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Film Camera Review, Voigtländer Vito B 35mm Viewfinder Film Camera

Voigtländer Vito B 35mm Viewfinder Film Camera
A classic 1954 vintage, very well-designed, elegant, compact, and handy 35mm viewfinder film camera.

The Vito B, a classic vintage 35mm viewfinder film camera, was the first rigid Vito produced after the folding Vito I, II, and III series. The Vito B was a very well-designed camera, and just as well, elegant, compact, and handy. It was first introduced in 1954 Photokina and went through a series of model iterations before the production run ended in 1959.

As found on the Vito II and other Voigtlander classics, the camera was also acclaimed for its high-quality and semi-legendary Color-Skopar lens. Two variations of the lenses were fitted to the Vito B, an F2.8, and an F3.5. Vito Bs are also fitted with either a 4-speed Pronto shutter with speeds of 1/200, 1/100, 1/50, 1/25 second and B or an 8-speed Prontor-SVS shutter with speeds of 1/300, 1/100, 1/50, 1/25, 1/10, 1/5, 1/2, 1-second and B.

Voigtländer Vito B, View

The initial version of the fully manual Vito B came with a small Newton finder with 0.7x magnification. The low-profile top plate was replaced, around 1957, by a newer version that came with a larger Albada-type finder and larger top housing. The finder provides a natural-sized image at 1x magnification and comes with bright frame lines and parallax marks.

Though the finder update makes the camera a better choice in the practicality of use, many enthusiasts and camera collectors feel that the later version is rather top-heavy and the design update misses out on the compactness and intent of the original design.

Basic Camera Features

Though elegant with its simplicity, and unique with its design features, the Vito B may not always be what it seems. You might come up with a surprise or two when trying to the camera out. A case in point is the shutter system that is cocked only the film forward lever is advanced with film loaded in the camera. Without film being loaded, the shutter will not cock, which will make it seems that you have a non-working camera.

Voigtländer Vito B, View

To test the shutter release manually, that is without loading the camera with film, advance the sprocket wheel located just above the film frame window with your fingers until the film frame counter clicks to the next film frame number, then release the shutter.

Voigtländer Vito B, Front

A simple and elegant front, with only the viewfinder window and film frame counter populating the front of the top plane. The viewfinder window is quite a decent size when compared to the minuscule film frame counter window which is located just above the lens mount housing.

The lens itself is a three-tier cylindrical construction with the aperture ring front-most, followed by the focal distance ring, depth of field indicator ring, and, abutting the mount itself, the shutter speed selector. All three rings are index-marked.

Located just below the lens mount is the film counter setting ring which is used to reset the film counter number once the film is loaded and the camera is ready for shooting.

Models with the Prontor-SVS shutter come with the addition of an M- and X-synchronizing lever located on the upper right of the lens back of the shutter speed selector ring. The V-setting of the synchronizing lever is for self-timer shots.

Voigtländer Vito B, Top

The top plane of the camera is populated by the pop-up rewind knob and film indicator dial, which sits almost flush with the top of the camera, the accessory shoe, and the shutter release button.

The film rewind knob is 'hidden' until you pull back the reversing lever located on the left shoulder of the camera top. Pulling this lever back pops up the film rewind crank disengages the film transport system, doing away with the film rewind release button as seen on other film cameras.

Voigtländer Vito B,  Back

On the back of the top plane is the viewfinder eyepiece, and the rapid winder lever on the right of the film back. The lower part of the camera back is the plain film.

Voigtländer Vito B,  Bottom

Somewhat different from what we are used to with later editions of film cameras, the bottom plate of the camera is fitted with a hinged flap with the base plate hatch located at the end on the smaller end of the flap. The longer part of the flap carries the tripod bush towards its end, and located just under the lens mount housing is a toothed gear of the film counter setting ring.

Voigtländer Vito B,  Film Box

The film box is also a straightforward affair with the film canister chamber located on the left of the film box and the take-up spool on the right. The sprocket gear, the mechanism that cocks the shutter, is located above the film frame window.

Film Loading and Rewind

Film loading on the uniquely designed film back and bottom plate of the Vito B is actually very simple and straightforward. First, pull down and twist the arced locking tab on the camera button's flap end to unlock the flip door. This, in turn, will allow the rest of the bottom plate and the film back to open.

Insert the film canister into the canister chamber on the left of the film box, pull the film tab across the film back, crimp the end of the film tab slightly, and insert the crimped end into the slot on the take-up spool. Make sure that the film surface is properly tensioned across the film back, with the upper perforation aligned to the shutter cock sprocket gear, give the film forward lever a half wind to ensure that the film is properly loaded, and close the back.

Voigtländer Vito B,  Film Loading

With the back closed, forward the film advance lever until it click-stops, release the shutter, and advance the film forward again to bring the unexposed film to the shutter window. Next, reset the film frame counter to the number of frames on your film roll (normally 36 or 24) and you are all set to start shooting.

Voigtländer Vito B,  Top View

To rewind and unload the film at the end of the roll, first, pull back slightly the reverse lever located on the left shoulder of the camera body, and it will release and pop-ups the film rewind knob.

Rewind the film roll by turning the rewind knob clockwise until the film roll is wounded back completely into its canister (by falling or by referring to the reverse count of the film frame counter). Open the back, and take the film roll out for processing.

In Use

Going out for photoshoots with the Vito B is equally fun, and depending on your knowledge of manual camera settings, could be just as intriguing. If you have a light meter, use it, or rely on your knowledge of the Sunny 16 rule, and experiment.

Voigtländer Vito B

Camera settings are set manually via the aperture ring dial which is right up on the front of the lens, the focus distance dial, and the shutter speed selector dial, the closest to the camera's body. Set the aperture and shutter speed, measure or estimate the distance to your subject, and you are all set to go, the Vito B has one of the quietest camera shutters I have ever used.

As a quick reminder, a larger aperture setting means less depth of field but will let more light onto the film, while the opposite, using a smaller aperture opening will let less light onto the film, and give you more depth of field.

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