Leica Camera

Leica Camera AG is a leading German optical company that has been designing and developing cameras since 1913, and manufacturing them in series production since 1925. 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 Microsystems GmbH is the owner of the Leica brand, and grants licenses to Leica Camera AG and Leica Geosystems.

Leica camera history

The original Leica I (known in the U.S. as the Leica A) of 1925 was the first practical 35 mm camera to achieve widespread commercial success, and it had an enormous international influence on subsequent 35 mm camera designs from other makers. The first prototypes were built by Oskar Barnack at E. Leitz Optische Werke, Wetzlar, in 1913. Barnack used standard cinema 35 mm film, but doubled the image size from 18 mm high x 24 mm wide to a horizontal 24 × 36 mm format. Barnack believed the 2:3 aspect ratio to be the best aesthetic and technical choice. This allowed for a 36-exposure film length (about 5-1/2 feet) to be loaded in the camera (initially 40-exposure rolls were tried, but some films were found too thick to work properly).

Barnack's largely integrated late prototype, the “Ur Leica” was an ergonomic design that changed the world of photography; his dictum was "Small negatives—large images". The concept was developed further, and in 1923 Barnack convinced his boss, Ernst Leitz II, to make a prototype series of 30 that incorporated features like a combined film-wind and shutter-cocking knob, automatic frame spacing, a manually set automatic frame counter, blank- and double-exposure prevention. The camera was an immediate success when introduced at the 1925 Leipzig Germany Spring Fair as the Leica I (the name is a contraction for Leitz Camera). The compactness and convenience of the Leica, its peculiar construction and reliability, and its lens quality soon established its legendary reputation. The lens was the 4-element, 3 group 50 mm f/3.5 objective based on the well-established and widely copied Zeiss Tessar formula, but designed by Dr. Max Berek at Leitz. Originally called the Leitz Anistigmat, and then (in honor of Berek) the Elmax, on a small number of very early Leicas, the name was soon changed to the 50 mm f3.5 Leitz Elmar. The focal plane shutter had a range from 1/20 to 1/500 second and Time (marked Z for Zeit).

In 1930 the Leica I Schraubgewinde (know as the Leica C or Leica Standard in the U.S.) with an interchangeable lens system based on a 39 mm threaded lens mount, was produced, and a 50 mm normal lens, a 35 mm wide-angle lens and a 135 mm telephoto lens were made available.

The Leica II (know as the model D) came in 1932. It was the first Leica with a built-in rangefinder coupled to the lens focusing mechanism. This model had a separate viewfinder (showing a reduced image) and coincident-image rangefinder (showing a magnified image) that indicated proper focus when its movable and stationary images became one. The Leica III added slow shutter speeds down to 1 second, and increased rangefinder magnification to 1.5× for more accurate focusing. The model IIIa, introduced in 1935, added the 1/1000 second top shutter speed. The IIIa was the last model made before Barnack's death, and therefore the last model he was wholly responsible. Leitz continued to refine the original screw-mount design up to 1957. The final version, the IIIg, included a large viewfinder with projected, parallax-compensating framelines for 50 mm and 90 mm lens, similar to the M3 finder, but still with the separate viewfinder and rangefinder eyepieces. All of the screw-mount rangefinders Leicas had a functional combination of circular dials, square windows and textured knobs that was quite esthetically pleasing—they have the unmistakably honest look of fine machinery designed by an engineer rather than a stylist. All remain usable today so long as they are properly maintained and serviced.

In 1954 Leitz unveiled the Leica M3, the first bayonet lens model, considered by many to be the greatest interchangeable-lens 35 mm rangefinder camera of all time. It combined the rangefinder and viewfinder into one large, bright range/viewfinder with a brighter rangefinder patch in the center, and introduced a system of projected, auto-indexing, parallax compensating framelines covering the fields of 50 mm, 90 mm and 135 mm lenses. It had a new rubberized focal-plane shutter, esteemed for its reliability and for being one of the quietest focal-plane shutter ever made. It has been continually refined—the current versions are the Leica M7 (with electronically controlled shutter and aperture-priority automation) and the MP (a fully mechanical model with built-in match-diode metering system), both of which have viewfinder frames for 28, 35, 50, 75, 90, and 135 mm lenses which are automatically displayed in the viewfinder when the lens is mounted; but the basic design has not changed.

In 1996, Leica introduced its first digital camera, the S1. The S1, a relatively bulky unit, boasted a resolution of 75 megapixels and cost $30,000, limiting its market to the top of the professional class. Leica sold 146 S1s.

In 2006, Leica Camera released the M8, a digital successor to the M3–M7. The Leica M8 incorporates the features and benefits of the of the 35mm Leica M system into a digital camera that accepts nearly all existing Leica M-mount lenses. Widely regarded as the only professional digital rangefinder camera, it uses the Leica M rangefinder and multi-frame viewfinder mechanism and offers compact size, discreet, quiet operation and speed. It is compatible with nearly all M-lenses. It is equiped with ultra-thin, low-noise CCD image sensor with a resolution of 10.3 megapixels. Because the M8’s sensor lacks an image-degrading moiré filter it requires the use of an infrared filter to avoid odd-looking effects when shooting scenes containing certain synthetic black fabrics—two filters are supplied at no cost on request to new equipment purchasers.

