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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.

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kuhn1.jpg (86677 bytes)

 
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.


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Revised: February 05, 2004. Copyright 1998,  2000 Stephen Gandy. All rights reserved.  Information in this document is subject to change without notice.  Other products and companies referred to herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or mark holders.