The $2 Million Dollar Camera – Plus the Images That Made it Famous


If you take photos for a living – or simply love the craft – you are probably like me in that you’ve spent more of your hard earned dough on cameras and photographic gadgetry than the average Joe. But would you be willing to pay 2 million dollars for a camera? That’s a whole new level of love for the magic light-box.

I’m referring to David Douglas Duncan‘s Leica M3, a camera that captured some of the most well known war images along with incredible portraits of his good friend Pablo Picasso. It was just sold for $2.19 million – making it the most expensive commercially manufactured camera ever to be sold.

Although this camera is special because of who wielded it and the incredible images that passed through its innards, it is also unique in that it is one of four Leica M3Ds ever created – the D stands for Duncan. Leica created this battle hardened camera specifically for him, so that he could get in the midst of the action without compromising the integrity of this remarkable tool.

Scroll down for some of Duncan’s famous images and ask yourself the question: if you had all the money in the world, would YOU pay 2 million for a camera with such a deep and rich history?

liam smith says:

if i had all of the money in the world – yes of course.

funny how no-one talks about the film he used…

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Sergio Sarnicola says:

No, never.

Tom says:

Wouldn’t spend a penny over 1.9 million.

Olmon says:

That is an easy question to answer. No, I wouldn’t.

Jane says:

If I was wealthy enough to buy that camera, it would give me a greater pleasure to donate 2 million to a deserving charity. I’m not at all caught up in material possessions.

Gabriel says:

Sure, though it be a chore to explain its worth to whoever came to visit.

L Dewar says:

It does not matter how much money I had, I would rather see the images captured with the camera, than have the camera.

Jacque says:

I have 3 Leicas and I love them all. I’ve spent a LOT of money on my babies, but my M3 was a couple thousand for the same camera.

Davor says:

I don’t need a camera with a history, I need a camera with a future.
With all the money in the world, yes, I’d buy my dream equipment, but spend the rest on photographing oportunities.

Sathya says:

Now quick find the typewriter that Shakespeare used, it would be worth couple of millions !

p.s: i know he might not have used one, but you get the point :)

Stephen says:

I would donate it to a museum.

Clarice James says:

Love the images and yes if I had. Alll the money in the world I sure would flaunt it on that baby and a piece of history is a plus…

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D says:

How much have Picasso’s paintbrushes, or Di Vinci’s pens sold for at auction? Exactly the same historical value as this camera.

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Haw says:

“If I have all the money in the world”, then yes I would buy it for 2 million dollars. Not only that. I would also buy every print this camera had taken …if I have all the money in the world :)

Crash Taylor says:

Of course I would. I would pay 3 million for it.

Wow, the shots are awesome. $2 million for a camera? Well, if I had all the money in the world, I would take it. Just to look at it, I would probably dedicate a room to it full of huge prints of photos that were shot with this camera and then put the camera in the middle of the room. I would come in that room now and then, pat the camera, admire the shots and then think: “how can I be as awesome as that guy?”

Yep, that’s probably what I would do :D

This is a great article thanks for sharing :)

RichSib says:

Is it worth $2M? Don’t know, how many megapixels? What’s the burst rate?

john says:

Film idiot

Brian Krecik says:

If I had the money I would purchase then donate to a museum. A great piece of history that should be shared with the world.

Renatorock says:

The right question here would be: if you lived in a perfect world where there were not millions of people in starvation…
Having or not money for that is really an irrelevant point too make a decision although I have too agree that this camera is very special in many ways.

George says:

$2 Million for a camera! I hope that money went into doing something good for the less fortunate!

renatorock says:

i agree… this camera is taking another picture of the world in which we live now

ZDP-189 says:

If you would pay two million for this, you’d pay twenty million for a renaissance master’s oil knife and a hundred million for Leonardo’s pencil. I’d pay no more than two grand for this camera and then I’d shoot it till there was no paint left and then some.


Selling the cam + the Prints = great marketing.

I think the “main” product are the photographys which have been sold with the cam.

It`s just a camera, its worth what any other Leica M3(D) is worth nowadays. These might not be cheap anyway.

Who sold the package?


faisal says:

Amazing camera, if I had that much money, I would make another camera of that quality ;p

If I had an spare couple of Millions, I would spend it with Leica to make me an M9D :-)

Anonymous says:

Absolutely !

as long as it comes with full ownership rights of the photos it made…

Adil says:

I’d rather have the films instead.

