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Leitz, Leica II, 35mm Rangefinder Camera, 1938
The Leica II owes its existence to the availability of 35mm movie film and the tantalising thought of using this film in a still camera. Early movie film wasn't particularly good at recording tones and was rather grainy. Oscar Barnack designed the prototype Leica back in 1913 and although it wasn't the first camera to use 35mm movie film it pointed the way to the future. Although not produced, it resurfaced as a production camera over ten years later, by which time 35mm film had improved considerably. The Name 'Leica' was derived from Leitz Camera. Those very early models were developed, and in 1932 the Leica II arrived, which sported the addition of a coupled rangefinder. The success and later iconic status of these cameras stems from the precision and quality of the engineering. Leica I were similar without rangefinders, II had rangefinders and III had slow speeds. They were built in parallel but updated progressively. This example joined the collection in December 2007 as a complete wreck after we took pity on it. It was part of the second production batch of 100 units built in 1938 of a total of 1200 made that year. It was subsequently "liberated" by a US soldier at the end of the Second World War. Despite years of neglect, dirt, missing parts a very sticky shutter and jammed aperture leaves - it is a testament to the build quality that all it required was dismantling and cleaning to produce a perfectly working example. New covering was applied as the original was missing, apart from that no cosmetic rectification was undertaken. We also have a Leica IIIA in the collection.

It was interesting to compare the internals with our FED 1, often cited as being a Leica II copy. Appearances are deceptive, it was obvious that the FED is no where near as well made and KMZ cut many corners to produce their version. Many Russian FEDs and Zorki's get rebuilt as fake Leicas, some openly for display, others to catch the unwary. A Leica wind on action is silky smooth, as the gears are machined. FEDs and Zorkis gears are stamped and feel a bit "gritty". See here for other ways to tell them apart.

Click on "this camera's pics" button, below, to see sample images.

Body No. 272348 (1938)
Shutter, cloth blind - focal plane, B, 20, 30, 40, 60, 100, 200, & 500th sec
Lens, Leitz Elmar 5cm 1:3.5, serial 395951 (1937) - serials for lenses are often higher than the body as more lenses were made.
Condition, 6F

Cover AW

 

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