A Legend is Born
Very often, the greatest inventions are the result of quite pragmatic considerations. In the first years of the art, photographers were mainly concerned with hauling their heavy plate cameras, along with their tripod and darkroom, from one location to the next. Their trials and tribulations stimulated one man into seeking a completely new method of taking photographs. His name was Oskar Barnack.
Even as early as 1905, he had the idea of reducing the format of negatives and then enlarging the photographs after they had been exposed. It was only ten years later, as development manager at Ernst Leitz, that he was able to put his theory into practice. This amateur photographer took an instrument for taking exposure samples - originally intended for cinema film - and turned it into the world's first 35 mm camera: the 'Ur-Leica'.
The miniature film format of 24 x 36 mm is still in use today. At the time, it was created by simply doubling the cinema film format. The first photos - of outstanding quality for the time - were made in 1914. Progress was interrupted by the First World War, so the first LEICA (Leitz Camera) did not go into serial production until 1924, being presented to the public in 1925.
A few years ago the photographic equipment part of the Leitz Organisation in Wetzlar, Germany, became a separate company named LEICA Camera based in Solms a small village a few miles from Wetzlar. LEICA Camera manufactures cameras, lenses, projectors, binoculars and telescopes. Backed by inventions and an innovative power that go back to Oskar Barnack and his idea, LEICA is today working on the creation of the tools that will take that new view of things forward through this millennium.
Before and since this millenium began there have been changes in ownership of the Company and there have been acquisitions of well-known companies. Expansion of manufacturing units has also been undertaken to keep pace with changes in the photographic market. The largest development was in Wetzlar with the opening of LEITZ-PARK.
The presence of the LEICA brand in the United Kingdom since the 1950s has been limited to a marketing and servicing national headquarters with LEICA specialist dealers selling the products. In recent years the numbers of dealers has diminished to a handful. However the Company has introduced in America, Europe and Asia over 80 LEICA Stores to render a Company support system.
The LEICA store in the UK is cureently located in 64-66 Duke Street, London. W1K 6JD
The pictures below show some of the facilities available.