A massive event in the camera manufacturer industry this weekend was the official opening of Leitz Park in Wetzlar, Germany. The event was attended by people from 41 different countries and was so large it had to be hosted in a separate giant marquee to accommodate over a thousand guests.
The site has four new buildings; the camera styled new Leica building houses a museum, archives, a photo studio, a Leica store and the museum shop while the two-story building is the head office and oversees the new product development and business growth. The taller office block building houses a new venture – Leica watches, a high-end brand with Leica quality and trusted German engineering. Other floors are for shared use with local businesses who want premier office space. Finally, a large photo themed hotel with 129 rooms is available for the visitors to Leitz Park.
The Leica name is legendary and has carved out its own place in camera history from the beginning of the nineteen hundreds, through 2 world wars as well as massive changes in Germany. Plus, they've always challenged the manufacturing world with fresh ideas.
In its historical heartland of Wetzlar, Germany Leica has built a centre of excellence for the worldwide Leica community and sees its customers as an integral part of the brand. As a result, Leica wants you to visit and share the experience and on arriving, the first thing you see is their giant sculpture of the world with the birthplace of Leica highlighted with Leica's own distinctive red dot. Leica was born out of the optical production excellence of Ernst Leitz and his son Ernst Leitz II; the latter employed Oskar Barnack who developed portable film in a canister that exposed quickly for photographs. For the first time, photographic images of people could be captured without them having to stand still during the process – the newspapers loved using this new technology to illustrate their stories and the cameras quickly become very popular across the world, growing the Leica brand with this new global requirement.
The Leitz Park official opening also saw the launch of two new Leica Camera products. The first is a limited edition Leica M10 designed by Zagato - the famous Italian design house credited with designing some of the most beautiful sports cars in history. Zagato has now styled a Leica M10 in a limited edition aluminium body to give a superb looking body and lens combination. There is also a Zagato Leica collectable book to celebrate and explore how this partnership came together and grew.
The second product release was the Leica C-Lux which is a 15x compact that's able to shoot at 10fps on a 20 MP sensor. It also has 49 AF points and shoots 4K video. You can connect the Leica C-Lux to your smartphone via Wi-Fi/Bluetooth and there's a dedicated app available. A range of case accessories are also available, including one that I think looks very stylish and stores the camera in portrait mode.
Special embossed leather cases for Leica cameras were also shown at the event and you can buy custom colour leather cases for Leica cameras from the customer service centre in the old film canister styled building.
© Bruce Davidson, Alabama, Birmingham, USA
The Leitz Park opening event took time to honour photographer Bruce Davidson (he was presented with a specially engraved Leica M10 at the ceremony), winner of the 2018 Leica Hall Of Fame Award. Since the 1950's, Bruce has been producing well regarded photographic reportages and documentary records of everyday life in the USA. He became the youngest ever associate of Magnum with his early works of Brooklyn gangs and the civil right movement. When interviewed about how he considers his work he said: "I just like to take pictures and I like cameras". He went on to add: "Telephoto lenses are cheating…you need to be close to what you photograph to engage with it." As a young photographer, he said he knew when to get the picture and when to run from being in actual physical police conflict.
Also mentioned at the event were further planned Leica Gallery openings in the UK, Russia, Thailand and Germany which would bring the total to 23 globally. This along with the enhanced Leica academy offerings will inspire and help people across the world.
This Leica building has a historical tour presented by staff in multiple languages and showcases Leica's development and contribution to photography. As well as pictures, camera models are displayed so you can visually see Leica's history while picking up fascinating facts along the way, such as why a roll of film has 36 frames.
As part of the tour, you get to see the factory at work and watch lenses being made first hand. It’s definitely an experience like no other for a Leica owner.
They then take you on a tour of the customer service centre and show you the care and attention paid to all Leica cameras. Plus, they show you and let you handle key components of the cameras. There is even an active historical workshop area that looks after the oldest of Leica cameras for customers. Leica enthuses customer care and you feel a real desire from them wanting you to join the Leica family long term.
For more information about the Leica World, or Leica cameras, see their website. Or, better still, pop into a Leica store as I know you will be very well looked after as a Leica customer. If you ever do get the chance, then certainly go to Wetzlar - you will experience something very special.
Words and pictures by Stuart Fawcett (JackAllTog)
Source : https://www.ephotozine.com/article/leica-leitz-park---the-official-opening-32399