Let Us Roam in Collaboration with Leica Cameras is a film series focusing on photographers, artists, filmmakers and skateboarders. The culture of creativity in these industries is based on decades of individuals expressing themselves in their unique ways.The series will go behind the lens and bring forward aspects that are not often seen by people around the world.
Leica is a prestigious name in photography. Being the best cameras and pioneers of the magnum aesthetic, Leica cameras are responsible for some of the most momentous photographs in the collective memory.
Leica Camera has a rich history full of innovators and revolutionaries who have continually changed the landscape of photography for no reason other than a passion for creating perfect pictures. From the first successful 35mm camera to the Leica M camera, Leica has invariably maintained a reputation as the world’s best lensmaker.
Even though the little red Leica circle is Rolls Royce or Rolex comparable, every photographer swears that these beloved rangefinders transform their photography experience. This article will delve into the history of cameras by Leica to help understand why they are the best.
Leica Stories: The tradition of excellence
In the early 1900s, cameras were still bulky and difficult to carry around. Annoyed by this, Ernst Leitz, a German optical engineer and founder of Leica Camera AG, was convinced that it is possible to manufacture a smaller portable camera with the lenses he made. With a lot of determination, Leitz initiated the Leica prototype, which he later handed to Oskar Barnack.
Oskar Barnack’s works gave birth to the first successful 35mm camera, UR-Leica, featuring a Leitz anastigmat 50mm 3.5 lenses. Notably, this was the world’s first portable camera. After his invention, Barnack continued to improve the functionalities, where he developed a fully functional prototype of UR-Leica in 1914.
By 1925, Barnack and Ernest Leitz’s team had perfected the prototype, and Leica I was ready for release. Leica I was an immediate success. The model was followed by newer and improved models: Leica Luxur and Leica Compur.
In 1930, Leica I Schraubgewinde was designed, also known as Leica Thread Mount, this time featuring an interchangeable lens system with a 39mm diameter screw thread.
Later in 1932, Leica II was first produced. It was the first Leica camera to have a rangefinder, a focusing mechanism allowing a photographer to measure the subject’s distance. In the same year, the camera’s focal point was standardized at 28.8mm and implemented first in the Leica C model.
Leica III appeared in 1933, where model IIIa was complete with a slow-speed shutter. This is the last model for which Oskar Barnack was responsible. For the love of his passion for creating perfect pictures, may his soul rest in peace.
Leica Cameras after World War II
After WWII, Leitz continued to improve and produce Leica II and Leica III through the 1950s, with Leica IIIf being one of the last screw-mount Leica cameras.
A Leica factory was established in Canada in 1952 by Günther Leitz.
In 1954, the company launched Leica M3 featuring a bayonet-like lens mount. This model combined a rangefinder and viewfinder. Two years later, Leica MP (M professionals) was launched. The camera was specifically designed for photojournalists.
Under the new management of Ernst Leitz II sons, the company releases Leica IIIg, the last version of Leica III.
The M Film series continued from 1958.
From 1964, the company began producing a series of single-lens reflex cameras, which were succeeded by the R series in 1968. Before the introduction of the R series, Leicaflex, Leicaflex SL, and Leicaflex SL2 were created.
In 1971, the first Leica with a light meter, M5, was released. Two years later, the team established another factory in Portugal. It was not in 1974 when Leicaflex SL2/SL2 MOT camera, considered by many as the strongest 35mm camera, was created.
The Leitz company changed to Leica in 1986 following the strength of the Leica brand. The newly named company moved from Wetzlar to Solms. After a decade, the Leica camera separated from the Leica Group, becoming a publicly owned company. R series production continued until early 2009, the same year when the X series appeared.
Leica Camera AG was acquired by Lisa Germany Holding GmbH, resulting in the company being owned privately. In 2013, Leica purchased Swiss Sinar Photography AG. The company relocated in 2014 to Wetzlar, where it started, following the completion of a new factory at Leitz Park 1.
The features of the Leica M camera have been carried forward into digital photography, and all newer models continue to set higher standards with innovative functions and cutting-edge characteristic features.
Leica Camera AG has taken decades to successfully unite quality, innovative digital technology with its constantly improving rangefinder concept to give the world the best cameras.