Voigtlander Vitomatic I / Vitomatic II
In 1958, Voigtlander introduced updates to two early Vito models: the Vito BL viewfinder updated to the Vitomatic I, and the Vito BR rangefinder updated to the Vitomatic II. The ‘Matic’ in the names did not mean much innovation over what was already there, just rebranding.
Both cameras closely resemble the earlier models, weight and all, but with a civilized light meter operation. The film speed setting is now on the aperture dial, and the frame counter has moved to the bottom fascia. It takes getting used to the quirks, but overall, it is a better-built and equipped camera than the equivalent German models, way ahead of the American and run-of-the-mill Japanese models. With quality, it is on par with the high-end rangefinders of the time, say Leitz or Canon-made cameras. The only miss I can see on the Vitomatic II is the rangefinder patch, which is too bright and hardly visible.
Both models are heavier than the common cameras of their class. Where others seem teeny, made of punched sheet metal, here the heft presents quality. Same with the dials and the lens barrel construction. On my bench are Diax, Photrix and Cita, all of the same generation; neither has the feel of the Vito models. Also, no other model I can think of that offers the same array of shutter speeds, although I am not sure what is the use of the slow speeds.
These two models had evolved into a family of similar models. The Vitomatic I begot the I CS, with a CdS meter; the Ia, with a top speed of 500; and the Ib, with an updated body. The Vitomatic II had the II CS, with a CdS meter, the Ia with a top speed of 500, and the IIa Ultron. Later Vitomatic models, either Vito Automatic or Vitomatic, were a step back in specs.
Good to know:
- As with the rest of the Vito models, the film perforation cocks the shutter. Without loaded film, the shutter will not fire.
- To set film speed, grasp the aperture dial with one hand and press and move the serrated lever mounted on it. DIN and ASA values are in two different windows.
- Using the coupled meter needle match is pretty straightforward. Note that once the F stop dial reaches its end, it pushes the speed dial to keep within the correct exposure.
Both models are freely available at low prices and would be a nice addition to a collection or to practice film shooting.
|Model||Vitomatic I||Vitomatic II|
|Value at camdex.ca||Vitomatic I||Vitomatic II|
|Mode||Manual, meter assist|
|Weight||730 gr, Body with lens||750 gr, Body with lens|
|Class average weight||480 gr, Body with lens||670 gr, Body with lens|
|Lens make||Color Skopar|
|Lens mount||Fixed lens|
|Shutter make||Prontor SLK-V|
|Light meter||Selenium, external coupled|
|Speeds||60/30/15/8/4/B – 1-300|
|Service / repair links||See camerlog.com|