Saturday, January 31, 2015


Leica Camera AG reports:

Wetzlar, 28/01/2015 - Leica Camera AG is rebuilding their global sales organization and  in this context is newly rearranging the responsibilities for the German market.  Under the umbrella of the global Sales Unit, in the future a German organization is operating in addition to the various branch offices in Europe, America, Asia and Australia.  By the  global reorganization of the sales areas, the markets in which the Leica Camera AG is represented by subsidiaries and trading partners will be even more closely closely tied to the company's headquarters in the Hessian town of Wetzlar.  The goal is to expand the national companies globally to achieve greater market penetration.

The Leica Camera AG has grown in recent years, counter to the trend in the global photography market, especially by working closely with retailers and a consistent focus on the company's own retail business with Leica galleries, Leica stores and boutiques. To further increase the efficiency and create potential for additional growth, sales and retail operate in the future in separate organizational structures. The area of sales will be led by Global Sales Director Steffen Keil (47)in the future with immediate effect. He is directly responsible for the national organizations.  He reports to Kaltner Oliver, CEO of Leica Camera AG for Marketing, Sales and Retail.  Prior to this, Keil had already been successful by pushing ahead with the internationalization of the sales structures.

At the head of the German subsidiary will be Falk Friedrich (41) who, in recent years, was very successful in expanding international sales transactions with trading partners in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.   In his function, the former sales manager for Germany, Tim Pullman (43), has contributed significantly to the growth of Leica Camera AG in the German market. He changes over to the retail sector and assumes the newly created position of Head of Retail Stores Leica Germany and Austria.  As such, he is responsible for the Leica Stores in Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Berlin, Vienna and Wetzlar.


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Friday, January 30, 2015


In 1980, PhotoVisuals of Minneapolis, the first Leica only store in the US, commissioned artist Susan Kennedy to create an original piece of Leica art.  It was to be in honor of Oskar Barnack and his invention of the Leica.  The idea was to show Oscar Barnack as well as some items out of the then current Leica catalog.

Susan Kennedy was given total freedom in the design of the artwork.  After a few weeks she presented several different layouts in form of sketches.  After considerable evaluations, one began to stand out from the others and Susan was asked to draw the original poster.

It showed two pictures of Oskar Barnack, created after two photographs, one of him sitting on his workbench and the other a head shot portrait.  Also included in the poster were the Ur-Leica, the original prototype that Oscar Barnack began making in 1913.  This was the camera that gave 35mm photography, as we know it, its start.  One important part of the poster was to show how the original Ur-Leica had progressed to that date.  Subsequently the Leica M4 was shown as the then latest model in the development of the Leica cameras.  In addition two of the current Leica lenses were shown also, a 90mm f/2.8 Tele Elmarit and a 135mm f/4 Tele Elmar.




All these individual pictures were combined in the poster.  This was later made into a limited series of lithographs, all of which found their original owners soon after their introduction.

The LEICA Barnack Berek Blog has reproduced the original poster in a 13 x 16.7 inch size and made them once again available for all Leica enthusiasts at a cost of $ 25.00 including shipping and handling.  These reproductions are made in form of giclee prints, printed on archival paper with archival inks.

For orders please contact us at


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Oskar Barnack, the inventor of the Leica at his desk

YouTube has a movie about the history of the Leica.  The video was first aired by the Hessischer Rundfunk in Germany.  Unfortunately no English version or a version with subtitles is available.  But even non-German speaking viewers might find it interesting.  The video contains a large number of images taken by Oskar Barnack, some of which appear to never have been published before.

The Ur-Leica, the original prototype made by Oskar Barnack

Go to the video:

For more on the history of Oskar Barnack and the Leica go to:


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Thursday, January 29, 2015


Regardless of how careful we are, sooner or later our lenses need cleaning.  Opinions differ widely on what the best method to clean a lens is.  Subsequently there are quite a large number of products on the market, and virtually all of them claim that their method is better than anyone else’s.  What to do?

