LEGO Ideas user Pandis Pandus has submitted an idea to LEGO that is sure to excite photographers and Leica fans, in particular, a LEGO Ur-Leica camera from 1914. If the idea garners enough support, it may become a real LEGO product that you could buy in stores one day.
If you’re unfamiliar with the LEGO Ideas program, it’s an online place for creative LEGO enthusiasts to submit concept LEGO set ideas, like those you can purchase in stores. It takes a while for an idea to become a fully-fledged consumer product, of course, but it’s still a viable way for fresh ideas to make it from the minds of fans into the hands of everyone.
The LEGO Idea for the Ur-Leica camera is quite a realistic representation. The camera was also a critically important one for Leica and photography in general. According to Apotelyt, the Ur-Leica was the first line of cameras to use 24 x 36mm format film, which became the 35mm standard. As an aside, 35mm is named as such because the film is 35mm wide, including its perforations. By utilizing the 24 x 36mm format, cameras like the Ur-Leica were made smaller and more portable, making photography more accessible.
|The back of Pandis Pandus’s LEGO Ur-Leica camera|
Per Apotelyt, Oskar Barnack ‘had the groundbreaking idea of doubling the width of common 18x24mm cinema film and have it run horizontally in the Ur-Leica, rather than vertically as in cinema cameras of the time.’ He had this idea while working as a master technician at Ernst Leitz Optische Werke in Germany. Using common cinema film, the Ur-Leica was much more affordable to shoot than large-format plate cameras while producing enlarged prints with less grain.
|A real Ur-Leica camera from 1914. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 DE. Source.|
The Ur-Leica includes numerous knobs and dials, all of which are lovingly recreated in the LEGO Ideas submission. The set, which requires 205 total parts, includes an exposure counter, Mikro-Summar 42mm F4.5 fixed lens, focus scale ring, lens cover, metallic knobs, an external viewfinder with a frame, E. Leitz Wetzlar branding and more. As Apotelyt puts it, ‘the Ur-Leica represents a mechanical masterpiece that is relatively light and small,’ and the concept LEGO set does a great job of representing it.
|The LEGO Ur-Leica set uses 205 total parts|
Pandis Pandus writes, ”UR-Leica,’ also known as the ‘Original Leica’ is a prototype that came to revolutionize the landscape of cameras. Because I am interested in photography and amazed by advanced historical engineering, I set out on a mission to frame this timeless camera in LEGO.’ They continue, ‘This product proposal captures the general aesthetic and feeling of the camera. Even the weight has been modified, with a 2x6x2 weight brick integrated into the body…The golden frame of the viewfinder is almost exactly in the 2:3 aspect ratio, which this camera gave birth to.’
|Click to enlarge|
They continue, ‘I think this would make a great set for any camera or gadget enthusiast, and fan of Leica or LEGO. Both companies have – with the attitude that good is not good enough – managed to change entire markets and inspire countless minds across generations.’
|Click to enlarge|