|Voigtländer Vito CL Deluxe|
The first Vito models were 35mm folding cameras, but by the mid-1950s, rigid-bodied versions were produced, initially at the same time as the last folding version - the Voigtlander Vito IIa. The first rigid-bodied Vito was designated the Vito B, and as production continued with the C series into the early 1960s, aspects of the Vito design became similar to many other manufacturers' rigid body cameras. The main changes from the B to the C series were the placing of the shutter release on the front rather than the top of the camera, a gently tapering top plate section, the removal of strap lugs and moving the PC socket for flash on the body. The Vito C cameras inherited a very similar rounded-end body style, large viewfinder and pop-up rewind knob. A further difference from the all-metal Vito B series was the use of a small amount of plastic in the construction - around the viewfinder and light meter windows and as finger grips on the aperture ring.
The C series had a large number of variants, the main differences being denoted by additional letters in the name: the 'L' in the name Vito CL stands for coupled (selenium) light meter. Other models had D for an uncoupled light meter, R for rangefinder and S in the last Vito models for coupled CDS light meters. These naming conventions were also compounded for the Vito CLR and CSR models. Additionally there were 'standard' and 'deluxe' variants denoting largely cosmetic differences (leatherette around the lens barrel, embossed rather than engraved lettering) - and also production variants within each particular model, including different lenses, Voigtländer's own Color-Skopar, Lanthar or Color-Lanthar. The expertly catalogued Voigtländer Camera Collection provides a full family tree of the various different Vito C models which has helped to identify my particular camera as a Vito CL Deluxe 1st model in every aspect except for the fact that the light meter needle does not show in the viewfinder. The serial number around the lens indicates a date of 1961 for its manufacture, and the camera has a '138/3' code inside the body - having only my Vito IIa for comparison, which has a 135/ code inside, I can't draw any conclusions as to how these model numbers are constructed.
|Voigtländer Vito CL Deluxe - side view showing ASA settings|
|Voigtländer Vito CL Deluxe - top plate showing light meter window|
My camera has Voigtländer's cheaper Lanthar lens; Vito cameras were also supplied with the more expensive Color-Skopar lenses, and also the Color-Lanthar lens (although the Lanthar on my camera doesn't have the 'Color-' prefix, it is clearly coated, so this may have just been a marketing term for later versions of the Lanthar). The 50mm lens focuses to just below 1 metre (probably to 3 feet in US/UK versions), and is provided with symbols in red for convenient distance settings: a circle for views, a triangle for groups and a dot for portraits. The Pronto-LK six-speed shutter on my camera works at all speeds except 1/15th and 'B', both of which stick open: the film advance lever has to be used to close the shutter (the self-timer also sticks, something I've come to expect from old Gauthier leaf shutters). All settings are designed to be read off the lens from above, in common with the meter window, although the depth of field markings are a little oblique from this position. Later versions had a meter window inside the viewfinder for convenience; the viewfinder has framing marks with a dot for centring the composition and parallax marks for shooting at close distances.
|Voigtländer Vito CL Deluxe - detail of lens and shutter|
|Voigtländer Vito CL Deluxe - showing frame counter|
|Voigtländer Vito CL Deluxe - detail showing rewind knob with film type reminder|
I shot a handful of films in Stockholm with the Vito CL - some APX 400, Adox Silvermax, and some Fuji Superia that I had picked up in Copenhagen. The fungus in the lens did result in problems with flare, showing up quite clearly under certain conditions, most obviously with large bright areas of the scene in the frame adjacent to shadow areas, such as the first image below. However, the photographs suggest that this was not as bad a problem as I had anticipated, and shots with a narrower range of tones within the frame are much less affected, such as the very last sample image in this post. Possibly this does mean that the lens imparts a lower contrast to all photographs taken with it, with the result that the lens looks as if it's from a much older camera.
|Sample image on Adox Silvermax 100 showing flare|
|Sample image on expired Fuji Superia 100 showing flare|
|Voigtländer Vito CL Deluxe with improvised lens cap|
|Sample image on Agfaphoto APX 400|
|Sample image with Adox Silvermax 100|
|Sample image on expired Fuji Superia 100|
|Sample image on expired Ilford Mark V|
Vito CL/CLR manual