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Voigtlander Vito Cameras - Vito I

by Stephanie Marriott

Voigtlander introduced the first Vito camera in 1940. It was their first 35 mm. camera and one aspect of the design raises an interesting question. The film transport uses a serrated feeler spindle instead of the more familiar sprocket, suggesting that perhaps the original intention had been to make a camera to use unperforated film. Voigtlander had interests in film manufacturing so the supply of a special film would have presented them with no problems and might even have been seen as good for business.

The first Vito, now often referred to as a Vito I, is a folding bellows camera, fitted with the Voigtlander Skopar f/3.5 50 mm. lens. The shutter is a Prontor II, Compur or Compur Rapid. Most versions have no flash synchronisation. There is a lever to tension the shutter and a separate winding knob. The shutter release is a bar fitted to the top of the camera front panel. Although early models have a hinged filter mount, this precludes the use of a lens hood and later models take 31 mm. push-on filters or, later still, 29 mm. push-on filters.

A direct-vision viewfinder is built into the top plate with a frame counter to one side. The camera wind-on permits the double-exposure interlock to be disengaged, allowing a partially-used film to be re-loaded without exposing every frame. There is a 3/8 inch tripod bush in the base plate.

The camera is neat and well-designed but we have no price information for this camera which, as a German item brought out during war-time, would have been unobtainable in Britain. We understand that occupation forces personnel could obtain a new camera on the black market for about 2,000 cigarettes in 1946. We believe that represents about a month's pay for a private soldier.

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