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On The Road with Thorsten Overgaard · The October 2015 Journal

Leica Definitions (a work in progress)

By: Thorsten Overgaard. February 2007. Last edit on December 7, 2016.

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This is the ongoing project of collecting the words used in photography and Leica.




a) 35mm lens is a lens that has a viewing angle of view is 63°vertically, 54° horizontally and 38° vertically within a 35mm film frame:
b) 35mm film format is a standard film format where the actual widt of the film is 35mm. In photography the frame within the widt of the film is 24mm (on the width) and 36mm (on the lenght of the film roll). 35mm was first used in 1892 by William Dickson and Thomas Edison for moving pictures with frames of 24 x 18mm, using film stock supplied by George Eastman (Kodak), and became the international standard for motion picture negative film in 1909 [later other formats came about such as Academy Ratio (22 x 16 mm), Widescreen (21.95 x 18.6 mm), Super 35 (24.89 x 18.66 mm) and Techiscope (22 x 9.47 mm)].
Oskar Barnack built his prototype Ur-Leica in 1913 as a device to test film stock and/or motion picture lenses and had it patented, but Ernst Leitz did not decide to produce it before 1924.
c) 35mm is often given as a comparison when talking about lenses in small cameras or cameras with other sensor/film format than the 24 x 36mm frame. The camera has a smaller sensor and hence uses a wider lens to capture the same image as a "35mm camera" would. Example: A camera with a 12 x 18 mm sensor has a 14mm lens on it, and even the lens is actually a 14mm, it is specified as a 28mm lens (35mm) which means that the resulting image is equivalent to a 28mm lens on a 35mm camera.


  The Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0 lens


a) 50mm lens is a lens that has a viewing angle of view is 47° vertically, 40° horizontally and 27° vertically within a 35mm film frame.
b) 50mm lens is often compared to the human eye. Not because of viewing angle but because of size ratio. The 50mm lens is the lens that comes closest to the size that the human eye see things (whereas the human eye has a much wider angle of view [120-200°] than the 50mm lens [47°], thought a more narrow focus (your eyes may observe very wide but your focus is on a limited view within that angle of view).




AEL = Auto Exposure Lock. This is a function that can be used when you want to reframe the scene, but keep the current exposure from changing.

AFL = Auto Focus Lock. This is a function that can be used when you want to reframe the scene, but keep the current focusing from changing.

AF = Auto Focus. The idea is that the camera does the focusing itself (the word auto comes from Greek "self").

anastigmat - an anastigmatic lens system.

anastigmatic (of a lens system) constructed so that the astigmatism of each element is canceled out.
ORIGIN late 19th cent.: from an- 1 [not] + astigmatic (see astigmatism):

astigmatism a defect in the eye or in a lens caused by a deviation from spherical curvature, which results in distorted images, as light rays are prevented from meeting at a common focus.
DERIVATIVES astigmatic. ORIGIN mid 19th cent.: from a-- [without] + Greek stigma 'point' + -ism.

AOV - angle of view
Is the angle a lens 'see'. A 35mm lens has a 54° angle of view horizontally. Each human eye individually has anywhere from a 120-200° angle of viewn ags.

stands for "apochromatically corrected". In most lenses, optical design concentrates the focus of blue light and green light into a single plane, but red light falls slightly into another plane of focus. Red subjects, therefore, would be ever so slightly out of focus compared to blue and green subjects in the same frame. Not sure you'd ever notice though, the difference is so slight. This is the same basic principle that requires you to shift the focus for infrared photography, related to the wave length of red light. In APO lenses, the design and expense has been put in to making red light focus on the same plane as blue and green. Under a microscope you would see that all light subject is now in focus, creating a sharper image overall. Many manufacturers offer APO designs, but in most of these only the very center of the lens is APO corrected. Leica prides itself on making most of the frame APO correct.
If one look at the images produced by the APO lenses (Leica 90mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0, the Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH, and the Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4 that is in fact APO-corrected), one will notice that the colors are really bright and alive, almost more real than to the eye.
Apochromat; ORIGIN early 20th century, made of the two words;
apo: Greek origin, away from
chromatic (Latin origin, meaing relating to color.



Aperture = The f/ stop on the camera that regulates how much light passes through the lens. On a f/1.7 lens the lens is fully open" at f/1.7. at f/2.8 the aperture inside the lens make the hole through the lens smaller so only half the amount of light at f/1.7 passes through. For each f/-stop (4.0 - 5.6 - 8.0 - 11 - 16) you halve the light. The aperture of the lens is basically the focal length divided with the f/-stop = size of the hole (28mm divided with f/1.7 = the hole is 45 mm).
ORIGIN: Late Middle English : from Latin apertura, from apert- ‘opened,’ from aperire ‘to open’.

The aperture blades inside the lens is clearly visible in this photo by Eolake Stobblehouse.


  The camera in Aperture Priority Mode

Aperture Priority Mode. When the shutter speed dial on top of the Leica M-D 262 is set to the red A, it is short for “Aperture Priority” and allows the user to set a specific aperture value (f-number) while the camera selects a shutter speed to match it that will result in proper exposure based on the lighting conditions as measured by the camera's light meter. In other words, you set the aperture as priority (f/1.4 for example), and the camera calculates a shutter speed (1/250 of a second) that matches that. If you change the aperture to f/2.0 by changing the aperture ring on the lens, the camera will re-calculate the speed to 1/125 so as to get the same amount of light to hit the sensor (f/2.0 is half the light through the lens as f/1.4 and 1/125 if twice the amount of light on the sensor as 1/250).



