Once photographing meant a large box camera on a tripod, shifting film plate after each shot - and working with a dark cloth over your head and the camera.
But then something happened...
The Leica was extremely compact and could be fitted with a very high quality lens that enabled photographers to work in ordinary outdoor settings with available light. It was always instantly ready to capture life and action effortlessly from any angle with the photographer often able to remain unnoticed. Without the usual heavy equipment, photographs of people no longer had to be confined to stiff conventionally artistic poses.
Oskar Barnack was the manager of the Development Dept. at Leitz and designer of the Ur-Leica which he made two (possibly three) samples of in the period 1908-1923 with the purpose to test film stock and/or lenses for movie films. Or perhaps because he couldn't carry the traditional large plate cameras and wanted a smaller camera for him self. As early as 1905, he had the idea of reducing the format of negatives and then enlarging the photographs after they had been exposed.
In any case, he learned that it could actually be turned into a new type of compact as the "rotated" film format of film was plenty sharp (the film format was 24x18mm for large cinema theater screens, and rotating the film inside the camera and doubling the area made the 24x36mm format). With the development of an enlarger the reduced negative format could then be printed in a larger size than the negative.
Another Leitz employee, Max Berek, was instrumental in developing a lens for this camera, as he developed the first 50mm f/3.5 lens as the optimum focal length for the 24 x 36mm format.
Ernst Leitz II decided to put it into commercial production in 1924. Ernst Leitz made this decision on his own as all of his advisers warned him against the large risk it would involve for such a rather small company to enter the camera market.
"Barnack's camera," or the Ur-Leica as it is called, anno 1913. It was introduced first time to the market at the 1925 spring fair in Leipzig.The original camera (above) resides in a safe at Leica Camera AG. Only two or three of these were made. Photo: Thorsten Overgaard.
A 1923-prototype no 107 (of 25 made) was sold on May 28, 2011 for 1,320,000 Euro. See page 2.
A test shot done by Oscar Barnack ca. 1914 in the city of Wetzlar. Using the Ur-Leica.
Ernst Leitz II
Ernst Leitz I (ca. 1917)
Ernst Leitz I Senior [1843-1920]
Ernst Leitz I becomes partner in the factory "Optical Institute" [founded 1849 by Carl Kellner to produce optical microscopes] with its twelve employees in 1865 together with the widow of the original founder and her husband, Friedrich Behltle (an apprentice of Kellner who married the widow after Kellner died in 1855 of Tuberculosis at age 29).
In 1869 he takes over the sole management and expands it under his name: Ernst Leitz Optical Industry. Twenty years later there is 120 employees and they have sold their microscope no 10.000.
Ernst Leitz II aka Ernst Leitz Junior [1871-1956]
Ernst Leitz II takes over after his fathers dead in 1920 and when he decides to start production of the Leitz camera in 1924 there is 1.000 employees in the company. He was also the one helping hundreds of jews flee Germany during the World War, together with his daugher Elise Kuhn-Leitz (see story about the "Leica Freedom Train" on page 2).
The Ernst Leitz Optical Industry factory buildings ca 1940 in Wetzlar, Germany. Today the street has been named Ernst Leitz Strasse, the buildings painted white and are the home of Leica Microsystems GmbH. Leica Camera AG has been located in Solms a few kilometers from Wetzlar since 1988. Many Leica Camera AG employees will claim they grew up in Wetzlar with a view to the red Leica logo that was later added (and still is) on the rooftop of the building to the right.Next to the building exist the Leitz Collection and Optical Museum which one can go visit to see their large collection of Leitz products.
A man looking at the 800mm telephoto lens on exhibit at Photokina Fair in 1966. (Photo by Walter Sanders/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
1849 Optical Institute was established by Carl Kellner (1826-1855).
Ernst Leitz I Senoir joined the Optical Institute.
Ernst Leitz I Senior became a full partner of the Optical Institute.
1869 Ernst Leitz I Senior [1843-1920] takes over the company and rename it Ernst Leitz Optical Industry.
1907 E Leitz, Wetzlar began manufacturing of binoculars on top of being one of the leading producers of microscopes in the world.
Ernst Leitz II Junior takes over the company after his fathers dead.
The debut of the Leica Model A (or Leica I) at the Leipzig Spring Fair. The first cameras had Berek's 50mm Elmax lens in a non interchangeable mount. The Elmax name is purportedly named after Berek's dog, Max. (Later, the 50mm Hektor lens was introduced and again is supposed to be named after another of his dogs).
The sons of Ernst Leitz II; Ernst Leitz III, Ludwig Leitz and Günther Leitz, take over the management of the firm after their father's death.
Construction of the manufacturing plant in Midland, Ontario, in Canada.
In April production starts in the Oberlahn plant. Also this year Leica introduces the 800mm Tele Elmarit-R lens at Photokina, the lens that was sold in the US with a complimentary Volkswagen beetle with it.
Advertisement for the Leica M4 introduced in 1966. One of the best-selling Leica M cameras (along Leica M6 and Leica M9).
Leica supplied a Trinovid 10 X 40 especially modified monocular for the NASA Apollo 11 which became the first optical device used on the moon.
The Portugal plant in Vila Nova de Famalico near Porto starts production. The reason Leica started production here was they had the opportunity to buy a precision watch factory that had gone bankrupt. By buying this factory they acquired not only a factory and precision tools, but also a workforce (of mainly women) who knew how to do precision work.
Foundation of Leica GmbH in order to bundle activities in the photo market.
On the January 1st, 1987, Ernst Leitz Wetzlar GmbH and Wild Heerbrugg AG merges to form the Wild Leitz group. The new company employs a total 9,000 people.
Move to the new plant in Solms, Germany near Wetzlar.
The merger of Wild Leitz Holding AG with The Cambridge Instrument Company plc creates the new Leica Holding B.V. group. So now the Leica name also stands for the leading manufacturer of microscopes, surveying and photogrammetry systems, as well as optical-scientific instruments. Incorporation of the Zett-Geräte-Werk (former Zeiss-Ikon) into the Leica Camera Group and foundation of Leica Projektion GmbH.
On April 1st, Leica takes over the camera division of Minox GmbH, manufacturer of sub-miniature and miniature cameras. On July 25th, 1996 the Leica Camera GmbH is transformed into a public company. Now the company is called Leica Camera AG.
Leica Camera AG started coorporation with Panasonic (Matsushita), developing lens designs for Panasonic Lumix cameras, Panasonic cameras and Panasonic video recorders, as well as some of the Panasonic projectors (only those with the "Leica" are made by Leica). The coorporation also includes co-production of later Panasonic/Leica "twin cameras" sauch as the Leica Digilux, Leica D-Lux, Leica V-Lux. Some developed and produced by Panasonic, with a Leica edition designed by Leica, others developed by Leica and produced by Panasonic (the Digilux 2 is one such).
The Ernst Leitz Optical Industry factory on Ernst Leitz Strasse in Wetzlar ca. 1940
Leica Camera AG announces a series of new digital cameras at Photokina in September 2006. Amongst them, the long aviated Leica M8 digital camera:
Announced in 2006: Leica M8 in chrome. Also available in black.
