Repair of a Legend

“Winding. Clicking. Winding. Clicking, and so on. That’s what I have been doing the last couple of days. Sitting with the camera between my hands and listening to the sound of the shutter.”

– Paal Audestad

Worn out Leica cameras are a rare sight, but Paal Audestad managed to do the impossible. Paal started taking pictures when he was 14 years old. Leica was always his dream and he happened to buy a 1967 M4 in a second hand store in Oslo back in 1987. After many years by his side traveling to numerous festivals, concerts, discovering urban sites and visiting places all over the world (almost being lost twice), the M4 simply wore out. At the beginning of 2000 the shutter broke and the camera was put on a shelf to be displayed.

That was until Bresson, Leica’s affiliate in Norway, came across Paal’s blog post about the broken camera. The camera was sent off to Leica technicians in Solms. After examining the camera, they concluded that almost every part of the Leica needed replacing, which took a few weeks, but in the end it was all worth it.

Before the camera was sent in for repair, Paal’s love of Leica made its mark on his arm. The idea of the Leica tattoo was not done on impulse; it actually took Paal three years and was completed in 2009.

At the end of August, Paal received his newly repaired Leica M4 and here he is admiring the well used beauty after waiting patiently for almost eight weeks for it to be completed. It still looks old and the paint is almost gone, but every little piece inside is new. This is Paal’s response upon receiving his new camera, “a goodie bag from Leica with a square box covered in black gift wrapping. My Leica inside! The old M4 that the technicians at Leica didn’t know if they could repair, but now it’s all fixed. The coolest gift a guy can get; the old camera in perfect mechanical condition. The wonderful sound from the shutter, and the ultra smooth winding. Brand new.” It’s finally back in the spotlight after nearly twelve years spent on a shelf collecting dust.

This was the first photo taken with Paal Audestad’s rebuilt Leica M4. A packed concert hall of 15,000 spectators in Stavanger who have just heard the ending song for Kaizers Orchestra and all of the attention is directed at the man with the legendary camera. Paal had one chance to capture this shot.

Watch the video below of Paal’s first time shooting with his newly repaired camera backstage and onstage at the Kaizers Orchestra concert.

-Leica Internet Team

You can read the full story [in Norwegian] on Bresson’s site, leica.bresson.no,  and also see Paal’s work on his website, www.paalaudestad.com.

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15 comments

  • nice story; i fully appreciate the sentimental value of the camera and i do agree that some things should be ‘saved’ rather than tossed out and replaced with new ones!
    out of curiosity, one question: HOW MUCH did the ‘surgery’ cost?

    🙂

  • Wonderful! All the patina there but working perfectly! I’ve always wanted a Porsche 365 like that…beat up but mechanically strong…

  • This weekend I was in a Leica products showroom in Madrid, and they talked about the Leica repair service for old cameras. And today, I read and example.. coincidence?… great!

  • wow! This is what I call “LOVE”!
    I wish I could the reincarnated Leica once. I really admire how Paal trusted his instinct and the Leica as he took the concert shot!

  • I bought a very sad M3 a few years ago which I sent to Leica UK for a repair. It came back as effectively a brand new camera and is still in wonderful condition. Beautifully smooth, perfectly functioning and more than 50 years old.

  • Paal is a true artist, he loves his work and I have been fortunate to work along side with him in Chernobyl. What a great story and what a beautiful instrument to communicate the unique vision of Paal. I love seeing real photography.

  • My M-3 required a new shutter, well most of the parts, the main drum, the rangefinder unit! It was too well used in many climates and conditions.. Still prefer feel of M-3 to my M-6.My chrome quite worn away, gold color! The vulcanite falling out as fast as my hair..

  • I can understand Paal’s fondness for his old battle scarred M4 as can any photographer whose life has been graced by the ownership of a Leica M camera.

    Henri Cartier-Bresson also understood how Leica cameras become a part of you,h how they get in your blood. He also said it best: “Shooting with a Leica is like a long tender kiss, like firing an automatic pistol, like an hour on the analyst’s couch.”

  • That’s right, you guys are lucky. haha I like this quote..”like an hour on the analyst’s couch.” Poor people never have this luxury.

  • Great story and a gorgeous camera.

    Side note: is it just me or is he wasting frames by loading his camera like that? I get the leader into the take up spool (as diagrammed), make sure the sprockets have engaged the holes, keep tension on the winding arm, close the back and replace the bottom. Then wind on to “0” and shoot. I get a reliable 38 shots per roll like that, without fail. He seems to be wasting a couple.

  • Great story and is the love that continue for Leica. You are really in love with the photography . Good Luck with your new second life the the M3

  • Greeting

    My old Leica D.R.P. needs a lens. Haw can I get such a lens

    Grateful for any information.
    Embaie

  • hello
    i just got a suitcase with 24 leica bodies in bad shape
    they are for the most leica iii with no lenses and one m4
    they all have a D.R.P engravement
    i would like to know if it is worth restoring and if so what would be the place to do it
    it fills like holding a part of history

    please try to help

    thank you

    albert

  • it’s effectively a m4 from the summer of 1967 but more interestingly from the first batch of 500 black body, not bad, seems to be the 60 th ever made in black.

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