ASPH = stands for "aspheric design". Most lenses have a spherical design - that is, the radius of curvature is constant. These are easy to manufacture by grinding while "spinning" the glass. This design however restricts the number of optical corrections that can be made to the design to render the most realistic image possible. ASPH lenses, however, involve usually 1 element that does *not* have a constant radius of curvature. These elements can be made by 1) expensive manual grinding, 2) molded plastic, or 3) Leica's patented "press" process, where the element is pressed into an aspherical ("non-spherical") shape. This design allows Leica to introduce corrections into compact lens designs that weren't possible before. Practically, the lens performs "better" (up to interpretation) due to increased correction of the image, in a package not significantly bigger than the spherical version. The Leica Q 28mm lens has 3 aspherical elements out of 11 elements in the lens. Most Leica ASPH lenses from Leica has 1 or 2 aspherical elements.

There is another Aspherical lens manufacture technique: an uneven coating layer is applied to a spherical lens. The coating is thicker on the edges (or on the center, depending). Canon "Lens Work II" calls these "simulated" aspherical lenses. Simulated and Glass-Molded (GMo) asphericals show up in non-L Canon lenses, while the L lenses have actual ground aspheric elements.

Normal speric lens (grinded)   ASPH (note the shape of the glass as result of pressing rather than grinding)

Sphere: ORIGIN Middle English : from Old French espere, from late Latin sphera, earlier sphaera, from Greek sphaira "ball".


Auto- means “self”. The idea is that when a camera has auto-(something), it does that (something) by itself.


Banding = Noise in digital images. Horizontal lines in a horizontal pictures (if the camera is in portrait mode/vertical, the lines will be obviously be vertical). It's simply noise; the result of uncontrolled algorithms working overtime with an image the sensor really can't see because it's very dark. (If your image have vertical lines in it, it is more likely that the sensor needs remapping).

This image at 6400 ISO, underexposed and then brought up to correct exposure in Lightroom, displays banding: Horizontal lines in the image. Leica M-D 262 with Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0.
This image at 6400 ISO, underexposed and then brought up to correct exposure in Lightroom, displays banding: Horizontal lines in the image. Leica M-D 262 with Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0.


Beam Splitter
Describes the way light travels when it enters the R series Leica SLR bodies when viewing and composing. The light beam is split into two - one part goes through the semi-silvered mirror to the light meter at the base of the mirror box, the rest is reflected upwards through the pentaprism to the viewfinder.
It is because of this "beam splitting" that you have to use Circular Polarizing filters on R cameras in order to obtain correct light meter readings. With regular linear pol. filters, phase cancellation effects occur when the light travels through the mirror, resulting in inaccurate and unpredictable readings.



  Barrie Gledden
  Bokeh of a Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95. British composer and producer Barrie Gledden.
© 2013 Thorsten Overgaard.

the visual quality of the out-of-focus areas of a photographic image, especially as rendered by a particular lens : It's a matter of taste and usually photographers discuss a 'nice' or 'pleasant' bokeh (the out-of-focus area is always unsharp why the quality discussed is if one likes the way it renders or not by a particular lens).
ORIGIN from Japanese 'bo-ke' which mean 'fuzzines' or 'blur.'.


C = Continuous shooting. When the ring by the Shutter Release on top of the camera is moved from OFF to C, the camera takes series of images as long as the shutter release is pressed down. In some cameras the speed of continious shooting can be adjusted. For exampel in the Leica Q under the menu point Continuous Shooting you can define if the Continuous should be Low (3 fps), Medium (5 fps) or High (19 fps).


Camera - A dark room. (Short for the original name, Camera Obscura: Camera itself means a "house with an arch roof". Obscura is the keep something in dark or hide something. “Dark chamber”.)


CCD sensor(as used in Leica M8, M9, Leica S)
(Charged Coupling Devices) - The first digital cameras used CCD to turn images from analog light signals into digital pixels. They're made through a special manufacturing process that allows the conversion to take place in the chip without distortion. This creates high quality sensors that produce excellent images. But, because they require special manufacturing, they are more expensive than their newer CMOS counter parts.


CMOS sensor (as used in Leica M 240, Leica M Monochrom Typ 246, Leica S Typ 007, Leica X, Leica D-Lux, Leica Q)
= (Complimentary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) chips use transistors at each pixel to move the charge through traditional wires. This offers flexibility because each pixel is treated individually. Traditional manufacturing processes are used to make CMOS. It's the same as creating microchips. Because they're easier to produce, CMOS sensors are cheaper than CCD sensors. CMOS allow Live View and use less energy than CCD.


Leica I Compur camera (1926-1941) and Leitz Compur 50mm f/3.5 (1938) and Leica Summicron (II) Compur 50mm f2.0 lens (1959).

Leitz Compur B camera.
Leitz Compur (Model B) camera designed by Oskar Barnack, lens designed by Oskar Barnack, with the Compur leaf shutte from Bruns & Deckel in Munich. (Size L x H x W - 133 x 65 x 30 mm / 5.24 x 2.60 x 1.54 in). Approx 1651 of these were made from 1926-1941.


An acronym for "(C)lean, (L)ubricate & (A)djust", whereby the item is merely re-lubricated, fine-adjusted and calibrated rather than repaired. "I just got my equipment back from CLA at Leica"

CS = Central Shutter = As in the Leica S lenses for the Leica S where a shutter is located in the lens itself. In most cameras there is a shutter curtain just in front of the sensor, and in SLR (Single Lens Reflex) cameras there is also a mirror in front of the shutter curtain.
In the Leica Q and Leica Digilux 2 the shutter is in the lens which makes the camera mirrorless as well as very quiet because there is not a metal shutter curtain going up and down in front of the sensor.


