Wednesday, 30 July 2008

A brace of Leicas subtly pimped


This blog isn't going to become just a Leica appreciation society - even though there's much to appreciate - if for no other reason than that I don't own one. I do have a Leitz V35 enlarger but that doesn't count and, anyway, I haven't found a way to pimp it yet.

However, there's no denying that people love their Leicas and equally love to adorn them with all manner of add-ons. (Apologies if this post doesn't read the same as the others but I've just drunk a large glass of wine rather too quickly and can't see straight: I tried typing Babelfish into Google a minute ago and actually typed bblwfiah. Fortunately, muscle memory now seems to have come to the rescue of my fingers).

Further apologies are due now to the guy who pimped these ethnically diverse M6s - one black and one white. I found them on a website in what looked like a Scandinavian language. I searched and searched for an email link so that I could check to see if it would be OK to post them but couldn't figure it out. That's why I was trying to reach Babelfish - only to find out that they don't go in for Scandinavian.

Obviously, if the owner of the cameras objects in any way to their inclusion in this post, I'll ditch them straight away but hopefully that wont be necessary.

The black M6 is wearing a nice Gordy Coale wrist strap, a Leica M grip and a soft release which my limited Scandinavian doesn't allow me to identify. Gordy has a great series of pictures demonstrating how strong his straps are: in short, you can probably abseil with them.

The chrome M6 has a Tom Abrahamsson convex soft release (looks pretty much the same as the one on the black M6 if you ask me), an M grip and a lovely Voigtlander leather strap from Stephen Gandy.

It has to be said that the M6 is a mighty handsome beast, with or without handgrips. If only Leitz had taken a bit more care with the build quality, they might have had something to rival the OM1 ;-)

Monday, 28 July 2008

Yes, real gold!

Well, at least real gold plating. This properly pimped masterpiece hails from Hong Kong where owner Robert Yan decided to get down to business after he wore the shiny black paint off his M3 through overuse. I mean, imagine using a Leica as a camera. Whatever next! I have some sort of ill-formed idea of how uncommon black M3s are and what sort of money they might fetch so we can guess Robert was a bit disappointed that he hadn't looked after his Leica a bit better when he got to this stage!

However, rather than just burnish the brass bodywork, Robert decided to go one better and have it gold plated instead. A local Leica agent dismantled the M3 and Robert took the parts to a local jewellery shop to have them plated. The camera was reassembled by the agent. Robert says the camera is still in perfect working condition. Although various gold-plated Leicas have appeared over the years, Robert is fairly sure that Leitz never actually plated any M3s so his might just be unique.

A clever guy who is handy with a screwdriver, Robert is now working on a way of "squeezing a little digital camera inside an M body with some modification to both". Please don't send us the pics of that one, Robert. That's just far too clever to pass as pimping.

P.S. Robert also sent me some pics of his M4, a camera that is so "well used" it makes Garry Winogrand's look mint. This is a man who knows what a Leica is for - and a man who obviously doesn't own a display case...

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Thumbs Up for Luigi's cases


I was out today looking to replace my aged Mazda MX5 (Miata) with something that has a roof. The MX5 is OK but I always felt it was let down by the quality of the leather seats which look as if the tanned surface has just been painted onto the underlying leather. Pretty cheap. In a local car dealership I spotted an old Alfa Romeo GTV that had an absolutely beautiful red leather interior. It was in a different league to the Mazda's. What is it about Italians and leather?

There's a point to this apparently meandering post, though, and it's the quality of the leather products produced by Luigi Crescenzi in his Roman workshop. If you've never seen Luigi's website, you can find it here. So much of the stuff that fills our lives seems to have been made by robot that it's great to find such products being hand-produced for what must be a very limited niche market. A quick disclaimer is necessary here: I've never handled any of Luigi's cases or straps but they certainly look fantastic.

Tim Isaac thought so as well and that's why he teamed a beautiful Luigi half case with his Leica M8. This is my kind of pimping! The back of the case hinges open for a quick bit of chimping, a nice touch that also helps to discourage LOCD (LCD obsessive compulsive disorder). Note the further bit of customising - a Thumbs Up attachment. Leicaphiles, for some of whom the wonderfully engineered throw of the rangefinder wind on lever is a replacement for sex - at least of the autoerotic variety, occasionally find that they've nowhere to put their right thumb on the M8. The Thumbs Up slots securely into the hot shoe mount and can be used on several other Leica models as well. It provides photographers with a comforting resting place for their opposable digit- the same kind of role a dummy or pacifier fulfils for babies.

Kinda like Jeffery in my first post, Tim's pseudo-pimped his M8 with the addition of a Voigtlander 15mm Super Wide Heliar lens and 21mm viewfinder (which closely matches the M8's cropped view with the 15mm). It's all good, clean fun!

Friday, 25 July 2008



A thing of beauty is a joy forever. What better way to kick off a new blog than with the zenith of customised cameras, a Leica M4-2. Pimpmeister Jeffery Smith asked US company to supply the leather and do the work and the result is pure class.

Jeffery (check out his website and blog at decided to act when the Leica's black vulcanite started to part company with the body. He plumped for walnut brown kid leather. Personally, I have nothing but respect for that young goat - it was the ultimate sacrifice.

One of the reasons Jeffery chose that colour was to act as a bridge to soften the contrast between the black body and any chrome lenses that it might be paired with. Jeffery says, "The results were, in my opinion, very nice. The leather fits the camera body perfectly, with the holes perfectly lined up with the tiny screws on the body. Now I am impatiently waiting for vulcanite to fall off of my Leica IIIf or Leica M3 so I can give them a face lift as well."

Maybe not quite a pimp - a pseudo pimp? -is the mating of the M4 with a 50mm Zeiss Planar. Nice! The only way Jeffery might improve on this is if he saves up for a black OM1 and pulls the same trick with the brown kid leather;-)

Think you can beat Jeffery's tasteful debut? Let's see 'em then!