After the unveiling of its new Leica M camera at the world's leading imaging fair Photokina, German optics company Leica held a special event Monday night, in which the company's owner Andreas Kaufmann revealed a very special limited-edition camera in the works.
Kaufmann announced that Leica had tapped Sir Jony Ive, Apple's lead designer and the brain behind such products as the iPod, iPhone and Sunflower iMac, to build an uber-limited edition of the Leica M for charity. Only a single unit of the camera will ever be produced.
Kaufmann did not reveal any further details about the camera, including any differences in its features or specs, or when we can expect to see this camera get auctioned -- and to what charity the proceeds will go to -- but given the deep and immense amount of historical interest in both Leica and Apple, this Jony Ive-designed Leica M will surely attract an extremely large sum come auction time.
About the Leica M
The Leica M is the first camera in the M rangefinder series to feature both 1080p HD video recording and Live View (more on that later), which is a big shift in direction from the traditional way Leica cameras are typically operated. The Leica M also marks the first time Leica decided to use an CMOS sensor instead of a CCD.
Live View is a new feature for Leica, which allows photographers to compose images using the LCD screen instead of the camera's optical viewfinder. Live View is a pretty common feature of most digital cameras, but Leica had avoided adopting the feature until now.
The Leica M can focus in Live View in two ways: Live View Zoom, which can magnify the image up to 10 times, and Live View Focus Peaking, which uses overlaid redlines to indicate focus.
The Leica M also comes with a 24-megapixel full frame sensor and a three-inch LCD screen featuring 920,000 pixels, which was built with Gorilla Glass. Leica plans to start selling the camera in early 2013 in black or chrome, for $6,950.
Leica also announced a slightly more affordable Leica M-E for $5,450, which features an 18-megapixel CCD full-frame sensor and a 230,000-pixel 2.5-inch screen, as well as an ISO range of 160-2500 and a 0.68x magnification viewfinder.