Leica has announced that the 2012 Oskar Barnack Award for professional photographers is now open.

The competition, which is aimed at professional photographers under 25, awards the prize for a series of photos taken during the 2011 or 2012.

This is the 33rd time that the awards will have been presented, with the winner taking home an M9-P. The Leica M9 is the world's smallest interchangeable lens full-frame camera. The M9-P is the special edition of the camera, which includes a tougher shell, aimed primarily at professional documentary and war photographers. It's valued at around €10,000 (£8,300).

An additional cash prize of €5,000 will also be awarded to the winning entrant.

Young professionals (or prospective pros) under 25 can also enter the Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award. The winner of this prize will also win a Leica M9-P, and a cash prize of €10,000.

No messing

Further interesting stipulations of the contest include the banning of photographs that have been "digitally altered in its essence" along with photo montages.

Although the competition is run by Leica, there are no rules determining the brand of camera used to capture the images entered.

Oskar Barnack invented the first Leica camera way back in 1914. Leica went on to become one of the most prestigious photography brands in the world, and was especially popular with street photographers in the 50s and 60s.

Visit the Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2012 website for more information on how to enter the competition.