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Voigtlander Vito I

Early Voigtlander Vito IThe Voigtlander Vito I, a film camera I’ve had knocking around for some time. It’s been collecting dust on my desk for far longer than I would like to admit to. The Voigtlander Vito I was bought with the intention of a some use and passing it on to a new owner. That was until I discovered that there was a problem with the shutter. The slow speeds were very slow, too slow. Slow to the point of being able to make a cup of tea during what should of been a 2 second exposure. I might be quick at making a brew, but not that quick!

Fully aware that this Vito was an early version,¬† (probably pre-war). It also has the better of the shutters available around the time of manufacturing. This shutter being the Dial Set Compur, also known as the Rim Set Compur. I do like these, they are a master piece of skilled working parts. Unfortunately it came to me without the yellow filter that is normally permanently hinged to the shutter bezel. The yellow filter was fitted to help reduce flaring, especially with the lens being un-coated. The chrome work was also a bit aged and looking tatty. It’s unappealing looks is why it sat on my desk for sometime as a dust collecting paper weight.

Having never owned or ever used a Voigtlander Vito before, I was somewhat attracted due to the unknowing factor of discovery. The Voigtlander Vito never really appealed to me like some cameras do. Those with good looks or a reputation, that are too good to let pass. Last week I found myself looking at this Vito in a different light. It caught my eye a couple of times from a different angle, in a different light. I found myself promising to fix it and run a film through it. Today I did just that! I gave the dusty dry bellows a light check first. No point working on the shutter if the bellows look like they have been in a shoot out with Buggsy Malone. With the bellows checking out fine and in good health it was time to move on to the shutter. The shutter was in a bad state and needed to be stripped, cleaned and reassembled. I also cleaned the lens while I was at it, and this little film camera came out looking better than I first thought it would. I was very pleased and my desire grew rapidly to use it, I became very excited.

The first thing you will notice is that it has no rangefinder, so what’s a person to do? Go old school and try guessing, sorry make an educated guess.

OK so I wasted 28 exposures! Wait a minute, its not what you think. This camera is one of the most quirky little things I have ever used in a 35mm format, honestly! I lost potentially 28 exposures due to over lapping images, not quite full double exposures. The film counter was not very accurate a with hindsight I should of wound it on by two marks instead of one. Odd thing being, towards the end of the film I thought to wind it on by 3 marks just to be safe, just as well or it would of been the whole roll of film wasted. I say wasted, we all know it was a learning curve and not a real waste as such.

So what are my impressions of the Vito? It’s a bit hard to judge without getting to get to know the camera a little better but I will attempt to make a summery. A summery for the sake of this post. The Vito is what I would class as a true old school camera, and not one for the impatient photographer. Its a camera that forces you to think about each frame carefully and the steps involved. The greatest thing I struggled with was distance among all the other things. It went something like this;

  1. What’s to be in focus? OK that’s about 10 meters away
  2. Set focus to 10 meters
  3. Set aperture, (for required depth of field)
  4. Meter reading via handheld, (Sekonic in my case) no sunny 16 here I’m afraid. Not that brave yet!
  5. Set shutter speed
  6. Lift anti double exposure catch
  7. Advance film, (by two marks) ūüėČ
  8. Take picture
  9. Shivering shark attack! I forgot to frame the image and move the camera accordingly. Its that easy to forget when its stuck on a tripod and your thinking about the operation of the camera. We’ve all been here and if not then you need to try this camera. It’s quirky yet a fun little camera to use.

Having enjoyed the Vito, and I do plan on running more film through it. I did feel its not a keeper, don’t misunderstand me, the lens is sharp, it’s small, compact and light. Even kinda classy looking, it’s growing on me. Unfortunately it takes too much brain power and will take time, a lot before getting constant results with it. If you like challenge then this is one sweet camera to add to your list, it will certainly not disappoint you.

Speaking of results here are the ‘not lapped’ photo’s from the test roll. I think they speak for themselves.