Leica M8 takes the role as preferred rangefinder camera for professionals
The Leica M8 digital camera had a few problems in the beginning that required Leica Camera AG to issue free filters to their customers. After months of discussions and frustrations, one could read comments like these from professional photographers on the Leica User Forum (July 2007):
"I have to confess I haven't used my Canon 5D since getting an M8. But then again the same thing happened to my film SLRs when I bought my first M - an M2 - a number of years ago, so I haven't been surprised.
"I still use my Canon 5D along with my Leica M8, but I use my Canon Mark II's and a large selection of lenses (from 8mm - 500mm). When you are a working photo-journlist, the Leica M8 becomes just another tool in the bag. Yes, I must say that the Leica M8 bag (a Domke F-6 Little Bit Samller Bag) now goes on every assignment (even If I do not get a chance to use it)"
"I sold the Canon 5D when I got the M8, but I still use the Canon MK II Ds"
"It depends completely on the type of assignment. If I need longer f/2.8 zooms, as when doing theater work or sports, I'll still use the 5D. But for any kind of portrait, documentary and editorial work I almost always opt for the M8. The 5D is an excellent camera, but I prefer the look of the M8 images. I also find the somewhat smaller file size a bit more manageable when I come in with several hundred RAWs."
"well ... I've been using the Leica M8 for like a month and a half. now. as much as i wasn't totally impressed the first time 'round ... I have perhaps changed my feelings about it ... and ... as much as i want to fight it ... give me an m8 ..."
At Photokina 2008 Leica introduced the updated Leica M8 called Leica M8.2. Apart from the new darker black lacquer, leather-like "vulcanite" finish and - more notable - the black Leica dot (on the silver edition of the camera the red dot has been maintained; and one can actually also get the black witht he 'original' red dot), the changes are mainly to be found in the details and inside: A new metal blade focal plane shutter that reduces the shutter sound to nearly a whisper, a new scratch-resistant sapphire crystal as cover glass for the screen on the back of the camera, a "S" snapshot mode (where the camera decides everything but aperture and focus) as well as a new compact charger.
The 2008-edition Leica M8.2 with Summilux-M ASPH 21mm f/1.4 and 21mm external viewfinder on top.
New lenses introduced in September 2008
Most notable, the replacement for the 1969 edition 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0 was announced; as the 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95 was introduced as a new and most impressive low light lens for the 35mm camera range. But also two other impressive lenses were introduced in the 21mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 (pictured on the camera above) and the 24mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4. Leica also introduced a new compact 24mm Elmar-M ASPH f/3.8 lens for the M cameras.
Leica plan to start delivery of the Leica S2 medium format digital SLR camera as well as the first four lenses from November 2010 (with another five to follow shortly).
Stopping production of new R lenses
In February 2009 Leica announced that they would stop the production of the traditional R-lenses as well as the Leica R9 film camera. Remaining stocks were sold with 25-50% discounts.
Leica stopped developing the R10 camera
In July 2009 Leica Camera AG announced that they would not develop a Leica R10 fullframe digital SLR camera based on the Leica S2, with new auto focus R-lenses, as promised. They were of the opinion that the promised camera would turn out to be so expensive that there would be no market for it. Though they would at a later stage present "a digital solution" suitable for R-lenes.
Meanwhile, it ain't over till it's over! there is many great second-hand Leica R lenses, and these can actually be used on Canon dSLR cameras (such as the Canon 5D Mark II or Canon 1ds Mark III) using for example the Novoflex Leica R to Canon adapter. It's still manual focus lenses, but with focus confirmation in the Canon camera. Another possiblity is to have the Leica R lenese refitted with Nikon bayonets by the company Leitax (thogh that will make the lenses unusable on Leica R cameras).
Leica and viral marketing - The Leica M9 introduction
Introducing a collection of ground-breaking new products- and viral marketing at its best On September 9, 2009 at 9:09 AM Leica announced that they would present what Leica Camera AG CEO Rudi Spiller called "a collection of new groundbreaking products."
As soon as the video below came out on August 31, 2009, speculations went like a wildfire, and within hours it was reported that the long awaited/rumored Leica M9 was actually shown in the video as a teaser. And if you watch the video at 0:54 you will notice an ISO button on the camera back that is not on the Leica M8 or Leica M8.2. Few seconds later in the video, at 0:58 you will notice that the top plate of the camera is missing the picture counter and that the round left side of the body has been lowered.
In matter of hours from then people from all walks of life had used their personal knowledge to try to 'reverse-ingeneer' the actual M9 from the two small glimpses in the video. Did it in have the same size or would we be presented for a new "German Tank" a la the slightly bigger Leica M5? Would it even be technically posible to maintain the size of a "classic Leica M" and still achieve a full frame sensor? One Leica user had used special software to figure out the sizes of the new M9 based on the size of the flash shoe (and had it almost right).
The teaser video on YouTube revealing first sights of the new Leica M9 - Leica's return to full frame 24x36 mm which they originally invented in 1908.
A few days later, on September 2, 2009, this prewiev of the Leica M9 digital rangefinder camera and a (totally unexpected mode, the) Leica X1 appeared on Flickr by a user in Vietnam. And was removed within two hours from posting when only 250 people had viewed it! If it was the user himself or if Leica had something to say on this, nobody knows. But it fueled the speculations further.
First sight of the Leica M9 via Flickr. Fact og fiction? Could be pretty close to reality per the glimpses in the video above and the specifications revealed 'by accident' on the Japanese Leica site later in the day (see below).
Leica X1 fist sight via Flickr. Fact og ficion? It looks like a cool idea, a digital version of the original Ur-Leica and the Minilux with its legendary 40mm f/2.4 lens. This one has a 24mm Elmarit /2.8 fixed lens (which becomes a 35mm lens due to the smaller sensor). But could it be just a computer-made design?Would it have interchangable lenses and thus perhaops be a remake of the Leica CL that was the compact smaller camera that took M lenses in the 1970ies? Nobody knew, nobody had expected Leica to come up with a new camera like this.
Later in the day, a Leica user was able to find an official M9 presentation on the Leica-Camera Japan website. This had been there long enough for translations to have been saved, though the site itself was removed and the webmaster had set up an active filter to prevent any serarch engine to remember what was there. The website revealed a Leica M9 full frame 24x36mm 18 MP camera available in black paint and painted grey. No need for IR/UV filters anymore. The body measures 139 x 37 x 80 mm. 2,5" monitor on the back, revised button layout (with an ISO button). Could this really be true? Leica had so far stated that a full frame sensor would be impossible on a Leica M, and who had ever heard about a painted grey Leica M..?
Repeat after me: Leica is Great!
Leica M9 confirmed
In 2008 Leica Camera AG had officially said (once again) that a full frame Leica M was impossible. In July 2009 the head of product development, Stefan Daniel (see below) had revealed that Leica Camera AG was in fact working on a solution, but that it would take considerable time.
As it turns out, Leica was not only able to present the Leica M9 with full frame sensor on September 9, 2009 at 9:09 in New York, the had also had a number of photographers beta-testing the Leica M9 since July 2009. The presentation also revealed a new Leica S2 medium format camera and a Leica X1 with APS-sized CMOS sensor.
The Leica M9 in metal-grey paint with a black 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 lens on. You can read my Leica M9 article with test photos, tips and tricks here.
