Collector makes $450,000 profit on rare camera and lenses

Leica IIIg
(Image credit: Leitz Photographica Auction)

A remarkably shrewd collector has made $450,000 by selling a rare Leica film camera and lenses that he bought two years ago for just $24,000.

It goes without saying that Leica cameras cost a pretty penny, but even so eyebrows were raised when an elusive vintage Leica IIIg black paint body and two lenses sold in 2019 for £17,500 (approximately $24,000 / AU$33,140). Those same eyebrows were then blown clean off the tops of their owners' heads, when that very same kit sold this past June for an astonishing €408,000 ($479,000 / £349,130 / AU$660,980).

• Read more: Best Leica cameras (opens in new tab)

The almost half millon-dollar outfit consisted of the rare black Leica IIIg, along with a Leitz Summarit 50mm f/1.5 and Leitz Elmarit 90mm f/2.8 lens (both also in black) and a black Leicavit base plate with integral rapid winder.

So why is this such a soughtafter and high value camera? Because this black version of the IIIg was produced exclusively for the Swedish military. 

(Image credit: Leica Rumors)

"Produced from 1957-1960, the Leica IIIg was the last screw-mount model produced. Most were produced in chrome, but 125 black versions were produced for the Swedish army," states the 2019 listing (opens in new tab) by Dominic Winter Auctioneers (as reported by (opens in new tab) Leica Rumors).

"Other than these, which are all engraved with three crowns, the Leica IIIg being offered for sale here is the only other black paint version known to exist and predates the Swedish versions. 

"The current owner bought it at Christie's, London in July 1988 and took the camera and matching lenses to Leica in Wetzlar, Germany in 1990 for authentication and obtained written confirmation from them on Leica letterhead that it was a genuine original factory-painted black version, apparently produced by a Leitz technician as a final test project."

Just as some car aficionados buy and sell classic automobiles, buying and selling classic cameras can be a profitable venture – though this one was certainly an exceptional return on the original investment! 

Read more: 

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The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab)Digital Photographer (opens in new tab) and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show (opens in new tab). An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.