In 2008, Leica introduced the Leica S2 with a 56% larger sensor than full frame featuring a 37.5 megapixel CCD sensor in a weatherproof body that is similar in size and handling to conventional full-frame digital SLR.. The new lens range consists of 24mm ultrawide, 30mm tilt-and-shift, 35mm wide, 70mm standard, 30-90mm standard zoom, 100mm short telephoto, 120mm macro, 180mm telephoto, and 210mm telephoto optics.

Leica also produced a series of SLR (single-lens reflex) cameras beginning with the Leicaflex in 1964, followed by the Leicaflex SL and the Leicaflex SL2. Each of the Leicaflex models featured a mechanical shutter and electronic lightmeter, initially with non-TTL ("through-the-lens") light-metering, but with TTL metering from the SL onwards. The Leicaflexes were followed by the Leica R series, starting with the R3, which were initially made in collaboration with the Minolta Corporation. All R-series SLRs have an electronic shutter, except for the all-mechanical R6, whose only electronic part is the lightmeter. The R8 was re-designed and manufactured by Leica, with a larger body and a new, distinctive look. The R9, first manufactured in 2002 and current as of January 2008, has an optional Digital Module back. The Leica SLRs were well-received, but less successful than the company's rangefinder models. The optics were excellent, but more limited in variety than those offered by Leica's Japanese competitors in the SLR marketplace.

Technology and market missteps

Leica's SLRs lacked the newer features of many Japanese cameras; models with through-the-lens metering and auto-exposure arrived later than their competitors, because Leica believed its mostly high-end customers knew how, and preferred to, select camera settings themselves. When Leica engineers invented the first auto-focus lens in the 1970s and obtained a patent for it, this attitude led management to veto the new feature. Leica subsequently sold the auto-focus patent to Minolta. These issues and the extremely high price of Leica SLR cameras and lenses made them unattractive to working photographers.

Leitz was the first company to use aspheric, multicoated, and rare earth lenses, and many other innovations. From the 1930s to the 1950s, the Leica competed with the German Contax camera to be the best camera on the market. Leica lenses developed a mythology—it was said that photographs taken with them were distinguishable from photographs taken with other lenses. There has been much controversy about this.

Leica optics are known for their performance at large apertures, making them suited for available-light photography; in particular the high speed Noctilux 50 mm f/1.0 lens. It was introduced in 1976 and is still being made. The Canon 50 mm f/1.0L USM for the EOS system has been discontinued; the Canon 50 mm f/0.95 is marginally faster but notoriously less sharp. See the article on lens speed for further information.

A number of camera companies built models based on the Leica rangefinder design. These include the Leotax, Nicca and early Canon models in Japan, the Kardon in USA, the Reid in England and the Fed and Zorki in the USSR.

Conceptually bridging the Rangefinder Leicas and the SLR Leicas was the Leica Visoflex System, a mirror reflex box which attached to the lens mount of Leica rangefinders (separate versions were made for the screwmount and M series bodies) and accepted lenses made especially for the Visoflex System. Rather than using the camera's rangefinder, focusing was accomplished via a groundglass screen. A coupling released both mirror and shutter to make the exposure. Camera rangefinders are inherently limited in their ability to accurately focus long focal-length lenses; the mirror reflex box permitted the use of much longer lenses.

The earliest Leica reflex housing was the PLOOT, announced in 1935, along with the 200 mm f/4.5 Telyt Lens. Until the 1964 introduction of the Leicaflex, the PLOOT and Visoflex were Leica's only offerings using SLR viewing. A redesigned PLOOT was introduced by Leica in 1951 as the Visoflex I. This was followed by a much more compact Visoflex II in 1960 (which was the only Visoflex version available in both LTM screwmount and M-bayonet) and the Visoflex III with instant-return mirror in 1964. Leica lenses for the Visoflex system included focal lengths of 65, 180 (rare), 200, 280, 400, 560, and 800 mm. In addition the optical groups of many rangefinder lenses could be removed and attached to the Visoflex via a system of adapters, providing additional focal lengths at the cost of some loss of image quality. The Visoflex system was discontinued in 1984.

Leica's sometimes arcane catalogue of accessories belies a comprehensive if sometimes haphazard systems approach to photography. As an example, LTM (screwmount) lenses were easily usable on M cameras via an adapter. Similarly Visoflex lenses could be used on the Leicaflex and R cameras with an adapter. Furthermore, certain LTM and M rangefinder lenses featured removable optical groups which could be mounted via adapters on the Visoflex system, thus making them usable as rangefinder or SLR lenses for Visoflex-equipped Screwmount and M rangefinder cameras, as well as being usable on Leicaflex and R cameras. Leica also carried in their catalogues focusing systems such as the Focorapid and Televit which could replace certain lenses' helicoid mounts for sports and natural-life telephotography.

Very early examples of Leica cameras and rare accessories are highly sought after by camera collectors and can fetch extremely high prices. Cameras carrying markings that show they were issued to the German army or airforce carry very high premiums. As a consequence there are many fake Leica cameras, usually based on Soviet cameras, with the Leica name engraved on the top-plate. Sought-after models include the IIId (the first Leica with integrated self-timer, made in very small numbers), the IIIc with unusual red shutter material and the last of the line, the IIIg with parallax-adjusting viewfinder brightlines for 50 mm and 90 mm lenses.