The results for first half of 2010 showed a 139.6 % increase in sale of Leica cameras, and an overall 100% increase on all Leica Camera AG products from the Leica CRF 1600 laser rangefinder (used to measure distances) to Leica binoculars. The 140% increase in sale should be viewed with the general 10% increase in sale of cameras worldwide (130 million cameras in 2009 to 140 million in 2010)
The main reasons for the increase given in the Half year financial report from Leica are the newly developed cameras Leica M9, Leica X1, Leica S2 and the V-Lux 20. Even the bulk of product development of the M9 and S2 was in 2009 and prior, Leica has almost doubled the amount spent on product development in first half of 2010.
Operating result (EBIT) improved from € –7.2 million first half of 2009 to € 13.9 million for first half of 2010.
The new Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 saw the light. An improved design without focus shifts and able to (that is my opinion from the ones I have tested) produce Leica M9 files as sharp and detailed as a Leica S2 file. The balance, the feel and size of the new Leica Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 simply feels right on the Leica M9 body.
In August 2010 Leica Camera AG announced their new CEO, Alfred Schopf (he comes from ARRI who works with the film industry).
Alfred Schopf, new Leica CEO as of September 2010. Photo: Thorsten Overgaard
At a Design Preview event at Photokina 2010 on September 20, 2010, Leica presented a Leica X1 in black, a Leica V-Lux 2 (as follow-up to the Leica V-Lux 1) and a Leica D-Lux 5 (as a follow-up to the Leica D-Lux 4). Most notable - or newsworthy at least - was the release of a 500 pcs limited Leica M9 in solid titanium with 35mm Summilux-M f/1.4 ASPH titanium lens (see image by David Farkas here) designed by Italian car designer Walter de'Silva who earned fame for his Alfa Romeo 156 design and these days work for Audi and VW where he has designed Audi A5 and VW OPassat CC and the VW Scirocco.
This special edition Leica M9 titanium is the first limited edition that features technical advancements as well beyond the usual special edition colors and leather: The frame lines are mechanical, but red LED illuminated. The hand-grip on the camera is also a completely new thing never seen before, and the titanium lens shade is also a completely new design. Price of the package is 22,000 Euro including a story book. Read more under "Sexy stuff for the worlds most sexy camera"
Leica M9 Titanium with Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 limited edition of 500 set, designed by by-Walter de'Silva. All 500 sets were pre-reserved withing a week of the release, all planned for shipping in December 2010.
Visitors at Leica Camera AG at Photokina 2010 admires the Leica M9 titanium. Photo: Thorsten Overgaard.
At the Leica M9 Titanium event Leica Camera AG also honored the inventor of the digital camera, Steve Sasson by giving him the 4th million Leica camera produced. Sasson invented the first portable digital camera in 1976 while working at Kodak (luckily for Sasson the 4th million Leica Camera turned out to be a Leica M9 titanium and not a Leica D-Lux 4!)
The most intersting new thing at Photokina may have been the release of the Leica 120mm Elmarit-S Macro f/2.5 for the Leica S2. This is the lens needed for fashion photographers and many others to draw use of the Leica S2 medium format camera. With this lens sale of the Leica S2 will pick up serious speed - though the actual awaited 120mm with central shutter will not start delivery till spring 2011 (with a completely new Leica-designed central shutter that was tested in pre-production samples at Photokina, in the Leica S2 studio).
Photographers testing the Leica S2 with the new Leica 120mm Summarit-S CS f/2.5 lens at Photokina 2010. Photo: Thorsten Overgaard.
Small news: For those who like to watch the real stars, Photokina 2010 also offered a new Leica X1 digiscoping adapter (model 42331) so that the Leica X1 can be attached to a Leica digiscope. Photo: Thorsetn Overgaard.
Speaking of which, in August 2010 Leica Camera AG came out with their financial report, displaying a profit of 9 million Euro for first quarter, compared to a minus og 6 million Euro for the previous first Quarter.
And while all this happens, customers are still in the line for Leica M9 cameras and a number of exotic lenses which are also on waiting lists due to demand (21mm, 24mm, 35mm and 50mm Summilux lenses, 50mm Noctilux and 75mm Summicron mainly).
Leica Camera AG has been planning to add an additional factory to their existing since 2008, as can be seen below. The building was planned to finish in spring 2011 but the building project was paused when the "global finance crisis" set in.
The new Leica Camera AG factory Leitz Park, Am Leitz Park 1, Wetzlar. Building resumes in spring/summer 2011 and will probably finish in 2013. The Kaufmann-owned companies Viaoptic , CW-Sonderoptik and Weller (a company founded by Uwe Weller that took over the machining division from Leica Camera AG in 1994, Dr. Kaufmann is Chairman of the Advisory Board) have been producing from the Leitz Park complex since 2009.
The main facility is in the "old" factory in Solms (which has been expanded with a few extra wooden buildings and also feature a new reception area with a new Leica Solms flagship store). Customer Service is in a seperate building in Solms, a few minutes away by car, and features a nice waiting area for cutomers coming by with their equipment for service and adjustment.
If you camera needs a doctor, visit Leica Camera AG Customer Service in Solms. See more on page 2.
Leica Camera AG also features a Leica Academy school in an old monastry in the hills outside Solms.
The "old" factory display a newly renovated reception area with a flagship store, meeting facilities and the Leica Gallery Solms.
The Leica Gallery in Solms as of 2010.
The Leica Camera AG flagship store by the entrance and reception as of 2010.
In case you din't get the memo, Leica Camera AG officially said at Photokina 2010 that the Leica M9 is now subject to the Leica M a la carte program, which means that one can get special leather, special engravings, sapphire glass on the screen and similar special to order requests met.
2011 The building of The new Leica factory in Wetzlar will resume in spring 2011 (after having been paused for 18 months).
Building of the new Leica Camera AG factory at "Leitz-Park" in Wetzlar will resume in 2011. In the background the two existing buildings with
the Leica sub-suppliers Viaoptic, CW-Sonderoptik and Weller in full swing, employing approximately 250 persons. Photo: Thorsten Overgaard June 2011.
Leica Camera AG, and Dr. Andres Kaufmann in particular, have made no secret that there till be more Leica Flagship Stores (on top of the 14 existing as of January 2011). In March 2011 Leica Camera AG opened Leica Store no 15 and no 16 (at 1010 Nanjing Road West) in Shanghai and Beijing (As the Chinese market has shown huge interest in the past years (and enough to empty out the Hong Kong stores and a few others) this seem like the right move), and on April 21 the 17th store opened in Leica Store Rome, Italy. The 18th store is the Leica Store Marseille, France.
The 19th Leica Store Kangnam and 20th store Leica Store Chungmoo-ro opened in Seoul on May 5, 2011. Also, the German Leica-chain Meister Camera opened their Leica Store München on May 19, 2011.
Also, in 2011-2012, autorized Leica dealers will be installing shop-in-shop concepts in their traditional stores in a design that aligns with the Leica Stores.
On May 27 Leica introduced the new 14.8 megapixel Leica V-Lux 30 pocket camera with a 24mm - 384mm zoom lens.
Opening of the 16th Leica Store in Shanghai, March 2011.
