Toronto. We often hear that Leitz turned photography on its head with its revolutionary 35mm camera, the Leica. But then what? How could you make such tiny negatives into larger prints?
Fortunately enlargers were around before the little marvel and its tiny negative. Once the Leica became a success, Leitz quickly populated its catalogues with darkroom accessories including film processing tanks and enlargers. The earliest enlargers were box like affairs that produced small prints – like the 3×5 and 4×6 inch prints the small processing shops made as night fell on the 35mm film era.
Later, enlargers accepted the 50mm Elmar lens from the camera. Then Leitz designed the VAROB which was an Elmar especially for enlargers, not cameras. It was later followed by the more sophisticated (and slower) FOCOTAR which was made in various configurations until Leitz ceased manufacture of enlargers and enlarging lenses. Meantime, owners could argue about which was better for enlargers, Schneider, Leitz or Nikon enlarging lenses.