Regardless of which product or which method we use, the two important objectives are that the product and method does clean the lens properly, and that it can be done in a manner that does not harm the lens. 

It is often said that glass scratches easily.  That is correct.  But with modern lenses we actually do not clean the glass surface but rather the anti reflection coating on the lens.  This sometimes brings up some outlandish claims, like the coating is substantially more scratch resistant than just glass, therefore making it unnecessary to be overly careful.  As a matter of fact, at one camera store I overheard a sales clerk claiming that the lens coatings are almost impossible to scratch.  To my horror, he used a pencil with an eraser tip and vigorously rubbed it all over the lens.

One problem is that harmful ways to clean a lens don’t necessarily show up in visible scratches immediately.  These effects are accumulative, and prolonged use will eventually show up.  At that point the harm is done.  It is virtually irreversible.

The best approach is to touch the surface of your lens as little as possible.  If only some dust has settled on the lens, use a rubber blower to remove it.  That often is all that is necessary.  It is advisable, however, not to use so called canned air.  These items emit a rather powerful stream of “air” which inevitably will pick up small dust particles in the air and pound them into the lens surface.  This parallels the principle of sandblasting.  When full, these cans also have the tendency to emit so much of the material inside that it does not gasify before it reaches the lens.  In that case it will settle on the lens in a frozen state.  That obviously will be harmful and should be avoided.

 Typical blower bulb

Any dust that still clings to the lens ran be removed with a soft lens cleaning brush.  Here too a lot of cheap, useless products can be found.  High quality lens cleaning brushes, in many cases, use camel hair or other similarly soft materials.  Any good lens cleaning brush should come with a protective casing to prevent the brush from picking up dirt while being stored.  It is also necessary to shake or blow off any accumulated dust and dirt from the brush, otherwise we end up simply moving dirt around on the lens.

 So called lipstick brush. It retracts and is protected by the cap

Unfortunately it will happen that we get a fingerprint or other smudges on the lens.  Blowers and brushes are of no help here, we need something in addition.  Several years ago, on a visit to Leica, I asked them about this.  I expected some complicated, overly technical approach.  To my surprise I was told to use lens cleaning tissue and lens cleaning fluid.  A bit of research on the internet revealed that this still holds true today.

But caution is definitely on order.  There are a lot of cheap products of this kind on the market.  Some of these are often used as promotional items.  Stay away from them.  Instead pay a bit more for a high quality lens cleaning tissue, as are sold by Zeiss, for instance.  These should be soft and lint free.  The same goes for the cleaning fluid.  To use this system first remove any loose dirt and dust with a blower or brush,  Then use a sheet of the cleaning tissue and put a drop or two of the cleaning fluid on the tissue.  Never put it directly in the lens.  Most lenses have a front element with a convex surface.  Adding the cleaning fluid will most likely result in the fluid to run to the edge of the front lens element and potentially into the lens.  Moisture inside a lens is never a good thing.

Use the moistened lens tissue and gently rub the surface of the lens in a circular motion for just a few seconds, beginning in the center and working your way outward, removing any marks or smear.  If necessary use a second tissue and repeat.  Some lens cleaning fluid might leave a slight haze after drying.  The Kodak lens cleaning fluid used to do that.  This is not harmful. In such cases simply breathe on the lens and clean off the haze with another, clean piece of lens cleaning tissue.  As a matter of fact, breathing on the lens is often all you need to clean it.  The thin layer of moisture works as a lubricant.  Never use dry tissue on the lens.  This too can cause harm.

Instead of lens cleaning tissue, you can also use a microfiber cloth.  These are relatively new on the market.  They are made of extremely thin fibers that will actually reach underneath smudges and dirt on the lens and lift it off the surface.  Of course here too exist substantial quality differences.  Promotional items, like the ones you get with your eye glasses, are usually too coarse to be of any use.