Leica cameras, lenses, accessories and even sales literature are collected by enthusiasts. There are a large number of Leica books and collector's guides; perhaps the best known is the 3-volume Leica an Illustrated History by James L. Lager, a former Leica employee. The Leica Historical Society of America is the largest Leica collector and user group, boasting 2,000 members.

In 1986, the Leitz company changed its name to Leica (LEItz CAmera), due to the strength of the Leica brand. At this time, Leica Camera AG became an independent company in the Leica Group and moved its factory from Wetzlar to the nearby town of Solms. In 1996 Leica Camera separated from the Leica Group and became a publicly held company. In 1998 the remaining Leica Group split into 2 independent units: Leica Microsystems and Leica Geosystems.

The Leica Camera company still produces a range of expensive, high-quality optical products, including compact cameras, M-System rangefinder cameras (direct descendants of the first Leica), R-system single-lens reflex cameras, professional digital cameras, digital compact cameras (in association with Panasonic) such as the Leica Digilux 2 / Panasonic DMC-LC1, and the newer Leica Digilux 3. Their binoculars and spotting scopes are marketed especially to birdwatchers, among which Leica together with German competitor Zeiss and Austrian Swarovski are known for their optical performance.

List of Leica cameras and lenses

Below is a partial list of cameras and lenses produced under the Leica name.

The screwmount cameras followed a simple nomenclature. The Roman numeral I indicates no rangefinder or slow shutter speed dial (generally 1 sec to 1/20 sec). II indicates a rangefinder but no slow speeds. III indicates both a rangefinder and slow speeds. The letters following the number indicate the generation of the camera. There is no "e" in the series (IIIe would sound awkward in German), which runs from a to g.

There is an arcane and sometimes-broken naming system for lenses based on their maximum aperture. "Elmar" denotes an f/4 or f/3.5 maximum aperture. "Elmarit" denotes an f/2.8 maximum aperture, "Summicron" (preceded by Summitar and Summar) denotes f/2, "Summilux" f/1.4 and "Noctilux" f/1.2 or f/1. Telyt is used for all long telephoto lenses.

Leica I fixed lens

  • Leica I — was first introduced at the 1925 spring fair in Leipzig, based on the Ur-Leica prototype developed by Oscar Barnack in 1913 and the Prototyp 1 developed in 1923. Followed by Leica Luxus and Leica Compur (a total of 60,586 was made of the Leica I, Luxus and Compur). From 1930 with interchangeable lenses. First production batch of 174 Leica cameras had Anastigmat lens. These cameras are in the list of most desired items for any collector. Second batch of 1000 cameras had Elmax lens — they are also extremely rare these days.

Leica screw mount Rangefinder Cameras with interchangeable lens

  • Leica I with interchangeable lenses.
  • Leica II — 1932. Leica introduces the rangefinder in the camera with this model.

  • Leica III — 1933. Also referred to as III (F). Leica incorporates slow speeds to the shutter design in this model.
  • Leica IIIa — 1935. Leica incorporates 1/1000s shutter speed to the shutter design.
  • Leica IIIb. The rangefinder and viewfinder eyepieces are siamesed for quicker operation.
  • Leica IIIc. A stronger die-cast body is introduced. IIIc cameras are very plentiful and most wartime cameras are of this type. Later ones have ball-bearing shutters (IIIcK).
  • Leica IIId. Integrated self-timer.

  • Leica IIIf — 1950. Leica incorporates flash synchronization. The "Black Dial" IIIf synchronizes at only 1/30 sec, but the later "Red Dial" has a more usable 1/50 sec. Some Red Dial IIIf's also have a self timer and are known as IIIf RD DA (for Delayed Action) or RD ST (for Self Timer).
  • Leica IIIg — Produced till 1960 (Total 798,200 screwmount cameras had been made by then).

Leica M (rangefinder) series


M3 — 1954–66 (Total 200,000 units manufactured) The M3 was introduced at the German Foto Kina exhibition in 1954. It was the first of the M series Leicas that are still manufactured today — the first interchangeable lens bayonet style Leica body. In an advertisement from 1956, it was regarded as a "lifetime investment in perfect photography". The M3 has a .92 magnification finder, the highest of any M camera made. The price of this high magnification was that a 35 mm lens required "goggles" which fit in front of the view/rangefinder windows to facilitate a wider view. The M3 advanced film via a lever rather than knob, the first M3s required two strokes to advance the film, after 1958 M3s were single-stroke. Early M3s lacked a frame preview selector lever to switch between framelines.


MP — 1956–7 (Total 402 sets were manufactured). The original MP was based on the M3 and could be fitted with a Leicavit trigger winding device. MP originally stood for "M Professional"; the camera was intended to be a photojournalist's camera.


M2 — 1958–67 (88,000 sets were manufactured). A scaled-down and lower-cost version of the M3, the M2 had a simplified rangefinder of 0.72 magnification, allowing easier use of 35 mm lenses. The 0.72 magnification became the standard viewfinder magnification for future M cameras. The M2 lacked the self-resetting film frame counter of its predecessor.


