The Leica Meet Wetzlar


THE LEICA MEET group of photographers were invited to Wetzlar, Germany on Sep 2nd/3rd 2015, for a tour of the new Leica factory and a conversation with Leica CEO Oliver Kaltner. Twenty four of us came.  All photos here were taken with a brand-new 28mm Summilux-M f/1.4 that Marina at the factory store was kind enough to save for me 🙂 

TLM_Wetzlar-1The new Leica factory.  Back in its original home town in Wetzlar, this impressive building was completed in 2014.  The entrance lobby is enormous, complete with a photo exhibition, Leica museum, a fully-stocked Leica store and the Leitz Cafe across the way.  Open to the public and well worth the pilgrimage.

TLM_Wetzlar-2A peaceful corner in the vast entrance lobby.

TLM_Wetzlar-3The Lenny Kravitz FLASH exhibition.  The exhibition changes every three months.

TLM_Wetzlar-4Waiting for dad… to finish his shopping…

TLM_Wetzlar-5Our factory tour begins with an overview of the building.  Two hundred glass panels surround the building, many of them curved, and each weighing like a Volkswagen.  A glass ceiling above the lobby is designed to let light in but prevent shadows from falling on the interior, especially on the exhibition.  The building is green and high-tech and functional and beautiful.

TLM_Wetzlar-6No photos beyond this point!

The tour focused on what it takes to make lenses – the incredibly tight tolerances, the quality of the glass, aspherical polishing techniques, the high-tech (and low-tech) machines, and the amount of manual labor required to put a lens together.  No wonder they cost so much.

TLM_Wetzlar-7A conversation with Leica CEO Oliver Kaltner:  “It’s all about the image” and “The Leica M will remain pure – like the Porsche 911”.  Let’s hope so!

TLM_Wetzlar-8A working replica of Ur-Leica (“original Leica”), from 1914.  The original is stored in a bank vault and said to be worth millions.  This camera invented 35mm photography.  Below there’s a photo of the spot in Wetzlar where Oskar Barnack took his first photo with this camera.

TLM_Wetzlar-9A stroll through the Leica museum.

TLM_Wetzlar-10Every Leica camera ever made is on display.  Hundreds of cameras and lenses.

TLM_Wetzlar-11Children’s competition decorating a Leica M.

TLM_Wetzlar-12Show up unannounced at the Wetzlar Leica factory for simple service and they will do it on the spot.  Usually for free.  A dozen of us handed over our gear for sensor cleaning, lens painting and various tightenings, and it all came back fixed within a couple hours.  What other company offers you this service? Stephen Cosh getting his Leica back as Gunnar Johnsen waits for his.

TLM_Wetzlar-13Gavin Mills waiting impatiently for his 35mm FLE to come back from the paint shop… the number 7 wore out of Gavin’s focusing ring so they repainted it back in and touched up other faded paint.  Took an hour to dry.  Looks new now.

TLM_Wetzlar-14The main square in Wetzlar.  The night before it was full of people attending a concert.

TLM_Wetzlar-15A humbling moment to stand on this spot and take a photo with a Leica M.

TLM_Wetzlar-16This photo is taken standing on Oskar Barnack’s plaque (see above).  Oskar’s photo (which was taken with a lens longer than my 28mm) is much better than mine.  It can be seen here:

TLM_Wetzlar-17The Meet organizer, Olaf Willoughby, at dinner with Fatima Salcedo at the Haupt Wache.

TLM_Wetzlar-18A group photo after dinner at the steps of the Haupt Wache.  Twenty photographers couldn’t pick a better setting? 🙂  Later, another group photo was taken in the square… see Gavin Mills’ photos.

TLM_Wetzlar-19Our friends from Switzerland heading back to the hotel after a long and wonderful day.

TLM_Wetzlar-20Early morning coffee by the river, at our hotel.

TLM_Wetzlar-21The Leica Meet bus to Marburg for a morning shoot.  We spent half the time sitting in Cafes 🙂

TLM_Wetzlar-22Welcome to Marburg.  It’s a nice day!

TLM_Wetzlar-23Stephen Cosh shooting the cathedral at Marburg.  Rolle Machtmabass captured some impressive photos of this cathedral…  look them up on Facebook.

TLM_Wetzlar-24Elisabethkirche – the cathedral at Marburg.

TLM_Wetzlar-25Walking the streets of Marburg.

TLM_Wetzlar-26Gunnar Johnsen in action.

TLM_Wetzlar-27Gunnar Johnsen and Gavin Mills discuss the fine art of photography.

TLM_Wetzlar-28Street photographers.

TLM_Wetzlar-29Gavin Mills shares a photo with Fatima Salcedo.

TLM_Wetzlar-30I missed this shot… but it demonstrates the wonderful soft bokeh of the new Leica 28mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4.

TLM_Wetzlar-31Leaving our hotel – Landhotel Naunheimer Mühle – just outside Wetzlar.

TLM_Wetzlar-32Autobahn, at 150 km/h, on the way back to Frankfurt airport. Many thanks to Marcel Wizenberg for the ride!


One Comment

  1. Marcel Wizenebrg September 8, 2015 at 8:27 pm

    As far as I remember we never went over 100km/h 😀 thanks for the excellent article.


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