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Glossary of Leica Terms

The widespread use of abbreviations and proprietary terminology in Leica-related documentation can be puzzling, so hopefully this inventory of definitions will help to clarify the meaning of particular terms. If you are looking for information on serial numbers, these can be readily found, for example, in the Leica Wiki or in Erwin Puts' Leica Compendium. The 2011-edition of the latter sold out quickly, but can sometimes be found on ebay, while a soft copy (without illustrations) of Puts' earlier Leica Lens Compendium is available as a free pdf-download on a separate page of this site.

A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z

A

Anastigmat:
Lens designation for optical systems that have been corrected to reduce astigmatic distortions. Also the name of some early Leica fixed camera lenses (1920-21).
APO:
Lens-name prefix indicating apochromatic correction, that is the use of special glass elements to make red, green, and blue light rays converge to the same spot for superior contrast and sharpness, as well as color fidelity.
APO-Telyt:
leica apo telyt r module 2.8 400mm
Leica APO-Telyt-R Module 2.8/400mm
The designation APO-Telyt describes a line of apochromatically-corrected telephoto lenses first introduced in 1975 with the APO-Telyt-R 3.4/180mm. All optics in this series were produced for the now discontinued R-mount, with the exception of the APO-Telyt-M 3.4/135mm. The latter is currently the longest focal length available for the M-series rangefinder system. The lens family includes such highly acclaimed optics as the APO-Telyt-R 4/280 or the APO-Telyt-R Module system. It also contains two exotic lenses – the APO-Telyt-R 5/600mm and the APO-Telyt-R 5.6/1600mm – of which only one or two copies are known to exist. Despite being manual focus only lenses, the APO-Telyts have kept their value and continue to trade at premium prices on the pre-owned market.
ASPH:
Lens-name supplement indicating existence of aspherical lens elements that are used to correct for optical aberrations, while making it possible to maintain a compact lens design.

C

C:
Designation for a series of zoom-lens compact film cameras, including the only Leica camera (the C11) for the APS-format.
C-Lux:
Designation for a series of ultracompact digital cameras.
CL:
Designation for a compact viewfinder film camera ("Compact Leica") with M-bayonet that was produced in cooperation with Minolta during 1973-76.
CM:
Designation of enthusiast compact film cameras, produced during 2003-07, with a Summarit fixed or zoom lens that succeeded the Minilux series with a more classic design ("Classic Minilux").
CS:
Designation of (Leica S) lenses that have a Central Shutter mechanism.

D

D-Lux:
Designation for a series of compact digital cameras with a relatively large (1/1.7") sensor.
Digilux:
Designation for a series of digital cameras with moderate zoom or interchangeable (FourThirds) lenses.
DMR:
Digital-Modul-R camera back that makes digital photo capture possible with the R8 and R9.

E

ELCAN:
Designation for lenses produced by Ernst Leitz CANada for the US military.
Elmar:
Designation for lenses with a maximum aperture of (mostly) 1:3.5 to 1:4.5.
Elmax:
Designation for early fixed camera lenses with aperture f/3.5 and a focal length of 50mm (1921-25)
Elmarit:
Designation for lenses with a maximum aperture of (mostly) 1:2.8.
Ernst Leitz:
Entrepreneur and founder in 1869 of Ernst Leitz Optische Werke in Wetzlar/Germany, which is the predecessor company of today's Leica Camera AG.
Extender:
Designation for teleconverter lenses.

F

Five-letter codes:
Pronounceable telegraphic codes that used to be assigned for identification to each Leica product during 1928-59. Since then, Leica has been using five-digit product identification codes.
Focomat:
Designation of a series of film enlargers.
Focotar:
Designation for enlarger lenses.

H

Hektor:
Designation for a group of lenses produced between 1930 and 1955. According to historical anecdote, the first lens of its type was named after Oskar Barnack's dog.
Hologon:
Designation for wide-angle lenses produced by Carl Zeiss for the Leica M-system.

L

Leica:
Brand name derived from the founder's company name "Leitz(sche) Camera".
Leicaflex:
First series of single lens reflex cameras by Leica, released in 1964.
Leicameter:
Light meters that attach to the hotshoe and couple with the shutter-dials of certain M-series cameras.
Leicavit:
Trigger winding device for certain M-series cameras.
LTM:
Leica Thread Mount: screw mount to attach 35mm lenses to camera bodies with a width of 39mm and a thread of 0.977mm per turn. LTM lenses have a flange-focal-distance of 28.8 mm.

M

M:
Designation of Leica's series of rangefinder (in German: "MeƟsucher") cameras.
Mini:
Designation of compact film cameras, produced during 1991-97, with an Elmar fixed or zoom ("Minizoom") lens.
Minilux:
Designation of enthusiast compact film cameras, produced during 1995-03, with a Summarit fixed or zoom ("Minilux Zoom") lens.
MP:
Designation of all-mechanical rangefinder cameras ("Mechanical Perfection") in the M-series.