Digital Zoom = In the Leica Q it refers to the possibility to change the crop from 28mm to 35mm or 50mm. Choosing a different "digital zoom" simply shows frame lines for the chosen focal length in the EVF and in the final image (that is in fact the full 28mm frame), there is a pre-selected crop for the chosen frame when you open the image in Lightroom 6.
Traditionally, digital zoom refers to zooming in on a scene digitally. All that happens is that the camera zooms into the area of the sensor and records only that. The quality will be less as it's a smaller part of the same recording.


DIS = Digital Image Stabilization. This is a feature often offered in video recorders and some times for tele lens still photography (so as to avoid motion blur when the lens is moving during slow shutter speeds).
The Leica Q offer DIS but the factory recommend to set it to OFF. (The DIS is set to off from the factory because it can affect the image quality negatively, according to product director Stefan Daniel in an interview).


DNG = Digital Negative, an open standard developed by Adobe. It is a single file that contains the raw image data from the sensor of the camera as well as date, time, GPS, focal length, settings, etc.
The alternative is a RAW file + XLM file where the RAW file contains the image information and the XML contains the rest of information about where, how and when the picture was taken.
A Camera Raw profile (that is specific for that camera) in the computer helps the software program, for example Adobe Lightroom, to translate the RAW data into the image.


  DOF scale ont the Leica Q lens
  DOF scale ont the Leica Q lens

DOF = Depth of Field. This is how much of the image will be in focus or "acceptable sharp". The DOF is determined by the subject distance (the farther away, the larger area is sharp; the closer the focus is, the less of the lage is sharp), the lens aperture (the depth of field is narrow at f/1.4 and larger at f/5.6) and the focal length of the lens (tele lenses has very narrow depth of field whereas wide angle lenses has a wide depth of field) and film or sensor size (small-sensor cameras has a wide depth of field wheras medium format or large format cameras has a very narrow depth of field). As an example, a Leica 21mm Super-Angulon-M f/3.4 lens is sharp all over the focus field from 2 meter to infinity when set at a distance of 3 meters at f/3.4. The DOF scale measurement on top of the Leica lenses shows lines for each f-stop that indicates from which distance to which distance the image will be sharp. Shallow DOF is a generally used term in photography that refer to lenses with very narrow focus tolerance (which can be used to do selective focus; making irrelevant subjects in the foreground and background blurry so only the subjects of essence are in focus and catches the viewers eye).

Depth Of Field scale from Fujifilm.


Leitz Summicron DR f/2.0 (order no SOOIC-MN). There also exist a lens shade that is not shown in this picure.


DR = Dual Range lens. This is a type of Leitz/Leica lens that works as macro (near focus range) and normal lens, and comes with googles/"Eyes" for the macro function. The 50/2 Dual Range Summicron was made from 1956 to 1968, only in chrome, with a near-focusing range as close to 478mm.

You mount the googles/"Eyes" to focus at close range. If you use the lens in normal range, you can take off the googles/"Eyes"

The googles/"Eyes" can be critical for which camera the lens fits on. the Leica M6 TTL requires that the plastic tab onthe eyes is removed; and other Leica M models likewise. It fits on the Leiac MP, M2, M3 and oterh models. .

Leica M2 with Dual Range Summicron-M f2.0. © Dave Dunne.
Leica M2 with Dual Range Summicron-M f2.0. © Dave Dunne.


Leitz in Canada
Ernst Leitz Canada (ELCAN)


ELCAN - Ernst Leitz Canada, established 1952, was the Leitz family's guarantee against another war in Europe and/or invasion from Russia after WWII. Besides becoming a copy of the Wetzlar factory, it also became the somewhat military/industrial branch of Ernst Leitz . Because of the precision work, high standards and knowledge in optics for science and millietary, the ELCAN plant was sold to Raytheon (USA), who bought it from its previous owner, Hughes Aircraft Co.

Elcan-R is also the name of s series of lenses made in the 1960ies and early 1970ies, as the U.S. Navy High Resolution Small Format Camera System during the Vietnam war.


Ad for ELDIA slide copier.

Leitz slide copier used to dublicate slides if one for example had to make several sets of a slideshow.


ELDUR Slide Printer

Leitz slide copier used to dublicate slides if one for example had to make several sets of a slideshow.


Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f3.5 . Historically derived from the original 1925 50mm f3.5 Elmax lens, which was an acronym of (E)rnst (L)ieca and Professor (Max) Berek, designer of the original lenses. Later that year the 50mm f3.5 Elmar superceded the Elmax, which was discontinued due to its complexity and high cost of manufacture.

Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f2.8 . The name is obviously derived from the earlier (and slower) "Elmar" designation. Not every f2.8 lens is called an "Elmarit" though, the most obvious current exception being the 50mm f2.8 Elmar-M collapsible lens which for nostalgia and marketing reasons has kept the original 1930's Elmar name (the 50mm f3.5 collapsible Elmar, manufactured 1930-59, was one of Leica's most famous and popular lenses).


Elmax lens named after = Ernst Leitz + Max Berak. Ernst Leitz was the founder of Ernst Leitz Optical Industry which later became Leica. Professor Dr. Max Berak was employed at Leica in 1912 and was the architech of the first Leica lens which Ernst Leitz asked him to design for the "Barnack's camera" (the 1913-prototype named after Oscar Barnack who invented it). The lens was a f/3.5 50mm and was known as the Leitz Anstigmat and later the Elmax.


