A Leica camera used in NASA’s Skylab missions sells for €500,000!

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Imagine what you could buy with half a million dollars… a Rolls Royce Phantom VIII, a decent 3-bedroom house in London, or a Leica MDa NASA replica used in Skylab missions. I definitely know what I would choose, but then again, I’m 28, about to move back in with my parents and expect to rent until I retire.

Kidding aside, half a million dollars is serious money to spend on a camera that doesn’t even have a viewfinder. Yes, that’s right, the Leica MDa was created for purely scientific purposes to photograph the airglow (a faint emission of light by a planetary atmosphere) in the visible and mid-ultraviolet spectral range. The camera was never intended to take pictures in a conventional way but rather as a tool for documenting space.

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The Leica MDa was developed specifically for NASA and modified to make it easier for astronauts to use – it has a much larger, softer shutter button as well as larger buttons to improve handling.

Wetzlar Camera Auction (opens in a new tab) (who recently sold a Nikkor 58mm f/1 lens for €187,500 (opens in a new tab) making it the most expensive lens sold at auction) expected the camera to sell for between €60,000 and €80,000. No one could have predicted that the camera would actually fetch €500,000 – especially in today’s economic climate.

Included in the sale is a Leica Noctilux 50mm f/1.2 which is described as in “very good condition” – you hope if you lose that amount of money on it! Honestly I think whoever bought this camera has more money than common sense and I for one would love to know what it’s like to have a spare half a million I could spend on a camera photo (not that I would). But I’ll never know that wealth and that’s fine – I wouldn’t want to buy an old Leica replica anyway.

Maybe it was bought for bragging rights, or maybe the new owner has emotional ties to Skylab missions, but either way, I hope this gets kept under lock and key as it’s a camera that you definitely can’t replace and money can’t buy (yet).

You might also like the best leica cameras (opens in a new tab) and the best Leica M lenses (opens in a new tab).

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