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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) 😉
  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