One of the best microfiber cloths is the one offered by EDDYCAM.  It was especially developed for cleaning high quality lenses.  It offers high moisture absorption.  To achieve the extremely fine fibers used, the regular microfibers are split 16 times to render the extremely fine fibers used in the manufacture of this cloth.  The structure of  the surface is so dense that a square meter of the material weighs 180 grams.  Another advantage over similar microfiber cloths is that the EDDYCAM one comes in white.  This makes it much easier to see when the cloth is dirty to the point that it needs to be washed.   It even comes with an envelope in which you can leave the cloth at the end of its usability at a dealer or send it directly to EDDYCAM and receive a 10 percent discount when buying a new one.

Finally there is the LensPen.  It consists of a special cleaning tip and a lens brush that retracts into the pen for safe storage.  The cleaning tip surface is covered with a special invisible carbon compound that removes fingerprint ans smudges. This is not “high tech” – this is “old tech”! Many years ago our grandmothers often used newspapers to clean the windows and mirrors in the house. Why did that work so well? Newspapers are covered with printer’s ink, which is about 25% carbon … and the carbon molecule has a unique ability to absorb oils. The invisible carbon compound in LensPen products is unique and it has been specially formulated to handle the fingerprint oils on lenses, filters, eyepieces and screens.

To use it first remove any loose dirt or dust off the lens with the built-in brush.  Then twist off the cap and wipe the lens surface with smooth, circular motion of the cleaning tip.  If some smudges persist, breathe gently on the lens and repeat the process.  At the end, simply twist the cap back on.

I have used all of the above methods over the years and all have served me well.  But most importantly, they have served my lenses well.  Even the oldest ones are clean with no scratches.  Treat your lenses well and they will give you almost unlimited years of good service.


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Wednesday, January 28, 2015


Woman wears brown elk-leather camera strap around her shoulders.

Why would anyone replace the original Leica camera strap that is supplied with the camera?  After all, it is a Leica strap, even says Leica on it.  I was wondering about the same thing; that is until I discovered the EDDYCAM  strap from Germany.

This thing exudes quality.  Not that the Leica strap is bad, but the EDDYCAM  strap is in an entirely different league.  The EDDYCAM is the first and only ergonomic elk-skin camera strap.  It was developed by Edlef Wienen, an avid photographer and industry insider with decades of experience and a genuine passion for aesthetics and nature. Created for people that expect the best quality, functionality and comfort from their camera strap. The ergonomic design, use of Scandinavian elk-skin leather and painstaking production in a small German factory make EDDYCAM particularly comfortable yet extremely durable – and therefore simply unique.

Step 1: Storing and sorting
The raw elk hides are first preserved in salt or by drying, and stored at low temperatures
This is where the initial quality control and sorting takes place.

Edlef Wienen

Man cuts strips of leather with a carpet cutter.    Sewing machine produces a strap.
the EDDYCAM straps are mostly made by hand

Elk-skin is a high quality natural product and is not only one of the thickest leathers in the world, but also one of the finest.  Production of the elk-skin straps doesn’t start with the actual manufacturing in Germany, but much earlier – somewhere in the Scandinavian boreal forest. This is the home of the elk whose leather is responsible for EDDYCAM’s high quality. The elk-skin is tanned and dyed in a small Finnish tannery before being sent to the workshop in Bavaria for further processing. This is where the cutting, bonding and stitching takes place and components are attached – all very carefully, as you would expect from an exclusive natural product, and mostly by hand. The soft and skin-friendly surface, ergonomic strap shape, infinitely adjustable length and pure natural rubber padding attached with solvent-free adhesive ensure that EDDYCAM doesn’t pull or pinch your neck or shoulder – even after hours of wear.

Above all, EDDYCAM’s extreme durability is down to solid artisanal workmanship and the robustness of the elk-skin and other product components. From webbing quintuple-stitched with special thread (4700 N tensile strength), to non-breakable stainless steel length adjustment clips or sturdy polypropylene connecting elements – only consistently high quality in every part of the camera strap can guarantee its supreme durability. This makes it almost indestructible, even put to the toughest use in the harshest climates – and we guarantee that for five years.

