Culture & Arts

The Leica Camera Turns 100 Years Old By Recreating The World's Most Famous Photographs

9 Things You Probably Didn't Know About The World's Most Famous Camera

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Leica, the German camera brand that's dominated the last century of photography, the Brazilian ad agency F/Nazca has created a stunning montage of some of the world's most famous photographs, painstakingly recreated in a nod to contemporary image making. From Joe Rosenthal's "Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima" to Diane Arbus' "Identical Twins" to Henri Cartier-Bresson's "Behind the Gare St. Lazare," the two-minute clip is an homage not just to Leica photography, but to the medium in all its glory.

"Even the photographs that weren't taken with a Leica, were taken because of the Leica," the video below proclaims.

The year 1914 marks the moment Oskar Barnack fully imagined the very first Leica model, a product that would launch Ernst Leitz Optische Werke into the camera business. In honor of the momentous occasion, we looked back on Leica's history. Here are 9 things you might not have known about the innovative art-meets-technology giant.

1. The name Leica is a portmanteau. It combines the first three letters of Ernst Leitz's surname (the creator of Ernst Leitz Optische Werke, the predecessor company to Leica) and the first two letters of the word camera.


2. The brand popularized the motto “small negative, large picture.” Oskar Barnack, the man in charge of research and development at Leitz in the early 1900s, conceived of a compact camera with a precise lens capable of producing sharp negatives and high-quality enlargements. Barnack's WWI-era prototype would set the standard for 35mm cameras to come.


3. Before Leicas, Ernst Leitz made microscopes, binoculars and huntingscopes. But in 1935, the camera and enlarger section of the company became the most profitable pieces of his empire.


4. Leica was the Apple of camera technology, but nicer to its customers. From nearly the start of Leica production, the cameras came with a warranty card that allowed buyers to upgrade to the latest Leica version whenever it came out. Of course, looking back, collectors are likely cursing their grandparents for selling the first model.

5. A Leica cost a cool $88 in 1928. That's $1,129 in 2014.


6. Leica's underwater camera was way ahead of its time. Leitz developed an entire underwater camera system for the US Navy in the 1950s and '60s, one that took into account the refractive index of salt water, using an interchangeable front element of water contact lenses. According to Leica, when the water was clear enough, it was impossible to tell whether or not the photographs were actually taken in water.


7. Leica went to the moon! Leica supplied a Trinovid 10 X 40 for the NASA Apollo 11 mission. The camera became the first optical device used on the moon in 1969.


8. Diane Arbus, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Robert Frank used Leicas. Ok, so you probably knew these names. How about Bruce Davidson, Robert Capa, Stanley Kubrick, and David Burnett? Basically, when you brandish a Leica, you're in the company of greats.


9. As of 2012, an original Leica model was the most expensive camera in the world. Dating back to 1923, a Leica O-Series model -- thought to be one of only 12 cameras of this type in existence -- sold for $2.8 million.


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