East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

The Leica III


Both Fleming and Maillart carry a Leika camera.
Based on the writings of Peter Fleming, the camera has been identified as a Leica III (also known as a Leika F), a model produced between 1933 and 1939.

leica III

It has been argued that Maillart (that carried two cameras) had discovered the Leica – a very advanced camera, for the time – through her photographer friend (and possibli lover) Annemarie Schwarzenbach, and had later suggested the same model to Fleming1.

Now, Fleming writes:

“The Leicas turned out very satisfactory. From our point of view one of their great virtues was that they can be handled with one hand; a large proportion of the photographs we took were taken from the saddle; and it made a lot of difference being able to hold your horse in with one hand while you focused the camera with the other.”

And I guess that with “focusing” Fleming meant “point and click”, because having had the opportunity of handling a Leica III many years ago, I’m pretty sure you can’t hold the camera and set the focus with just one hand.

And as we are at it, here’s a nice overview of the Leica III camera, courtesy of the Zenography vlog.

  1. thus fueling the Fleming/Maillart speculations. 

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

2 thoughts on “The Leica III

  1. I just searched my faithful Leica IIIa, serial number 167340, that now was gathering dust inside a cupboard, neglected and pushed by other non less historical cameras like the Nikon F1.

    And, after your post, I will probably decide to take it with me when (or if) I will go on my trip to Xingjian, she deserves it. It is a 1935 camera, so, it was probably made by the same hands that manufactured Ella and Peter’s cameras (and no, they are not like the one on your photo, I will send photos of mine). And this camera has an interesting history, she (I will never say “it” but “she”) belonged to a good friend of my father in law, who loved mountaineering and photography. He always took this camera with him, to the Alps, but also to Norway for the Oslo winter Olympic games and to the Andes (back in the forties)

    This man died quite a long time ago (25 years?), and his widow at the funeral called me apart, and she told me that he thought that her husband will prefer that I have the camera, that I would love and take care of she more than her sons.

    And then I inherited my first Leica.


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