Leicaflex SL “U.S. Navy” mil-spec camera, Elcan 2/75mm, 1972

Leicaflex SL “U.S. Navy” mil-spec camera, Elcan 2/75mm, 1972
Leicaflex SL “U.S. Navy” mil-spec camera, Elcan 2/75mm, 1972 — Photo credit: © WestLicht Photographica

Rare Leicaflex SL in black paint, engraved “NAVY” on bottom plate in good working order, complete with ELCAN-R 2/75 no. 341-0010 lens with clean optics.

The US military was also a frequent customer for Leica cameras and -lenses. Apart from the more well-known military versions of Leica M2 and M4 (KS15-4 and KE7-A), small numbers of Leicaflex SL cameras were delivered. Since 1963, the United States Navy (Naval Photographic Center and the Naval Air Systems Command) had considerably expanded its efforts to upgrade 35mm photography on a systematic basis. The US Navy then asked E. Leitz Canada to exclusively develop components for its “High Resolution Small Format Camera System”, to be used specifically for enhanced photographic intelligence gathering during the Vietnam War and ongoing Cold War. The Leicaflex SL 35mm SLR Camera was an integral component of that system.

The ELCAN-R 75 mm f/2 (C-341) lens is very rare. Only about 20 units were ever produced in the early 1970’s. It is one of a series of apochromatic lenses that were designed and manufactured for the US Navy by Leitz Canada. This lens was designed by Professor Dr. Walter Mandler. Walter Mandler was then the Chief Engineer at Leitz Canada. He is responsible for the design and development of lenses such as Noctilux 50 mm f/1 and APO-Telyt 180 mm /3.4.

LITERATURE James L. Lager (ed.), Leica Illustrated History, Vol. II, 1994, p. 307, 309 and Vol. III, 1998, p. 319