It is over seventy years since the first Leica was manufactured by Ernst Leitz in Wetzlar,Germany. Over 1,500,000 Leica have been manufactured up to the present. The Leica had been attractive as a small and precise camera from the beginning, when the folding plate camera was popular on the field in this age.
The first model of Leica camera was designed by Leitz engineer Oskar Barnack. Camera of similar design have been manufactured through the War period and postwar. Today, the cameras in this design are called "Barnack-Leica" in Japan in order to make difference from the new M type Leica, of which the first model was made in 1954.
The Leica M3 was announced for the first time in the autumn Foto Kina Germany in 1954. It was the start of the M series of Leica and continued to be manufactured today.
Here you can see an Elmar 5cm F3.5 lens which was made in 1933 and had been continued in the same configuration almost thirty years as a Leica standard lens. It is possible to take photos using it on the current version of the Leica M6. It still gets a sharp image. Most of the old Leitz lenses are able to be used as interchangeable lenses on M series Leica.
An unique serial number has been put on the body from the beginning and strictly filed as a chronological table. You are able to know that when your camera was made or what type of camera you've got from the table.
After the War, the camera industry started copying Leica in Japan and in some other countries. A number of Leica mount lenses were manufactured. There were many excellent lenses among them that could be attached any camera of Leica make. It is said that Ihei Kimura a famous photographer in Japan especially loved this Leica M3 so much.
Here is an advertisement of M3 for early model.
Related web site
Dream Camera Leica M3
A sample Photo by M3 Sumicron 50mm F2 F8 1/500 Kodak Gold 100S