimen (Nice article by Japan Camera Hunter on its origin). An even rarer MP version in black paint recently popped up on eBay with an asking price of over $200,000.
Any Safari edition (M8, type 240, M10, M4-2 prototype, etc,)
No explanation necessary.
Military Issue KE-7a
Made exclusively for the US military and produced in Canada, the KE-7a was limited to 505 units.
Of those 505 units, the military ordered only 460, each engraved with “KE-7a” on the top plate to indicate they were army issue. The remaining units were distributed to the civilian market. While it essentially had the mechanisms of the Leica M4, the KE-7a was built with a modified shutter and better sealing for dust and shooting in extremely cold conditions. The beautiful functionality of a government issued piece of equipment gets me
M3 Olive Bundeseigentum
Rare, military issued and olive, the M3 Bundeseigentum (“government property” in German) ticks all the boxes. A scarce 214 pieces were produced making it one of the rarest special edition Leicas out there. The camera was supplied to the government as a complete kit, with lenses, green leather case and even a set of olive Hensoldt Wetzlar Binos. Incredible and definitely deserving of the #1 spot.