The last of the la carte cameras
Old 08-20-2019   #1
maclaine
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The last of the la carte cameras

Hi all. I haven't posted much here in a very long time, but thought it would be fun to share this with the board.

I have always wanted a proper a la carte Leica but couldn't justify the cost. One day when I was poking around here on RFF, I saw the rumor that the program was ending. I called up Leica USA to confirm, and the final day to get orders in was less than a week away. I figured it was now or never and didn't want to have any regrets, so I got in touch about doing some customizing on my M7. It made it to the Leica USA HQ the day before the cutoff. Just in the nick of time!

I originally bought it while in Japan on my honeymoon, specifically looking for the Japanese edition with the Leica script engraving on the top. Unfortunately, the shop I was at only had the models with the lettering screen printed on the top. It looks mostly the same, but I was worried about the durability of it with a lot of usage. The previous owner had also taken the paint out of the "M7" engraving, which I personally think is pointless and makes the camera look really bad.

In my opinion, the best looking M is the black chrome M4. I just love the shape, the engraving, the sharp contrast of the white on black, and I think the clean front of the camera looks really great. I'm not much of a fan of black paint Leicas and don't care about brassing. I decided if I was going to customize my M7, I wanted to get it as close as possible to a black chrome M4. So, off it went to Wetzlar by way of New Jersey.

They replaced the top so now there's no red dot and no "M7" engraving, and added the classic script and "Leica Camera Wetzlar Germany" engraving. The engraving isn't quite as fine or as deep as it is on my standard M4, but it's still beautifully done. They also replaced the hideous original M7 leatherette with the type 240/M10 leatherette. It's a shame they no longer do vulcanite, but the new leatherette is a vast improvement over the original M6/M7 one, in my opinion. While they had it, they did the routine M7 upgrades to an MP finder and replacing the DX reader as well as general servicing. Prior to sending it off, I wrote to the Leica USA parts department to get the white plastic replacement for the frameline preview lever, which was sent to me free of charge. I'm very thankful for their generosity in that regard. I changed that out myself, which was a piece of cake.

All in all, I'm ecstatic to have this beautiful camera back and basically in brand new shape. It's truly a once in a lifetime thing for me as I never plan to sell it even if 35mm film disappears forever. It's low on the priority list, but in order to complete its transformation into a black chrome M4, some day I'd like to replace the wind lever with the proper M4 style. It's hard to find just that part, so if it never happens, so be it. It would also be nice to have the shutter speed dial with the knurled edge instead of the ridges, but that doesn't really bother me, and may not even be available in black chrome for all I know.

Hope you all find this interesting, and Rest In Peace Leica la carte. I'm going to miss killing time daydreaming new combinations in the configurator.





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Old 08-20-2019   #2
CharlesDAMorgan
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Very nice! It looks lovely, and uncluttered.
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Old 08-20-2019   #3
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That is very nice! I agree, I think black chrome looks the best. I know some people took the opportunity to get an M-A/M-P film advance lever.
I wish Leica offered the M7 with the M-A/M3 style film rewind knob in the a la carte program, they way they did with the M-P.
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Old 08-23-2019   #4
leo mm
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Beautiful camera! I love seeing what cool a la carte cameras people come up with. So many little decisions to personalize.

Quote:
Originally Posted by maclaine View Post
It's low on the priority list, but in order to complete its transformation into a black chrome M4, some day I'd like to replace the wind lever with the proper M4 style. It's hard to find just that part, so if it never happens, so be it. It would also be nice to have the shutter speed dial with the knurled edge instead of the ridges, but that doesn't really bother me, and may not even be available in black chrome for all I know.
By wind lever you mean the film advance lever? DAG Camera has had a black chrome M4 one on his site (scavenged from a donor camera I assume). Im not sure you can fit the thicker M4-style lever alongside the big TTL-style shutter speed dial though. Maybe he (or Youxin or another repair professional) could dig up the black chrome shutter speed dial from a black M4, as well.
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Old 08-23-2019   #5
Gregm61
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THAT is what the stock M7 SHOULD have looked like.

