Monday, February 4, 2013


Unlike in the US, many larger German companies conduct their own training and education programs.  These usually are a combination of practical education in form of an apprenticeship, where applicable, combined with educational programs at schools of higher learning, including university studies.  Leica is no exception.  They have carried on this tradition since the beginnings of the company.

Ernst Leitz III was no exception.  Even though it was planned for him to eventually take over the leadership of the company from his father, Ernst Leitz II insisted the he would undergo training as an apprentice within the company besides his University studies.

Part of this included training as a Feinmechaniker (precision mechanic).  Such training included even basics like learning how to correctly use a metal file, for instance.  With other words, his education and training was from the ground up.

Toward the end of this training program he was even assigned the task of some design work.  While little is known what all this entailed, we do, however, have one example that was presented for years on the Leica screw mount cameras.

After his father had decided to manufacture “Barnacks Kamera” (Barnack’s Camera) after the initial 30 (or 31, the exact number has never been conclusively established) preproduction models, some final design work was necessary before the first official Leica, the Leica I or Model A could be marketed.

Ernst Leitz III was given the task of designing the small rewind lever that allowed the camera to be switched from the position of film advance to rewind.  Apparently his work was successful.  We have to assume that the final decision was made by Oskar Barnack, and for years his lever design was with us on the Leica screw mount cameras.

Lever in the 'advance' position

Lever moved half way to show the intricate shape


  1. Interesting story. How do you manage to come up with this stuff?
    I also have a question regarding the lighting of the two pictures. I see a combination of warm and cold reflections on the camera. How did you achieve this?

  2. I have been a Leica enthusiast for years, but I don't limit my interests to only current equipment. I am also very much interested in the history of the camera and the company. I have access to a wealth of information from numerous sources, thus it is often not very difficult to come across some interesting details that are not generally known.

    The lighting in these photos is nothing elaborate at all. I took them with the camera sitting on my desk. The desk is against a wall with a large window which offers soft window light. I highlight the shadow areas with a simple desk lamp with a warm white CFL lamp. The combination of daylight and the warm white light results in the mixture of warm and cold reflections.

  3. I notice a ring surrounding the shutter speed dial on the camera. That is not the standard shutter speed dial. What is the purpose?

  4. What you are looking at is the cam for the Leitz VACU flash synch device. It allows the use of flash equipment on Leica cameras without internal flash synchronization. For more information go to the article "Leitz VACU" from March 21, 2012 on this blog.

  5. This appears to be your personal camera which you wrote about in the article about the VACU synch device.

    1. You are correct, it is the same camera. I wrote another article that featured this camera, titled "Richter" Leica III.