The German camera manufacturer Leica hasn’t merely survived the digital revolution in image making, it has embraced and capitalised on it, and also stays at the top of its game through interesting collaborations: its work with Hermès includes a pair of Ultravid binoculars released last year, as well as three versions of M-System cameras, including the $50,000 Edition Hermès in 2012. Today Leica releases the M-P “grip” (limited edition of 79, £12,500), a collaboration with Swiss artist and designer Rolf Sachs, known for his conceptual, tactile work.
The new camera is timely. Leica has worked with Sachs on a number of projects recently, among them Camera in Motion: From Chur to Tirano, a collection of images shot by Sachs and exhibited at the Leica Galleries in Salzburg and Wetzlar.
This special edition of the M-P (Typ 240) pairs the classic, super-fast, multipurpose Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH lens with a body clad in primary-red “ping pong” rubber. Sachs studied a wide variety of materials to find out which had strong gripping properties – the rubber most commonly used for table tennis bats proved to be the most impressive.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to ‘undress’ the camera and create a new look that’s surprising, as well as functional,” says Sachs. “We have applied a material that has never been used before as an easy-to-grip camera surface, creating a striking aesthetic and a unique tactility.”
Sachs’s styling doesn’t stop at the rubber – many of the engravings on the accessory shoe, shutter speed dial, on/off switch, video button and shutter release button appear in red, as opposed to Leica’s usual white, and a Rolf Sachs logo adorns the top plate.