Elmax (Ernst Leitz Max Berek) by Marco Cavina 2010
The Leitz Elmax 50mm f/3,5 (1925-1961) on the Leica A camera (1925) camera. Photo by Marco Cavina.


EVF = Electronic ViewFinder. A viewfinder where you look at a small screen through optics/prisms. The advantage is that you see what the sensor sees.

The EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) on the Leica SL 601.
The EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) on the Leica SL 601.


Exposure Bracketing = The possibility to set the camera to automatically record a series of images where the exposure is above and below what the camera measures. The idea is that at least one of the images will be correctly exposed.


f-stop = the ratio of the focal length (for example 50mm) of a camera lens to the diameter of the aperture being used for a particular shot. (E.g., f/8, indicating that the focal length is eight times the diameter of the aperture hole: 50mm/8 = 6,25 mm); or the other way around, the hole is the focal length divided with 8).
ORIGIN early 20th cent.: from f (denoting the focal length) and number.
One f-stop is a doubling or halving of the light going through the lens to the film, by adjusting the aperture riing. Adjusting the f-setting from f 1.4 to f.2.0 is halving the light that goes through the lens. Most Leica lenses has half f-stops to enable the photographer to adjust the light more precicely.

The aperture blades inside the lens is clearly visible in this photo by Eolake Stobblehouse.



Fn = Short for Function. It's a button you can program. In the Leica Q it is by default set to be White Balance, so when you press it, you can choose which White Balance setting you want. You can press again and another function comes up. To complicate matters more, you can program the FN button to your own likes.


  A 28 mm lens has a 74° viewing angle

Focal length = Originally focal length referred to the distance from the sensor (or film in older days) to the center of focus inside the lens (28mm, 50mm, 400mm, etc). Today one call it effective focal length (EFL) as a 400mm lens is not nessesarily 400mm long due to optical constructions that can make it shorter. The 35-420mm zoom on the Leica V-Lux 1 is for example only ca. 135 mm long. Nobody uses that measurement, except those who construct lenses! For users of lenses, focal length refers to how wide the lens sees. The viewing angle, which is often given in for example 90° viewing angle for a 21mm lens, 74° viewing angle for a 28mm lens, 6° viewing angle for a 400mm lens, etc.
Each human eye individually has anywhere from a 120° to 200° angle of view, but focus only in the center.


Four Thirds
The Four Thirds System is a standard created by Olympus and Kodak for digital SLR camera design and development.
The system provides a standard which, with digital cameras and lenses available from multiple manufacturers, allows for the interchange of lenses and bodies from different manufacturers. Companies developing 4:3 cameras and/or lenses are Fuji, Kodak, Leica, Olympus, Panasonic, Sanyo, Sigma. See
A further development in this was Micro Four Thirds Systems.


Full Frame (FF) = The size of the sensor is 24 x 36mm which is the format Oskar Barnack and Leica Camera AG invented with the first Leica that was introduced in 1925. Many other formats invented since, such as APS, APS-C and all usually refer to Full Frame ratio, by which it means what size they have compared to Full Frame. The "full frame" technically deifinition thouhg is a sensor that camtures the full frame in one go (as the early sensors as in Leica S1 scanned the image/senor over a period of time).


  Full Frame is "king of photography"

The 24 x 36mm Full Frame format is so "king of photography" that it has continued to be the ideal for all cameras. Besides this, there exists Large Format cameras such as 4x5" (100 x 125 mm) and Medium Format 6x6 (60 x 60mm amongst other sizes in that area).


Refers to the maximum lens aperture - usually f2.5 . The name was apparently taken from the name of Leitz' lens designer Professor Max Berek's dog( Hektor. He also had another favorite dog, Rex, which inspired the lens name Summarex.


Hue = A color or shade depending on the dominant wavelength of red, green or blue. The word Hue comes from Swedish hy which is "skin complexion". It is independent of intensity, so often (in computer editing programs for example), Hue is an adjustment along Saturation which is (intensity of color as compared to white)


ISO = Light sensitivity of the camera sensor is given in ISO (International Organization for Standardization). It's a standard that was used in film and is now used in all digital cameras also. The base ISO for the Leica Q sensor is 100 ISO which means that this is what the sensor "sees". All other levels are computer algorithms calculating the effect as if the sensor could "see" more (hence noise at higher ISO levels).
ISO goes in steps of doubling: When the ISO is raised from 100 ISO to 200 ISO, the camera only need half the amount of light to make a picture. For each step in ISO to 400, 800, 1600, 3200, etc the light sensitivity is doubled for the sensor (and the camera sensor only need half the light of the previous ISO to record the same image).


JPEG = A standard for picture format made in the 1990's by Joint Photographic Experts Group). Mostly referred to as JPG as in L1003455.JPG which would be the name for a JPG file from the camera.


Sub-manufacturer of lenses. Has made certain lenses for Leitz, Carl Zeiss, etc.


Lantern slide (later known as a slide film, a transparency or a dia-positive). A transparent film or glass plate in positive, and mostly in color, that can be projected onto a wall or screen in large size by putting the slide into a slide projector ("magic lantern" as they were called back in the day) that sends light through the film and projects it to a wall or screen via a lens.

Lantern slide from early 1900's by Ada Hayden.
Lantern slide from early 1900's by Ada Hayden. (Later known as a slide film, a transparency or a dia-positive).


