As you may (or perhaps may not) know I am quite a fan of Voigtländer cameras having owned 24 and currently in possession of 14. For me the interest came from the first 35mm camera I used being my Dad’s old Vito B (which is still going strong after over 60 years).
I had a recent experience which cemented my appreciation of how solidly built they can be.
One of my go-to film cameras when travelling in my Vitomatic II because it is compact, well featured and has been a reliable performer. My example does have one small (very small) issue in that the focus ring has a stiff section where it becomes slightly more difficult to turn. Issue is probably exaggeration it but it is noticeable and I have thought that if a better one came along I would consider replacing it.
(pictures in this post are from my existing Vitomatic).
In an idle moment recently, I was browsing that auction site and found one in apparently good condition and due to the seller not really knowing what it was they had not described it well and had misspelled Voigtländer (such that I doubt it would come up in searches that anyone looking for one would use) it was at a low starting bid with no bids. I bit and made my bid. As suspected, no one else bid and it was mine for a price that was well worth the risk.
Four days went by and a box landed on my doorstep.
This was both an exciting moment, and very quickly a worrying one, as on picking up the box I felt the entire weight of the camera slide to the end of the box and thud as it came to a rest; tilting the box the other way gave the same slide and thud meaning the camera had been bouncing around in this box, barely protected, since it left Florida (for California).
My hopes for a good replacement camera dropped.
I quickly opened the box up and found one sheet of packing paper (the sort they put around plates when buying in a store) and a small bundle of tissue paper (probably from a shoe purchase) stuffed in one corner. The camera was mostly out of the paper (assuming it was originally wrapped in it) and half the case detached exposing an unprotected lens.
Fearing the worst and hoping for the best I started inspecting what I had bought…
- Body and lens look good with no dents or cracks
- Focus, shutter speed and aperture rings all move smoothly
- Rangefinder visible and bright
- Camera opens and film cavity clean
- Shutter fires at all speeds (without a film this camera does not set the shutter when winding you have to manually make it happen)
- Exposure meter works (and seems as accurate as my existing one)
- Rangefinder moves (and also seems as accurate as my existing one)
Surprisingly (and happily) despite it’s ordeal of rough treatment going though the US postage system it appears it’s in reasonable condition. I have yet to put a film though it which will be the real test but so far it is looking positive.
I wonder if a modern equivalent would survive such handling and come out in such good shape.