A Leica lens has been auctioned and sold for $389,400 AUD (€240,000 EUR / $287,592 USD / £215,540 GBP) and is the most expensive Leica lens ever sold at an auction. The Leitz auction often surfaces extremely rare and interesting cameras and photographic items and their recent auction didn’t disappoint.
This Vario-Elmar-M lens didn’t get top billing but somehow managed to outperform everything else in the auction and far exceed its estimate of €60,000 – 80,000. Perhaps it’s because there are only 1 of 3 prototypes in the world.
The Vario-Elmar-M 3.5-5.6/28-75MM ASPH. was meant to replace the Tri-Elmar 28-35-50 but turned out to be too complex to engineer and so the project was cancelled in 2015. The M-lens is said to be “a true zoom construction producing a sharp image also between the four hard stops.” Production of the final stage of the prototypes was outsourced to Japan, hence the “Manufactured in Japan” debased text on the lens.
Other details include the Leica order number 11669, and a special screw-type prototype hood.
Check out some of the other quirky cameras in the auction.