Beautiful.
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Old 08-23-2019   #6
lxmike
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now that is very very elegant
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Old 08-23-2019   #7
aizan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gregm61 View Post
THAT is what the stock M7 SHOULD have looked like.

Beautiful.
Could not agree more. The M6s red dot + front engraving but w/o top plate engraving styling is long in tooth. Its 34 years old for goodness sake!
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Old 08-23-2019   #8
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I'm not a great fan of customizations but I have to say your M7 is very elegant! Love it! Well done!
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Old 08-23-2019   #9
maclaine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leo mm View Post
By wind lever you mean the film advance lever? DAG Camera has had a black chrome M4 one on his site (scavenged from a donor camera I assume). I’m not sure you can fit the thicker M4-style lever alongside the big TTL-style shutter speed dial though. Maybe he (or Youxin or another repair professional) could dig up the black chrome shutter speed dial from a black M4, as well.
Yes, I meant the advance lever. The one on DAG's website has been listed as "sold out" for months if not years. After my experience with Leica USA parts, I wonder if I could contact them about it? Like I said, it's low priority. Also, I hadn't thought about how its shape might interfere with the over-sized shutter dial, but even with that, the angle of the lever itself is not as shallow as the modern style, so it might be fine. As for replacing the dial, I actually like the bigger "wrong way" dial over the traditional one. I've seen some of the bigger ones with the knurled edges, like on the M6 TTL Dragon, and it looks good to me. I just don't know if it is available in black chrome.

Anyway, thanks for looking!
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Old 08-23-2019   #10
sepiareverb
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Lovely camera! I had the twin of this as an MP, purchased here many years ago. It was redesigned to remove all markings save the shutter speeds a few years ago, but that process took an entire year. Seems like yours was done much more quickly!

The 'Leica Camera Wetzlar Made in Germany' on mine is not filled with paint, and the serial number is on the hotshoe, unfilled.

I will miss the configurator as well. I have a 0.58MP also, set up as an M6 classic, but with no infilled engravings save the shutter speed dial and hotshoe text. My two most used film M bodies.

I believe I have seen the knurled M7 style shutter speed dial on a la carte M7 bodies in the past, but I'm not positive.
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Old 08-23-2019   #11
Tim Gray
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Very nice! Similar to mine but my M7 has the old style advance lever, no engraving on the top, and 0.58x mag. I traded for mine for a lens.
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Old 08-24-2019   #12
eric_bowles
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Here are two la carte black paint M7s, with 0.58x and 0.72x finders, that I ordered in 2010 and 2012. It's a shame the program has been discontinued.


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Old 08-24-2019   #13
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Out to Lunch, on Flickr. Similar, I bought mine some 10 years ago.
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Old 08-24-2019   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Out to Lunch View Post
Out to Lunch, on Flickr. Similar, I bought mine some 10 years ago.
This is a beauty. I debated very heavily whether or not I should customize my M7 or order a proper a la carte exactly like this one at triple the cost. A small degree of common sense prevailed, but I would have loved a silver chrome M7 disguised as an M4.
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Old 08-24-2019   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
... I wish Leica offered the M7 with the M-A/M3 style film rewind knob in the a la carte program, they way they did with the M-P.
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Old 09-06-2019   #16
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That is so slick - I like the matte finish of the black chrome a hell of a lot better than the shiny and easily scratched (sorry, brassed) black enamel
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Old 10-28-2019   #17
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It's very sad news that the program has been cancelled. It still appears on the website but gives an error when clicking.
Anyway, seems that in the global website it is still active but it does not allow to configurate anything, just opens a repair formulaire leaving open a field for remarks, so I think the programme -might- operate but in the basis of repair/restoration.
best regards
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Old 10-28-2019   #18
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Very nicely done. Elegant!
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