On a Clear Day,

Leitz Rangefinder FODIS 1924 – 1930

Toronto. —You Can See Forever or so the song, about a girl with ESP, goes.  Leitz sold rangefinders even before the Leica began to be marketed in 1924. It was a simple camera at the time – no slow speeds, no self timer, and no rangefinder. Enter the illustrious FODIS with its own leather case made especially for the Leica.

The long rangefinder base FODIS had a circular plate at both ends that would fit into the accessory shoe (flash shoe) of the Leica – and any other camera that adopted that format of accessory shoe. The FODIS was sold from 1924 to 1930 according to Leitz catalogues.

It came in both feet and meter scales. Mine is the meter version in black enamel with a nickel dial calibrated from one meter to infinity. The rangefinder input lenses are about 3.5 inches apart. To use it, clipped vertically in the original Leica, one looked through the eye-piece below the dial. The dial was rotated until the two images at the desired distance were merged into one. That distance could then be read off the dial across from a pointer and transported to the Leica lens. And voila! You were ready to set the speed and snap your photo. When the 135mm lens came out for the Leica, the rangefinder was  made with a larger diameter dial for greater accuracy.

By early 1932, the rangefinder was built into some Leica models and connected to the lens directly making the camera ‘automatic’.

 

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