Manufactured circa 1964, the Voigtlander Vitoret L is a viewfinder camera for 35mm. It features a 50mm f2.8 Color Lanthar lens with a Prontor 1/300 shutter. A coupled Selenium meter reads on the top plate of the camera; adjusting shutter speed or aperture moves another needle to match it.
Focus is via distance markings on the lens. There is no RF or other mechanism to assist.
I’ve loaded a roll of Ilford PanF+ 50ASA for the week. As I’m notoriously bad at estimating distances, I will be using my BLIK rangefinder a lot.
The Vito B remains one of my favorite small viewfinders. The controls have a light, mechanical feel to them. It has full manual control and no meter, so it takes a bit of thought to get the best images from it.
(I’m a bit disappointed in the color of this roll, but I rushed it. I took it to the local 1-hour place instead of using my regular lab. I always end up regretting that decision.)
I haven’t forgotten Week 62, I just haven’t had the time to develop them yet.
I do love this one taken inside the lodge, but I missed the focus slightly.
The Bessamatic is a mechanical joy to shoot. I just love the sound it makes, a symphony of springs, cogs, and levers all performing their magic. I should record video of it for the blog, but I’m just not a video guy.
Using it one handed was a bit difficult; that’s not the camera’s fault. After the mountain, my next opportunity to shoot was a cold, snowy day. I headed to Plum Island on a whim, but a squall whipped up. Most of those shots were disappointing. I did find this though:
A snow cat at the airport! A Pisten Bully trail groomer, in fact, parked across the street in an icy lot. I have no idea how long it has been there or how many times I’ve passed without noticing it. The orange cab stood out nicely in the snow.
Being all mechanical with a Selenium meter, the Voigtlander didn’t care a bit about the cold. I need to bring it out again when the weather is better.
As week 53 marks the beginning of a new year, I’ve decided to return to my roots.
Introduced in 1959, the Bessamatic was Voigtlander’s answer to the Zeiss Ikon Contaflex and the Kodak Retina Reflex.The Deluxe version debuted in 1962. It is a heavy, leaf-shutter SLR with interchangeable lenses and a Selenium match needle meter. Aperture and shutter speed are mechanically linked; once an exposure is set, changing one value will automatically adjust the other accordingly. Speed and aperture are both adjusted on the lens barrel, and a periscope above the light meter cell makes them both visible in the viewfinder window. An ingenious system of tabs on the lens barrel moves to indicate depth of field as the aperture is adjusted.
I have a long history with this camera, as it was (and still technically is) my father’s. Dad was drafted by Uncle Sam and sent to Germany in the early 1960’s. While there, he bought a full Voigtlander camera outfit and set about to document his travels. Throughout his time overseas, he periodically shipped slides home to Mom and the rest of his family.
Growing up, the Bessamatic was the Big Camera in the family. It came out for family portraits and special occasions. Later Dad entrusted it to me for a high school photography class, and it is now the core of my camera collection. Although the 50 year old leather case is showing its age, the 35, 50, and 135mm lenses and original Vivitar flash are still going strong.
Kodachrome may be long gone, but in honor of it’s history I’ve loaded a roll of Fujichrome Velvia 50 for the week.
I learned a long time ago that my internal balance is off slightly. Most of my images tilt a few degrees to the right and have to be corrected in post processing. The Bessa 66 taught me that I also cannot estimate distance well.
The zone focus system means you either have to measure or guess, then set the appropriate distance on the camera. I didn't guess very well. In wide aperture, low depth of field situations, my images are out of focus.
Shooting the folder is still fun. It's a sure way to attract attention in public. There is no mistaking it for a modern digital. The controls are a bit clumsy, with three levers and a focus ring arranged on the lens. Winding the film is a fully manual experience with no mechanical stops, making it easy to overwind. In spite of the sport finder, I don't think I could ever shoot this camera rapidly.
The shutter fires with a satisfying click, accompanied by a bit of clockwork whirring at the slower speeds.
Introduced in 1938, the Bessa 66 is a nice little German folder. It takes 12 6x6cm exposures on 120 roll film. Mine is the deluxe version with an additional sport finder. A button on the bottom releases the bed, and the shutter release folds out from the side when the lens is extended. Mine features a Vaskar 75mm f4.5 lens. Focus is manual with no rangefinder, with distance called out in feet on the focus ring. There are cheat symbols at around 11 feet for photographing people and 30 feet for larger scenes. Shutter speed is set by rotating a ring behind the focus ring, and aperture is a small lever on the side. Another small lever manually cocks the shutter, and there is no double exposure prevention. Film is advanced by winding a simple knob, with a shutter to cover the red window and prevent fogging the film. A rotating lever on the bottom of the case serves both to lock the film door and when rotated provides a convenient table top stand.
When folded, the Bessa 66 is about the size of a paperback book. It can be carried in a shirt pocket, although its 530g weight means you need a sturdy shirt.
Mine came via eBay with a nice metal takeup spool installed. I've replaced it with a modern plastic one so I don't lose it at the photo lab. I'll save it for developing my own black & white. I've loaded a roll of Ektar for the coming week.