Thank you to the wonderful team at Leica for a fantastic visit and tour in June 2023. I have ticked it off my bucket list – I’ve visited Leica World at Leitz Park, Wetzlar. When you are a Leica enthusiast, and an avid Leica enthusiast at that, it doesn’t get much better than the day I had. I got to meet some well-known famous Leica photographers and the staff at Leica went out of their way to give me one of the best days I could have possibly have had, with 1 on 1 time with technicians, photography tutorials, a VIP tour and much more that made the entire time very memorable.
Leitz Park in Wetzlar is about a 1 hour drive north of Frankfurt. About 50 Euros by train, then a walk, or about 120 Euros by Uber. I took the Uber to get directly there.
Yes, everyone is welcome at Leica. Just walk on it. It is a working factory/museum/store/art gallery.
Leitz-Park distinctive environment for Leica enthusiasts, photography aficionados, and global visitors to immerse themselves in the captivating world of the brand. I personally embarked on a journey of exploration, finding boundless inspiration amidst the multifaceted realm of Leica photography.
When you go, anticipate a wealth of enriching experiences as you step foot in this remarkable location. Prepare to be captivated by inspirational exhibitions showcasing exceptional photography, gain exclusive glimpses into the factory and the storied history of the company.
Well I actually arrived early for my visit to Leica, but when I arrived, I started snapping with my M11 and then out of the nearby Leitz Hotel, came Thorsten von Overgaard. What a surprise!
He is a great guy. He walked up to me, and we had a lengthy chat about all things Leica and street photography. I referred to his Life with Leica that initially inspired me to get into Leica in the first place.
When I have something that is timeless, it could be 1950, it could be 1930, or 2014 no one can really tell and it doesn’t really matter; that’s a good photograph.Thorsten von Overgaard
Look out for The Red Dots
Red dots are special to Leica users. But when you visit Leitz Park, look out for them on the ground. When the new Leica buildings were constructed, thought was givien to those who are into architecture photography. When you stand on a red dot at Leica, you are positioned for a great photograph. This map shows them all, and they in and of themselves are a tour you can take around the place.
Overall the guided tour takes about 60 minutes. Leitz Park, from a visitor’s perspective is divided into different sections.
The World of Leica Experience
It Starts with the Leica Gallery
This is a high point of visiting Leica. Here you’ll see 36 milestone photographs from over a century of Leica. 36 iconic images that are today renowned around the world, unadulterated. See them all here https://leica-camera.com/en-int/iconic-photos
Why 36 photos?
Fun fact, 36 photos is a length of film that Oskar Barnack could stretch out his arms to, so he decided 36 shots maximum in a roll of film would be sufficient.
This part of the Leica Gallery is ever changing: In 1976, the inaugural Leica Gallery found its home in Wetzlar. Nestled within the headquarters of Leica Camera AG, the Leica Gallery Wetzlar stands as a prominent jewel in the crown of the Leica World at Leitz-Park.
This esteemed venue serves as a platform for showcasing captivating photographic exhibitions by both national and international artists. Additionally, it proudly displays the exceptional photo series recognized by the prestigious Leica Oskar Barnack Award, celebrating the remarkable talent and vision of gifted photographers. https://leica-camera.com/en-AU/leica-gallery-wetzlar-news-program
This got me excited. Expect to see initial prototypes, and experimental cameras, and key milestone product developments for Leica.
Moving onto the Factory
I wasn’t allowed to take any photographs of the factory, and I respect that. Visitors can peer into production of lenses and bodies at different stages of production through 3 glass windows. My guide explained that Leica has a student work experience program and assists young engineers with getting their qualifications in optical engineering, and is always looking for fresh talent for new ideas to help with the forward push to new innovations.
Behind the factory windows, you can see just about every camera design that has ever been produced by the company.
This is a particularly special area where you can also see several unique models, including the Jonathan Ive designed Zegato.
Ernst Leitz Museum
Stepping into the captivating world of Leica photography was an experience beyond words. I made my way to the renowned Ernst Leitz Museum in Wetzlar, eager to immerse myself in the art and craft of capturing moments through the lens. As I approached the museum, its doors stood wide open, welcoming all who yearned to touch, shape, and truly understand the essence of photography.
Entering the museum, I was immediately enveloped in a sense of wonder. The temporary exhibitions displayed the works of great photographers, each capturing emotions, stories, and perspectives in their unique ways. I found myself standing in awe, mesmerized by the power of visual storytelling unfolding before my eyes. It was as if the photographs had come to life, breathing with the spirit of the artists who had created them.
But the Ernst Leitz Museum offered much more than a mere display of photographic masterpieces. It invited me on an interactive expedition, where history and innovative technology merged seamlessly. With each step, I delved deeper into the evolution of photography, witnessing the relentless pursuit of excellence that Leica had embodied over the years.
As I ventured through the museum’s halls, I discovered the profound significance behind the click of the camera. It was not just a mechanical action but a catalyst for inspiration and creativity. The ‘click’ resonated within my mind, urging me to explore the depths of my own imagination and find my unique voice through the lens.
The museum’s interactive exhibits allowed me to not only observe but also participate actively in the learning process. I engaged with the history of Leica, marveling at the innovative breakthroughs that had shaped the world of photography. From the early film cameras to the cutting-edge digital technology of today, I witnessed the transformative power of human ingenuity.