Lantern slideshow in 1897.
Lantern slideshow in 1897.



  LCos display
  LCoS display

LCOS (viewfinder screen in the Leica Q) = Liquid crystal on silicon is a high-quality method for near-eye displays, better than LCD (Liquid-crystal display). There are two broad categories of LCoS displays: Three-panel and single-panel. In three-panel designs, there is one display chip per color, and the images are combined optically. In single-panel designs, one display chip shows the red, green, and blue components in succession with the observer's eyes relied upon to combine the color stream.


A compound word derived from " (Lei)tz " and " (ca)mera ". Apparently they were originally going to use "LECA", but another camera company already used a similar name in France, so they inserted the 'i' to prevent any confustion.


Lens hood
A tube or ring attached to the front of a camera lens to prevent unwanted light from reaching the film.
ORIGIN Old English hod; related to Dutch hoed, German Hut 'hat,' also to hat.


Level Gauge = This is a tool in the viewfinder to see if you hold the camera 100% horizontal and/or vertical. You can turn it on in the Menu > Photo Live View Setup > Level Gauge > On.


Live View
This is the ability to see the image, the sensor see, live, via the screen of a digital camera, or a electronic viewfinder (EVF).


(as in "M3", "M6", "M7" etc.)
A) The M originally stands for "Messsucher", which is German "Meßsucher" for "Rangefinder". The "3" in M3 was chosen because of the three bright line finders for the 50, 90 and 135 mm lenses. Later the numbers of the M cameras were more or less chosen to follow each other.
M-body evolution in chronologic order:
M3 - MP - M2 - M1 - MD - MDA - M4 - M5 - CL - MD-2 - M4-2 - M4-P - M6 - M6 TTL - M7 - MP - M8 - M8.2 - M9 - M9-P - MM - ME (Type 220) - Leica M (Type 240) - Mini-M
B) M also refer to M-mount as the M bayonet that couple the Leica M lenses to the Leica M camera. Before the M bayonet the coupling between the camera and lens was screwmount.
C) M nowadays refer to the Leica M line of cameras rather than the "Messucher".

Leica M9 is a model name for the Leica M9 that was introduced on September 9, 2009 (as the first full-frame digital Leica M). It was the latest model designation using the M and a number. From their next model, Leica Camera AG introduced a new model system so each camera would simply be a Leica M but then with a model designation like Typ 240, Typ 246, Typ M-D 262 and so on. The idea was inspired from Apple who name their computers for example MacBook Pro and then it has a sub- model number designation which model it is (and which would define speed of processor, etc).

Leica M9


MACRO = Macro lens. The Leica Q lens can be turned to Macro which enables you to go close so as to enlarge smaller subjects. The Leica M cameras becomes Macro when you add a Macro ring "Oufro" or "Leica Macro M Adapter" that increases the lens' distance to the sensor. The word macro comes from Greek makros ‘long, large.’


Leica Q sample photo
The word macro comes from Greek makros ‘long, large.’ Leica Q in Macro mode, 1ii ISO, f/2.8, 1/500 second. © 2015 Thorsten Overgaard.



Maestro II - A processor developed first as Maestro for the Leica S2 and upgraded to Maestro II for the Leica S (Typ 007). The Leica Q has a Mestro II (Leica Q edition) processor developed by SocioNext Inc. based on Fujitsu's Mibeault architecture.


Magic Lantern - Later known as a slide projector. Leica came out with their first projectors in the 1930's (see a list of projectors and acessories here). It's a device with a strong lamp behind a transparent picture (slide) that is projected to a wall or screen via a lens. Today we use LCD projectors which is simply a digital image on a small screen inside the projector house that is projected to a wall or screen by a lens. Early models of LCD projectors had three lenses so as to projet each channel of red, green and blue onto the wall or screen.



Mandler, Dr. Walter (1922 - 2005)
Legendary Leica lens designer and CEO of Ernst Leitz Canada (ELCAN) 1952-1985. Read more in Leica History.


(rangefinder or distance finder) = Mess = range, sucher = finder. It is always correctly written with the "ß". There are technically not three "s", rather the "ß" and one "s" because it is a word constructed by the combining of two precise words.


MF (Medium Format), as in the Leica S System


Stands (also) for Mechanical Perfection.


ND-Filrers. Neutral Density. Photo © Thorsten Overgaard
ND-filters / gray-filters.

Neutral Density filters are grey filters function as 'sunglasses' for lenses. They simply block the light so that a lens can work at for example f/0.95 or f/2.0 in sunshine.
If a camera is set to 200 ISO and the maximum shutter speed is 1/4.000, this will usually result that the lens has to be at f/2.8 or smaller aperture in sunshine. Else the image will over-exposed. So in order til stay within the maximum shutter speed of 1/4.000 and still use a lightstrong lens wide open, one mount a ND-filter that reduce the light with 3 stops (8X) or 6 stops (64x).
For video ND-filters are used quite a lot (as the shutter speed for video is 1/60), and ND-filters are also used to reduce the light for really long multi-exposures at night (stop-motion video and stills).
ND-filters also exist as variable ND-filters so one can adjust the amount of light going through from for example 1 stop (2X) to 6 stops (64X).
ND-filters also exist as graduated ND-filters where the top of the filter is dark and then gradually tone over in no filter (so as to reduce the skylight in a landscape for example).
The ND filters are called Neutral because it is a neutral filter. It doesn't change colors, only the amount of light.

The nick-name for the 90mm f/2.5 Leica lens in the 30s when it first came out.


