Special versions of the Leica M4
Introduced in 1967 at the serial number 1175001, the Leica M4 combines the features of the M3 and M3. It also shows some upgrades over the earlier cameras, like angled rewind knob with a folding crank, improved loading system or self-resetting frame counter. Most of the produced M4's were finished in chrome, but several special versions of the Leica M4 are known:
Leica M4 black paint and black/chrome
Both black paint and the black/chrome versions of the M4 are considered to be production models, but because of the limited runs and premium price tag, they became quite uncommon and collectable. Both versions have been produced between the serial numbers 1181501 and 1443170, with the black/chrome version replacing the painted one around 1974. Around 9000 black finished Leicas M4 have been made
Leica M4-M and M4-MOT
Between 1968 and 1970 Leitz manufactured black painted M4 cameras equipped with electric motor connection and designed to use with Leitz NY Motor Drive. It was capable of 3 frames per second from 1/50s to 1/1000s and one frame per second at slower shutter speeds. Reportedly 315 M4-M and (later) 640 M4 MOT cameras have been made.
Leica M4-M DA
In 1970s E. Leitz Inc. manufactured a large number of MDa Mot cameras for use on Zeiss fundus cameras, an unexpected outcome of this cooperation was a number of M4-M and M4-MOT cameras being left without parts necessary for motor use. These Leicas were fitted with a grooved body casting for marker-strips and sold as special black M4's.
Leica M4 black 50 years
In 1975 Leica issued a special edition to commemorate 50 years of Leica. The cameras were finished in black/chrome, with a distinctive engraving on the front of the top plate. A total of 1750 units have been issued each numbered additionally with a three-digit number, preceded by a letter from the word LEICA.
Leica M4 olive Bundeseigentum
One of the rarest Leica M cameras is the M4 in olive green finish. Only 31 of these beautiful cameras have been made to order from the German Army. They were issued between the serial numbers 1266101-1266131. Most of them have been engraved with 'Bundeswehr' on the back of the top plate. The M4 olive is one of the major rarities in the Leica world.
Leica M4 Ernst Leitz Canada
Around 2300 to 2400 Leicas M4 have been assembled in Midland, Canada, but only the late examples, finished in black/chrome, carried the special engraving ‘Ernst Leitz Canada Ltd. Midland, Canada’ (one chrome example with number 1178005 is known to exist).
Leica M4 dummies and cut-away models
Both the cut-away models and the dummies are one of the rarest variations of the M4. They were built for internal presentation purposes and sent to larger stores and subsidiaries.
The KE-7A is a military version of the Leica M4, designed for the U.S. army and issued in 1972. These special cameras have been listed at the serial numbers between 1294501-1295000. They are finished in black/chrome, with military engravings on the back of the top plate. They also differ from the production M4 in that the shutter and the body have been additionally sealed against the elements. The civilian version (without the special engraving on the back) represent a production overrun, less than 60 have been issued.
Michal Kosakowski, January 2021
- Dennis Laney. Leica Collector’s Guide 2nd Edition, 2005
- James L. Lager. Leica, An Illustrated History, 1993
- Paul-Henry van Hasbroeck. Leica, A History Illustrating every Model and Accessory Revised Edition 1993
- Leica Camera and Lens Pocket Book 8th Edition 2012