I purchased a bag full of camera equipment from my friend Kris about a month ago. This bag contained a 1970’s-model Pentax camera with three lenses; an electronic flash and other accoutrements; and a Voigtländer Vitrona rangefinder camera, circa 1964.
I came to discover that the Vitrona is not, in fact, a true rangefinder, as it has none of the fancy double-image focusing help in the viewfinder. Basically, it’s entirely manual, without even a built-in light meter. (It does, however, include possibly the world’s first built-in electronic flash, powered by an unwieldy pistol grip full of batteries.) Testing this camera involved testing my knowledge and perception of exposure, light, and distance. Overall, I believe I fared average, as the above photos were the best of the roll. Thanks to the latitude and forgiveness of print film, only a few images came out garishly overexposed.
The Voigtländer appears to work perfectly, although it could certainly use a cleaning. It probably won’t be the most used of my collection, honestly, just because of the massive amount of mental calculation required to take each photograph. A more seasoned photographer (or one with a light meter on hand) could probably squeeze off shots with this camera a lot easier than I. Any problems with the test roll can be attributed to operator error.
From this particular roll, it’s hard for me to tell if the Vitrona has any particular strong suit — that is, any specific application for which I’d say, “You know, I should take the Voigtländer with me to [X event].” For example, my Olympus would come with for any low-light situations (where once I would have brought my Lomo). The images do seem to have a classic kind of feel to them… I guess the overexposed parts and the out-of-focus sections (whether on purpose or not) kind of appeal to me. This might be a good camera for a day at the art fair, or something like that. I might give that a shot.
Overall, not my favorite camera of the collection, but I do like it. It puts out distinctive photos, as do all my cameras, and it has a built-in flash that was way ahead of its time. Keen.
P.S. – I got the photos from the Pentax (the other camera in the Bag O’ Fun™) developed by Wal*Mart one-hour developing, before I agreed to buy the camera. I should scan in one or two of the better photos from that roll and post them here, as well.