4other Voigtlander cameras in my collection:

 

Voigtlander Vito B (large viewfinder) [1957 - 1960]

 

Overview

Vito B adThe Vito B body was made as two designs; the earlier (1954-57) had a small viewfinder and low profile top plate, while the later version (1957-60) had a larger viewfinder and taller top plate.

Large viewfinder Vito B models were equipped with a 9-speed (and a very rare 10-speed) Prontor SVS shutter. Some versions had the additional option to set a light value, and synchronise shutter speed and aperture settings. They came with either a f3.5 or f2.8 Color-Skopar 50mm (four element) lens.

My Vito B is the later type with a 9 speed Prontor SVS shutter, f2.8 lens, and the aperture/shutter-speed synchronisation facility. A further difference between this and my small finder Vito B is the number of diaphragm blades was reduced from 9 to 6. The serial number (4866176) dates the camera to 1959 (Voigtlander camera serial numbers can be found here).

 

Viewfinder Years Aperture Shutter Shutter Speeds EV?
Small 1954-1957 f/3.5 Pronto B, 25, 50, 100, 200 no
B, 30, 60, 125, 250
Prontor-SVS B, 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 300
f/2.8B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60, 125, 300
f/3.5 yes
f/2.8 yes
Large 1957-1959 f/2.8 B, 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 300 no
B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60, 125, 300
f/3.5 B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60, 125, 300 yes
f/2.8 B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60, 125, 300
B, 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 300, 500

 

According to a 1960 edition of Amateur Photographer, which contained a comprehensive list of cameras available that year, the original price of a large viewfinder Vito B was £26 - 3s - 2d (these old prices with their shillings and pennies seem mental today!). The average UK weekly wage in 1960 was £18.25 (well, £18 - 5s - 0d to be more accurate), so this camera cost a-week-and-a-half's wages at the end of its production run.

 

 

Specifications

Viewfinder: Simple reverse telescope - shows image at about actual size, with frame-line.

Focus: Manual. Imperial distance scale with zone focusing symbols.

Lens: Color-Skopar 50mm f/2.8 (4 elements in 3 groups).

Close Focus: 3' 5".

Diaphragm: Six blades, f/2.8 to f/22.

Shutter: Prontor SVS shutter (B, 1, 1/2nd, 1/4th, 1/8th, 1/15th, 1/30th, 1/60th, 1/125th, 1/300thsec) + built-in self-timer.

Cable Release: Standard threaded socket in shutter release button.

Meter: None.

Exposure: Manual.

Exposure range: EV 2 to EV18.

Filter Size: 32mm push fit.

Flash: Cold shoe and PC terminal with X and M synchronization selector.

Film Advance: Long stroke lever.

Frame Counter: Manually set, countdown style.

Rewind: Pop-up crank with automatic tension release.

Back Opening: Pull out base plate latch with quarter twist, opens the whole back and a hinged door beneath the film canister.

Size: 114 x 80 x 67 mm (L x H x D).

Weight: 619 g.

 

 

My Camera

I paid £5.00 for this camera in June 2015. I knowingly bought it with a sticking shutter, but otherwise in very good condition. It came with a case in nice condition, which I sold for £6.05 (just to be clear: I listed it for sale at £1.00, and bidders determined the final price), making the cost of my Vito -£1.05 (unreal!).

Often, when a camera is in good order and showing few signs of use, a mechanical fault is slightly incongruous. Sure enough, when the camera arrived it was in beautiful condition (it's like new!). The shutter was opening but not closing, as described in the advert. The frame counter was showing 36, and when I reset it, I heard a click ... the shutter had closed. Now it works absolute perfectly. Phew ... the God's of photography smiled on me today.

I don't find this model anywhere near as cute as the small viewfinder design, but ... the other day I had finished shopping in Aldi, and scanned the car park for my Berlingo, which has a high roof line (and is easy to spot in amongst a sea of parked cars), and the thought occurred to me ... this camera is like my car, so I like it a lot more now having made that connection. To anyone who thinks that last statement is weird, I say ... no, Aldi is a great place to buy your groceries!

My little Vito B camera is the same age as me, but the Voigtlander has aged better.

This camera nicely demonstrates the evolution of the Vito B family: it has the obviously larger viewfinder, plus the lens variation found on both Vito B incarnations. Bits were added to this design to produce the Vito BL, which got an external light meter, and the rare Vito BR, which had a rangefinder (Christmas 2015 - I spotted one on eBay priced at £349.99). The Vito Cs that followed from about 1960 had more radical design changes, the most obvious of which was relocation of the shutter release to the front of the camera. I've never had one in my hands, but they were less expensive, look like lesser quality items, and lack appeal. Incidentally, in 1960 the price of a basic Vito C was only £18 - 6s - 2d.

 

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These cameras are often misdiagnosed as not working, because the film advance lever does not directly drive the shutter setting mechanism: a film must be in the camera for the shutter to tension.

Winding the drive cog (found at the top/middle of the camera when the back is open) with your finger/thumb has the same effect as a film would, and cocks the shutter (listen for a couple of clicks).