Black and white photograph taken with vintage Voigtlander Vito 1 of a farm barn and vehicle tire worn lane

Black and white photograph taken with voigtlander vito 1 film camera of a close up detail of brick and weathered old wood shiplap

A lack and white photograph taken with voigtlander vito 1 film camera. Photograph of front of a barn wickham hampshire area

A black and white photograph taken with voigtlander vito 1 film camera of a private sign on a gate to a field

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Fujica ST605 Test Roll Review

Fujica ST605 Vintage SLR Film Camera and Fujinon 55mm 1:8 Lens ReviewI recently bought this camera to purposely do a light seal replacement tutorial for a good customer. It sure was great fun to do, the tutorial can be seen here.

I enjoy using slr’s as a general walk around camera and especially for events/shows. Most often I will reach for my Canon FTb QL which I use with the P mount converter and Carl Zeiss lenses which have the M42 mount. A quick look in the local rag revealed the Gosporteers Auto Show coming up, personally I could not think of a better opportunity than to get acquainted with the Fujica ST605 and what a surprise it was!

The Fujica is noticeably smaller than the Canon but oddly it’s body weighs only 20g less, either that or I need a new set of scales. Let’s not compare the technical differences but just deal with how the camera felt and performed in comparison. Loading film is different and I have to say I prefer the simplicity of Fujica over Canon’s “has it grabbed the film” Quick Load system.

With film loaded in the camera and a nice original 70’s strap attached off I went looking for likely candidates to photograph. The camera felt great to hold and I was snapping away without familiarising myself with the operators manual, not many cameras you can do that with. The meter I found very simple to use, although I did forget to compensate for using 1.45v batteries. Unfortunately my test photo’s came out slightly underexposed, although one thing confirmed is that the replacement light seals were doing their job.

Taken with Fujica ST605 Vintage SLR film camera and Fujinon 55mm 1:8 Lens

I always like to use the depth of field focus button, its of great help in getting an idea of how much will be in focus and the Fujica has the button placed in a very comfortable position. Because it was a slightly over cast day with sudden bursts of sunlight, I shot mostly at large apertures and the DOF button was used quite a bit. I always find the Canon FTb stop down, (DOF) button or whatever you want to call it a bit cumbersome to use. So again this is a thumbs up for the Fujica.

1934 Austin Taken with Fujica ST605 Vintage SLR film camera and Fujinon 55mm 1:8 LensMy only gripe was when the sun did come out I found myself wanting to select a faster shutter speed while keeping a shallow DOF, unfortunately the Fujica ST605 fastest shutter speed is 1/700. This was very disappointing as I felt forced to use a smaller aperture which gave me an undesirable larger DOF. This is where the canon FTb has a slightly upper hand.

Ford Taken with Fujica ST605 SLR vitage camera and Fujinon 55mm 1:8 LensI have to admit though I’ve had great fun with this camera as you can see and that my perception of the older Fujica’s SLR’s has changed as a result of the ST506. In fact so much so that I am going to treat myself to the next model up, the higher end Fujica ST801 and only because it has the faster shutter speeds I was looking for on this camera.

Swamp Bitch Taken with Fujica ST605 vintage SLR film camera and Fujinon 55mm 1:8 LensI really didn’t expect much from this camera but the ST605 really does pack a punch for a medium end SLR and it certainly gives the canon FTb a run for its money. It really has made me think that if the ST 801 proves to be as good as its smaller sister then it might be goodbye to my old friend the FTb. That said I won’t sell the FTb as I’m sure I can find a box, cupboard or maybe draw to hide it in.

Austin Mini Taken with Fujica ST605 vintage SLR film camera and Fujinon 55mm 1:8 Lens

Test Roll;

  • Fomapan 200

Develop details;

  • d-76 1:3
  • 24c
  • 12 minutes
  • Agitation first 30 seconds then once every 30 seconds

Lens used;

  • Fujinon 55mm 1:8
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Replacement Camera Light Seal Foam – Mixed Selection

Replacement Camera Light Seal Foam - Mixed Selection

A great selection of replacement camera light seal foam all in one pack has now been added to the shop. I have taken great care and time to select the best camera seal foams available, these include open and closed cell foams both traditional and modern. This mixed selection pack is ideal as a first time buy to get a visual and feel for what camera light seal foam is available from me in larger sizes. It is also great if you have a few cameras that need new door light seals and mirror damper foam. Depending on cameras there should be enough to do approx. 8 cameras. All the different foams available in this pack can be purchased separately in larger sheet form up to A4 size, (210 x 300mm). Contained in the camera light seal pack is the following;

