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The Original Leica

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One hundred years ago, Oskar Barnack (1879–1936) created the first Leica small format camera. While there are various anecdotes surrounding its creation, none of them can be confirmed with certainty.

It seems plausible that Barnack's state of health (he suffered from asthma) and his passion for nature photography were indeed the reasons why the optical engineer, precision mechanic and industrial designer for Leitz in Wetzlar began to focus his attentions on developing a small format camera, initially in his own time.

His idea was to use a 35 mm (cinema) film in a photography camera which he initially called Liliput. It later transpired that the name was not viable due to branding issues.

In 1913/14, Barnack completed the first Leica camera along with two prototypes, using the Leitz Wetzlar microscope lens Mikro Summar 42 mm f/4.5. His creation has shaped the way we photograph to this day – even down to modern-day Smartphone photography.

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