LEICA Summilux-C™ lenses. In April 2011 Leica will be delivering the first set of their line of Cine lenses (as presented in April 2010 at NAB), among them a 40mm T1.4 with "Multi ASPH" but also 18mm, 21mm, 25mm, 35mm, 50mm, 75mm, and 100mm PL mount primes designed to deliver ultra-high optical performance for film and digital capture. Leitz Canada developed and manufactured Panavision Primo lenses a well as the optics for the IMAX-projector for many years.
The Summilux-C lenses can be ordered in an eight-lens set, 18mm, 21mm, 25mm, 35mm, 40mm, 50mm, 75mm, and 100mm. The price is 178,000$ for the set and can only be ordered as such, handmade and gone through several quality controls. BandPro Inc in Burbank and New York who have gotten five complete lens sets for demo purposes projected in March 2011 that new orders would be delivered in first quarter 2012. It's going to be a long waiting list for these ones.
While you count the money, have a read about the new lenses in this PDF article from Film & Digital Times October 2010, "Leica Cine Lens Saga"
The Leica 120mm Elmarit-S Macro CS f/2.5 and other CS lenses (CS = Central Shutter, meaning there is a shutter inside the lens as well, on top of the shutter curtain in the camera that sits just in front of the sensor) will start delivery in spring 2011, probably along with the other CS lenses as Leica have developed an entirely new central shutter for their Leica S lenses (they were in fact pre-tested during Photokina 2010 where the Leica S photo studio used them non-stop for seven days).
More new Leica M lenses will be announced. Leica Camera AG are working on filling the gaps in the M lens range. Judging a glimse in the firmware of the Leica M9 that show the existence of en not-yet-existing 14mm f/2.8 lens, this might be a coming lens. While the 21mm Elmarit-M f/2.8 and 24mm Elmarit-M f/2.8 lenses seem to be skipped in 2011 and not replaced by new lenses (the 21mm Summilux-M and 24mm Summilux-M should be more intersting to have), we may hope for a new 90mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0 in 2011.
Part of the introduction of the Leica M9-P in June 2011 was also the announcement of a collaboartion with Magnum Photos (a picture agency founded in 1947 by photographers Robert Capa, David "Chim" Seymour, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and William Vandivert)
Leica will draw on the extensive history of Magnum and their photographers use of Leica cameras and colloborate on new projects as the one below by Christopher Anderson.
"Leica & Magnum: New York, Ten Years Later by Christopher Anderson" is a collaboration with Leica Camera AG, Magnum Photos and The New Yorker
Leica M9-P Hammer Tone Limited Edition 100 pcs. celebrating the Leica Store Tokyo Ginza 5 year anniversary June 2011. The Leica M9-P Hammertone with Leica 28mm Elmarit-M ASPH f/2.8 and hammertone lens shade, price is listed to JPY 1,197,000 (ca. 15,000 $) for the set, and sold out in few days. See a real-life Leica M9-P Hammerthorne in use in Tokyo on the Leica M9 review page 15.
New Leica Store in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, July 2011. More from the opening here.
G19, The Avenue K, 156 Jalan Ampang 50450 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
September 1, 2011 Leica Camera AG named their first awardee of the Leica Hall of Fame Award, Steve McCurry. The price was a Leica M9-P with his signature engraved. His probably most famous photograph is the "Afghan girl" Sharbat Gula, a photograph that was taken in 1984. "More than almost anyone else, Steve McCurry has recorded the terrible consequences of war and persecution and has thus had decisive influence on our perception of world affairs for decades. For his work, he deserves our thanks and recognition," was the words of Andreas Kaufmann when he handed over the award.
The award will be awarded in the future whenever Leica Camera AG feel somebody deserve it.
October 19, 2011 Leica Camera AG announced the Leica D-Lux 5 Titanium. To most this may seem as an innocent event, but it seem to be no secret that in the past - before the M9 and S2 fever - Leica Camera AG wouldn't be existing without the sweet income from the small cameras. That these still sell well may be illustrated by the fact that when I visited one of the two small Leica Store Hong Kong in November 2011, they had sold 20 of those new D-Lux 5 Titanium in just the first 6 hours of that day.
When I visited a large Broadway camera store in New York in August 2011, the owner told me that he sold more Leica D-Lux 5 than the Fuji X100 (which he happened to have in stock).
October 20, 2011, Leica Camera AG announced in a press release that a minority, 44%, of the stocks had been sold to Blackstone so as to finance future expansion around the world. The guess is that Andreas Kaufmann (via acm Projektenwicklung GmbH) originally bought 95% of Leica Camera AG for approximately 60 million Euro, and that the 44% of the minority stocks was sold for 130 million Euro. In between a considerable amount has been invested in R&D, epansion of the factory facilities and new Leica Stores around the world (though most likely financed by external sources and not by Andreas Kaufmann via acm Projektenwicklung GmbH).
November 2011, Leica Camera Mayfair in London expanded theior retail facility (also known as the Leica embassy London) to three buildings in Bruton Street, enabling one more space for seminars and press and customor events.
Big Leica: Artist Anat Ronen did this Leica M2 wall painting on November 2011 in Florida.
The LFI (Leica Fotografie International) 08/2011 brings a test and article about the new 30mm Leica Elmarit-S ASPH f/2.8 lens.
December, 2011, Leica Camera AG will be starting delivery of the 30mm Leica Elmarit-S ASPH f/2.8 for the Leica S2 medium format camera. The LFI (Leica Fotografie International) 08/2011 brings a test and article about the new lens.
Paul Smith and Leica Camera AG limited edition Leica D-Lux 5 leather cases for Christmas 2011.
In December the Leica Store Mayfair in London as well as the Paul Smith stores in London will be offering these two limited edition Leica D+Lux 5 edition leather cases in just 150 of each. Price should be around 3-400$.
January 2012 the first RED EPIC users started playing around with the Leica adapters that will enable RED EPIC video cameras to take Leica R and Leica M lenses. As if it wasn't hard enought to get Leica M lenses, this won't make it easier. And the R lenses that seemed to have dropped a little in price are likely to go op again, especially on the more exotic ones that are suitable for video.
The Leica R to EPIC RED converter. A similar exist for Leica M lenses to be mounted onto RED EPIC.
RED EPIC with the worlds best zoom, the Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R ASPH f/2.8 that only 200 has been produced of (second-hand price ca. 10,000$)
Leica introduced a collaboration between Leica Camera AG and "Facing Change: Documenting America" (FCDA)
FCDA was founded in 2009 by the Pulitzer Prize-winning photographers Lucian Perkins and Anthony Suau and is a non-profit collective of dedicated photographers and writers producing and publishing collections on under-reported aspects of America's most urgent issues, while highlighting the efforts of individuals and organisations working to affect positive change. The project involve photographers like David Burnett, Alan Chin, Debbie Fleming Caffery, Danny Wilcox Frazier, Stanley Greene, Brenda Ann Kenneally, Andrew Lichtenstein, Carlos Javier Ortiz, Lucian Perkins and Anthony Suau. For more, see www.facingchange.org
Facing Change: Documenting America - Debbie Fleming Caffery: "There is a lot of lazy-ass photographers out there not doing anything. You know, just driving by, taking a picture. Walking out in the middle of the street, taking a picture and they think they have a masterpiece. My advice to them is really to get into a project, spend a lot of time in it and if it's people, get to know the people. If it is a landscape, get to know the landscape. Just get emotionally involved somehow."
