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The Vitessa is an innovative 35mm folding rangefinder camera made by Voigtländer in the 1950s. The folding bed of earlier folders is replaced by a barn-door assembly. The focusing is 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, which cocks the shutter automatically, is operated with a large plunger rod sticking out of the top plate, that can be retracted when the camera is folded.

A number of variations were made to the camera 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 have a Compur-Rapid or Synchro-Compur shutter with speeds 1 - 1/500 second, plus 'B', with the EV system which links the aperture and shutter scales, so that once a combination of these has been set, the camera can rapidly be moved between equivalent exposure combinations; a system popular in the 1950s. The later models have an uncoupled selenium meter.

The Vitessa shows a superb quality fit and finish, Its design and mechanics are unique in its class, like Voigtländer Prominent's unique design. Voigtländer Vitessa L is the most elegant 35mm Folder camera. The Vitessa range has several versions and models.

The unique barn-doors[1] led to the camera being nick-named 'Scheunentor' (barn) in Germany. There are other nicknames of Vitessa, e.g. 'Lighthouse', after the unique plunger rod.

As with other Voigtländer camera names, the name 'Vitessa' was reused later. At the end of the 1960s, Zeiss Ikon/Voigtländer made a series of compact 35mm cameras called the Vitessa 500 and 126 film cameras called the Vitessa 126.

Voigtländer Vitessa models

There are four principal Vitessa models.[2] [3]

Voigtländer Vitessa A

  • Produced between 1950-54
  • There are 5 versions

Vitessa A version 1

  • 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 2

  • 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

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Vitessa A version 3

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

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Vitessa A version 4

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

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Vitessa A version 5

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

Voigtländer Vitessa N

  • 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 1

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

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Vitessa N version 2

  • Speeds ring & aperture ring coupled

Voigtländer Vitessa L

  • 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 1

Vitessa L version 1 specifications

  • 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

Vitessa L version 2

  • 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)

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Vitessa L version 3

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

Vitessa L version 4

  • 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 5

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

Voigtländer Vitessa T

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 references

  1. The 1937 Glunz Ingo also had folding barn doors.
  2. In this page Vitessa series classification, typing and info , according to Massimo Bertacchi
  3. 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).


General links

In English:

In German:

In French:

Repair notes