I guess it’s not surprising to find that Leitz invented the the 35 mm format, and that the reason a smaller film format was created in Germany was to make photography more convenient when visiting the mountains.
The first Leica prototypes were built by Oskar Barnack at Ernst Leitz Optische Werke, Wetzlar, in 1913. Intended as a compact camera for landscape photography, particularly during mountain trips, the Leica was the first practical 35 mm camera that used standard cinema 35 mm film. The Leica transports the film horizontally, extending the frame size to 24Ã—36 mm, with a 2:3 aspect ratio, instead of the 18Ã—24 mm that cinema cameras use, as they transport the film vertically.
The Leica went through several iterations, and in 1923 Barnack convinced his boss, Ernst Leitz II, to make a pre-production series of 31 [other sources say 23 or 25 -JDZ] cameras for the factory and outside photographers to test. Though the prototypes received a mixed reception, Ernst Leitz decided in 1924 to produce the camera. It was an immediate success when introduced at the 1925 Leipzig Spring Fair as the Leica I (for Leitz camera). The focal plane shutter had a range from 1/20 to 1/500 second, in addition to a Z for Zeit (time) position.
Last month, at Westlicht Galleries in Vienna, one of the ten or eleven surviving Leica 0-series, a still-functional camera numbered 116, sold at auction on May 12th to an anonymous bidder for â‚¬2.16 million euros, or roughly $2.8 million dollars, setting a new record for camera prices.