  • 2x 1.5mm closed cell foam, (1x self adhesive and 1x plain)
  • 2x 2mm closed cell foam, (1x self adhesive and 1x plain)
  • 2x 3mm open cell foam, (1x self adhesive and 1x plain)
  • 2x 5mm open cell foam, (1x self adhesive and 1x plain)
  • 1x 1mm felt, (self adhesive)
  • Each piece measures 150mm x 30mm

Quick link to this product; Camera replacement light seal foam – 9 piece selection pack

If you would like me to mix and match a pack of specific foams for you then this can be arranged via the contact form here, please include ‘Camera Light Seal Mixed Pack’ as the subject title. I also offer discounts on bulk buy for resellers again this can be arranged via the contact form here, please include ‘Camera Light Seal Reseller Question’ as the subject title. I will be only to happy to help.

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Lens Caps Off to Moshi Monsters Holga

Topps Moshi Monsters HolgaLens Caps Off to Moshi Monsters Holga Camera indeed!

It thrills me to see photography being introduced to kids through a form of media served up via television or books. Why? Surely it helps to develop an interest or at least a small connection with photography from an early age.

Photography is a great skill that has the ability to make people of all ages more perceptive to their surroundings. Getting a child to develop this at an early age can only be a good thing right?

I was very pleased when my 8 year old came running in about a month ago shouting “Dad I have a card with one of your cameras on”. The card he held in his hand was the Holga card from the Techies set, Holga belongs to the Happy Snappy species who likes to take photo’s and hand them out to other Moshlings. Having been collecting the now poplar Moshi Monsters game cards, produced by Topps for some time. His collection is of a modest one compared to my camera collection! It seems many of his friends also collect these cards, and long may it continue.

Having failed at get him interested in photography in the past, maybe be just that, in the past. Today it’s different, and thanks to Topps he now owns his own camera, (film camera) and understands the basics of photography with the zest to learn more. He has also asked for a digital camera for his next birthday. I won’t say if we will buy him one or not as he has access to the computer and this website.

So lens caps off to Topps for their Holga card, thank you!

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100 Years since first Compur Shutter was Introduced

Compur ShutterIn August 1962 a note was passed from the Friedrich Deckel firm to the UK’s Amateur Photographer Magazine reminding them that it was 50 years this month since the first Compur shutter was introduced.

Although patents were applied for in 1910 for a Compur type shutter, it seems it took two years before they became commercially available in 1912.

Prior to Compur leaf shutters Friedrich Deckel and most notably Christian Bruns had been working on what was considered later their rather unreliable Compound leaf shutter which they developed ten years earlier in 1902. The Compound shutter utilised an air brake, (cylinder with piston) to control shutter speeds, where as the new Compur shutter used a train of gears in a clockwork fashion, hence where the name Compur is derived from. ‚ÄúCompur”, a fusion of “Compound” and “Uhrwerk”, the German word for ‚Äúclockwork‚ÄĚ.

The Compur shutter was not only at the time state-of-the-art but it remained so until the 1970s when film material with a higher tolerance to light exposure variations came onto the market. Over the years the Compur shutter had seen many developments from the original Dial Set, where a dial was employed above the shutter to set speeds, also known as the Rim Set, (as seen in the image above left). The Dial Set was introduced in 1927 and a year later in 1928 saw the introduction of the Compur S with extra gears to control a self timer for shutter release. In 1935 the Compur Rapid was released and as the name suggests it incorporated faster shutter speeds of 1/400 for the #0 sized shutter and 1/500 for the #00. The last of the most notable developments came after World War II around 1953 with the introduction of the Synchro-Compur, a shutter which was synchronised for flash use.

Through out this time Deckel saw direct competition from Gauthier with their early Koilos shutter and later Prontor shutter. Its recorded that during the boom of  leaf shutter production of 1957-60 Gauthier employed 3250 workers and had a daily output of 10.000 shutters while Deckel Compur Works employed just 1,500, suggesting that its shutter production for this period was less.

The Compur leaf shutter has definitely stood its place in time and not surprisingly a refined design of it is still used today by Hasselblad cameras.


Amateur Photographer Magazine 15th August 1962
Modern Mechanix; How a Camera Shutter Works. February 1938
Up and Down with Compur