Leica 35 mm 1(A) Camera

The Leica 1(A) was the first commercially available Leica 35mm camera. The Leica, designed by Oscar Barnack, was announced in 1924 and sold to the public in 1925. The Leica was an immediate success and was responsible for popularizing 35mm film photography.
An early example from the first series of production Leica cameras made in 1926/1927 is shown here--Leica 1(A), serial number 5024 with Leica 50mm F3.5 Elmar Lens and cap. Unlike subsequent Leica models, the lens on this camera cannot be changed. The camera is fitted with a focal-plane shutter with speeds from 1/20 to 1/500 second. The Leica model 1(A) was to be the basis for all subsequent Leica film cameras for the next 30 years.
From its invention in 1839, the camera has evolved to fit many needs, from aerial to underwater photography and everything in between. Cameras allow both amateur and professional photographers to capture the world around us. The Smithsonian’s historic camera collection includes rare and unique examples of equipment, and popular models, related to the history of the science, technology, and art of photography.
This example comes from the third production run of Leica 1(A) cameras made in 1926 and 1927. This model has a rounded camera shoe and a mushroom shaped shutter release, features similar to many first production run cameras. This camera is in superb condition and shows little signs of wear.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Camera, 35mm
camera, 35mm
date made
ca 1928
Ernst Leitz
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
glass (overall material)
overall: 6.5 cm x 13.5 cm x 5.8 cm; 2 9/16 in x 5 5/16 in x 2 5/16 in
place made
Deutschland: Hessen, Wetzlar
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
serial number
Artifact Walls exhibit
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Artifact Walls exhibit
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of James M. Kater

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