Noctilux = Also known as "King of the Night" because "Nocti" means Night and "Lux" means Light. The first Leica Noctilux lens was the 50mm Noctilux f/1.2 which shortly after it's introduction was improved to the 50mm Noctilux f/1.0. In the current model the f-stop has been improved further to f/0.95. Read the article on Noctilux here: "Noctilux - King of the Night".

The Noctilux "King of the Night" lens. From left the 0.95 in silver (same on the camera, in black, the f/1.0 in the back and the rare and expensive first model, the f/1.2 in the front.
The Noctilux "King of the Night" lens. From left the 0.95 in silver (same on the camera, in black), the f/1.0 in the back and the rare and expensive first model, the f/1.2 in the front.


Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f1.0 . "Nocti" for nocturnal (occurring or happening at night; ORIGIN late 15th cent.: from late Latin nocturnalis, from Latin nocturnus ‘of the night,’ from nox, noct- ‘night.), "lux" for light. The Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 is famous for enabling the photographer to take photos even there is only candleligts to lit the scene. See the article "Noctilux - King of the Night"


Number, on this site Leica catalog numbers or order numbers. Some the numbers changed depending on the number of cams in the lens: The Elmarit-R f2.8/135mm started life as No. 11 111, however when fitted with 2 cams for the SL became No. 11 211, yet another No. for the 3 cams lens and a fourth number for 3 cam only at the end of its life. Number changes also applied to M lenses depending on whether they were screw-thread, bayonet or for M3 with “spectacles”. Thus the No. in the Thorsten Overgaard Leica Lens Compendium list is a guideline but not a comlete list of existing catalog numbers.



  Visoflex II /Visoflex III adapter (produced 1959-1983 as part no. 16466

Visoflex II /Visoflex III adapter (produced 1959-1983 as part no. 16466) for lens heads:
F = 12.5 cm 1:2.5 Hektor - EF = 1.3 x
Elmar f= 13.5 cm 1:4.5 - EF = 1.2 x
Hektor f= 13.5 cm 1:4.5 - EF = 1.2 x
F = 20 cm 1:4 Telyt - EF = 1.3 x
F = 20 cm 1:4.5 Telyt - EF = 1.2 x
1:4.8 / 280 Telyt I - EF = 1.1 x
1:4.8 / 280 Telyt II - EF = 1.3 x
F = 40 cm 1:5 Telyt I - EF = 1 x
F = 40 cm 1:5 Telyt II - EF = 1 x
1:6.8 / 400 Telyt - EF = 1.5 x
1:6.8 / 560 Telyt - EF = 1.5 x

Leitz Oufro part no 16469

Oufro (model 16469Y)
An original Leitz Extension Ring (produced 1959-1983 as part no. 16469). Used with Oubio for all the longer (125mm+) Visoflex lenses and without OUBIO for 35/50mm. OUFRO can be stacked for greater magnification and will work on the Leica M Type 240 as macro for all lenses (including the Noctilux, 90mm APO-Summicron and even 21mm lenses).


  PASM in the menu of the Leica Q is most likely is made up from the letters of a mode dial on a traditional camera. Nobody knows for sure.

PASM (screen mode) = is short for P = Program Mode / A = Aperture Priority / S = Shutter Priority / M = Manual Control


Sports Range Finder (1933) to mount in the hotshoe for the camera that shoved the frame for 35mm, 50mm, 73mm and 90mm. Was usef for example for photographing race cars where one would frame the car as it came, usually with a 90mm lens.

The OUFTO on Leica M Type 240The OUFTO on Leica M Type 240 with Leica 90mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0.


(R)ange (F)inder - the mechano-optical mechanism which allows M Leicas to focus.
Alternative meaning - RF is also shorthand for Hexar RF , Konica's motorised "M-lens-compatible" rangefinder camera released in 2000.

S = Single image. When the ring by the shutter release on top of the camera is moved from OFF to S, the Leica Q takes one photo at the time (Single). The other possibility is Continuous (see above).

SDC = Software Distortion Correction. A correction of lens distortion (not straight lines) applied in the camera and which is part of the DNG file. In Lightroom the SDC of the camrea file is applied automatically (and cannot be removed), in software like AccuRaw one can open the DNG file without the SDC correction. Sean Reid reviews have written a good article on what SDC is and does in "Software Distortion Correction".

Shoulder Stock
A Leitz mechanism attached to the (tele-) lens and held against one's shoulder when photographing, so as to stabilize the tele lens when using handheld without a tripod or monopod. The shoulder stock is attached to the lens same way as a tripod or monopod.

Shutter speed dial set to 1/1000 of a second.


Shutter speed dial
The dial on top of the Leica M where you can set the shutter speed manually. It can also be set to A which stands for Aperture Priority (where the camera suggests a shutter speed; or when you move the dial away from A, the camera will show arrows in the viewfinder, suggesting which direction to change the Aperture to, to get the correct exposure).

Slide - Short for slide film, also known as a transparency or a dia-positive (or a lantern slide as they were called in the 1800's). A transparent film in positive, and mostly in color, that can be projected onto a wall or screen in large size by putting the slide into a slide projector ("magic lantern" as they were called back in the day) that sends light through the film and projects it to a wall or screen via a lens.
In the 1930's and 1940's Walther Benser traveled the world with a slideshow of pictures made with the Leica. In the period long before the television he managed to fill large theatres with hundres and often thousands of people who were amazed by the large pictures from the "small camera" as the Leica was also known as back then.

