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Lomopedia: Leica II

Touted as one of the most notable cameras by Leica, the Leica II rangefinder camera was also an important piece for 35mm photography itself. Find out why in this installment of Lomopedia!

Leica was already successful in making a mark in 35mm photography when it produced the Leica A (also called Leica I) from 1925 to 1936. Said to be the first commercially successful 35mm camera, Leica A was notable not only for being a relatively compact camera, but also for the superb optics and the detachable vertical rangefinder accessory. In effect, it became the first 35mm rangefinder for this add-on.

The Leica II, meanwhile, was produced in 1932 and was the first of the Leica cameras to have a built-in rangefinder. It also had standardized interchangeable lenses which accommodated lenses from 35 to 135. At the time, it was remarkable for the Leica II to be fitted with a rangefinder considering its small size. However, renowned camera designer Oskar Barnack wouldn’t have it done with a bigger camera size!

Technical Specifications:

  • Lens: f3.5, 50 mm Elmar, iris diaphragm to f18, continental iris scale. Depth-of-field scale. Screw mount.
  • Shutter: Focal-plane, speeds 1/20 – 1/500, Z. Speeds are varied by delaying the second blind.
    Construction: Vulcanite covered metal body.
  • Format: 36, 24 × 36 mm exposures on 35 mm cine film held in cassette, film is re-wound into cassette.
    Focusing: Helical, scale to 3.5 feet.
  • Attributes: Coupled rangefinder, swing prism type, double image. Direct-vision (lens/lens) viewfinder.
    Auto-stop on film-advance coupled to shutter. Film-advance tensions shutter. Exposure counter.
  • Identification: All early points listed below. 11 o’clock infinity release on lens.
  • With:
    Lens cap. Ever-ready case version without retaining screw. 2 cassettes one in tin. Red box for lens.
    Yellow filter 1, in red box, screw fitting, white lettering. Yellow filter 0.
    Angular finder. Early type with large eye-cup.
    “Directions for Model II”, instruction book d. Jan 1933.
    Copying device for 1:1 reproduction (BELUN). Early model marked ‘Elmar’. In box.
    “Auxiliary Reproduction Devices”, pamphlet d. May 1932.

Visit Leica II on Cameraquest, Leica II on Wikipedia, and Leica II on Early Photography for more information on this iconic rangefinder camera!

written by plasticpopsicle

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This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: Spanish.