Ernst Letiz II [1871-1956] was posthumosly awarded the Courage to Care Award by the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) for the efforts the factory and Leitz family did, saving 200-300 jews and their families during World War II by "employing" them and send them to the US (see next page for more on The Freedom Train"). During the Holocaust, the family who owned Leica, the Leitz family, secretly gave German Jews who would be killed by the Nazis a camera and a ticket to America, thus saving lots of lives.
The Leica 3B camera is often referred to as the "Freedom Camera" because it was given to German Jews so they could sell it for money once the got to America.
Yet another limited edition of Leica M9-P has been presented in Tokyo. Only 50 samples of the white Leica M9-P in silver with white leather and white leather strap will be produced. The camera features something very special in that it has the Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95 in silver. So far we thought there would only ever exist the 20 bayonet mount and 20 screw mount that Leica Shop in Vienna had made in 2011. But now there will be 70 byonet silver Noctilux lenses around (and the prices of the 20 made last year for Leica Shop in Vienna had reached astronomic price levels).
April 1, 2012: Leica Store Washington opened as the newest official Leica Store. Till now Leica Camera AG have also opened 54 in-store Leica boutiques inside authorized dealers, as in for example inside the fotoREISEL in Sydney.
April 28, 2012: Leica Camera AG officially started building the new headquarter in Wetzlarer (see elsewhere about this project). The first phase, the factory, should be operational in beginning of 2014. The future development of the Wetzlarer project may be both a Leica Gallery and a Leica World combining Leica, photography and art/design.
The drawing of the headquarter as it was planned in 2011.
May 10, 2012 in Berlin
In a few hours Leica Camera AG announced a new Leica M Monochrom camera based on the body of the Leica M9 and Leica M9-P but with a new developled black and white sensor, a Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0 lens, five new S-lenses with Central Shutter, a Leica X2 and two sets of Leica M9-P Hermes Limited edition sets with one or three limited edition chrome lenses and a limited edition Hermes Camera Bag.
As expected the introduction of Leica M10 was not presented. But as Dr. Kaufmann said, the vent in Berlin on May 10 was planned so as to get some of the many new products of 2012 launched. Because at Photokina there will be even more ...
As can be seen the body of the Leica M9-P Hermes Edition has been remodeled by Walter de'Silva. More interestingly the lenses has also been redesigned as well so these limited edition lenses (100 pcs. Noctilux, 100 28mm pcs. Summicron and 400 pcs 50mm Summilux-M ASPH) are quite unique with a different lens barrel design and Hermes orange numbers on the distance in feet, not to mention silver lens shades.
May 17, 2012: The ever-expanding "Leica Embassy of London", the Leica Store Mayfair announced the opening of the Café Optik serive- and hangout-place for customers, as well as a Leica S daylight studio dedicated Leica S shootings (can be rented and is complete with make-up rooms, flash setup, S-experts and all by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org ).
The Photokina 2012 pre-opening event at Leica Camera AG, September 17, 2012. Leica M9 with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0
Photokina 2012 is September 18-23 in Cologne, Germany but Leica had their release party on the evening of September 17 of the new Leica S (aka Leica S3), Leica M (aka Leica M10) and Leica ME (rebranded Leica M9 with lower price tag). See my first impressions here.
New: Interview with Stefan Daniel on the floor of his office
Enjoy this unique video about the new Leica M, Leica ME and product manager Stefan Daniel who was born in the Leica factory ... or was he. All this and much more is answered in this video we made on the floor of Stefan Daniels office at Photokina 2012. Enjoy!
Leica Camera AG have also rented the whole Hall 1 at Photokina for a photo and camera exhibition. Just to set the entrance to Photokina straight ...
Special Edition Paul Smith Leica X2 was also presented at the Photokina 2012 (alongside the new Leica X2 cameras you can get custom made in many bright colors). In this video the camea is presented, then stolen by american acresss Joy Villa from the Leica Starhill Gallery and Leica Boutique in Kaula Lumpur, Malaysia. December 2012. (iPhone video by Thorsten Overgaard, December 2012)
After two years (2010-2011) with major expansion (in 2011 the sale raised 57% and the consolidated income grew to tenfold $ 45 million), year 2012 is estimated to end with a 10% increease in sale, simply because the production facilities could not output more. As an example, there is a two year waiting list on the Leica 90mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0 lens. So 2013 will be the year where Leica Camera AG will be expanding the production facilities, with the help from Blackstone Group LP who took an indirect 44% ownership in 2012.
Leica Camera factory in Portugal opens March 2013: The new 52,000 m2 factory in Vila Nova, half an hour outside Porto in Portugal is now operational. The Portugal factory (Leica Aparelhos Opticos de Precisão SA) origin from when Leica Camera AG bought a bankrupt precision watch factory in the 70ies and made it their Portugal factory. The Leica factory in portugal currently employs 750 people and will be expanding greatly in the coming years.
Almost every Leica lens, the Leica S and Leica M camera is made from raw metal in the Portugal factility.
May 17, 2013: The owner of the majority of Leica Camera AG, the Austrian based holding company ACM Projektentwicklung acquired 25.1% of the on-line photo competition I-SHOT-IT.COM that was founded by Hartmut Hennige in September 2010. I have been the judge in the competition since it started in 2010. Link to press release.
On June 11 2013 Leica Camera AG released the Leica X Vario that I address a little in my Leica Digilux 2 article. Else I recommend also looking at the sample pictures and intitial article Jono Slack have done here after having had the camera for betatest since December 2012.
The viral campaign that Leica launched on their website and on their Facebook page for the Leica Mini M that turned out to be a Leica X Vario will most likely go over in history as a very effective campaign, with a lot of wrong speculations and a lot of disappointed users. Reason being that a Leica Mini M addresses the Leica M audience, whereas the Leica X Vario addresses another group. Hence the campaign created a great impact on a target group that is unlikely to actual buy the camera, whereas the ones that will actually buy the camera are unlikely to have heard about it before they step into a camera store and ask for a camera to take with them on holiday. We learned to "not mess with the M", Leica Camera AG said after the campaign.
On June 20, 2013 the Leica Store Los Angeles opened on this location at 8783 Beverly Blvd. (the white building to the right in the image) and will include a Leica Gallery as well.
New Leica C-Lux with WiFi. "Leica will introduce Social Media capabilities in a cameras in the future", Alfred Schopf, CEO of Leica Camera AG mentioned in a Bloomberg interview in December 2012. In September 2013 Leica introduced that camera, the new Leica C-Lux. Specially designed for women, with clutch, handbag and more.
On October 8, 2013, Leica presented photos of the Leica M 240 (RED) designed by Jonathan Ive and Marc Newton that will be auctioned in New York in December 2013. Also Bono from U2 will be present in that the (RED) is his project. The camera only exist in one sample (except from more than 500 prototypes made tl make this one). The price will most likely go above $10,000,000.
It is not very likely that the camera will be used that much. It will be a collectors item mainly for someone who value Leiac, Apple designer Jonathan Ive and supporting a good cause.