M1 — 1959–64 (9,392 sets were manufactured). A stripped version of the M2 for scientific/technical use, the M1 was a viewfinder camera with no built-in rangefinder. In 1965 replaced by the MD (with no viewfinder at all), and the MDa (based on the M4) (1967), and finally the MD-2 (based on the M4-2) (1980).


M4 — 1967–75 (50,000 sets were manufactured); 1974–5 (6,500 sets were manufactured). With added rangefinder framelines for 35 mm and 135 mm lenses. Introduced the canted rewind crank (the previous Ms had rewind knobs). With the M5, last M camera to have a self-timer.


M5 — 1971–75 (31,400 sets were manufactured). With added integral TTL lightmeter. First Leica with a light meter, a mechanical swinging-arm CDS cell positioned behind the lens. The added functionality required a redesigned, larger body compared with the traditional M3 dimensions. Certain wide angle lenses (early 21 mm f4.0 and f3.4) could not be used in the camera without modification because of the possibility of damage to the rear element of the lens or the meter arm. For similar reasons, collapsible lenses could not be collapsed on the M5. These restrictions also held true for the Leica CL (below). With the M4, last M camera to have a self-timer.


M4-2 — 1977–80 (17,000 sets were manufactured). First M to be manufactured since 1975. With stronger gears for the adaptation of a motor drive. First M with hotshoe for electronic flash. No self-timer. Made in Canada.


M4-P — 1980–86. Added rangefinder framelines for the 28 mm and 75 mm lenses. No self-timer. Made in Canada for the most part.


CL — 1973–76 (the compact Leica). Also known as the Minolta CL, Leitz-Minolta CL, introduced with 2 lenses special to that model: the 40 mm Summicron-C f2 and 90 mm Elmar-C f4. Internal metering similar to the M5—CDS cell on a swinging stalk. The CL is also notable for being the only Leica M-bayonet camera to have a vertically travelling shutter. Minolta later manufactured and sold an improved electronic version, the Minolta CLE with Auto Exposure, Off-The-Film TTL metering and TTL Flash metering, together with three M-Rokkor lenses, the 40 mm f/2, 28 mm f/2.8 and 90 mm f/4.


M6 — 1984–98. A breakthrough camera, finally combining the M3 form factor with a modern, off-the-shutter light meter with no moving parts and LED arrows in the viewfinder. Informally referred to as the M6 "Classic" to distinguish it from the "M6 TTL" models, and to indicate its "Classic" M3 dimensions.

  • M6J — 1994. A collector's edition of 1,640 cameras to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Leica M System. Notable for its introduction of the 0.85 magnification finder, the first high-magnification finder since 1966, and the basis for the 0.85 cameras to follow starting in 1998.
  • M6 0.85 — 1998. The M6 could be optionally ordered with a .85 magnification viewfinder for easier focusing with long lenses and more accurate focusing with fast lenses, such as the 50 mm f/1.0 Noctilux and 75 mm f/1.4 Summilux. The 28 mm framelines are dropped in this model. Only 3,130 of these cameras were made (all black chrome), so they are among the rarer non-commemorative M6's.
  • M6 TTL — 1998–2002. With .72 and .85 viewfinder versions. Since 2000, the .58 version of M6 TTL has been added to the line, featuring a lower magnification viewfinder for easier framing with wide-angle lenses. One of the key differences from the M6 "Classic" is TTL flash capability with dedicated flash units, such as the SF-20. The added electronics increased the height of the top plate by 2 mm. The shutter dial of the M6 TTL is reversed from previous models, turning in the same direction as the light meter arrows in the viewfinder; this feature has continued in both the M7 and the M8.


  • M7 2002 — current model (as of January 2008). The M7 has TTL exposure, aperture priority and manual exposure, electronic shutter and two mechanical speeds of 1/60 and 1/125. It comes in 0.58, 0.72 and 0.85 viewfinder versions, each with different brightline framelines. Same taller top plate and counter-clockwise shutter dial as the M6 TTL. The M7 is featured in the 2004 American movie comedy EuroTrip.


  • MP 2003 — current model (as of January 2008). An homage to the original MP, the new MP (this time standing for "Mechanical Perfection") cosmetically resembles the original (even down to changing the rewind crank back to a knob!) but is functionally closer to the M6 Classic. A notable improvement was the modification of the rangefinder to eliminate flare of the focusing patch experienced in the M4-2, M4-P, M6, and the M6 TTL. The Leicavit M is an accessory introduced with the new MP, allowing trigger wind with the right hand at speeds up to 2–2.5 frame/s. The new MP is available in chrome and black paint and with viewfinders of .58, .72 and .85 magnification.
  • À La Carte Program 2004 — present. Program to facilitate custom-built combinations of metal finish, leather type, viewfinder magnification, and custom engraving.


