Leica Camera AG, a Germanoptics company, manufactures Leicacameras. The predecessor of the company, formerly known as Ernst Leitz GmbH, is now three companies: Leica Camera AG, Leica Geosystems AG, and Leica Microsystems GmbH, which manufacture cameras, geosurvey equipment, and microscopes, respectively. Leica Microsystems AG owns the Leica brand and licences the sister companies to use it.
The Leica M3 is a 35 mmrangefinder camera by Ernst Leitz GmbH (now Leica Camera AG), introduced in 1954. It was a new starting point for Leitz, which until then had only produced screw-mount Leica cameras that were incremental improvements to its original Leica (Ur-Leica). The M3 introduced several features to the Leica, among them the combination of viewfinder and rangefinder in one bright window, like on the Contax II, and a bayonet lens mount. It was the most successful model of the M series, with over 220,000 units sold by the time production of the M3 model ended in 1966.
It was succeeded by a number of later M series cameras, including the M7 film camera which is still in production today.