Leica R Instruction Manuals
The R-cameras used to be the flagships in Leica's photographic equipment portfolio and a popular choice for professional and enthusiast photographers alike. Almost 500,000 R-mount bodies were produced and sold since the Leicaflex was introduced in 1964. Unfortunately, Leica decided to discontinue its line of reflex cameras in 2009, when the development of the autofocus-enabled R10 was shelved. Since then, Leica has step by step reduced its support for the system.
There are still instruction manuals and technical information notes available on Leica's website for the R9 and the Digital-Modul-R, but for user guides and information on older cameras, the R-shooter has to look elsewhere. Some product documentation can be found in good condition on the pre-owned marked, most notably on ebay. Yet, several helpful photo-enthusiasts, notably Mike Buktus, Joe Chan and David Young, have together assembled a full set of instruction manuals of older R-cameras and made them available on their respective websites as free downloads. The links below relay and mirror these listings.
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Moreover, in case you are interested in the history of Leica and evolution of its cameras and lenses, you might want to check out a set of free pdf-documents that more or less represent the information that went into Erwin Puts' Leica Compendium. This 2011 publication brings together a wealth of facts and data about Leica cameras and optics on more than 600 pages. It quickly became a reference book and all three print editions have sold out. Fortunately, Mr. Puts has made drafts of the underlying material available on the web in the form of several booklets and excerpts. These pdf-documents are not as nicely formatted as the published Compendium and do not show all the illustrations of the print edition, but they nevertheless contain plenty of useful information for the Leica aficionado. Just move across to the Leica documents page to see the listing of respective downloads.
You can also retrace the evolution of Leica's reflex cameras over time on the R-camera compendium page and see a display of all the models in the Leica family tree. However, while the R-cameras were very nice tools, what really made the system shine were its optics. The R-lenses compendium lists all the Summiluxes, Summicrons, Elmarits, Elmars and Telyts for the system and provides an overview of their specs. Finally, there is the Leica glossary with brief explanations of selected terms and concepts.