But some of the features we may see used in future Leiac M models. As the bottom plate with the new design of the release mechanism. Or perhaps the shutter speed wheel on top of the camera.
October 14, 2013: Leica Store Beijing opened in China.
The continued production of Leica M7 and Leica MP Contrary to rumors, the Leica MP and Leica M7 film cameras are still being produced in 2010. They sell all over the world, though the Asian market seem to snap up the majority. If one revisit the Leica Camera AG website and take a look at the Leica M7 and Leica MP, one will see a classic design that is easily to fall in love with. And the prices are almost cheap, compared to the digital rangefinder Leica M9...
In April 2009 the film below was made of the assembling of the Leica M7 and Leica MP film cameras:
Click to watch the film from April 2009 from the Leica factory where one can see the Leica M7 and Leica MP film cameras being assembled (even in this digital age).
Dr. Andreas Kaufmann [born 1954]
Dr. Andreas Kaufmann:
First he bought a Canon PowerShot in 1999, then a Leica in 2003, then the entire Leica factory.
Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, a wealthy photography aficionado of Salzburg, Austria, took over Leica step by step from 2004-2006 with the intention of rescuing the company. Dr. Andreas Kaufmann is not the typical capitalist: He helped found Germany's environmental Green party in 1979, have been demonstraing against neuclear power, and taught history and German for 15 years at a Stuttgart school that follows the Waldorf model (derived from Rudolf Steiner).
In 2004, he took a small stake in Leica (via acm Projektenwicklung GmbH), raising it in steps to 96.5% by 2006 and 97.5% by 2010. The rest of the shares are publicly traded on the Frankfurt exchange. His fortune is estimated in the hundreds of millions of Euro and derives from a family owned pulp and paper company his family owned and managed for 101 years. The company acm Projektenwicklung GmbH is the company of the three brothers Andreas, Christian and Michael Kaufmann. In 2004 they sold the stocks in the family business since 1903, Zellstoff Frantschach AG to Mondi in London.
Kaufmann is probably more visionary than most can imagine. Either he saw which unpolished diamond of engineering know-how and unused lens and glass technology Leica Camer AG was hiding, or he was just lucky to buy a factory with a lot more potential than anyone knew was there. In any case, he doesn't seem to rest on the laurels and has the will and the economical power to push the development further than anyone ever imagined possible.
Read this story on Andreas Kaufmann and Leiac Camera AG in the Ernst & Young magazine.
"The Japanese camera producers have started to copy Leica, again. That is a good sign, I think." - Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, September 2010 (referring to the Fuji X100 inspired by the Leica X1)
"The Leica is a tool for developing creativity,
in the way that you can create things a little bit different.
If you have the intention of becoming an artist – or are an artist – Leica helps you." - Dr. Andreas Kaufmann, January 2013
Photo: David Farkas 2008
Stefan Daniel, Director of Product Management and overall responsible for the development of the Leica M9. He has been with Leica since he was 16 years old (that is 25+ years now). He started as an apprentice in the machine shop when he was just 16 years old, and has now worked his way up to manage Leica's largest product family.
"There is no reason to mention in the camerea specifications what is not there" - Stefan Daniel at Photokina 2012
about why the specifications of the Leica M does not mention the AA filter. See video interview.
People who move the limits of technology
Max Berek, Gustav Kleinberg, Otto Zimmermann, Walter Mandler, Ernst Pausch, Horst Haseneier, Walter Kluck, Erich Wagner, Helmut Hildebrandt, Henry Weimer, Andre de Winter (an important Expert for mechanical Design), Ludwig Schauss, Helmut Marx, Paul Sindel, Lothar Köelsch, Iain Neil, Walter Watz, Michael Heiden, Jan Schroeder and Peter Karbe are some of the names there would be in the Leitz and Leica hall of fame if one such existed for Leica engineers and developers through the times. Here are a little more history about some of them:
Professor Dr. Max Berek
Professor Dr. Max Berek [1886-1949]
Max Berek was the architect of the first Leica lens which Ernst Leitz asked him to design for the "Barnack's camera." The lens was a f/3.5 50mm and was known as the Leitz Anstigmat and later the Elmax [Ernst Leitz Max Berek]. Five elements [with the last three elements in one group] helped to give the lens and outstanding performance which, according to Leica lens expert Erwin Puts, would result in an outstanding MTF measurement if done today.
He was employed at Leica in 1912 after he had finished his studies in mathematics and mineralogy in Berlin. He later won world fame for his inventions in the area of polarization-microscopy; the Brek compensator and the formula to compute depth of field of microscopic vision which are still in use today.
During the war, he was stripped of his doctor title by the government because he refused to corporate with the Nazi Party. After the war his status as a doctor was reestablished. He worked at Leica till his death in 1949.
Dr. Walter Mandler [1922-2005]
Was a famous lens designer of Ernst Leitz Canada at Midland, Ontario. Walter Mandler dominated the optical development within Leitz from about 1950 till about 1985. He was 'wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter' (science assistant) in the department of Max Berek and had intimate knowledge of the challenges and problems associated with the lenses for the small Leica format. When Leitz decided to set up a new company in Canada, he was asked to structure and manage the optical department there. Already in the fifties, the Leitz designers recognized the fundamental problems of small format and high-speed lenses and on both sides of the Atlantic solutions were created. In Wetzlar it was professor Marx who explored the first attempts of an aspherical design and in Midland it was Mandler who sought the service of the computer to speed up the design process. The period from 1950 to 1970 was one of the most exciting periods for optical designers as new approaches and insights could be explored without cost considerations, because of intense competition.
Dr. Walter Mandler
Dr. Walter Mandler was the father of legendary lenses such as the 50mm Noctilux-M f1.0 (designed 1969), the 35mm Summilux-M f1.4 (designed 1958), the 75mm Summilux-M f1.4 (designed 1980), the 80mm Summilux-R f1.4 (designed 1980) and the 180mm APO-Telyt-R f3.4 (designed 1975). Also, one can guess he was the designer of the Elcan series (see next page) that came out of Leica Canada. He retired in 1985 but continued as an optical advisor for Leica for many years. For an overview of the Mandler designed lenses, see my Leica Lens Compendium.
New trend: Having a Mandler and a Karpe set of lenses
I often get qestions as to which lenses I can recommend, or which are the most famous Leica lenses. It's individual depending on your use and shooting style, but the Mandler lenses definitely has a "classic Leica look" that one will be able to recognize in the images of the 70ties in LIFE Magazine (by to name an example). It's an era of fashion and design and all, a certain film workflow in black and white - but on top of it all, it's also possible to recognize the shooting style of the Leica M as well the distinguished look of Leica lenses.
But with designer
Peter Karbe and that technology drive his lens designs has required, modern Leica lenses has that Leica look, but with more contrast, improved sharpness, micro details and color accuracy. And with a new type of bokeh (how the out-of-focus areas of an image looks). Some of the new lenses simply seem to "see more" details than the human eye. But it's a more crisp and alive look than the Mandler lenses. All due to pretty advanced lens design and applied technology, parted with the new workflow of digital (workflow; this is simply how you get images. In the old days your "workflow" might have been that when you used Kodal GoldII and sent those tolls into a certain photo shop for prints, you got a certain look. If you changed film or lab, you got a different look. Today your "workflow" is that you shoot in this or that quality on the camera, use Lightroom or Aperture for processing the files, publish the images in Flickr or do your own print. That is what a "workflow" is).
