"Leica" – have you been pronouncing it wrong all these years?

Leica pronunciation
(Image credit: YouTube: Analog Insights)

It's a brand that every photographer knows: Leica, short for Leitz Camera Wetzlar. But have you been pronouncing this legendary German brand name incorrectly all these years? 

It's not just Leica, of course. Such is Germany's astonishing contribution to the photographic industry that there are countless iconic German brands that are common parts of camera lexicon. From Carl Zeiss and Voigtländer to Rollei and Agfa to Praktica and Meyer Optik Görlitz… and many people have been saying those names wrong for decades!

• Read more: Best Leica cameras (opens in new tab)

After some criticism from a German photographer for his Anglicized pronunciation of these iconic names, Maximilian Heinrich – a German himself – took to his YouTube channel to set the record straight and inform non-native German speakers how these words should be said (thanks to Petapixel (opens in new tab) for the tip).

In the video below, Heinrich breaks down the proper pronunciation for 27 (well, technically 26 as Rollei makes two appearances) legendary camera companies, cameras and lenses:

• Carl Zeiss
• Schneider Kreuznach
• Voigtländer
• Rollei
• Rollei-Werke Franke & Heidecke
• Rodenstock
• Adox
• Agfa
• Plaubel
• Leica Leitz Camera Wetzlar
• Noctilux, Summilux, Summicron, Summaron, Elmar, Elmarit, Thambar, Telyt
• Minox
• Planar, Tessar, Sonnar, Distagon, Biogon
• Praktica
• Exakta
• Meyer Optik Görlitz

Some of these names, like Rollei-Werke Franke & Heidecke, are obvious candidates for pronouncing incorrectly. However, other seemingly simple ones like Minox may not appear to be tongue twisters but may nonetheless surprise you with how they're supposed to be said in the native tongue.

Obviously the list of photography brands whose pronunciation is often contested isn't limited to German. Japanese words, especially – from Nikon ("Ny-kon" in North America or "Nikkon" in the rest of the world) to bokeh (see our What is bokeh? (opens in new tab) video) cause just as much controversy!

It's always great, though, when we can educate ourselves on how beloved brand names are supposed to be spoken. So the next time you're discussing your old Rollei camera or your favorite Voigtländer lens with friends, photographers or camera club members, you can do so safe in the knowledge that you're using the correct pronunciation!

Read more: 

Leica lens names explained (opens in new tab)
Leica review (opens in new tab)
Leica M10-R review (opens in new tab)
Best Leica SL lenses (opens in new tab)

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab)Digital Photographer (opens in new tab) and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show (opens in new tab). An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.