In this remarkable journey, I found myself not only understanding photography but also feeling a profound connection to it. The Ernst Leitz Museum had taken me on a voyage where the ‘click’ happened not only in my mind but within the depths of my soul. It inspired me to see the world through a different lens, to capture moments that transcend the ordinary and tell stories that resonate with the hearts of others.
Leaving the museum, I carried with me a newfound appreciation for Leica photography and the artistry it entails. The Ernst Leitz Museum had opened my eyes to the beauty of capturing moments frozen in time, and I knew that my own photographic journey would forever be influenced by this remarkable experience.
Meeting Kristian Dowling
Totally unexpected, but given to me by Leica was my bespoke photo mentoring session with the renowned photographer Kristian Dowling. This isbn’t normally part of the tour but it so happened Leica was able to arrange it because I’ve bought a lot of their gear. This was a transformative experience that focused on helping me gain confidence in using and appreciating Leica cameras. Kristian went above and beyond, and our time together was incredibly enjoyable.
Thanks to his mentorship, I felt reinvigorated and eager to immerse myself in the unique results that only Leica cameras can deliver. With an impressive career spanning 18 years, Kristian has worked extensively with global celebrities and participated in prestigious events like the Beijing Olympic Games, Cannes Film Festival, and New York Fashion Week.
The Leica Classic Store
Is it a shop, or a museum?
Kristian took me here on the way to the service centre. Visiting the Leica Classic Store in Wetzlar was an experience unlike any other. As soon as I stepped inside, I could sense the rich history and passion for photography that filled the air. The store, unique in Germany, served as a haven for Leica enthusiasts like myself, offering a glimpse into the enduring quality and sustainability of Leica products.
Every corner of the store was adorned with Leica rarities, collectors’ items, and cameras from both the film era and the modern digital age. It was a treasure trove for photography aficionados, and I couldn’t help but be captivated by the remarkable craftsmanship and attention to detail displayed in each Leica camera on display.
But the Leica Classic Store was more than just a showcase of extraordinary cameras. It also provided a secure platform for selling and trading-in Leica products.
Overall, my visit to the Leica Classic Store in Wetzlar was an immersive experience that celebrated the legacy and artistry of Leica photography.
A Lesson in Sensor Cleaning
The technicians at the service centre were kind enough to give me a lesson on proper sensor cleaning for Leica cameras. The big takeaway. Never blow into the camera with an air blower, it tends to introduce more duct. They use a small vacuum to clean out the camera, and then one of these things to clean the sensor. And wow it does a great job. And very easy too https://leica-store.com.au/products/39357
The Leica Nature Trail
This was unexpected, but a part of Leica’s decisions to be socially and environmentally responsible.
Embarking on an adventure into the Leitz-Park Nature Trail was an absolute delight. The contrasting blend of modern architecture and untouched nature created an exhilarating atmosphere that I couldn’t resist exploring. With curiosity guiding my steps, I set out on the approximately 3-kilometer trail, ready to immerse myself in the beauty of the local flora and fauna.
As I started my journey, the Leitz-Park Nature Trail greeted me with open arms. The trail offered a perfect opportunity to escape the bustling city and find solace in the tranquility of nature. Along the path, I encountered information boards that acted as knowledgeable guides, unveiling the mysteries of the ever-changing natural world that surrounded me.
With each passing season, the landscape transformed, and the information boards painted vivid pictures of this dynamic evolution. I marveled at the intricate balance between life and growth, as well as the cyclical patterns of nature. It was a truly unique glimpse into the forest habitat, allowing me to appreciate the delicate ecosystem that thrived within.
As I continued my exploration, I found myself captivated by the sheer diversity that the Leitz-Park Nature Trail had to offer. The flora adorned the trail with a vibrant tapestry of colors, each plant exuding its own beauty and charm. The tranquil ambience and the gentle whispers of the wind carried me away into a world far removed from the demands of everyday life.
To enhance my experience and observe nature even more closely, I took advantage of the Leica Store’s generous offer to lend a pair of binoculars. With this invaluable tool, I could bring the distant creatures and landscapes into clear focus, immersing myself in their intricacies and marveling at their hidden wonders.
The Leitz-Park Nature Trail became a haven of serenity and rejuvenation, allowing me to take a momentary pause from the busyness of life and simply be present in nature’s embrace. It was an enchanting escape that invigorated my senses, reminding me of the beauty and resilience of the natural world.
Visiting Leica World at Leitz Park, Wetzlar was a dream come true for me as a passionate Leica enthusiast. It exceeded all expectations and provided me with unforgettable experiences. I had the privilege of meeting renowned Leica photographers, receiving personalized attention from the staff, and indulging in one-on-one time with technicians. The day was filled with photography tutorials, a VIP tour, and numerous memorable moments. Leitz Park’s unique environment is a paradise for Leica enthusiasts, photography lovers, and global visitors alike, immersing them in the captivating world of the brand.
Throughout my journey, I found boundless inspiration within the multifaceted realm of Leica photography. From exceptional exhibitions to exclusive insights into the factory and the company’s storied history, Leica World offers a wealth of enriching experiences that will leave you captivated and inspired. Arrange your visit: https://leica-camera.com/en-AU/leitz-park