Photography is often touted as the most democratic of arts—being affordable and generally accessible to all—but these ten super-luxe cameras are clearly intended for the 1%.
But that doesn’t make them any less fun to look at. The Hasselblad Ferrari camera, for example, bears the rearing horse seal, while Leica’s leather-clad Hermès camera looks more like a high-fashion accessory than a piece of technical equipment (yet it still has technical chops, trust us).
With photography picking up steam as the “it” hobby of the moment, here are our favorite cameras at the moment.
Are you a budding photographer? What’s your favorite camera to use? Share with us in the comments below.
Leica O-Series: A typical Leica camera will set you back upwards of $20,000—but antique Leicas are a whole different (and far spendier) ballgame. This 1928 O-Series Leica—one of only 12 in existence—sold for $2.8 million at auction this summer. Its predecessor went for $1.7 million back in 2011. Suffice it to say, if you see one lying around your grandma's attic, grab it.
Leica M-9P Edition Hermès: Leica still dominates the luxury camera category, and recently enlisted fellow luxury label Hermès to collaborate on an elegant update for the brand's "M" series. Priced at $50,000, the camera body comes bound in 'veau swift' calfskin and features sleek chrome elements imagined by car designer, Water de Silva. Available exclusively in Leica stores; for more information visit leica.com.
Hasselblad H4D-40 Ferrari: Similarly, luxury photography company Hasselblad tapped Ferrari for a collection of 499 sleek cameras painted in the car makers' signature 'rosso fuoco' red. Boasting a massive 40 megapixels and a super-advanced autofocus feature, the camera—which bears the Ferrari racing shield and retails for just under $25,000—is certainly worth a "test drive." Available at bhphotovideo.com.
Nikon D3X: Touted for its compact design and intuitive format, the new Nikon D3X is the high-resolution counterpart to the brand's regular D3 (which is designed for speed rather than resolution). At $8,000, what you're really paying for is megapixels—a whopping 24.5 of them, to be precise—which makes it ideal for fashion or fine art photographers. Available at nikonusa.com.
Giroux Daguerreotype: Made in 1930 by Alphonse Giroux, this old-fashioned daguerreotype is believed to be the oldest camera in existence. The wooden-box camera—which is signed by Jacques Mande Daguerre, who invented daguerreotype technology—fetched a suitably outlandish $956,000 at auction in Vienna in 2010.
Kodak Super Six: Produced between 1938 and 1944, the old-school Kodak Super Six was the first camera to offer auto-exposure, or "AE," making it one of the most collectible antique cameras in the world. In mint condition, a Super Six—only 719 of which are known to exist today—can fetch upwards of $4,400 at auction.
Phase One 545DF+: Phase One may be a relatively new company (it introduced its first models as recently as 2009), but what it lacks in experience it makes up for in innovation. Its 545DF+, which retails in kits starting around $36,000, is billed as an "open platform," meaning its components are compatible with most other brands on the market (particularly convenient if something needs to get shipped off for repairs). For availability visit phaseone.com.
RED Scarlet: Filmmakers may be more familiar with high-end RED digital cameras than photographers, but that's beginning to change with the brand's new Scarlet series, which can shoot still or video format and captures four times the megapixels of a typical HD camera. A complete kit stars around $18,710, but considering its peerless image quality, photo geeks might call that a bargain. Available at red.com.
Seitz 160 MP: Easily the oddest-looking camera in the bunch, Seitz' quirky 160 MP—which retails for $27,430—is ideal for action photographers with a minimum exposure speed of 1/2000 seconds. Aluminum "wing" grips at either side make it easy to handle but tough enough to withstand a few bumps. Available through roundhouseshot.ch.