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It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's a Kuhn Flexameter!
Leitz' 1st SLR (almost maybe)
Kuhn Flexameter Waist Level Ground Glass Finder for Leica
This strange little device is obscure, but has a wonderful pedigree. It is the famous, eh not so famous Flexameter.
Never heard of it? Does Wetzlar ring a bell? Hopefully so.
Does Kuhn ring a bell? Probably not.
The hero, eh, heroine, of our story, is none other than Frau Doktor Elsie Kuhn Leitz. She was the
daughter of good ol' Ernest Leitz II, President of Leitz and co-father of the Leica with Oskar Barnack. Elsie's married name was Kuhn. She and her husband settled down in, of all places Wetzlar, and were in, of all things, the camera accessory business. Their little company produced this gem of a device, the Kuhn Flexameter in the mid-1930's.
The Flexameter fits atop the Leica camera, or indeed most any camera with accessory shoe. Focus the
famous Kuhn-Flexameter 50/2.8 lens and you will, lo and behold, see an image on your waist level
groundglass. Besides a groundglass image, the Flexameter can provide low angle viewing, and held over your head, framing for above the crown or above the fence shots. This idea of low angle rangefinder framing would be expanded on a mere six decades later by the Voigtlander Angle finder.
Not exactly an SLR, but Elsie and her husband might have been onto something.
Who would have thought in the 1930's that the female of the family would foreshadow the downfall of the mighty Leica Rangefinder Juggernaut?
My thanks to the famed Leica Historian Marvin "Killer" Moss for introducing me to the Flexameter pedigree. In 1999 the Flexameter was the subject of a "What's This?" article in the Leica Viewfinder.