Will Zeiss Save Leica, The Oldest Camera Brand in the World?
A big stake in Leica is up for grabs, and Zeiss is rumored to be circling.
According to a report from Reuters, the buyout group Blackstone is "in talks with potential buyers" to sell a 45% stake in Leica, the niche camera company. Among the interested parties is Zeiss, but according to sources close to the matter, the company would only agree to a deal if it were able to secure a majority stake in Leica.
Although Leica is now considered a luxury brand, the company is one of the oldest camera manufacturers in the world. Oskar Barnack, a German optical engineer working for the microscope company Ernst Leitz, built the first 35mm Leica prototypes in 1913, making him the father of 35mm photography. The original Leica was intended as a compact camera for landscape photography. It was innovative, as it transported film horizontally rather than the vertically, as per traditional cine-cameras, extending the frame size to 24×36mm with a 2:3 aspect ratio and a focal plane shutter ranging from 1/20 to 1/500 seconds.
Ironically, Zeiss was Leica's first competitor. When the 35mm Leicas went to market in 1924, Zeiss—then known as Zeiss Ikon—released the Contax camera, which soon overtook the market.
Today, Leica is valued at roughly $828 million, according to Reuters.
Do you think Zeiss could revive the Leica brand? Let us know in the comments.