Dad’s Voigtlander Vitomatic II

It is the mid-1960s.  Dad is coming through the door – home from work at last.  Hanging from his neck he has two cameras – a Rolleiflex for people pictures and his trusty Voigtlander Vitomatic II for practically everything else.  In his hands are two cases.  One for his papers and the other for his film paraphernalia: leather-cased Weston light meter, bright mustard-yellow boxes of medium format and 35mm film, lens brushes, filters, cable release. He places the cameras and cases carefully in the hallway.  They are sacred tools not to be touched by children.

Sixty years later, I have brought the Voigtlander out of hibernation.  It is a phenomenal piece of overbuilt West German engineering which, though small, weighs the better part of 900 grams.  The viewfinder is large and clear and the dual-image rangefinder easy to master.   There is a built-in selenium-cell light meter which is still working perfectly.  (The secret is to keep it covered when not in use.)  The lens is a fixed Voigtlander Color-Skopar f2.8 50 mm with a Prontor SLK-V shutter.

These cameras were highly-prized by serious amateurs in their day.  And well-kept Vitomatics in good condition currently appear to be overlooked, making them excellent value if you fancy trying a quality rangefinder and want to build up your biceps.

When on holiday Dad liked to get up early and steal away to catch the golden hour before breakfast.   I did the same to take these pictures of places he knew and loved along the coast at Bosham Harbour and Selsey just south of Chichester, England.

The stock is Kodak Gold 200.

The header image and the final photo were taken by my father. The first is me on my go-cart and the second shows my younger sister beating me at draughts, again!

You can see my website here.

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15 thoughts on “Dad’s Voigtlander Vitomatic II”

  1. Thanks for a joyful story, Graham. My dad was not at least interested in photography so there were no family cameras to be inherited other than my mum’s little automatics with which she shot wonderful photos.
    I bought my Vitomatic off Ebay because the one I got from a friend of my father in law was broken plus I dropped it with the base plate latch open.The replacement sems to be working fine (first roll still loaded) but I’m optimistic. Meter works, too.
    Again thank you for an interesting read and best regards
    Martin in Austria

  2. Charles Detheridge

    Doubley delighted to see your article on 35MM, I have a Voightlander purchased before Covid sentsecondhand prices skyward, I understand what you mean about the weight. Your pictures of Bosham Harbour stirred some very old memories for me, of me and my Grandpa on holiday there, looking at cars that had forgotten about the incoming tide, and similarly: some very aggressive swans……55+ years ago!

  3. Thank you for an interesting and nostalgic article, Graham. I had a Singer Gazelle very like the Minx in the background of your first shot. Rootes cars of that era were quality items and I have had several. My first quality camera was a Vito IIa and my last Voigtländer a Vitomatic IIa, now passed on to someone for a new life. My Vitomatic was like new when it left me, like your II, fully functional and so heavy!

    Your identity photo looks like a Zorki Va in your hands, another bit of nostalgia for me. I bought it for £12 back in the 1970s.

    Thanks again.

    1. Our neighbour had a Hillman Minx and every Saturday he would wash it thoroughly before carefully applying Simonize wax. People used to spend time taking care of things they valued. The camera in my profile picture is a Zorki 4 which came from Ukraine before the current war. I sometimes reflect on what pictures it might have taken in its previous life.

  4. My parents were both keen photographers and each had two cameras – a medium format for prints and a 35mm for slides. They didn’t have a Vitomatic, but they did own two Voigtländers between them. My father’s print camera was a 6×9 folding Bessa, and my mother’s slide camera was a Vito B. (The others were a Kodak Retina IIa and an Agifold.) I still have their cameras and occasionally use the Bessa.


  5. Nice, I love my Vitomatic; it’s not my father’s, that is a Vito B which I also love. The Vitomatic is a great travel camera compact, not that heavy (compared to many of my other cameras and gives excellent results

  6. Daniel Castelli

    Not a Voigtlander, but I have my Dad’s Argus C-3 (aka: the brick). I take her out (yes, it’s a she) for an occasional roll of HP-5. These our our legacy cameras and must be treated with care and respect.

  7. I just got my dad’s Vitomatic II back from an eight month restoration. It’s got a nearly-finished roll of Portra in it, and I cannot wait to see the results. I mentioned it to him, sheepishly admitting I’d spent way more than what the thing was worth to have it fixed. He reminded me what that camera had meant to him, saying it had been around the world with him. Dad bought it in Hong Kong while on Navy shore leave in 1959. He said he shot a lot of Kodachrome with it back in the day. Just to hear him get wistful about the experiences he had lugging that thing around made it all worthwhile.

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