  • M8, the first digital Leica M. It incorporates a 10.3 Megapixel Kodak sensor designed specifically for the M8, with an innovative microlens pattern that allows the use of wideangle non-retrofocus lenses. The crop factor is 1.33 multiplier, compared with 35 mm film. The digital M8 is 3 mm thicker than the film M7, the extra thickness of the body serves to accommodate both the sensor and the back-mounted 2.5" LCD and its protective glass. The camera also supports Leica's new 6-bit coding for lenses, allowing the camera to identify which lens is attached and perform lens-specific image corrections. This camera initially suffered criticism at launch because of excessive infrared (IR) sensitivity (which causes a magenta cast when shooting color), green ghosting, point source light smearing, and poor auto-white-balance. Leica acknowledged these issues within months of the M8's launch. Excessive IR sensitivity is inherent in the design of the camera, but Leica offered free filters to correct the problem. Affected cameras can be returned to Leica to have the non-IR problems fixed, and newer M8s will have only the high IR sensitivity. The M8's high IR sensitivity makes it a superb black-and-white camera.

R (SLR) series

  • Leicaflex — 1964/5 — sometimes called the Standard — built-in external light meter, clear focusing screen with centre microprism spot. There was a great deal of pressure to introduce a Leica SLR because of the phenomenal success of the Nikon F (1959).
  • Leicaflex SL and SL MOT — 1968 — TTL selective-area metering, slightly taller body than its predecessor, long-lived and lovely to use. The MOT model took a large and heavy motor drive. Only about 1,000 SL MOTs were made.
  • Leicaflex SL2/SL2 MOT — 1974 — refinement of the SL with more sensitive light meter and improved body shape. Thought by some to be the toughest 35 mm SLR ever built. The Leica Solms museum has on display an SL2 MOT with Motor and 35 mm Summicron which survived a 25,000-foot (7600 m) fall from a Phantom II fighter jet: battered but in one piece, and deemed repairable by Leica. Only about 1,000 SL2 MOTs were made. The SL2 was the swan-song of the Leicaflexes; the SL2 reportedly cost Leitz more to manufacture than it recouped in sales, and motivated the company to collaborate with Minolta for their next series of electronic cameras. The SL2 would also be the last mechanical Leica SLR for 14 years.
  • R3 — the first electronic Leitz SLR — 1976 to 1980, based upon the Minolta XE1/7. The first few were built in Germany and then production was transferred to the Leitz Portugal factory.
  • R4MOT/R4/R4S/R4S Mod2 — 1980–87 — a new compact model based upon the Minolta XD11. The R4 set the design for all cameras up to and including the R7. The R4 offered Program mode, Aperture and Shutter Priority, and Manual, with Spot and Centerweighted metering. The R4MOT differed in designation only; all R4s and up accepted motors and winders. The R4S and R4S Mod2 were simplified models at slightly lower prices. Leica R4. .
  • R5 and R-E — 1987 — revised electronics (R5 had TTL flash capability), the RE was a simplified model.
  • R6 — 1988–92 mechanical shutter, relied on battery power only for the built-in light meter.
  • R6.2 — 1992 — as R6 but with refinements, including a 1/2000th shutter speed.
  • R7 — 1992 — yet more advanced electronics.
  • R8 — complete redesign, this time in-house with production moved back to Germany. All traces of Minolta gone.
  • R9 — refinement of the R8 with 100 g less weight and a new anthracite body finish.
  • R8/R9 DMR Digital Module-R — 10 megapixel digital back for the R8/R9, making them the first 35 mm SLR cameras able to capture to film or digitally.

S-System (DSLR)

In 2008, Leica announced the Leica S2 with a sensor 56% larger than full-frame 35 mm, featuring a 37.5 megapixel CCD sensor in a weatherproof body that is similar in size and handling to a full-frame 35 mm digital SLR.

Leica S lenses
Focal length Aperture Notes Full-Frame 35 mm equivalent
24 mm f/2.8 ultrawide 17 mm
30 mm f/3.5 tilt and shift 21 mm
35 mm f/2.5 wide 25 mm
70 mm f/2.5 standard 50 mm
30–90 mm f/3.5 standard zoom 21–64 mm
100 mm f/2.5 short telephoto 70 mm
120 mm f/2.5 macro 85 mm
180 mm f/3.5 telephoto 130 mm
210 mm telephoto 150 mm
350 mm f/3.5 telephoto 250 mm

C (point and shoot) series

  • Z2X
  • C1
  • C2
  • C3
  • C11 APS
  • Leica Minilux 40 mm
  • Leica Minilux Zoom
  • Leica CM 40 mm
  • Leica CM Zoom

Digital series

Leica's digital cameras, other than the DMR, the limited production S1, and the M8, are produced in Japan by Panasonic. While the earliest Leica digital cameras were rebranded Fujifilm models, all current Leica digital cameras except the R8/R9 Digital Modul-R and M8 are rebranded versions of Panasonic's Lumix digital cameras.