Francisco Javier says:

I would… I would spend that much money just to have the camera… and I will spend more just to give that camera to the owner, the person who took the photos…
Can you imagine how special it would be for that person? o.o

Jiffy says:


It is amazing to own a tool that an amazing photographer used. DDD created amazing images from the time he started the photo department for Hallmark cards to his Vietnam War photographs. I own a few photographs of his and cherish them. I am of course more interested in the images he took than the machine he used, however to hold the camera he used day in and out is much like putting on a pair of Rocky Marciano’s boxing gloves.

Chrisw says:

I would love that camera but I’d rather donate it to a youth center or use it to make history rather than purchase it. It’s a beautiful camera but no camera is worth 2 million regardless if even Ansel Adams or Jesus used it.

The images are the legacy, not the camera.

If I had all the money in the world I hope I would use it to make more of a difference in the world than buying this camera ever would.

Russell says:

should the photographs/film be more expensive? the camera doesn’t have a trace to those stunning pictures expect to the owner of the camera.

Jim Felt says:

DDD very unlike W. Eugene Smith, Alfred Eisenstadt and other peers of that era were not shameless self promoters!
Duncan was. He is also frequently credited with conning Joe Ehrenreich into becoming the original Post WWII American importer of Chase’s (not so much any longer Japanese made) brand Nikon.
I’m, of course, referring to the rangefinder Nippon Kogaku knockoffs of Zeiss. Just as Canon copied Leica.
It’s all a distant and dusty past.

I believe that the camera is simply the creative tool that allows artists to express themselves. Im amazing how much photographers are so fixated on the equipment rather than the craft. After all, you never ask a writer what kind of pen, pencil or typewriter they used. You don’t ask a painter what kind of brush they used to apply color to a canvas nor do you ask a ccok what kind of oven, spatula or knife they use to make an incredible meal. So why do photographers pay more attention to the equipment and over look the craft, artistry and craftsmanship a photographer puts behind the thought before pushing the shutter release?

ScottAblaze says:

This happens in a lot of fields that use require technology as a creative tool. I’m primarily in the audio profession, and people will argue for days on the internet about what analog to digital converters where used… the real masters, however, couldn’t care less beyond a certain threshold of quality gear.

Jon says:

Same here, I totally agree!

Kevin Sheehan says:

I appreciate what you are saying and agree that it is a shame that often the technology overtakes the thought processes in discussions. But whatever the merits I think it happens in all fields, being exposed to the catering industry I can tell you that many chefs can have quite animated discussions over which over is best for what meal.

Brian Krecik says:

Jeff, that is a easy question that is easily answered. Those that fixate on the equipment rather than the intent or vision of the artist simply lack the knowledge or artistic intent needed to understand and critique another artists work. Their belief is simply, what tools did you use in the hopes I too can capture such great images. If you want to learn to create images that are uniquely your own, delve deep and explore what makes you tick – then you will come close to finding your voice to express yourself no matter what artistic intent you choose.

Brian Krecik

JohnnyLA says:

“You don’t ask a painter what kind of brush they used to apply color to a canvas nor do you ask a ccok what kind of oven, spatula or knife they use to make an incredible meal.”

Oh, yes they do! I am a amateur painter and you have no idea the discussions around me in class about brushes and especially the quality of paint (oil, watercolor, etc).

Same with cooking. Le Creuset pots or Lodge? Steel or rubberized spatulas.

Same even with programming. C++ or C#. Java or Python. ViM or eMacs.

nikki says:

The most important part of the camera is the 6 inches behind it.

photo2010 says:

As a pro photographer, I believe that a good photographer can make great images with a ‘Brownie’ camera. No, I would not spend 2 million for this Leica. Better to donate the money to a charity.

Chris says:

Yes sir I would.

Lou Goodman says:

I would love to have heard his response to,” What great pictures…what kind of camera do you use”?

tim gray says:

His answer would have been, “my kind of camera”

Barbar says:

No, i would not.

Anthony says:

Wow, i think because of its history, and if i had all the money in the world i would definitely spend $2m on the camera, its a piece of history!

Chris says:

Damn !
Ok that is a well Camera but 2$ is a way to much , may I spend 1Million for it hehe !
Have a great day !

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