This Rare Leica Telyt 400mm f6.8 Prototype Was for Handheld “Snapshots”

If you have a Leicaflex or a Leica R camera, this rare and extraordinary 400mm lens could be of interest to you.

Leica may be best known for its M Series rangefinder cameras, but most fans and vintage camera collectors would know that the company also made SLR cameras. If you happen to have a Leica R series or Leicaflex camera, our latest ebay find could be of interest to you: a “single piece” Leica Telyt 400mm f6.8 prototype.

Listed by Vienna-based ebay seller Jo Geier (jo-vulture), this prototype, which is still in very good condition, was reportedly made around 1967 as a “single piece” lens that cannot be taken apart. It comes with the original lens case and a shoulder stock (so you can make handheld snapshots with this interesting lens). No other details were provided apart from these, so as usual, we went sniffing around elsewhere for more information.

The search led us to a post by Thorsten Overgaard, who said that the Leica Telyt 400mm f6.8 was produced for the Leicaflex and Leica R cameras from 1968 until 1994. It has an interesting, long tube design and only one 2-element achromat lens group in the very front. Unlike the prototype being sold, this model allowed unscrewing of the front for cleaning, and the tube itself can be collapsed into two.

In his own post, Steve Schwarz described the lens as 38 cm (15 inches long) and weighs 1839 grams (4 lbs). Focusing is done manually — by pushing and pulling the slider and pushing in the focus release button. He also mentioned that Leica R lenses like this one were popularly mounted on digital cameras using Leitax adapters. Steve asked himself, “Why bother using an archaic lens designed 46 years ago when there are plenty more compact and autofocus lenses available?” If you’re interested in this unusual lens, his answer could be yours, too: “Maybe, I am a sucker for old lenses being born the same year that this lens was designed. Really, it is such a superb lens that delivers incredible quality.”

Vintage gear with history like this extraordinary lens often come with a hefty price tag. So if you’re keen on adding it to your collection, head to the ebay listing and be prepared to buy it now for $7,739.19 or make your best offer.

All images from the ebay listing by Jo Geier