N

Nocticron:
Designation for lenses with a maximum aperture of 1:1.2, first introduced with the Leica DG Nocticron 1,2 / 42,5 mm.
Noctilux:
Designation for lenses with a maximum aperture of 1:1.2 or faster.

O

Oskar Barnack:
Optical engineer who designed the first Leica camera and is credited with developing the 35mm film standard.

P

PA-Curtagon:
Designation for a 1:4/35mm shift lens ("Perspective Adjustment") produced by Schneider-Kreuznach for the Leica R-system.
PC-Super-Angulon:
Designation for a 1:2.8/28mm shift lens ("Perspective Control") produced by Schneider-Kreuznach for the Leica R-system.
Pradovit:
Designation of Leica's series of slide film projectors.

R

R:
Designation of Leica's series of single lens Reflex cameras.
Red Dot:
Casual expression to denote the small, red, circular branding logo on (many) Leica cameras.
RF:
Opto-mechanical Range Finder mechanism that makes it possible to focus M-system cameras.
ROM:
Read Only Memory chip that stores the characteristics of R-system lenses for transmission to the R8 or R9 cameras.

S

S:
Designation of Leica's series of medium format digital (Scanner) cameras.
Six-bit-code:
Engraving on M-lenses that makes it possible for the digital M-cameras to recognize the lens that is mounted (can be added in retrospect).
SL:
Designation of Leicaflex cameras that are equipped with through-the-lens metering ("Selective Light measurement", or in German: "Selektive Lichtmessung").
Summar:
Designation for 1:2/50mm lenses during the 1930s.
Summarex:
Designation for a 1:1.5/85mm portrait lens that was produced during 1943-60.
Summarit:
Designation for lenses with a maximum aperture of 1:2.5.
Summaron:
Designation for some wide-angle lenses produced during 1946-1974.
Summicron:
Designation for lenses with a maximum aperture of 1:2.0.
Summilux:
Designation for lenses with a maximum aperture of 1:1.4.
Summitar:
Designation for 1:2/50mm lenses that were produced during 1939-53.
Super-Angulon:
Designation for wide-angle lenses produced by Schneider-Kreuznach for Leica cameras.

T

Tele:
Lens-name prefix for telephoto lenses.
Telyt:
Designation for some telephoto lenses with a focal length of at least 135mm.
Thambar:
Designation for a 1:2.2/90mm soft-focus portrait lens produced during 1935-49.
Tri:
Lens pre-fix indicating the ability to change between three focal lengths on certain M-mount lenses.

U

Ur-Leica:
leica ur leica
The Ur-Leica[wikipedia.org]
The Ur-Leica was the prototype of the first Leica 35mm camera. It was built in 1912/13 by Oscar Barnack as a compact camera that made it possible for the photographer to capture ordinary outdoor life without carrying the heavy and cumbersome equipment typical for the time. The Ur-Leica was also the first camera that used the 24x36mm film format, which was derived from 18x24mm film then common for large theater projections. It was fitted with a 50mm lens, which later became the normal focal length for the 35mm format. After World War I, developments of the compact camera continued, and in 1924 the Leica O-Series camera was put into production and became a commercial success.

V

V-Lux:
Designation for a series of superzoom digital cameras.
Vario:
Lens-name prefix for zoom lenses.
Visoflex:
Mirror reflex box, released in 1951, that attaches to the lens mount of Leica rangefinders and made it possible to properly focus telephoto lenses.
Vulcanite:
Black, rubberized material that used to be applied to Leica camera bodies prior to the 1980s in order to give the surface texture and provide the photographer with a solid grip. However, over time natural oxidation and exposure to ultraviolet light can result in the deterioration of the Vulcanite cover, such that the material becomes brittle and peels off. More recent Leicas have therefore been using "leatherette" vinyl covers, which are chemically more stable, easier to replace when damaged, and less expensive to apply.

X

X:
Designation for large sensor (APS-C) compact cameras.
Xenon:
Designation for a 1:1.5/5cm screw-mount lens produced from 1936-50.

Z

Z2X:
Designation for compact film cameras, produced during 1997-03, that feature a two-times 35-70mm Vario-Elmar zoom lens ("Zoom 2X").

Further Reading

The past fifty years of Leica photography have been dominated by the M and R-systems. The evolution of these lines of cameras (and the ancestors) is graphically illustrated in the Leica family tree. Descriptions of the advances made with each new camera model are contained, respectively, in the Leica M compendium and the Leica R compendium. Last, but not least, much of the attraction of Leica for photographers is due to the excellent quality of the company's lenses, and you can get an overview of all the options and specs by checking out the M lens catalog or the R lens catalog on this site.