LifestyleA brief history of the Leica Camera

  • June 11, 2020
  • St. Collins Lane

Like all great inventions, the camera was invented for necessity.

In 1913, the first successful 35mm camera, named the UR-Leica, was invented by Oskar Barnack. Barnack was an engineer at the Ernst Leitz Optische company, founded  by Ernst Leitz in 1869.

Barnack was a passionate travel photographer, but the cameras that existed were bulky and featured individual trays for each shot.

With a desire to create something that was more compact, Barnack developed the UR-Leica, marking the creation of the world’s first portable camera.

After developing the UR-Leica, Barnack continued to improve camera functionality and in 1914, he developed a new prototype of the UR-Leica (pictured) that Ernest Leitz was able to take with him on a trip to New York.

For the next ten years, Barnack and the Ernest Leitz team developed multiple prototypes for the Leica A. The camera received inconclusive feedback from factory and independent photographer testing, so after further developments Ernest Letiz decided to produce the camera which would be called the Leica-I.

Presented at the Leipzig Spring Fair in 1925, the Leica-I was an immediate success and was followed by new and improved models; the Leica Luxur and the Leica Compur. In total 60,586 units of these three models were produced.

In 1930 the Leica-I Schraubgewinde was created, also known as the Leica Thread Mount, which still appears on cameras not produced by Leica today. This camera featured a lens that could be replaced as it was screwed in with a 39mm diameter threaded fitting. And in 1932, the first Leica camera with a rangefinder, a focusing mechanism which allows the photographer to measure the distance of a subject, was created.

Today, Leica is based at the impressive ‘Leitz Park’ in Wetzlar, Germany. As for the name ‘Leica’, this was derived from the first three letters of Ernest Leitz’s surname and the first two letters of the word camera.

Leica is German engineering at its best. With a long history focusing on perception, Leica has developed innovative cameras that offer a unique experience for every user.

Created with the photographer in mind, Leica cameras and lenses are an ideal companion for any user, regardless of skill, expanding the natural limits of human perception and opening up a world of creative freedom.

Leica operates stores internationally and continues to develop ground-breaking technology which shapes photography today.

The Leica Camera Store opened its doors at St. Collins Lane in November 2018. Born with expertise in mind, the Leica store provides you direct interaction with expert, passionate camera enthusiasts who can guide you through your camera choices and exploration.

Visit Leica on Level 1 to discover more about Leica’s rich history and innovative range of cameras, lenses and sport optics. 

Shop online via and follow them on Instagram @leica_camera_aus

Recent additions to Leica’s range of cameras include

Leica CL Edition Paul Smith

The Leica CL camera has been given a colourful makeover, created in collaboration with the acclaimed British designer Paul Smith.

Featuring rich colour accents and unique styling elements like a Neon Rope Strop, this camera is Leica’s second collaboration with Paul Smith. Only 900 of this eye-catching special edition were created.

Shop this camera at Leica

Leica M10-P White

The Leica M10-P “White” reinterprets the iconic design of Leica’s rangefinder camera, with it’s predominantly white exterior accentuates the classic design of the camera without seeking to draw attention.

The camera combines a top-of-the-range Leica M with one of Leica’s most remarkable lenses resulting in a special edition that is as high-performing as it is visually appealing.

Only 350 editions of the Leica M10-P “White” are available worldwide.

Shop this camera at Leica

You can find these cameras and more at St. Collins Lane, 260 Collins Street.