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Voigtlander Vito I

Early Voigtlander Vito II have had this camera knocking around for some time on my desk. It was bought with the intention of selling it on for a little profit, that was until I discovered that there was a problem with the shutter. The slow speeds were very slow, to the point of myself being able to make a cup of tea during a 2 second exposure. Now I might be quick at making a brew, but not that quick!

I was aware this Vito was a rather early version, probably pre-war. It also has the better of the available shutters of its time, being the Dial Set Compur, also known as the Rim Set Compur. Unfortunately it came to me without the yellow filter that is normally hinged to the shutter bezel. The yellow filter is to reduce flaring, with the lens being uncoated. The chrome work is also a bit aged to say the least. So probably not much profit in it hence why it sat on my desk for sometime as a paper weight.

I have never owned one of these before or ever used one. The Voigtlander Vito just never really appealed to me like some cameras do. Then last week I found myself looking at it in a different light. It kept catching my eye and I found myself saying; “I should fix that camera and run a film through it”. Well today I did just that! Obviously I gave the bellows a light check first. No point working on the shutter if the bellows look like they have been in a shoot out with Henry Antrim. So with the bellows looking sound the shutter needed to be stripped, cleaned and reassembled. I also cleaned the lens while I was at it.

The first thing you will notice is that it has no rangefinder, so what’s a person to do? Go old school and use a piece a string with knots tied in it, each knot marking out a meter? This would then be laid out from camera to the subject and one would count the knots to get the distance. No, where’s the fun in that right? Lets try guessing!

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 35mm format honestly. I lost potentially 28 exposures due to over lapping images, not quite full double exposures. I found the film counter was not very accurate. With hindsight I should of wound it on by two marks instead of one. The odd thing is 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 wasted.

So what are my impressions of the Vito? It’s what I would class as a true old school camera, and not one for the impatient photographer. Its a camera that makes you think about distance amongst all the other things. It goes something like this;

  1. What do I want in focus? OK that is about 10 meters away
  2. Set focus to 10 meters
  3. Set aperture, (for required depth of focus)
  4. Meter reading via handheld, (Sekonic in my case) no sunny 16 here I’m afraid.
  5. Set shutter speed
  6. Lift anti double exposure catch
  7. Advance film, (by two marks remember)
  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, you’ve been there.

I did enjoy using the camera and I do plan on running one more roll through it for fun. But its not a keeper, don’t get me wrong the lens is sharp, its small and light, its even kinda classy looking. No for me it takes too much brain power. It will take a lot of time before getting constant results with it.

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


Voigtlander Vito 1 farm barn photo

Shot of the aged timber barn

Front of the barn shot with the Vito

Gate with sign on saying Private


1 thought on “Voigtlander Vito I

  1. I like the Vito, there’s something very relaxing about taking pictures with it. I love it.

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