Fan made of different coloured elk-leather straps.   Spool out of elk-leather straps.

The Leica strap has been retired and the EDDYCAM now is doing its duty on my Leica M8.  Fastening it to the camera turned out to be a bit tedious, but that was well worth it.  I don’t think I have ever used a camera strap that is as comfortable to wear as the EDDYCAM.

For more information on the EDDYCAM strap go to:


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Tuesday, January 27, 2015


The first time I saw the Leica Stammbaum (Family Tree) was in 1972 during a visit to Ernst Leitz Wetzlar (that was the name of the company before it was changed to Leica Camera).  It was on display in the Leica museum, located at their old headquarters, which is now occupied by Leica Microsystems.  It was an impressive display.  You would reach it via a freestanding staircase in the main lobby, going up to the second floor.  The Stammbaum was the first item you saw at the entrance to the museum.

It has changed little since then.  It still shows the Ur-Leica, the original prototype at the bottom and then all subsequent models of the Leica rangefinder cameras up to the first Leica reflex cameras.  At that point the Stammbaum splits into two sections, one for the Leica reflex models and one for the rangefinder cameras.  The only changes have been the addition of new camera models as they were developed, and the original Ur-Leica has been replaced with a replica.  The original is now sitting safely in a vault.

Of course the appearance of the display has changed many times, especially when Leica made the move to Solms several years ago.  Even there the display changed its appearance, the last time after the renovation of the Solms lobby  about four years ago.

The original Leica Stammbaum in Solms prior to the renovation of the lobby
Photo: R. Kok

The Leica Stammbaum in Solms
Photo: H. Richter

Now that Leica has moved back to Wetzlar, to their new headquarters at Leitz Park, the general assumption was that the Leica Stammbnaum would move also.  But it hasn’t been on display at all.  The new Leica museum is showing a lot of exciting and rare items, but the Stammbaum is nowhere to be seen

What happened?  The simple answer is that Leica doesn’t own the Stammbaum any longer.  Just yesterday I received word of what happened to it from the Leica Store in Manchester, UK.  The owner David Stephens kindly gave us permission to use his account and photographs of this historical event.

In November 2013  David and Richard visited the old Leica Solms Factory to collect some equipment. On display was the Historic Leica Stammbaum minus the iconic collection from Leica’s 99 years of camera production. The receptionist told us that the cameras had been taken to the new Leitz-Park in Wetzlar for display in state of the art glass cabinets. So begged the question – ‘What are you doing with the Tree?” –  After several conversations/emails and phone calls with the powers that be we received an email in February 2014 saying that, for an agreed price, we could ‘collect’ the Tree from Solms for our new Leica Store in Manchester. Guess what? Richard and David booked the next available ferry from Hull to Rotterdam and drove down to Solms, cash in pocket, to collect the one and only Leitz Family Tree. What a coup !

The Leica Stammbaum in Solms after the move to Wetzlar
Photo: Leica Store Manchester

Not all went smoothly – the tree, even in its disassembled three pieces was somewhat a snug fit in our trusty Octavia Estate. So with chins on the dashboard we set off back to Manchester. Back at base we started the task of assembling the history of Leica from 1914-2014 (100 Years of Leica in Leica’s 100th Anniversary Year).

After several months and many trawls through various online sites we finally managed to replicate the original ideology of the tree display filling it with Pre Leica M Cameras, LeicaFlex Cameras, and Leica M and R Cameras. Some of the cameras on the tree are exceedingly rare, and we are privileged to be able to display them all in our store for Leica lovers around the world to enjoy.

The Leica Stammbaum at its new home at Leica Store Manchester
Photo: Leica Store Manchester

What we have is a truly historical piece of Leica Art which we hope you will come and enjoy next time you’re visiting Manchester.

I have to agree.  This was indeed a coup. 

For more information about the Leica Store Manchester. Go to:


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