The Voigtländer Vitomatic IIa is an all manual 35mm rangefinder-camera equipped with a sharp 50mm f2.8 Color Skopar-Lens.
Last year I made a pretty lucky deal on ebay and got one of these in my hands for just a few Euros. Typically this camera isn’t a bargain but well worth a good research!
I just completed a roll of Kodak Tri-X with this camera and want to show off my results and give you an idea of how shooting works with this camera from 1957.
I also tested a new developer for me which is the classic Kodak D-76 to get a finer grain-structure compared to Rodinal/Adonal.
Type: 35mm compact rangefinder-camera
Size: 115/80/75 mm
Weight: This thing is heavy! Estimated value is about 800 grams.
Lens: Voigtländer Color Skopar 50mm f.2.8 – min. focus-distance 1m –> infinity
Viewfinder: Optical Viewfinder with illuminated 50mm framelines and averaging finder (Leica-style 😉 )
Light meter: build-in selenium cell light-meter
The controls are as simple as they could be! All controls are directly accessible on the lens: With the ring on the front of the camera you set the focus distance, the second ring is a combined one for your ISO and aperture. And finally the last one’s for your exposure time.
No need for batteries!
The Voigtländer Vitomatic IIa works completely without batteries! The light meter works with a selenium cell so I don’t really recommend using the build-in light meter for measuring the correct exposure time 😉 For my photo-walks with this camera I used an external lightmeter which btw. works with a selenium cell too but seems to get a more specific metering. The rest of the camera works complete mechanically 🙂 The shutter is a leaf-shutter which means that the Vitomatic is doing an almost not noticeable “click” when shooting on the street. So this cam could even make a nice little street-shooter if you want to!
Luckily my camera came with the original “ever ready-case” which was sold with the camera back in 1957 I think. Why can’t modern camera manufactures ship a nice case like this with compact cameras anymore? Would love to have a case like this for my Fuji X100T but the original case from Fuji is not pretty affordable 😦
Most of the Vitos you’ll find on Ebay or anywhere else will come with this case 🙂
Beside the joy of shooting a pure and raw camera like this you probably wonder how the results look.
All shots are taken with Kodak Tri-X, home-developed in Kodak D-76 and scanned with the Reflecta ProScan 10T.
The shots were 1 to 2 stops overexposed to get more shadow-detail. Worked pretty well 🙂
So how’s the shooting experience?
First off I have to say that the Voigländer Vitomatic IIa is an absolutely awesome good looking camera! This has nothing to do with the experience itself but to be honest: If a camera looks beautiful, shooting the camera becomes even more beautiful don’t you think? 😉
This one is a big candidate for becoming my new favorite camera. It is small, fully manual with all controls you need and has a 59 year-old lens which in my eyes is completely sharp! Turning the aperture and exposure-time ring can sometimes be fumbly as both rings are cuppled and if you turn one of them over a certain point, the other will turn too.
The viewfinder is a big plus for me! It’s not as clear as a Leica M6-Viewfinder but has big and visible framelines to frame your shot and a totally accurate focussing-indicator.
If you love shooting old cameras GET ONE! You can even check out the original manual online here: Voigtländer Vitomatic IIa full manual