In any case, and to make the point I was aiming to make: One should consider both the Mandler and the Karbe look. The Mandler was and is great, but the Karpe is today's look and - in my opinion - not only defines the new look of Leica but also utilizes the advantages all new technologies from glass design, optical design (made possible by new advanced machines with near-to-zero tolerances in grinding glasses), as well as the ruthless detailed look made possible via digital sensors and 100% enlargments on computer screens. So get a set og Mandler lenses, and get a set of Karpe lenses so as to utilize all you can from Leica.
Peter Karbe at the factory in Solms, with an original notebook of Max Berek from 1930.
Photo by: Thorsten Overgaard, September 2010.
Peter Karbe, head of Leica optics design, has worked on the 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 (according to rumor, he worked the lens design for ten years, and in his spare time), 75mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0. As the head optics designer at Leica he has also had a great deal to do with the new Leica S lenses. Here's an excerpt from a talk David Farkas of Dale Photography in Hollywood had with Mr. Peter Karbe at Photokina in 2008: "Sitting with Peter you really get the feeling that these lenses are his children. Talk of certain lenses puts a small smile on his face and a glint in his eye. Then, he’ll go on about why it is special and unique. For instance, many know of his many years of work on the 50mm Summilux ASPH. He is extremely proud of this lens, pointing to the MTF-chart and exclaiming that wide open at f/1.4 it resolves 40lp at above 50%. He went into how he came up with the modified special double gauss design and how the back half of the lens is identical to the 35mm Summilux ASPH, while the front half is identical to the 50 Summicron. This was the secret to achieving such performance in a fast 50.
Then, he said that one Saturday morning over his first cup of coffee in his kitchen he thought about [Dr. Walter] Mandler. Apparently, after Mandler designed the Noctilux, he used the same design to build the 75 Summiux. And while Peter doesn't like the 75 Lux , he decided that he needed to design a 75 based on the 50 ASPH design. Shortly thereafter, keeping everything the same, except for removing one lens element in the first doublet behind the central ASPH element used to correct for aberrations caused at 1.4, he minted the design for the 75 APO Summicron ASPH.
I asked if the design was the same why the 75 was an APO lens and the 50 wasn’t. Here is a bit of a shocker… the 50 lux ASPH is an APO lens, containing an APO correction element. But, he thought the idea of an APO 50 was a bit silly so they never put it on the lens or in any marketing materials.
He really believes in revisiting the past for inspirations on the future. Peter said that he often thinks about what his predecessors from decades ago would do with today’s technology. This was his inspiration with the Summarits. Classic designs with a modern twist. He studies and claims (who would doubt him) that he is familiar with the designs of almost all of the Leica lenses made to date. He has his favorites as well as examples that were not so successful.
According to Peter, the great leaps in lens design were brought about by technological advances. The first was with new types of glass, then with coatings, followed by computer modeling, and now just recently, advances in mechanical design and manufacturing. This is why the S lenses and the new 21 Lux are as lightweight as they are. A lot of attention is now being paid by the design team to the manufacturing process. Karbe has organized small design teams in his fast-growing department to be more efficient and productive. An optics designer is paired with a mechanical designer and a production manager to develop the entire product, not just the optical path. Handling, feel, ease of manufacture, and consistency in quality control are equally important to imaging performance. Also, by using more shared designs and more common components, more lenses can be brought to market faster. The 35 and 50 Summarit. The 75 and the 90 Summarit. The new 21 Lux and 24 Lux are all examples of this. With the 21 and the 24, one designer did both lenses simultaneously as they are fundamentally the same optical formula.
Another interesting thing I learned was that Leica started using computer-aided modeling back in the 1960’s before anyone else. Since that time, they have had their own proprietary software (kept up to date, of course) based on calculations made at Leica over the last 100 years. He says this is one of Leica’s real advantages that no one can copy. The foundation of knowledge and expertise is handed down from each generation of lens designers to the next. The Leitz Glass Works has also been invaluable in learning about new formulations and the handling of exotic glass elements. These latest exotic glasses require a great deal of care in handling. Much like a piece of raw steel, this glass reacts adversely and rapidly with gasses in the air. They use a wet to wet to wet process in Solms, whereby the glass moves through the grinding, polishing and coating steps in one go, not spaced or binned. This is crucial to maintain the performance of these expensive elements which can cost more per ounce than pure silver.
We talked more about how the type of glass for certain lens elements are chosen and how, based on his experience, he just knows what effect this will have on aberrations. We discussed the trade-offs lens designers have to make and how MTF only tells part of the story."
"Aperture is only for depth of field, not light control." - Peter Karbe, September 2010 (on how to use the 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95 lens)
Revival of a legend | Made in Germany. Report by Joanna Gottschalk, December 2012. Leica is forever. That motto was the brand’s selling point - and very nearly its downfall. After failing to keep pace with the digital revolution, in 2004 the German company almost went bankrupt. Then investor Andreas Kaufmann stepped in, and brought Leica back from the brink.
Users of Leica
Some of the famous users of Leica has been Aleksandr Rodchenko, André Kertész, Walker Evans, François-Marie Banier, Garry Winogrand, Ed Clark, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Annie Leibovitz, Ernest Hemingway (IIIf), Robert Capa (Endre Ernö Friedmann aka Frank Capa), Robert McNeely, Bruce Gilden, Eugene Smith, Robert Frank, Ilse Bing (Queen of the Leica), William Klein, Nobuyoshi Araki, Garry Winogrand, Inge Morath, Lee Friedlander, Sheikh Saud Al Thani, Leni Riefenstahl, President Dmitry Medvedev and Sebastião Salgado. To name a few.
The German entertainers, The Jacob Sisters holding a big Leica M in 1967.
The dummy camera made of wood by the way still exist in a collection in the USA.
Queen Elizabeth II used to use a silver Leiac M3 witn a Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 (Serial 15xxxxx) and also got a Leica M6 gifted from Leica Camera AG. She got the choice between a black and a silver Leica M6 and chooed the silver one with 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0
Other Leica users of fame is Bryan Adams, Seal, Annie Leibovitz, Lenny Kravitz, Eric Clapton, Miles Davis, Ann Curry, Chow Yun Fat, Katie Hoff, Scarlett Johansson, Brendan Fraser, Jeff Bridges, Brad Pitt, Brigitte Bardot, Charles Bronson, Andy Lau, Woody Allen, Jamie Cullum, Paris Hilton, Kanye West, Yul Brynner, Wim Wenders, Bruce Springsteen, Posh Spice ... the list goes on.
The famous head shot of Che Guevara, reproduced on millions of rebellious T-shirts and student walls: that was taken on a Leica with a portrait lens — a short telephoto of 90 mm — by Alberto Díaz Gutiérrez, better known as Korda, in 1960. As is the pearl-gray smile-cum-kiss reflected in the wing mirror of a car, taken by Elliott Erwitt in 1955.
