Imagine what you could buy with half a million dollars… a Rolls Royce Phantom VIII, a decent 3-bedroom house in London, or, a Leica MDa NASA replica used in the Skylab missions. I certainly know which I’d choose but then again, I’m 28 years old, about to move back in with my parents, and have every expectation of renting til I retire.
Joking aside, half a million dollars is some serious money to drop on a camera that doesn’t even have a viewfinder. Yep, that’s right, the Leica MDa was created for purely scientific purposes to photograph the airglow (a faint emission of light by a planetary atmosphere) within the visible and middle ultraviolet spectral range. The camera was never designed to take photos in a conventional way but rather as a tool for documenting space.
The Leica MDa was developed specifically for NASA and was modified to make it easier to use by astronauts - it has a much larger and softer shutter button as well as bigger knobs to improve handling.
Wetzlar Camera Auction (opens in new tab) (who recently sold a Nikkor 58mm f/1 lens for €187,500 (opens in new tab) making it the most expensive lens sold at auction) expected the camera would sell for anywhere between €60,000-€80,000. No one could’ve predicted the camera would in fact fetch €500,000 - especially in the current economic climate.
Included in the sale is a Leica Noctilux 50 mm f/1.2 which is described as being in “very good condition” - you would hope if you’re dropping that sum of money on it! Honestly, I think whoever bought this camera has more money than sense and I for one would love to know what it feels like to have a spare half a million I could spend on a camera (not that I would). But I’ll never know that wealth and that is fine - I wouldn't wanna buy an old Leica replica anyway.
Perhaps it was bought for bragging rights, or maybe the new owner has emotional connections to the Skylab missions but either way, I hope this is kept under lock and key because it’s one camera you definitely couldn’t replace and money can't buy (again).