  • Digilux (Fujifilm MX-700)
  • Digilux Zoom (Fujifilm MX-1700)
  • Digilux 4.3 (Fujifilm 4700 Zoom)
  • D-Lux (Panasonic DMC-F1)
  • D-Lux 2 (Panasonic DMC-LX1)
  • D-Lux 3 (Panasonic DMC-LX2)
  • Digilux 1 (Panasonic DMC-LC5)
  • Digilux 2 (Panasonic DMC-LC1)
  • Digilux 3 (Panasonic DMC-L1) Four Thirds System DSLR
  • R8/R9 DMR Digital Modul-R DSLR
  • C-Lux 1 (Panasonic DMC-FX01)
  • C-Lux 2 (Panasonic DMC-FX30)
  • V-Lux 1 (Panasonic DMC-FZ50)
  • M8

Leica lenses on Panasonic

Leica branded lenses are used on many Panasonic video recorders as well as the Lumix line of Panasonic digital cameras. Some of these include the DMC-FZ7, DMC-LX1 and DMC-LX2, DMC-FZ10, DMC-FZ20, DMC-FZ30, DMC-FZ50, DMC-FX01, DMC-FX100, DMC-TZ1, DMC-TZ3,DMC-FZ8, DMC-FZ18, DMC-FZ28, DMC-TZ4, and DMC-TZ8 models.

These lenses are manufactured by Panasonic "using measurement instruments and quality assurance systems that have been certified by Leica Camera AG based on the company's quality standards". As such, whether these are strictly "Leica" lenses or not is occasionally disputed, but generally, Panasonic and Leica are considered joint development partners for this equipment. Regardless of their origin, these lenses are generally regarded as very high quality.

Leica M lenses


  • Tri-Elmar-M Asph. 16-18-21 mm f/4 (from sept. 2006)
  • Summilux 21 mm f/1.4 ASPH (from 2008)
  • Elmarit-M Asph. 21 mm f/2.8 (from 1997)
  • Summilux 24 mm f/1.4 ASPH (from 2008)
  • Elmarit-M Asph. 24 mm f/2.8 (from 1998)
  • Elmar 24 mm f/3.8 ASPH (from 2008)
  • Summicron-M Asph. 28 mm f/2 (from 2000)
  • Elmarit-M 28 mm f/2.8 (from 1993)
  • Elmarit-M Asph. 28 mm f/2.8 (from sept. 2006)
  • Summilux-M 35 mm f/1,4, seven lenses (from 1960, designed in 1958)
  • Summilux-M Asph. 35 mm f/1.4 with two polished aspherical lenses (1989-1994)
  • Summilux-M Asph. 35 mm f/1.4, with one pressed aspherical lens (from 1994)
  • Summicron-M Asph. 35 mm f/2 (from 1997)
  • Summarit-M 35 mm f/2.5 (from 2007)
  • Leica 40 mm f/2.0 Summicron-C (designed for Leica CL)


  • Noctilux 50 mm f/0.95 (from 2008)
  • Noctilux-M 50 mm f/1 (from 1976, designed in 1969)
  • Summilux-M Asph. 50 mm f/1.4 (from 2004)
  • Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 (from 1979)
  • Summarit-M 50 mm f/2.5 (from 2007)
  • Elmar-M 50 mm f/2.8 (collapsible / From 1925)
  • Tri-Elmar-M Asph. 28-35-50 mm f/4 I (1998-2000)
  • Tri-Elmar-M Asph. 28-35-50 mm f/4 II (2000-2007). Only mechanical differences with the previous version.


  • Summilux-M 75 mm f/1.4 (1980-2007)
  • Apo-Summicron-M Asph. 75 mm f/2 (from 2005)
  • Summarit-M 75 mm f/2.5 (from 2007)
  • Apo-Summicron-M Asph. 90 mm f/2 (from 1998)
  • Summarit-m 90 mm f/2.5 (from 2007)
  • Elmarit-M 90 mm f/2.8
  • Elmarit 135 mm f/2.8
  • Apo-Telyt-M 135 mm f/3.4


  • Macro-Elmar-M 90 mm f/4

Note: Noctilux is a f/1 or f/1.2 lens, Summilux is a f/1.4 lens, Summicron is a f/2 lens, Summarit is a f/2.5 lens, Elmarit is a f/2.8 lens and Elmar is a f/4 lens in Leica lingo.

Leica R lenses


  • Leica 15 mm f/3.5 Super-Elmar-R — 1980 (Carl Zeiss design)
  • Leica 15 mm f/2.8 Super-Elmarit-R ASPH — 2001 (Schneider-Kreuznach design)
  • Leica 16 mm f/2.8 Fisheye-Elmarit-R — 1970 (Minolta design)
  • Leica 19 mm f/2.8 Elmarit-R 1st version
  • Leica 19 mm f/2.8 Elmarit-R 2nd version — 1990
  • Leica 21 mm f/4.0 Super-Angulon-R — 1968-1992 (Schneider-Kreuznach design)
  • Leica 21 mm f/3.4 Super-Angulon-R — 1968 (Schneider-Kreuznach design)
  • Leica 24 mm f/2.8 Elmarit-R (Minolta design)
  • Leica 28 mm PC-Super-Angulon-R (Schneider-Kreuznach design)
  • Leica 28 mm f/2.8 Elmarit-R 1st version — 1970
  • Leica 28 mm f/2.8 Elmarit-R 2nd version — 1994
  • Leica 35 mm f/4.0 PA-Curtagon-R (Schneider-Kreuznach design)
  • Leica 35 mm f/2.8 Elmarit-R 1st version — 1964
  • Leica 35 mm f/2.8 Elmarit-R 2nd version
  • Leica 35 mm f/2.8 Elmarit-R 3rd version
  • Leica 35 mm f/2.0 Summicron-R 1st version — 1970
  • Leica 35 mm f/2.0 Summicron-R 2nd version — 1976
  • Leica 35 mm f/1.4 Summilux-R


