EVOLUTION OF THE LEICA M

Leica M10-R

The Leica M is an extraordinary camera. And it is most often found in the hands of extraordinary people. People who see the big picture, who look twice, question triviality and recognise the unusual in everyday things. They think outside the box, look beyond the everyday and expand their own horizons.

In the Footsteps of Iconic Photographers

Leica has transformed visual communications in a decisive manner. It was the handy, 35mm format created by Oskar Barnack that first gave rise to a new and dynamic type of photography. Accordingly, following the blossoming of photojournalism in the twenties, it is evident that another chapter in the history of the medium was written with the appearance of the Leica M in the fifties. Many photojournalists have, of course, worked with a Leica; so it is hardly surprising that, to this day, many outstanding members of the Magnum Photos agency – founded in 1947 by Robert Capa, David Seymour and Henri Cartier-Bresson, among others – are Leica photographers. It is impossible to imagine many ‘decisive moments’ being recorded without a Leica. René Burri, Werner Bischof, Martine Franck, Ara Güler and Thomas Hoepker – to mention just a few of the agency’s members – have all captured unforgettable Leica moments. 

Consider Nick Út’s shocking image of Kim Phúc – the seriously injured nine-year-old victim of the Vietnam War; or Alberto Korda’s famous portrait of Che Guevara, where the heroic guerilla fighter’s gaze is lost in the distance; these and many other iconic pictures share the same photographic tool in common. 

A Treasure in Heritage

Leica MP, auctioned in 2019
for a hammer price of €1.02 Million.

Leica "Nullserie" nr. 110, auctioned
in 2021 for a record price of €2.16 Million. 

Leica M Milestones

UR-LEICA

Leica Ur - the first, fully functional prototype of a revolutionary new still picture camera for 35mm perforated film - was the brainchild of Oskar Barnack, who joined Leitz in 1911 as the Director of Research.

The camera had a full metal body, a collapsible lens and a focal plane shutter, which, at the time, had no overlapping curtains. A cap, fixed to the lens by a screw, was swung across the lens when winding on the film to prevent light getting in. The Ur-Leica was the first camera to feature coupled film winding and shutter cocking – thus preventing double exposures. 

Fun Fact: 
Oskar Barnack initially built a small device intended to test small batches of movie film. In 1914, however, it became apparent that what he had actually created was a miniature still camera, known today as the Ur-Leica. 

The Evolution of M at a Glance

2022: LEICA M11

A LEGEND REINVENTED

The photo that ended the Vietnam War - Napalm Girl (1972). Shot with the M2. Nick Ut, photojournalist working for the Associated Press at that time captured the terror of war in Vietnam as napalm bombs were accidentally dropped in civilians quarters. Among those who were hit, a naked girl (9-year-old girl, Phan Thiị Kim Phúc), was running and crying and he saw her skin falling away. The American government saw the horrors of the inflicted area, finally relented, stopping the Vietnam War.

Witness The Legacy. Witness The Evolution.

See the vintage cameras in person from 17 January 2022.
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