Ralph Nelson’ Leica M4 cameras kit obtained by Leica Store Lisse

A quick update on the story I ran few months ago on the Ralph Nelson’ Leica M4 cameras kit:


Santa Monica, CA., November 4, 2015 – Duncan Meeder, one of the most respected Leica dealers in Europe and Asia, has just added a sequentially serial numbered pair of vintage Leica cameras with a unique Hollywood history behind them to his rare and varied collection of the famed German camera at his Leica store in Lisse, Netherlands — Foto Henny Hoogeveen.

Meeder obtained the cameras (along with three Summicron lenses and accessories) from now retired motion picture still photographer Ralph Nelson, who purchased the Leicas almost a half- century ago and carried them on his hip like a gunslinger does a holstered pistol on dozens of major Hollywood movie sets, including such Oscar-nominated titles as “Frost/Nixon,” “As Good As It Gets,” “The Green Mile” as well as the “Back to the Future” trilogy.


Nelson’s cameras will now be displayed alongside those of several other globally-renowned photographers at Meeder’s retail shop about 25 miles southwest of Amsterdam.

The store, considered one of the finest Leica retailers in Europe, also boasts a camera collection that includes both the equipment and work of such artists as Ralph Gibson, Jock Sturges, Elliott Erwitt, Richard Mosse, Alain Laboile and Miles Aldridge, among others.

Nelson, who began his distinguished movie career in the 1960s working with his late father, renowned film director Ralph Nelson. (“Lilies of the Field,” “Requiem for a Heavyweight”) says, “My Leicas were born in Wetzlar, spent most of their working lives in Hollywood and now have now been retired at Foto Henny Hoogeveen in the Netherlands. And, I could not be happier.”

“These two Leica M4’s have been with me for over 45 years,” the movie veteran continues. “Their journey covers tens of thousands of miles, countless rolls of film and untold memories. They have recorded people, places and historic events. They have been on well over a hundred movie sets where I was sometimes greeted by people whom I had never met who already knew me as ‘that guy who wears a pair of Leicas on his hip’. I could never imagine selling them, but always felt they deserved to be in the hands of a collector who would appreciate their history and give them an appropriate home. They are twins — sequentially numbered (M4-1247816 and 1247817) and never separated, and should remain that way.”

Adds retailer and collector Meeder about the new additions to his unique assemblage of celebrated Leicas, “what a fantastic (historical) collection this is. I also like the holster Mr. Nelson made that held the pair of black M4’s together. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before and it’s just brilliant. These two Leicas now have a new home, and I, too, could not be happier. Since we already have a large variety of Leica cameras owned by famous art photographers, this will be a nice addition to show in my store, which is much like a small Leica museum.”

Nelson, who retired from the film industry after shooting stills on John Lee Hancock’s 2009 Oscar-nominated Best Picture “The Blind Side” (for which Sandra Bullock earned a Best Actress Academy Award) began the search for a new “home” for his classic cameras earlier this year.

The two photography professionals did not know each other before this unique exchange in which Meeder generously presented Nelson with a pair of Leica digital bodies (Monochrome Type 246 and Leica M-P Type 240) and three ASPH lenses.

In addition to providing the camera equipment to Meeder, Nelson also included a collection of b/w contact sheets from his film projects to illustrate how and when the cameras were used.

Upon buying the equipment years ago, Nelson made notches on the film guide, which show up on the printed proof sheets, to confirm that the M4’s were used to capture said images. Meeder’s display currently sits in a glass-enclosed table which houses Nelson’s cameras and proof sheets exclusively.

In addition to the aforementioned film titles, Nelson’s extensive career in Hollywood has included shooting still photos on the sets for such acclaimed filmmakers as Francis Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Brian De Palma, Tony Scott, Paul Verhoeven, James L. Brooks, Gary Ross, Walter Hill, Scott Hicks, Rob Reiner, Steven Soderbergh, George Lucas and Ron Howard. In addition to his work in the movie arena, he has also published the acclaimed 2012 book, Botanica iPhone Photos, a vibrant photographic collection of flowers all shot with his iPhone. The book received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly upon its publication, which raved that “there is plenty to feast on visually.” You can read more about Nelson and his work on his website — www.ralphnelson.com.

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