6 Voigtlander cameras in my collection:


Voigtlander Accessories


In January 2016, following a dry spell when old camera prices seemed to creep to ridiculously high levels, I was seduced by an eBay Buy it Now job lot of Voigtlander accessories for £30.00 (including postage). What I got for my money was a Kontur viewfinder, a rangefinder, number 1 and 2 Focar close-up lenses, and 4 guides/manuals.


Voigtlander Kontur 335/23 Viewfinder

KonturOriginally made for the Vitessa, this is an accessory shoe-mounted supplementary viewfinder - introduced in 1951. It is used with both eyes open: you look through the Kontur finder with one eye and keep the other open. The viewfinder creates an optical illusion, where what you see is a set of white frame lines projected onto the view of the subject seen by the unobstructed eye. This finder has the benefit of showing virtually unlimited peripheral vision. There is an additional parallax mark for close focus at 3 feet.

The 335/23 finder is made to work with a 50mm lens, and can therefore be used with any other 35mm camera with a 50mm lens. Konturs generally cost more than £30, so the job lot was a bit of a bargain, but more than that, I bought the item because I wanted to experience the Kontur effect myself. It works very well - a fabulous little gizmo. For the best results, you need to peer through the Kontur using your dominant eye - if you have one, and most people do. For me, my little graphic is the wrong way around, since my left eye is dominant.


Voigtlander Rangefinder

Rangefinder diagramThere were at least two versions of this rangefinder; one scaled in feet, and the other in meters. The rangefinder sits in the accessory shoe on top of the camera. It's made of die-cast aluminium alloy, and has one eyepiece and two objective lenses with a central adjustment dial. It works just like any other rangefinder. The eyepiece looks out of the (user's) left-hand objective lens through a half-silvered mirror. The light that comes through the right-hand objective lens is reflected by a sloping mirror onto the left-hand half-silvered mirror and then out through the eyepiece. The half-silvered mirror is tinted orange so that it makes the faint second image easier to see. The angle of the sloping mirror behind the right-hand objective lens is controlled by the dial, via a cam. In use, you look through the eyepiece and see two versions of the scene - one directly and the other reflected. Turning the central dial moves the second image from side to side, and when the images coincide, the correct distance can be read off the dial, and transferred to the camera lens.

These rangefinders were made for two different units; feet and meters. The former is more desirable for use with Voigtlander Vito type cameras, because their focus scales are in feet (unless you're very good at multiplying by 3.28).

Accessory shoe-mounted rangefinders were quite common in the days before they became built-in to cameras. One of these is a really useful gadget, and like the Kontur viewfinder, Voigtlander's rangefinder can be used with any camera. A number of manufacturers made rangefinders, but it's nice to have one made by Voigtlander. I believe this accessory was made from about 1956, and continued to be produced until Voigtlander was sold to Rollei in 1972, by which time, it retailed for £7.94. Today this rangefinder can command a price of up to £20.



Focar Close-up Lenses

As suggested by the name, these push-fit supplementary lenses (fitted to the camera just like a filter) where designed to produce large-scale pictures of flowers, butterflies, and other small animals, copy pages of a book, photograph stamps, etc. The effect of the Focar lenses is that they shorten the focal length: this permits the camera to be brought much nearer the subject, and thus the subject is reproduced on a much bigger scale.

Focar lenses were intended to be used separately and in combination, as shown in the table below.

Lens Focus in inches Focus in centimeters
from ... to ... from ... to ...
Focar 1 31 1/2 17 1/2 80 44
Focar 2 17 1/2 12 44 30
Focar 1 + 2 11 1/4 8 1/4 29 21

I don't particularly want to keep these lenses - even if they do double-up as lens caps - so I expect to re-sell them. It's not every day I splash out £30 on a bit of kit, so it's good to have the option of recovering some of the money I spent.


Guides & manuals

These included: a useful Voitlander rangefinder guide, a booklet about Voigtlander flash, and two guides called Secrets (which is pretty much a Voigtlander accessory catalogue) and Let's Talk About Pictures (a Voigtlander guide to taking photos). Nice to read, but again, something to put back on eBay.