  • Leica 50 mm f/2.0 Summicron-R 1st version — 1964
  • Leica 50 mm f/2.0 Summicron-R 2nd version — 1977 — built-in lens hood, 3-cam and R-cam only version.
  • Leica 50 mm f/1.4 Summilux-R 1st version
  • Leica 50 mm f/1.4 Summilux-R 2nd version
  • Leica 50 mm f/1.4 Summilux-R 3rd version — 1997 (ROM contacts)
  • Leica 60 mm Macro-Elmarit-R 1st version — 1972 — outside bayonet lens hood fitting
  • Leica 60 mm Macro-Elmarit-R dn2 version
  • Leica 75 mm f/2.0 Elcan-R code C-341 — Extremely rare
  • Leica 80 mm f/1.4 Summilux-R
  • Leica 90 mm f/2.8 Elmarit-R 1st version — 1964-1996
  • Leica 90 mm f/2.8 Elmarit-R 2nd version — 1983
  • Leica 90 mm Summicron-R 1st version — 1969
  • Leica 90 mm Summicron-R 2nd version -
  • Leica 90 mm APO-Summicron-R ASPH — 2002
  • Leica 90 mm f/1.0 Elcan-R — Extremely rare
  • Leica 100 mm f/4.0 Macro-Elmar-R bellows version
  • Leica 100 mm f/4.0 Macro-Elmar-R helical version
  • Leica 100 mm f/2.8 APO-Macro-Elmarit-R


  • Leica 135 mm f/2.8 Elmarit-R 1st version — 1965
  • Leica 135 mm f/2.8 Elmarit-R 2nd version
  • Leica 180 mm Elmar-R — 1976
  • Leica 180 mm f/2.8 Elmarit-R 1st version
  • Leica 180 mm f/2.8 Elmarit-R 2nd version
  • Leica 180 mm f/3.4 APO-Telyt-R — 1975-1998
  • Leica 180 mm f/2.8 APO-Elmarit-R — 1998
  • Leica 180 mm f/2.0 APO-Summicron-R
  • Leica 180 mm f/3.4 Elcan-R code C-303 — Extremely rare
  • Leica 250 mm f/4.0 Telyt-R 1st version -
  • Leica 250 mm f/4.0 Telyt-R 2nd version
  • Leica 280 mm f/4.8 Telyt-V
  • Leica 280 mm f/4.0 APO-Telyt-R
  • Leica 280 mm f/2.8 APO-Telyt-R — 1984-1997
  • Leica 350 mm f/4.8 Telyt-R
  • Leica 400 mm f/6.8 Telyt-R — 1968-1994
  • Leica 400 mm f/5.6 Telyt-R
  • Leica 400 mm f/2.8 APO-Telyt-R — 1992-1996
  • Leica 450 mm f/5.6 Elcan-R, code C-329 — Extremely rare
  • Leica 500 mm f/8 MR-Telyt-R
  • Leica 560 mm f/6.8 Telyt-R — 1971-1995
  • Leica 560 mm f/5.6 Telyt-R — 1966-1973
  • Leica 800 mm f/6.3 Telyt-S — 1972-1995 (sold, during a brief promotion, with what the ad said was a "free tripod" -- a VW Fox)
  • Leica modular APO-Telyt-R 260/400/560 head
  • Leica modular APO-Telyt-R 400/560/800 head


  • Leica 21-35 mm f/3.5-f/4.0 Vario-Elmar-R zoom — 2002
  • Leica 28-70 mm f/3.5-f/4.5 Vario-Elmar-R zoom (Sigma design)
  • Leica 28-90 mm f/2.8-f/4.5 Vario-Elmarit-R ASPH. zoom — 2004
  • Leica 35-70 mm f/4.0 Vario-Elmar-R zoom
  • Leica 35-70 mm f/3.5 Vario-Elmar-R zoom (Minolta design)
  • Leica 35-70 mm f/2.8 Vario-Elmarit-R ASPH. zoom — 2000 (only 200 were made)
  • Leica 70-180 mm f/2.8 Vario-APO-Elmarit-R zoom
  • Leica 70-210 mm f/4.0 Vario-Elmar-R zoom (Minolta design)
  • Leica 75-200 mm f/4.5 Vario-Elmar-R — 1976-1984 (Minolta design)
  • Leica 80-200 mm f/4.5 Vario-Elmar-R zoom (Minolta design)
  • Leica 80-200 mm f/4.0 Vario-Elmar-R zoom
  • Leica 105-280 mm f/4.2 Vario-Elmar-R zoom

Leica / Leitz enlargers

35 mm enlargers

These started to be released in 1932 with the Valoy. Among the popular models were:

  • Leitz Valoy and Valoy II — manual focus, later versions of the Valoy II were grey in colour.
  • Leitz Focomat/VIWO. First released in 1934 it formed the basis for the Focomat line of autofocus enlargers.
  • Leitz Focomat 1
  • Leitz VUTOO
  • Leitz Focomat Ia — Same as Focomat 1C, that is with autofocus, but the head does not tilt back to allow for easy insertion of negative.
  • Leitz Focomat VUTOO. A special version Focomat with a long, thick (5cm) and tall (120cm) column mated with a large baseboard (62x65cm) released in 1940 probably for intelligence and military applications.
  • Leitz Focomat Ib
  • Leitz Focomat Ic.
  • Leitz Focomator. A special purpose enlarger for drugstore photo printers. Originally released in 1951 various versions and variations continued into the early 1960s.

