Leica MD - doctors only please

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Leica Mount Cameras:

Leica-mount Lenses:


Leica MD

by Karen Nakamura


Overview and Personal Comments

The Leica MD was a specialized camera developed by Leitz in the 1963 for use with microscopes and other technical equipment. Remember that the other branch of the Leitz empire was microscopes and scientific optics. It could also be used with the Visoflex reflex housing. The MD was a simplified Leica M1, which in turn was a simplified M2.

The MD has no viewfinder or rangefinder. While you can use it for its original purpose with a microscope or telescope, the more contemporary use would be with an ultra-wide angle lens such as the new Voigtlander 12mm, 15mm, or 21mm lenses. These lenses don't need to be rangefinder focused. In many ways, the Bessa L is an updated Leica MD with a built-in meter.

I swapped my Canon P for this Leica MD at a swap-meet in Saint Paul, Minnesota in April of 2004. The MD is a rather rare camera as only 3000 were made. It was replaced with the MDa in 1967 which was much more common, with 14,500 made.

M1   Based on the Leica M2. Viewfinder only, no rangefinder.
MD 1963-67 Based on the Leica M1. No viewfinder/rangefinder.
MDa 1967-76 Based on the Leica M4. No viewfinder/rangefinder. Rewind crank slanted (like M4).
MD-2 1977- Based on the Leica M4-2. No viewfinder/rangefinder.


Interesting quirks

If you hook up a Visoflex reflex housing to the MD, you have a workable SLR camera, although it's a little bit unwieldy.

There's a small slit on the bottom plate that allows you to insert a thin transparent plastic information sheet before exposure. If you're photographing slides and want to record what you're documenting, you can write in on the info sheet and insert it. The baseplate can be replaced with a standard M3/M2/M1 baseplate if you're using the camera in the field.


Technical Details

Camera Name
Bessa L MD MDa M7
Voigtlander Cosina Ernst Leitz Wetzlar
Place of Manufacture
Japan Germany
Date of Manufacture
2001~ 1965-66
(3000 produced)
(14,500 produced)
Focusing System
No rangefinder/viewfinder

Coupled rangefinder
.72x magnification factor
69.25mm base length
49.86 effective baselength
Parallax compensation
35-135, 50-75, 28-90mm. selectable framelines

Lens Mount
Leica M39 Screw Mount
Leica M bayonet mount compatible
Vertical metal focal plane
1 sec - 1/2000 sec + B & X (1/125sec)
Horizontal cloth focal plane
1 sec - 1/1000 sec + B & X (1/50sec)

Horizontal cloth focal plane
4 sec - 1/1000 sec (manual)
32 sec - 1/1000 sec (auto)
+ B & X (1/50sec)

Metering System
TTL manual
EV 4~19

TTL manual and AE
EV -2~20

External hot shoe
PC cable connector on left side
1/125 sec X flash sync
External cold shoe
M- and X- flash cable connector on rear
1/50 sec X flash sync
External hot shoe
PC cable connector on rear
1/50 sec X flash sync
SCA and HSS (M7 only) flash AE
Film type

Type 135 film (35mm standard)
ISO 25-3200

Type 135 film (35mm standard)
Type 135 film (35mm standard)
ISO 25-5000 (DX)
ISO 6-25000 (manual)
Battery type
2 x 1.5V SR44 

2 x 3V DL 1/3N
4 x 1.5V SR44

Dimensions and weight
135.5 x 78.5 x 33.5mm
Body: 138mm x 77mm x 36mm; 595g.

138 x 79.5 x 38 mm

Retail price
~$100 new  

~$2495 new

Note: Using the text or images on this site in an ebay auction without permission is a violation of your ebay Terms of Service. I will report you to ebay if I discover such a violation taking place. This may result in your account being cancelled. I also reserve the right to file claim for civil penalties.










About Leitz/Leica

Leitz was originally a microscope and scientific optics company. The first series of screwmount Leicas were designed by Oskar Barnack and have been named Barnack cameras by some. The prototype Ur-Leica was designed in 1918, but mass production did not start until 1925 when the Leica I came out. I have a write-up of the Leica III (1933).

The Leica M3 rangefinder was released in 1954 and represented the end of the Barnack-series of screwmount Leicas. The M-series had an integrated viewfinder/rangefinder with automatically switching projected framelines, coincident and split-image rangefinder, lever wind, hinged rear door, integrated shutterspeed dial, and M-bayonet mount. I have write-ups of the M3 (1954), M2 (1957), MD (1963), and M7 (2002). The Leica CL (1973) is technically not an M-Leica but it uses the M-bayonet mount.

The design of the Leica M has not changed considerably since the M3 of 1954. In 1967, the M4 came out with a crank-rewind instead of a knob rewind. Since then, the M series remained essentially unchanged from the Leica M4 (1968) up to the current M7. The only difference is that the M7 has an electronically controlled shutter and automatic exposure metering. (This leaves out the fiasco of the M5 which was considerably different and considerably unpopular at the time).

Leica's single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras have not been as popular as their rangefinders. I have write-ups of the original Leicaflex SL camera as well as the newer R3 and R6 SLRs and the R-mount lenses.

Leitz... blah blah.... and in 2000, fashion conglomerate Hermes bought 31% of Leica's stock. The only tangible result of this has been the emergence of the Hermes Special Edition Leica MP, dressed in the best coach leather and costing a mere US$8000.



On the Net

Leica LSM to M Mount Adaptors

  • Stephen Gandy sells all 3 adaptors (28-90; 35-135; 50-75) for $100 as well as rear M caps for 3 for $40

Leica M accessories

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