The Queen and I

HMQ and I have one thing in common: we both use Leica cameras. This famous photograph is of her with a M3. My first Leica was an M2, which I bought from an antiquarian bookseller towards the end of my time as a student. It came with a 50mm Summicron lens. He accepted a facsimile edition of Newton’s Principia in part exchange.

The difference between HMQ and me is therefore simple: she got her cameras as a gift from Leitz, whereas I have always paid (through the nose) for them. It’s said that she requested that they should come without serial numbers, so they engraved her initials on them instead.

Since 1925, Leica has had a tradition of giving cameras with special serial numbers to a select group of prominent people. As well as the Queen they include photographers Alfred Eisenstat and Henri Cartier-Bresson, the co-inventors of Kodachrome film (Leopold Mannes and Leo Godowsky Jr.), US president Dwight Eisenhower and Woody Allen (serial number 3,555,555).

Why Allen? Well, it turns out that he’s an avid Leica enthusiast. After being presented with the camera (an M8.2, for those who are interested in such things) he explained that when he was preparing for the film Vicky Cristina Barcelona and had to choose a camera for actress Scarlett Johansson to use (her character plays a photographer), he chose a Leica.

Now there’s product placement for you.