The above Leitz enlargers came normally without an enlarging objective and were intended to be used with the taking camera optics. A special version of the Elmar made specifically to enlargers was issued as the Varob (first delivered in 1934).

Produced first with Varob 5 cm f1:3.5 lenses, later with Elmar 5 cm f1:3.5, focotar 5 cm f1:4.5, focotar 50 mm f/1:4.5, focotar 50 mm 2nd version f/1:4.5, Focotar-2 f/1:4.5. Changes in Focotar name or focal length designation do not necessarily coincide with the optical formula. The Focotar-2 is always the same formula, and so is the 5 cm version. The 50 mm exists in two versions. The 1C helical will accommodate lenses of various makes. Available in "color" version with filter drawer and lighted enlargement factor scale. Many small design variations exist.

  • Leitz/Leica V35. The last Leitz/Leica enlarger. Launched in 1978 it was discontinued in 1997. It either ALWAYS came with a 40 mm Focotar objective or was and provided with cams for 50 mm. The two are not interchangeable.

Medium and other format enlargers

Leitz made and produced a number of enlargers over the years as a branching out from the needs of microphotography. Early enlargers supported the then popular glass plate microscope formats of 4.5x6cm and 6.5×9cm.

  • Leitz Focomat IIa — 35 mm-6×9 format, dual lens turret on later versions that fitted a 5 cm Elmar f/1:3.5 or Focotar f/1:4.5, and a 9.5 cm f/1:4.5 Focotar, autofocus. The early version has a single helical that will accommodate lenses of any make. Available in "color" version with filter drawer and lighted enlargement factor scale.
  • Leitz Focomat IIc — 35 mm-6×9 formats, dual lens stage rather than turret, autofocus. First produced with Focotar 6 cm f/1:4.5 and focotar 9.5 cm f/1:4.5, later with Focotar 60 mm and V-Elmar 100 mm f1:4.5, still later with Focotar 60 mm and Focotar II 100 mm f/1:5.6. All the 6 cm and 60 mm Focotars appear to be the same optical design. Kienzle or other colour heads sometime fitted. Only very slender enlarging lenses will for the IIc helicals. Available in "color" version with filter drawer and lighted enlargement factor scale.
  • Leitz Focomat II (modified for American military), code EN-121A — Extremely rare
  • Vincent electrical shutter (for enlarger) — Extremely rare
  • ELCAN 52 mm enlarger lens (20×-25× enlargements) — Extremely rare
  • ELCAN 20 mm enlarger lens (40×-75× enlargements) — Extremely rare

The Leica Freedom Train

During the 1930s and 1940s, Ernst Leitz II and his daughter Dr. Elise Kuehn-Leitz, both Protestant Christians, arranged for hundreds of Jewish employees and their families to get out of Germany, thus escaping the Holocaust.

Notable photographers who used Leicas

  • Anton Corbijn
  • Bruce Davidson
  • Roger Deakins
  • Robert Doisneau
  • David Douglas Duncan
  • William Eggleston
  • Alfred Eisenstaedt
  • Queen Elizabeth II
  • Elliot Erwitt
  • Walker Evans
  • Christopher Forbes
  • Martine Franck
  • Robert Frank
  • Leonard Freed
  • Lee Friedlander
  • Gisèle Freund
  • Ralph Gibson
  • Nan Goldin
  • Philip Jones Griffiths
  • Ara Güler
  • Ernst Haas
  • David Alan Harvey
  • Spike Jonze
  • André Kertész
  • William Klein
  • Josef Koudelka
  • Alberto Korda
  • Karl Lagerfeld
  • Baron Hugo van Lawick
  • Herbert List
  • Alex Mackenzie
  • Mary Ellen Mark
  • Jim Marshall
  • Will McBride
  • Susan Meiselas
  • Joel Meyerowitz
  • Inge Morath
  • James Nachtwey
  • Tim Page
  • Gilles Peress
  • Brad Pitt
  • Marc Riboud
  • Leni Riefenstahl
  • Alexander Rodchenko
  • Eugene Richards
  • Jeanloup Sieff
  • Sebastião Salgado
  • Erich Salomon
  • Ben Shahn
  • W. Eugene Smith
  • Nick Ut
  • Wim Wenders
  • Garry Winogrand
  • Frank Rikly
  • Leica's chiefs of Optical Department

    In chronological order:


    Leica awards once in a year the Oskar Barnack Award and the Leica Publishers Award (previously „European Publishers Award for Photography"). Leica also has Galleries in Frankfurt, Istanbul, New York, Prague, São Paulo, Solms, Tokyo and Wien where they show works of selected photographers.

    Leica supports the American Birding Association and other nature and bird projects.

    See also


    External links

    Official sites

    Other links

    Search another word or see microprismon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
    Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
    • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature