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Voigtländer Vitessa

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The Vitessa was an innovative 35mm folding rangefinder camera made by Voigtländer in the 1950s. The folding bed was replaced by a barn-door assembly, the focusing was operated by the user's right thumb via a wheel on the back of the top plate, with a distance dial (and depth-of-field scale) set into the top plate. The film advance and shutter cocking were operated with a large plunger rod pointing out of the top plate, that could be retracted when the camera was folded.

It suffered a number of small variations during its production. The very first models did not have strap lugs nor automatic parallax correction. The most expensive models had a 50mm f/2 Ultron lens, the others a 50mm f/3.5 or f/2.8 Color-Skopar. They all had a Compur-Rapid or Synchro Compur shutter to 1/500. The later models had an uncoupled selenium meter.

Vitessa shows a superb, almost Leica M3 quality fit and finish, uses Exposure Value settings, a system popular in the 1950's. Its design and mechanics are unique in its class, like Voigtlander Prominent's unique design. Voigtlander Vitessa L is the most elegant 35mm Folder camera. The Vitessa range has several versions and models. There are several nicknames of Vitessa, eg. in German it was called the Leuchtturm, means The Lighthouse named after the unique plunger rod.

The unique front covers are usually referred to as the "barn-doors".

At the end of the 1960s, Zeiss Ikon / Voigtländer produced a series of compact 35mm cameras called the Vitessa 500, and some 126 film cameras called the Vitessa 126, that are both discussed elsewhere.

Voigtländer Vitessa modelsEdit

There are four principal Vitessa models.[1] [2]

Voigtländer Vitessa AEdit

  • Produced between 1950-54
  • There are 5 versions

Vitessa A version 1Edit

  • Shutter: Compur-Rapid 1-1/500
  • Flash PC socket on the lens, old type
  • Back cover: not fully removable, film pressure plate connected to body, not to back cover
  • Removable accessory shoe
  • Strap lugs: none


Vitessa A version 2Edit

  • Filter: screw thread
  • Manual parallax correction
  • Shutter: Compur-Rapid
  • Flash PC socket on the lens, old type
  • Back cover: removable and with pressure plate connected to it
  • Cold shoe: none
  • Strap lugs: none

Photo in Corsopolaris

Vitessa A version 3Edit

  • Parallax correction become automatic
  • Flash PC socket on the lens, old type
  • Shutter Synchro Compur
  • Cold shoe: none
  • Strap lugs

Photo in Corsopolaris

Vitessa A version 4Edit

  • Fixed accessory shoe
  • Flash PC socket on the barn door, modern type

Photo in Corsopolaris

Vitessa A version 5Edit

  • Synchro-Compur leaf shutter, 1-1/500
  • Back cover: removable
  • Strap lugs
  • Cold shoe

Voigtländer Vitessa N Edit

  • Introduced in 1954
  • There are 2 versions
  • Filter: bayonet mount
  • Synchro-Compur LVS shutter
  • EV 3-18
  • Self-timer
  • Flash PC socket on the barn door
  • Automatic parallax correction
  • Strap lugs
  • Fixed accessory shoe
  • Lenses Ultron 50mm f/2 and Color-Skopar 50mm f/3,5

Vitessa N version 1Edit

  • Speeds ring & aperture ring not coupled
  • External rangefinder window square

Photo in Corsopolaris

Vitessa N version 2Edit

  • Speeds ring & aperture ring coupled

Voigtländer Vitessa LEdit

  • Produced between 1954-57
  • There are 5 versions
  • Bayonet filter mount
  • Synchro-Compur LVS shutter 1-1/500
  • Self-timer
  • Flash PC socket on the barn door
  • Automatic parallax correction
  • Strap lugs
  • Fixed accessory shoe
  • Incorporated meter ABCDEF ASA 6-200 (last models BCDEFG ASA 12-400)

Vitessa L version 1Edit

Vitessa L version 1 specificationsEdit

  • Lens: Ultron 50mm f/2.0, six element, bayonet filter mount
    • Aperture: f/2 - f/22, setting: dial and manual setting lever on the lens-shutter barrel
    • Focus range: 3.3 - 60 feet (1-18m) +inf
    • Focus distance and DOF scale: a rotating dial when focusing, on the top plate
  • Focusing: match the rangefinder images in the finder
    • Via a thumb wheel on back right side of the top plate
  • Shutter: Synchro-Compur leaf shutter, speeds: 1-1/500 +B
  • Aperture and speeds are coupled and turning the speeds ring also turns the aperture setting
  • Exposure meter: Selenium cell
    • Flat chequered (square) window
    • Based on the Exposure Value, needle window on the right of the top plate
    • Metering range 6-200 ASA (EV 2-19)
    • Exposure setting: after reading your film's ASA's corresponding letter from the plate which shows A to F letters near the needle window
    • Set this letter to EV number dial in the window turning the knob on the back far right side of the top plate,
    • Then read the EV that matches with the needle and apply this EV number to the EV numbers dial by turning the speeds ring for the correct exposure
    • If the EV is out of the speeds range, turn and set again the aperture manually by lifting its lever to fit exact EV
    • EV numbers dial: accordig to combined aperture-speed settings is on front of the lens-shutter barrel, aperture setting lever points them
  • Cocking device: a long Combi-plunger rod, also winds the film, on left side of the top plate,
    • Always depress the Combi-plunger as far as it will go and then let it come out completely, could be retracted when the bellows-doors closed, push down until it clicks
  • Frame counter: advance type, manual setting when the back cover removed
    • The frame count is in a window on left front of the camera,
  • Shutter release: on the top plate, right side, w/ cable release socket
  • View finder: coupled viewfinder/rangefinder, Parallax corrected
  • Re-wind: a folding lever on the bottom plate, right side
    • Its shaft has a small red line on it., and must rotate once when advancing the film
  • Re-wind release: a small knob, on the bottom plate
  • Flash PC socket: on the left side of the bellows-door, synchro. all speeds,
    • X and M settings via the MXV lever and dial on the lens-shutter barrel
  • Self-timer: setting via MXV lever and dial on the lens-shutter barrel, V for the self-timer
  • Opening the bellows-doors: pressing the shutter release, cocking plunger will raise also
    • Closing the bellows: pushing simutaneously onto the red semi-lunar pressure marks on front of the lens, on 12 and 6 o'clock
  • There is a small folding supporter piece for standing straight of the camera, just beneath the right door
  • Back cover: removable, completely detaches with bottom plate and front plates of the body, opens via a folding latch on center of the bottom plate, turns 90 degrees
  • Others: Memory dial; Cold-shoe; Tripod socket 1/4inch; Strap lugs
  • Body: Metal; weight: 691g

Vitessa L version 2Edit

  • Shutter: Synchro-Compur 1-1/500 (on all versions of Vitessa L)
  • Light meter's window texture: bubble
  • Metering range: 6-200 ASA (EV 2-19)

Photo in Corsopolaris

Vitessa L version 3Edit

  • Light meter's window texture: bubble
  • Metering range: 12-400 ASA

Vitessa L version 4Edit

  • Lens: Color-Skopar f/2.8
  • Light meter's window texture: flat chequered
  • Metering range: 6-200 ASA (EV 2-19)

Photo in Corsopolaris

Vitessa L version 5Edit

  • Light meter's window texture: flat chequered
  • Metering range: 6-200 ASA (EV 2-19)

Voigtländer Vitessa TEdit

The folding Vitessa was replaced by the rigid Vitessa T. It was based on the folding Vitessa models, and retained their basic body but without the barn-door, their rangefinder, uncoupled selenium meter and the plunger rod advance mechanism. But the Vitessa T had a rigid body, and interchangeable lenses in front of a Synchro-Compur leaf shutter. Focusing is by a ring around the lens, as usual but unlike the folding Vitessa that have a wheel operated by the right thumb.

  • There are 3 versions
  • Introduced in 1957
  • Lenses: Interchangeable, Vitessa T original lens range was quite limited
    • Color-Skopar 50/2.8 standard lens
    • Skoparet 35/3.4 wide angle lens
    • Dynaret 100/4.8 medium tele lens
    • Super-Dynaret 135/4 tele lens
    • But all the lenses made for the Braun Super Colorette can be used on the Vitessa T, like Steinheil Cassarit 50/2.8
  • Shutter: Synchro-Compur leaf shutter 1-1/500
  • Self-timer
  • Flash PC socket: on front of the camera
  • Automatic parallax correction
  • Sometimes with strap lugs sometimes not
  • Cold shoe
  • Incorporated meter ABCDEF ASA 6-200 (last models BCDEFG ASA 12-400)


Notes and referencesEdit

  1. In this page Vitessa series classification, typing and info are according to Massimo Bertacchi[1]
  2. These Vitessa models are also called type 125, 133, 140 and 134 in p.964 of McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 12th Edition, 2005-2006. USA, Centennial Photo Service, 2004. ISBN 0-931838-40-1 (hardcover). ISBN 0-931838-41-X (softcover).

Links Edit

General links Edit

In English:

In German:

In French:

In Japanese:

Repair notes Edit

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