Slide projector - Also known as "magic lantern" back in the day. Leica came out with their first projectors in the 1930's (see a list of projectors and acessories here). It's a device with a strong lamp behind a transparent picture (slide) that is projected to a wall or screen via a lens. Today we use LCD projectors which is simply a digital image on a small screen inside the projector house that is projected to a wall or screen by a lens. Early models of LCD projectors had three lenses so as to projet each channel of red, green and blue onto the wall or screen.



abbreviation for
Single-Lens Reflex; the lens that forms the image on the film also provides the image in the viewfinder via a mirror.

  Leitz Wetzlar Mikro-Summar 42mm
  Leitz Wetzlar Mikro-Summar 42mm f4.5 lens anno 1910 might be the first lens carrying the name Summar.

Summar - (or a story of name development)
The 1933 lens 50mm f2.0 Summar: It started out as Summar(f2.0), then the Summitar (f2.0 in 1939), then the Summarex(f1.5 in 1948), then the Summaron(35mm f.2.8 in 1948, then later f2.0, f3.5 and f5.6 lenses), then the Summarit (f1.5 in 1949 and used again for the 40mm f2.4 on the Leica Minilux in 1995, then again for the 35mm, 50mm, 75mm and 90mm Summarit f2.5 in 2007) then the Summicron(f2.0 in 1953 for the collabsible 50mm) and finally the Summilux(50mm f1.4 in 1959).
ORIGIN of Summar is unknown.


The great thing about being a lens designer is that you get to name the lens. Dr. Max Berek who worked for Leitz from 1912 till his death in 1949 named lenses after his two favorite dogs. One was Sumamrex named after his dog Rex (the other Hektor named after his dog Hektor).


Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f1.5 .


Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f2.0 . There are many guesses how this name came about, a popular one eing that the "summi" came from "summit" (summit means the highest point of a hill or mountain; the highest attainable level of achievement) while the "cron" came from "chroma" (ie. for colour). Not so: The name (Summi)cron was used because the lens used Crown glass for the first time, which Leitz bought from Chance Brothers in England. The first batch of lenses were named Summikron (Crown = Krone in Deutsch). The Summi(cron) is a development from the orignal Summar (the 50mm f2.0 lens anno 1933)


Refers to the maximum lens aperture - here f1.4 , "-lux" added for "light" (ie. the enhanced light gathering abilities).


Lens nomenclature - short-hand for " telephoto " (tele- is a combining form, meaning to or at a distance and used in names of instruments for operating over long distances : telemeter. The name has been used for a number of tele lenses from Leica.
ORIGIN: from Greek t?le- ‘far off.’


The first name for the 800mm Telechron f/6.3 lens that Leica presented at Photokina in 1970 and made available in 1972 as the 800mm Telyt-S f/6.3.


rapid-focus device from Leitz that was made from 1966 through 1973, in both R and VisoflexIt was originally designed for use with the 400mm f5.6 Telyt and 560mm f5.6 Telyt. Beginning in 1970 (with serial 2340953) the Televit could also be used with the 280mm f4.8 Telyt-V by using adapter 14138.


Leica Thambar 90mm

A complete set of a Leitz 90mm Thambar f/2.2 consist of the original red box, lens cap, lens shade and the special soft focus filter with a black dot in the middle. They exist in both a Meter and a Feet edition (the focusing scale). Only 3,500 or less were made from 1934-1940, from serial number 226001 to 540500. Read my article on Leica 90mm lenses.



Leitz Thambar 90mm f.2.2. At most about 3000 were made, probably in eight batches, starting with 226xxx (actually built in 1934) and going through 283xxx, 311xxx, 375xxx, 416xxx, 472xxx, 511xxx, and 540xxx (about 1939/1940).
Today they are staggeringly rare and extremely expensive: you would be lucky to get away with much less than $1500 for the lens without accessories (center spot, shade, cap), and you could easily pay twice that for a good, complete example with clean glass.
Known to be a legendary soft-focus portrait lens that 'make a woman look 10 years younger.' A glass filter with a black spot in the middle, about 13mm (1/2”) in diameter cuts out the central (sharpest) part of the image and makes everything even softer.
(Source: Roger W. Hicks)
Here are some advice from a Thambar user, Theodor Heinrichsohn, who have used it mainly for portraits using an Leica M5 and Leica M6:
1. The results are more or less unpredictable. Best practice is to shoot many times and pick the one you like best.
2. Shots against the light are generally more effective than with the light behind you.
3. The most pleasing results to my taste were with center filter at medium apertures. With luck portraits took on the "dreamy" look that the lens is famous for.
4. I never used the Thambar for anything except portraits.
The lens has been rumored to be slightly radioactive due to the process of producing the glass.
Here are some sample photos of Koichiro Itamura Photography.
Here are some more sample images from Blue Penguin.

Origin of the name is currently unknown. Suggestions has been made that the name Thambar was derived from Greek, meaning “something that inspires wonder”. Also close to the English word Tamper (with) which is to meddle, damaging or altering something.


Joy Villa photographed in Rome with Leica M 240 and Leitz 90mm Thambar f/2.2 at f/4.5 (with soft center filter). © 2014 Thorsten Overgaard.
Joy Villa photographed in Rome with Leica M 240 and Leitz 90mm Thambar f/2.2 at f/4.5 (with soft center filter). © 2014-2016 Thorsten Overgaard.


Thick / Thin
The first 90mm Elmar that came out in 1930 was called "Thick" of "Fat" when the smaller "Thin" Elmar came out in January 1933.