Leica again, as is the even more celebrated smooch caught in Times Square on V-J Day, 1945 — a sailor craned over a nurse, bending her backward, her hand raised against his chest in polite half-protestation. The man behind the camera was Alfred Eisenstaedt, of Life magazin. He did 80 frontpages for LIFE magazine in his lifetime.
When the lost Beatles and lost Rollign Stones photographs emerged in 2010, it was thanks to their road manager from 1964-1967 Bob Bonis who always carried his Leica M3. How unbelieveable it might be, he was road manager for the hottest tickets back then .... and photographed them when they tried to fix their car that had broken down, when at the pool outside the hotel - and many other exclusive moments. All available as book and prints from NeverFadeAwayGallery.com.
Magnum Photos and Leica
As of 2011 Leica Camera AG and Magnum Photos International are collaborating to draw on their shared legacy; looking back to the iconic stories their relationship has produced and commissioning new work from the current generation of Magnum photographers. As can be seen in this Magnum in Motion video:
The famous photo of the "Napalm girl" by Huynh Cong 'Nick' Ut of Associated Press was taken on June 8, 1972 with his Leica M2 and Leica Summicron 35/2 on a Kodak 400 ISO B&W film.
The photo very much changed the view on the Vietnam war, though President Nixon doubted its authencity - he thought it might have been 'fixed'.
The 9-year old girl in the photo, Phan Th? Kim Phúc, survived her burnings from the napalm bombing after 14 months in the hospital. The photographer took her to the hospital before he delivered the film to AP. She later founded an organization to help children of war.
The image won the Pulizer Price.
From grandfather to grandson - A Leica M3
A sweet story unfolded as I met this 17 year photographer with his Leica M3 and a rare collectors kit in a bag, in Paris, September 2013. All was bought from new in the 50s by his grandfather and now handed over to the grandson. They are both equally thrilled to see the camera is still being used, thought the dream is to get a Leica M 240.
Vietnam photographer Larry Burrows Leica M4 picture from January 1966 of marines recovering a body comrade (girl to the right in the picture is Catherine LeRoy, the first woman photographer to win the Robert Capa Gold Medal Award (see below).
The famous Leica-user, Magnum photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004) photographed in New York in 1947 by fellow photographer Arnold Newman. http://www.henricartierbresson.org
Stanley Kubrick's (1928-1999) self-portrait with his Leica.
Miles Davis with his Leica on the cover of the Live at Newport 1958. In an 1976-interview by Sy Johnson available online here Miles talk about the Leica he got in Germany and how much he liked it. He said he had the clerk set the shutter speed and aperture at the store when he bought the camera and hadn't changed them since.
Mary Ellen Mark Self-portrait with Marlon Brando on the Set of “Apocalpyse Now” 1979
Lou Reed is known for his quote, "God should have a Leica". Here he is with his Leica M8 that he did quite a lot of infared photography with. Read an article about his photography and exhibitions here.
The well-used Leica M4 that belonged to Garry Winogrand (1928-1984). Read an interview of 1982 with him.
The Leica M3D that belonged to LIFE photographer David Douglas Duncan, also known for photographing Pablo Picasso through many years. The camera wa sold for 2.2 million dollars.
David Bowie 2003, by Ellen Von Unwerth
Jan Grarup with his Leica M Monochrom in Afghanistan, 2013
The World Press Photo Award winner 2009 was taken with a Leica M6 TTL and 28mm by Anthony Suau. Above is a small video with him about winning the prize for the worlds finest press photograph of 2009, and shooting with his black Leica M6 TTL film camera and 28mm f/2.0 Summicron-M ASPH using a Voigtländer 28/35mm mini finder in the hotshoe.
He previously won the World PRess Photo Award in 1987 and a Pulitzer Prize in 1984 for
his photographs of the famine [hunger] in Ethiopia.
Alfred Eisenstadt, the LIFE photographer who did "The Kiss" and who also received a special edition Leica M3 serial no 1000001 from Leica Camera AG in 1960, re-fitted with gold plated parts in 1989. He originally owned and used 35/1.4, 90/2, 35/2.8 and a 65/3.5 with the camera. He also owned and used two Leicaflex SLR cameras and Telyt 200mm, 280mm and 400mm lenses.
Classic beauty meets classic beauty: Scarlett Johansson using her Leica M6 during filming in Spain of "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" with Woody Allen, June 2007 (unknown photographer; from a blog). Or, the camera might be Woody Allen's own as he is a Leica fan as well (and by the way received a honorary Leica M8.2 from Leica in 2008).
Another notable photos from "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," Penelope Cruz with her Leica (or Woody's or whatever).
Elvis Presley with his Leica (1968)
French born Catherine LeRoy (1944-2006) in Vietnam, the first woman photographer to win the Robert Capa Gold Medal Award.
Catherine LeRoy's image of Corpsman Vernon "Doc" Wike during the battle for Hill 881 in 1967 in Khe Sanh, Vietnam, and as a portrait years later in 2005. For more images, see the book Great Photographers and Writers in Vietnam.
Photographer Georgii Petrusov on the Red Square in Moscow, 1936. Photographed by Alexsandr Rodtschenko. The inserted image is the result of the work (which was sold at Sotherbys in 2008 as Gelantin silver print).
Annie Leibovitz with her Leica M6 she uses for assignments and for private family photos. She uses several cameras such as Hasselblad, Mamyia, Leica S2, Leica M6, Canon, Nikon - and no particlur brand (the famous John Lennon photo of him naked next to Yoko Ono, taken hours before his death, was a 6x6 shot). Photo from the 2008-documentary "Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens" by Barbera Leibovitz
Brad Pitt is also, besides being interested in architecture and design, an enthusiastic photographer. One the above shot he's using a Leica R8 DMR but uses Leica M cameras as well. He did a very nice black and white series of his wife Angelina Jolie for W Magazine (November 2008 edition).
Ralph Gibson with his Leica. He started his career as a photographer in the US Navy and later become assistant to Robert Frank before he set out for himself.
One of the reasons I always keep my Leica DMR digital back fully charged is the chance that model and photogarpher Lisa Snowdon may stand at my doorstep one day, asking if she could lend it for her Leica R9. She can, and a few lenses too.
LEItz CAmera = LEICA
Founded 1849 in Wetzlar, Germany
Leica invented the 24x36mm film format, the 35mm camera, the enlarger, the flash shoe, the length of a roll film (with 36 pictures; this was how far Barnack could stretch his arms), the darkroom enlarger, auto focus lenses, the "reporter" film back (Leica 250 in 1933), and more...
Photo above: The Old City in Aarhus, Denmark, photographed by Thorsten Overgaard with Leica R8/DMR digital back and 19mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Thorsten Overgaard is a Danish feature writer and photographer who contributes stories and unique branding to magazines, newspapers and companies through exclusive and positive articles and photos. His work is being printed in Danish and international magazines, some of which are available via WireImage, Getty Images, Redferns and Associated Press. Some photos are available as limited signed editions online and from galleries.
For specific image needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.
The Rangefinder Moment Podcast
Is a free podcast about rangefinder photography from Victor Cajiao. Click on the image to subscribe and listen for free from iTunes. The first eposide is a talk with Thorsten Overgaard about the Leica M9 and more ...