Sunday, October 26, 2008

Leitz: Leica I (A)

When: 1925
Why: First mass-produced camera which popularized 35mm format.

There were several attempts to introduce 35mm format (which was used in movie cameras) to the still cameras market, but they all remained in shadow until "Leica I" made it's way out of Ernst Leitz company. Oskar Barnack, camera designer, created a first prototype in 1914. It was called "Ur Leica" and was not sold on the market. Second prototype was "Leica 0-Series", but it took more than 10 years to start a commercial production of these cameras. Early models had Anastigmat f3.5/50mm lens. You may find other varieties of Leica I A on camerapedia. As far as why this camera became so popular, there are several theories:

  • The lens quality was outstanding. Leitz company was already well-known in optical and microscopes industry;
  • Size of the camera was really small comparing to other quality cameras;
  • Mechanics precision was really good. You can still use some of these early Leicas;
  • Some historians suggest a high price of this camera as a "prestige" attraction.

Out of all previous 35mm cameras, there was only one commercially produced model: Tourist Multiple by Herbert & Huesgen. I'll cover it in the next post.

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