An ultra-rare Leica lens has come up for sale at a Leica store in the Netherlands. Leica Rumors has discovered (opens in new tab) the Leica Store in Lisse has acquired this one-of-a-kind 17mm f/2.0 fisheye lens, produced by Leica in conjunction with the Hughes-Leitz corporation. The lens is a unique prototype and weighs in at a hefty 12kg. It's unknown when it was originally manufactured, but since the Hughes-Leitz company name was only in use between 1990 and 1997, we can safely assume the lens is from this time period.
It's perhaps fitting that the lens is so gargantuan, given it was produced in part by the same Hughes aircraft company which made the colossal Spruce Goose flying boat back in the 1940s - a plane which held the record for the largest wingspan until 2019!(opens in new tab)
PetaPixel has revealed (opens in new tab) that the starting price for the lens is 40,000 Euros, but you can bet the final sale price will be considerably higher, given this is such a distinctive and unique piece of Leica history. This price also seems reasonable when you consider that examples of Nikon's legendary Fisheye-Nikkor 6mm f/2.8 lens have fetched up to $100,000 USD, and it's estimated up to 200 copies of that lens were produced, making it almost common next to the sole Leica 17mm fisheye!
The lens would certainly be a good display cabinet talking point, and this is where it would likely stay, as the lens isn't designed for a consumer camera system like the M-mount. Instead, it would likely have been made for industrial or possibly aviation applications.
Thankfully, these days you don't need to spend anything like a 5-figure sum to get such an extreme angle of view. The best 360-degree cameras (opens in new tab) can be had for a few hundred bucks and can fit in a shirt pocket, though it’s fair to say they don’t exude anything like the same kudos as the legendary optical fish-eye monsters of yesteryear.