It is over seventy years since the first Leica was manufactured by Ernst Leitz in Wetzlar Germany. Since then over 1,500,000 of these cameras have been manufactured. Leica cameras were well ahead of their time and focused (pardon the pun!) on being extremely small and high quality.
The initial models of Leica camera were designed by Leitz engineer Oskar Barnack, and similar designs continued to be manufactured right through the war. Today, this design of cameras are still called “Barnack-Leica” in Japan in order to differentiate them from the new M type Leica, of which the first model was made in 1954.
The iconic Leica IIIf was launched in 1950 with and featured a full synchronized contact. It became known as either the Black Synchro or Red Synchro according to the series of numbers – 1 through 20 – that were found around shutter dial. These numbers were engraved in Black on early model and were changed in Red on later model, hence the name. On the Red model, the shutter speed was also increased to make the synchronization with the flash unit more efficient. The synchronized speed of the electronic flash is 1/30sec for the Black model and 1/50sec for the Red one.
A Self-timer was incorporated in the final model in 1954. The IIIf proved so popular that it continued to be made until 1957 even after the world-beating Leica M3 was released.
After the War, the camera industry started copying Leica in Japan as well as some other countries and the Leica IIIc(1945) and IIIf(1050) had become their main targets.