You can now buy a Leica CL prototype for “just” $65,000

Leica CL prototype thumbnail

If you ever dreamed of owning a one-of-a-kind Leica camera, now is your chance… if you have $65,000 lying around. An unknown prototype of the Leica CL rangefinder camera has popped up at Photo Arsenal Worldwide, an Austrian vintage camera store, and it’s available for purchase.

The Leica CL rangefinder camera

Leica CL 1973 version

If you aren’t familiar with the Leica CL, or if you only know the digital Leica CL, let me give you a quick rundown of this old gem. It’s a 35mm film rangefinder camera Leica released in 1973. It was actually a collaborative project between Leica and Minolta, which is why some versions of the camera have the name “LEITZ Minolta CL” written instead.

The Leica CL remains a great option for anyone looking for an Leica M-mount film camera, especially due to its affordable price tag. You can get it for about $399 on eBay. If you are willing to pay extra, some sellers offer the camera with the 40mm lens that came with it back in the day. Depending on the version of the camera, that 40mm lens is either an M-Rokkor 40mm f/2.0 or the Leica Summicron-C 40mm f/2.0.

The Leica CL Snapshot prototype film camera


Of course, the prototype version of the Leica CL isn’t as affordable as the published one. Currently, we are only aware of the existence of one such prototype, and one-of-a-kind gear is never cheap. The prototype is expected to be from 1970, three years before the official launch of the Leica CL.

The prototype has a few interesting differences from the final version. Mainly, it is the lack of the rangefinder. The only way to see what you’re shooting with the prototype is to use the attachable rangefinder. It’s a 28mm rangefinder that slides onto the hotshoe.

Why use a 28mm rangefinder on a camera that comes with a 40mm lens? Because it doesn’t come with a 40mm lens, the prototype strangely has a 28mm lens instead. The M-Rokkor 28mm f/2.8, specifically. Now, nothing is stopping you from changing the lens to the traditional 40mm lens, it is an M-mount camera. Technically, you can even put modern M-mount lenses on it, but I’m not sure why would you.

Price and availability

If you are a collector who can afford such gear, or if you just want to take a look at the listing, the Leica CL prototype is available for $65,000 on Photo Arsenal Worldwide and on their eBay store. The camera comes with an M-Rokkor 28mm f/2.8 lens and a 28mm attachable rangefinder.

[via PetaPixel]

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