During the guided tour on “Making of Black Paint Leica”, a visitor asked me about Leica lens names and their meaning and origins, I guess there might be interest to know a little about the names we all so familiar with. I decided to share some my findings here based on years of researches:
Leica = combination of two words Leitz camera = Lei(tz)ca(mera)
For M camera:
M = Messucher = German word for Rangefinder
M3 = M mount with 3 frameline, or a Leica III series LTM camera in M mount.
M2 = a lower end model of M3
M1 = a further trimmed down version of M2
M4 = 4 framelines, Likely just to name camera in sequence
M5 = Likely just to name camera in sequence
M6 = 6 framelines, Likely just to name camera in sequence
M7 - M9 = I believe just to name the camera in sequence
MP (original) = M for Professional/Press
MP 2003 = mechanical perfection
Elmax = Ernst Leitz MAX (Last name of Max Berek, the inventor of LTM lens)
Elmar = a deviation from Elmax due to improved lens design, also due to copy right issue of old name
Elmarit = A further improved version, a derivation of the Elmar name
Hektor = The name of Max Berek's first dog
Summarex = The name of Max Berek's second dog is REX
Summar = Lenses' nomenclatures was Summar which was patented around 1902
Summarit = improved Summar, a deviation of the name Summar, like Elmar > Elmarit
Summicron = “Summi”; for summit (of lens performance) & “chroma” for color. Some also said because of the use of Thorium-free Lanthanium crown glass LaK9
Summilux = summi : attainable the highest level of achievement. lux : light, i.e. attainable high level of light gathering abilities, some said it refers to deluxe or luxury model of Summicron
Noctilux = Noct = night in Latin, Noct + Lux = night light gathering
Thambar = Thambos; means “blurred”; or ; ”not sharp”; in Greek.
Telyt ---- short hand for telephoto
LTM = Leica thread mount.
ELCAN = Ernst Leitz Canada = (E)rnst (L)eitz (Can)ada
DR = Dual Range
Rigid = It is “rigid”; and not collapsible like most lens during that era, first is Rigid Summar and then Rigid Summicron.
Other names you may also be familiar with:
Nokton = Greek word Nykta which means Night meaning that it can shoot in darkness
Sonnar = Taken from the word for sun because this breakthrough lens design was so bright
Other zeiss lens mostly name their lens based on the lens design. It can easily be searched via Internet. Really not an expert in non-Leica brands but I really love the different names of vintage camera and Leica in particular.
credit to Edison Sam