Oskar Barnack




Oskar Barnack


Oskar Barnack was the father of 35mm photography and inventor of Leica cameras.  Initially working for Leitz developing their motion picture cameras, he saw the possibility of producing a small still camera utilizing motion picture film.  At the time most cameras used large glass plates and therefore were big and heavy and need to be used on a tripod.

Oskar suffered from asthma and carrying and using a large camera was out of the question.  He invented his small camera which he could easily take with him while out walking.  The small negative size meant that it would have to be enlarged to produce a print, unlike plate cameras from which prints could be produced by contact printing. Therefore the lenses had to be excellent.

The Leica I camera was introduced in 1925.  The name Leica derives from Leitz cameras.  The main philosophy was to produce a small camera with outstanding lenses capable of producing sharp images.

In 1932 the Leica II was introduced.  This was the first camera to have a built in rangefinder and was a true “systems” camera with a range of interchangeable lenses and accessories – something that is taken for granted today.

Oskar Barnack died in 1936 just as the real potential of his vision, of producing a small camera using 35mm film, was being realized.  His Leica cameras revolutionized photography and set the standard for what we have today.  Small is beautiful.



Leica IIIB



© 2007-2024 Michael Anderson LRPS

All Rights Reserved


Hints & TipsContactLinksSite Map

Photography & Design School of Photography

footer image footer image