|1923 "O" Replica
||1928 Leica I (A)||1930 Leica I (A)||1931 Leica I (C)||1932 Leica Standard (E)||1932 Leica II (D) type 1|
|1933 Leica III (F)||1935 OLEYO||1935 Leica II (D)||1938 Leica II (D)||1939 Leica Standard (E)||1939 Leica IIIa (G)|
|1939 Leica IIIb||1941 Leica IIIc||1948 Leica IIc||1949 Leica IIIc||1950 Leica Ic||1951 Leica Ic|
|1951 Leica IIIf BD||1952 Leica IIf BD||1952 Leica If RD||1955 Leica IIIf RDST||1956 Leica IIIg||1957 Leica Ig|
|1961 Leica M3||1961 Leica M2||1962
Firm Ernst Leitz in Wetzlar, Germany began as an Optical Institute
under the direction of Carl Kellner in 1849. In 1855 Kellner
from Tuberculosis at the age of 29. The Institute survived
the leadership of Friedrich Behltle, an apprentice of Kellner's who
married his widow. In 1863 Ernst Leitz joined the institute and by 1865
was a full partner. Upon the death of Behltle, Leitz became the sole
owner of the now renamed company, E Leitz, Wetzlar. Leitz
continued to manufacture quality microscopes and telescopes. In 1907
the production of binoculars began. By 1914 Leitz was one of the
leading Microscope manufacturers in the world. At about this time, an
employee at Leitz, Oscar Barnack, began experimenting, for his own use,
on a pocket size camera. Barnack was not a robust physical specimen and
could not carry around the large plate cameras of the day and as the
manager of the Development Dept. at Leitz had the wherewithal to
develop a camera based on the 35mm cine film then available. By
doubling the size of the cine window to a 24 X 36 negative the modern
era of 35mm photography began. Another Leitz employee, Max Berek, was
instrumental in developing a lens for this camera. A f3.5 / 50mm lens
was produced as the optimum focal length for the 24 X 36 format.
From two or possibly three prototypes built between 1914 and 1923 came the idea of mass producing a 35mm camera. In 1924, 30 hand built "Null series" cameras were distributed to famous photographers and other photographic experts to gauge their reaction to this "small negative, large picture" concept. Despite considerable skepticism from both the experts and within Leitz itself, Ernst Leitz decided that "Barnack's camera is going to be built". The Leica was born. The name Leica comes from Lei tz ca mera.
1925 saw the debut of the Leica Model A (or Leica I) at the Leipzig Spring fair. The first cameras had Berek's f2.5 / 50mm Elmax lens in a non interchangeable mount. The Elmax name is purportedly named after Berek's dog, Max. Later, the f2.5 / 50mm Hektor lens was introduced and again is supposed to be named after one of his dogs. The Elmax eventually was redesigned and renamed the Elmar, the lens most people identify with the Leica.
Leica cameras are by far the most collected camera ever. There are an infinite variety of both screw mount, and later, bayonet mount models and variations of models to choose from (not to mention the SLR models). It would be fair to say that few collectors will ever have the luck or the money to collect all the different models. Not that you can't try. Leica cameras are still manufactured to this day although ownership has passed out of the Leitz family.