We were recently invited to Wetzlar, Germany for Leica’s annual Celebration of Photography event from 19 – 21 Oct. Apart from the exciting relaunches of the iconic M6 and Summilux-M 35 f/1.4, we were treated to a tour of Leitz Park and the history of Leica.
Figured it’d be fun for us to take you on a small tour of what we experienced – something a lil different from what we usually write about!
Leitz Park is about 30,000sqm, and was previously a military training ground before it was converted to Leica’s headquarters.
This is where Leica manufactures special lenses for various movie productions, retailers, and production houses. Streaming platforms also leveraged on Leica lenses – fan favourite, Ozark, was filmed using Leica lenses. Fun fact: The movie, Reverent, won an Oscar for Production and they used Leica lenses during production.
Leica Headquarters & Factory
The first thing that struck me when I saw this building was how the windows were structured like a roll of film negatives. Do you see it too? This is where Leica cameras are assembled by hand – more on that later.
There are only 36 shots in 1 roll of film in analog photography, and there is a commemorative wall in Leica Headquarters featuring 36 iconic shots taken with Leica cameras.
Production Line Tour
We were taken on a tour of Leica’s production line, which showed us every step of how a Leica camera is made – with each step painstakingly done by hand. You can be sure that there’s quality reassurance in every single Leica camera on the market.
It takes a very well experienced and skilled person to repair an analog camera, and parts are always re-manufactured for repairs of older camera models. If you wonder why your Leica analog camera is stuck in repair for a lengthy period of time, it’s because it takes a very long time to repair as everything is done by hand.
Extremely neat work station in Customer Care
Nestled inside Leica Welt is the Ernst Leitz Museum, along with Leica Archive – which isn’t open to public – but we were fortunate enough to have been taken on an exclusive tour.
From the very first Leica advertisement, to artefacts all the way from 1923, to the intricate parts of what goes into each Leica camera, to manual records of each Leica customer until the mid 1960s, to special Leica lens made for military spying, to an exclusive Leica Mahjong Set, to a very unique Leica Bearbrick – the Leica Archive was truly a treasure trove of nuggets of information for Leica fans out there.
Leica Oskar Barnack Award (LOBA) 2022
Oskar Barnack revolutionised the world of photography and was the inventor of the 35mm. At Leica, they recognise courageous and moving stories all around the world, and this year, for the very first time, 1/3 of the photographers who submitted their work for the LOBA were women.
Kiana Hayeri, LOBA Winner 2022, and her winning series ‘Promises Written On The Ice, Left In The Sun’ which is translated from a Farsi proverb – spoke about how the set of images were carefully curated from 6-8 years of photographing the difficult and challenging life and landscape in Afghanistan.
Valentin Goppel, a young 22 year old who won the Young Newcomer Award with his series ‘Between Years’, spoke about how his series were set to capture the journey of discovery he set out upon during COVID – and how his loved ones’ emotions evolved during the pandemic as well.
Leica is not just about the cameras, the technology, the innovative products they carry – Leica is photography.
Thank you for inviting us to Wetzlar this year, Leica! We can’t wait to be back next year.