Leica

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Company

Leica Camera AG is a leading German optical company that has been designing and developing 35 mm cameras since 1913, and manufacturing them in series production since 1925. Leica Camera AG is also responsible for Leica Binocular production, Leica began producing binoculars in 1907. The company, formerly Ernst Leitz GmbH, is now three companies: Leica Camera AG, which produces cameras; Leica Geosystems AG which produces geodetic equipment; and Leica Microsystems GmbH, which produces microscopes.

Leica Camera AG has production plants in Germany and Portugal, the headquarters of Leica Camera AG is situated in Solms, Germany.

History:

  • 1849: the mathematician Carl Kellner founds a company in Wetzlar which produces microscopes
  • 1855: after Kellner's death his widow leads the company
  • 1865: the precision mechanic Ernst Leitz becomes partner
  • 1869: Ernst Leitz becomes chief of the company
  • 1887: the company produces its 10,000th microscope
  • 1913: Oskar Barnack become the head of R&D
  • 1920: after Ernst Leitz's death Ernst Leitz II becomes chief
  • 1923: 25 "Null-Serie" Cameras produced
  • 1924: the company has 1000 employees. Leitz decides to produce the viewfinder camera for 35mm film which Oskar Barnack had constructed in 1913
  • 1925: The new product, the Leica, is launched at the spring fair (Früjahrsmesse) in Leipzig
  • 1926: they produce their first slide projector
  • 1930: The Leica I is reworked for interchangeable instead of fixed lenses
  • 1938: foundation of the Leica school, the later Leica Akademie
  • 1945: After WWII used old Leicas are among the top products traded on Germany's postwar black market
  • 1956: after Ernst Leitz II's death his sons Ernst Leitz III, Ludwig Leitz and Günther Leitz lead the company
  • 1972: a cooperation agreement is signed in June between the Leitz and Minolta companies, that will lead to the joint development of the Leica CL, Leica R3 and Leica R4
  • 1986: the camera making activities of the Leitz company are bundled in the Leica GmbH
  • 1988: the new factory in Solms opens
  • 1996: Leica buys Minox. The Leica GmbH becomes the stock market company Leica Camera AG
  • 2005: Leica Camera AG has lost market shares and starts a rescue plan for economical survival. The expensive digital module for the R8 and R9 analog SLRs is a huge success.
  • 2006: Leica Camera AG tried unsuccessfully to buy 51% of Sinar AG from Jenoptik

35mm film

Fixed lens

  • Leica 0, preseries ("null serie")
  • Leica A (fixed lens)
  • Leica B (only model w/ leaf shutter)

Screw-mount lens

  • Leica C non-standardized (requires lens shims)
  • Leica C standardized = Leica I
  • Leica D = Leica II (first type w/ built-in rangefinder)
  • Leica E = Leica Standard = Leica I (improved standardized C)
  • Leica F = Leica III (like II but with slow speeds on frontal dial)
  • Leica G = Leica IIIa (adds 1/1000 speed)
  • Leica IIIb (rfdr. and viewer windows close together)
  • Leica IIIc (die cast body, slightly longer)
  • Leica IIc (die cast body like IIIc, otherwise similar to Leica II)
  • Leica Ic (has two accessory shoes, die cast body similar to IIc but without rangefinder)
  • Leica IIId (version of IIIc with self-time lever, very few were produced)
  • Leica IIIf (postwar improvements, and some have self-timer lever)
  • Leica IIf (no slow speed dial, but other improvements like IIIf)
  • Leica If (has two accessory shoes, die cast body similar to IIf but without rangefinder)
  • Leica IIIg (change in body configuration to facilitate manufacture)
  • Leica 250 Reporter (has huge film magazines)
  • Leica half-frame (version of IIIc, and was built in Canada)
  • Single Exposure Leica

Note: Capital letter model designations were used in Europe; Roman numerals were at first used in USA, and became universal after the Model G (IIIa). There is often confusion between the sub-letters in lower case used on the Roman numeral designations, and the capital letters used in the earlier screwmount models; they do NOT equate! Apparently there were no Models Ie, IIe, or IIIe. Also the III is not the same as the IIIa. There are many minor variations that did not rate a change in designation.

M-mount Rangefinders

For digital M cameras see Digital M-mount

Leica M chronology

M-mount Lenses

Leica produced and still produce many lenses for the famous M-mount.

The Lenses are named based on their aperture.

  • Noctilux f0.95-f1.2
  • Summilux f1.4
  • Summicron f2
  • Summarit f2.5
  • Elmarit f2.8
  • Elmar, Super-Elmar f3.5-f4
  • Hektor f4.5

SLR

Autofocus

Many Leica-branded compacts used electronics from Panasonic, and may have actually been manufactured by the Japanese company.

APS film

Special cameras

Aerial cameras

  • Leitz Canada KE-28B

9×12cm microscope cameras

  • Leitz Wetzlar Makam 1x
  • Leitz Microscope Camera

8mm movie cameras

(under construction)

  • Leicina 8R (1960)
  • Leicina 8S (1962)
  • Leicina 8V (1962) with fixed Leitz zoom: Leitz Variogon 8-48mm f/1.8
  • Leicina 8SV (1962) with fixed Leitz zoom: Leicina Vario 7,5-35mm f/1.8
  • Leicina 8SV (1962) with fixed Angenieux Paris zoom: Angenieux Paris - Zoom Type K2 7,5-35mm f/1.8
  • Leicina Super (1969) with fixed Leitz zoom: Leicina Vario 8-64mm f/1.9
  • Leicina Super RT1 (1970) with fixed Leitz zoom: Leicina Vario 8-64mm f/1.9
  • Leicina Special (1972) with interchangeable Leitz lenses: Leicina Optivaron 6-66mm f/1.8 / Leicina Macro-Cinegon 10mm f/1.8
  • Leicina Special 'High Speed' (1973) with the same lenses of the Leicina Special

Instant cameras

  • special purpose camera for making 4 images on one polaroid sheet

Rifle cameras

  • Leica RIFLE — Leica camera mounted on a rifle stock

Digital

Fixed lens

M-mount lens

SLR

Scanner camera

  • Leica S1

T-system

  • Leica T TYP 701

Enlargers

  • Leitz Flyt
  • Leitz Focomat Ia
  • Leitz Focomat Ib
  • Leitz Focomat Ic
  • Leitz Focomat Ic Color
  • Leitz Focomat IIa
  • Leitz Focomat IIa color
  • Leitz Focomat IIc
  • Leitz V35 AF
  • Leitz Valfa
  • Leitz Valoy
  • Leitz Valoy II
  • Leitz Vamax
  • Leitz Varyl
  • Leitz Vitox

Projectors

  • Leitz Prado 250
  • Leitz Prado Universal
  • Leitz Pradovit C 2500
  • Leitz Pradovit CA 1500
  • Leitz Pradovit Color 110
  • Leica Pradovit P 150
  • Leica Pradovit P 300
  • Leica Pradovit P 300 IR
  • Leitz Pradovit RC
  • Leitz Pradovit RT-200
  • Leica Pradovit RT-s

other

Japanese advertisements

The Leica camera was imported into Japan in the early 1930s by Schmidt Shōten. It was advertised by various other retailers, such as Kinjō Shōkai, Asanuma Shashinki-ten or Hattori Tokei-ten.

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