The Find: One very interesting camera
A Leica MDa POST 1972 24x27mm with a Summaron 35mm f 2.8 lens. When you look at it, you get the feeling something is wrong. As wel as the strange rectangular steel sheet on the front..what is up with that? Also it has the word “Post” on the side and on the bottom.
After a little inspection I got what looked so strange. It has no viewfinder window. On closer inspection, most of the buttons and settings do not seem to work? I found out the exposure bottom could only be triggered by using a remote cord trigger.
The Post camera is a special Leica constructed in small badges by adjusting existing models from the series 1c, 1f, 1g, MD, MD2, MDA and MDA 24 x 27 mm. The Post cameras differ from standard cameras in the following points:
- The MD Post cameras have a fixed focal length (aperture is locked, but could still be adjusted with a screwdriver).
- There is no viewfinder, because they were used for 1 purposes only.
- The shutter can only be operated with a cable release.
- The shutter speed is fixed at 1/60 sec.
- A plate with lugs is mounted on the front. These cams were used to attach the camera to a special trapezoidal housing.
- Only a few 35mm lenses were used (Elmar 1:3.5 3.5 cm, Summaron 1:3.5 3.5 cm, Summaron 1:2.8 35 mm and Summicron 1: 2.0 35 mm.
Practical use in the Post office
The camera took pictures of rows of telephone counters at one point. This could be up to 1000 meters at the same time. The camera was mounted on the trapezoidal housing using the special cams on the front plate. A circular flash was installed in the house itself.
Special document film was used. Typically these were purchased on a large roll of film, cut and rolled into the Leica film chambers (FILCA). As many as 70 film cassettes could be used in one day. This means that if the camera was used for 5 years, at least 1,000,000 prints were made.
The invoicing of the telephone calls was done based on the photos taken. Over the course of a month, several rows of meters were photographed. All meters were photographed and all film rolls were fully and correctly developed for further processing. The billing department created an invoice based on the last meter reading minus the previous reading. For the millions of customers, this meant an entire organization every month. Below a picture of the Leica Post MDa in action.
The camera I found was part of the last batch of Leica Post camera’s ever made. It was a batch of 123 pieces, produced in 1972 the Summaron 35mm lens with f 2.8 and 24 x 27 mm size. The numbers in this batch run from 1293878 upto 1294000 where mine is camera nummer 1293989. So one of the last ever made. A list of all the numbers for the ca. 440 MDa postcamera’s ever made can be found here in the Leica wiki.