(T)hrough (T)he (L)ens light metering, usually WRT the flash metering capabilities built into the R6.2, R8, R9, M7 & M6TTL cameras.


The black rubberized, textured material used to cover Leica camera bodies prior to the 1980s. It actually was made of vulcanised rubber (hence the name) and was and remains much loved by professionals because of its solid, sure grip (see [ this topic ])

- a device on a camera showing the field of view of the lens, used in framing and focusing the picture. In Leica two pictures has to meet and lay 'on top of each other' for the picture to be in focus.

Viewfinder a device on a camera showing the field of view of the lens.
1) A built-in viewfinder in a camera that simply show the frame you get when you look through the viewfinder.
2) A rangefinder viewfinder which is also used to focus the lens. In Leica M cameras two pictures has to meet and lay 'on top of each other' for the picture to be in focus.
3) An external viewfinder, usually on top of the camera in the flash shoe, so as to show the field of view of lenses vider than what the built-in viewfinder can show (15mm, 21mm, 24mm, 28mm etc viewfinders exist)
4) Very simple "aiming-devices" on top of a camera that is simply a metal frame without any optics. Just a frame, as for example very old cameras (the original Leica), or when using cameras in diving where you can't look through the camera.

A device mounted between the Leica M camera and a lens, containing a mirror mechanism like in a SLR camera, thus allowing the M user to 'preview' a picture using a tele lens larger than 135mm which is the maximum covered by the framelines in the Leica viewfinder.

Courtesy of Oxford American, Justin Scott





– Thorsten Overgaard
Thorsten Overgaard's Leica Article Index
Leica M cameras:   Leica S:
Leica M10   Leica S1 digital scan camera
Leica M Type 240 and M-P Typ240   Leica S2 digital medium format
Leica M-D Typ 262 and Leica M60   Leica S digital medium format
Leica M Monochrom Typ246 digital rangefinder    
Leica M Monochrom MM digital rangefinder   Leica Cine Lenses:
Leica M9 and Leica M-E digital rangefinder   Leica Cine lenses from CW Sonderoptic
Leica M9-Professional digital rangefinder    
Leica M4 35mm film rangefinder    
Leica M lenses:   Leica SLR cameras:
Leica 21mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4   Leica SL 2015 Type 601 mirrorless fullframe
Leica 21mm Leica Super-Elmar-M ASPH f/3.4   Leica R8/R9/DMR film & digital 35mm dSLR cameras
Leica 21mm Super-Angulon-M f/3.4   Leica R10 [cancelled]
Leica 28mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4   Leica R4 35mm film SLR
Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH FLE f/1.4 and f/1.4 AA   Leica R3 electronic 35mm film SLR
Leica 35mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leicaflex SL/SL mot 35mm film SLR
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95    
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0 and f/1.2   Leica R lenses:
Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f//1.4   Leica 19mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 35mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leitz 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 "rigid" Series II   Leica 50mm Summicron-R f/2.0
Leica 75mm Summilux-M f/1.4   Leica 60mm Macro-Elmarit f/2.8
Leica 75mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 80mm Summilux-F f/1.4
Leica 90mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 90mm Summicron-R f/2.0
Leica 90mm Summarit-M f/2.5   Leica 180mm R lenses
Leica 90mm Elmarit f/2.8   Leica 400mm Telyt-R f/6.8
Leitz 90mm Thambar f/2.2   Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R f/2.8
    Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R f/4.0
History and overview:   Small Leica cameras:
Leica History   Leica Q full-frame mirrorless
Leica Definitions   Leica Digilux 2 vintage digital rangefinder
Leica Lens Compendium   Leica Digilux 1
Leica Camera Compendium   Leica X
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Film in Digital Age   "The Moment of Impact in Photography" eBook
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Leica M240/M246 User Forum on Facebook   Leica Camera AG
The Leica User Forum   Leica Fotopark
Steve Huff Photos (reviews)   The Leica Pool on Flickr
Erwin Puts (reviews)   Eric Kim (blog) (blog)   Adam Marelli (blog)
Luminous Landscape (reviews)   Jono Slack
Sean Reid Review (reviews)   Shoot Tokyo (blog)
Ken Rockwell (reviews)   Ming Thein (blog)
John Thawley (blog)   I-Shot-It photo competition
The Von Overgaard Gallery Store:    
Hardware for Photography   Von Overgaard Ventilated lens shades:
Software for Photography   Ventilated Shade for Current 35mm Summilux FLE
Signed Prints   Ventilated Shade for older Leica 35mm/1.4 lenses
Mega Size Signed Prints   Ventilated Shade for Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH
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Commisioning Thorsten Overgaard Worldwide   Ventilated Shade for 50mm Summicron lenses
Thorsten Overgaard Archive Licencing   Ventilated Shade for Leica 28mm Summilux
Vintage Prints   Ventilated Shade for current 28mm Elmarti-M
Photography Books by Thorsten Overgaard   Ventilated Shade for older 28mm Elmarti-M
Home School Photography Extension Courses   Ventilated Shade for 75mm Summicron (coming)
Overgaard Workshops & Masterclasses   ventilated Shade for 90mm Summicron (coming)
Artists Nights   Ventilated Shade for 28mm Summaron (coming)
    Ventilated Shade for 24mm Elmarit (coming)
Gallery Store Specials   Ventilated Shade for 50mm Noctilux (coming)










Above: Joy Villa in Paris. Leica Q.





Also visit:

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Thorsten Overgaard
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish writer and photographer, specializing in portrait photography and documentary photography, known for writings about photography and as an educator. Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.

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