Monday, November 17, 2014

Spotlight: Voigtländer Vitessa L

Last weekend at the Photorama camera show, I picked up a beautiful Voigtländer Vitessa L. The first Vitessa camera launched in 1950, and received many re-designs over the course of a decade. The model I picked up, the Vitessa L (1954), was the first Vitessa to feature a built-in selenium light meter. My Vitessa L has the more expensive 50mm F2 Ultron lens, but there was also a cheaper F2.8 Color-Skopar version available.

The Vitessa L all closed up and ready for transport

The Vitessa L has a strange, yet beautiful design. The first thing you notice about the camera is the large plunger sticking out the top of the body. When pushed down, this plunger advances the film and cocks the shutter. It's a pretty cool and unique alternative to the typical knob or lever advance system that's common on most cameras. The lens is of the fold-out variety, with leatherette-covered barn-doors protecting it while it's retracted. Build quality is top notch; the Vitessa L feels nice and solid in your hands.

The awesome depth-of-field scale
The Vitessa L is a 35mm rangefinder camera. You focus the lens with a smallish dial on the back of the camera, rather than twisting the lens barrel. There's a crazy cool depth-of-field scale on top of the body to help you determine how much of your scene will be in focus. The viewfinder window is a bit small, but the rangefinder patch is nice and contrasty. There are no framelines, however, which makes composition a bit difficult.

I took my Vitessa out with me around my neighborhood, as well as through a nature preserve in Highland Park. Here are my results:

Thanks for looking!