The Leica 0-series no. 105 just sold at auction for $15 million, making it the most expensive camera of all time.
Leica isn’t exactly known for cheap cameras. But an early prototype of the world’s first 35mm camera just sold at the 40th Leitz Photographica Auction for $15 million. If you’re keeping count, that makes the camera in question, the 0-series no. 105, the world’s most expensive camera.
The 100-year-old camera belonged to Oskar Barnack, an engineer at the Leitz company (later to become Leica). He designed the no. 105 just before World War I, and the camera would go on to be instrumental in the future development of the commercially available 35mm camera. Barnack’s name is engraved across the top of the 0-series no. 105.
What’s in a Name?
That’s quite a pedigree and goes a long way toward explaining why the 0-series no. 105 fetched such a high price at auction.
“To put these numbers into perspective, the most expensive camera in the world to date — also a 0-series, serial number 122 — was sold at the 32nd Leitz Photographica Auction in 2018 for €2.4 million including a buyer’s premium,” said Alexander Sedlak, managing director of Leica Camera Classics, an Austrian subsidiary of Leica Camera AG.
“We are fully specialized in historical cameras and accessories. It was, therefore, a special pleasure for us to be able to auction Oskar Barnack’s personal camera, a prototype of the camera generation that laid the foundation for modern photography in the mid-1920s, as part of our anniversary auction.”
What we love about Leica (other than the quality) is the timeless and stripped-down aesthetic its cameras employ. Taking a look at the 0-series no. 105, it’s evident that design philosophy goes right back to the very beginning.
Camera history nuts can read more about the sale.