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The Vito by Voigtländer was the first camera in the Vito series, and has retrospectively become known as the Vito I - because it was followed by the Vito II and finally by the Vito IIa. In the 1960s the name Vito was used for a series of fixed lens cameras such as Vito B and Vito C

There were two versions of the original Vito: the 1939 to 1940 pre-war, and the 1947 to 1950 post-war models.The obvious visual difference between the two versions is that the early models have a built-in yellow filter that hinges over the lens. Later models do not. The pre-war model had one lens/shutter combination (Skopar in a Compur shutter), while post-war cameras were made with several shutter options (Prontor II, Prontor S, and Compur-Rapid), plus an alternative Color Skopar lens.

The Vito is a camera that takes 135 size images, without necessarily using that film format: it appears that it was designed to use unperforated 35mm stock. This format used the same basic film stock as 135 film, but lacked the sprocket holes allowing a 40 × 28 mm negative size, but the Vito employed a mask to reduce the image to the standard 24 × 36 mm of 135 film. The film advance knob pulls upward to release the spool that receives the exposed film (roll films don't have a cassette to be re-wound into; they get wound on to a replaceable receiving spool). The Vito frame counter scale extends to 36, because the Vito also accepts 135 cassettes. The frame advancing mechanism is a roller with fine toothed cogs, which register the movement of the film, but do not engage with 135 film sprocket holes. The roller on the re-wind side releases the interlock (handy to know for test firing without a film).

The Vito has a tiny Newtonian viewfinder, a manually reset frame counter, and a separate shutter tensioning lever. Nothing is automated, except for the film transport interlock system, which prevents the shutter from being fired unless the film has been wound.

Peculiarities of this camera include a lever on the rear of the top plate, which in the down position allows the film to advance by one frame, and in the up setting permits rewind or unlimited film advance for winding a finished roll film on to the receiving spool. The up position also exposes a toothed wheel which is used to set the frame counter. The shutter release is a bar (rather than a button) on the top of the lens cover door. The camera has a T lock. When the shutter speed is set to B a sliding lever (which resembles an animal's paw) near to the far end of the shutter release locks the shutter release bar in its depressed position for long exposures.

Specifications (pre-war model)

  • Viewfinder: Simple Newtonian reverse telescope - shows image at about one half of natural size. No frame lines or parallax markings.
  • Focus: Manual, metric distance scale.
  • Lens: Skopar 50mm f/3.5 (4 elements in 3 groups). Uncoated.
    • Hinged filter holder (yellow), 31mm or 29mm push on filters depending on model
  • Close Focus: 1m.
  • Diaphragm: f3.5 to f16. Ten blades.
  • Shutter: Compur shutter (B, 1, 1/2nd, 1/5th, 1/10th, 1/25th, 1/50th, 1/100th, and 1/300th sec). No self-timer.
  • Cable Release: Standard threaded socket next to shutter release.
  • Size: 125 x 71 x 39mm (L x H x D) when closed.
  • Weight: 370g.

Vito camera family