Although a close copy of the Leica IIIb the Reid camera was designed in-house in imperial measurements. The camera was unquestionably the finest made British camera in terms of the quality of its engineering, reliability and body finish but it's origins as a copy meant that the design was neither new nor original. A lack of innovation and development by Reid & Sigrist ensured that the camera disappeared in to obscurity. It did find a market despite a price tag at £109 and up to 1600 examples of the two variants of the main camera, the Reid III, are believed to have been made.
The firm of Reid & Sigrist was founded after the first world war as a small precision instrument making business in Leicester and also later at New Malden, Surrey. During the second world war the firm undertook the assembly and repair of aircraft and making of munitions. After the war the firm began to seek new markets to diversify into. It was approached by the former minister of aircraft production, Sir Stafford Cripps, with a view to making a 'British Leica'. The Leitz factory in Wetzlar had fallen into British hands in 1945 and was investigated and it's manufacturing facilities and techniques researched. The Leitz patents were made available to the public under the 1946 London Agreement.
A series of six Reid prototype cameras were made up, using imperial measurements, for presentation at the 1947 British Industries Fair. The only metric measurements were the 39mm lens screw thread and 28.8mm lens mount to film plane distance. After a series of production difficulties and problems with subcontractors Reid & Sigrist took over the tooling and production themselves.
The Reid III eventually arrived for sale in 1951 and a synchronised version followed in 1954. Production seems to have continued until around 1964. The Reid III was joined by a number of simpler models and the camera was bought by the military and police forces as well as the public. Various spare parts and part-completed cameras were sold off in the early 1970s and around 100 cameras were then sold.