Voigtländer Vito C
5 frames with...

5 Frames, Scale Focusing and a Voigtländer Vito C – By Marcus Harris

September 10, 2020

Does anyone really need to read another article who’s main frame of reference is lockdown, pandemic and global economic chaos. Well, me neither, but this is all we have to talk about at the moment. So you have my apologies and my musings…

If there is one silver lining to the age of social distancing it’s the massive improvement I’ve experienced with my ability to scale focus. It’s no exaggeration to say that I was absolutely terrible at it prior to about April 2020, but it’s incredible how quickly you can work out the difference between one and two metres when it’s a matter of life and death.

I suppose that brings me nicely on to my lockdown GAS… There was a Pentax MX which was stolen within about a month of buying it, a beautiful SX70 for instant film gratification, as well as a Polaroid Spectra who’s bundles of dead film turned out to not quite be the bargain of the century, there was the half-frame Olympus EF in a bid to spend less on film and then along came the Voigtländer Vito C, which was just GAS in its purest form. Totally unnecessary, unwarranted and unexplained.

I can’t resist a camera that will disappear into a pocket and disappear this does. The Vito C is seriously no bigger than a pack of fags and has exactly four controls… A shutter (with a very satisfying response), film advance, ISO settings of 25-1000 and, my Achilles heel, scale focusing.

So why the Minox inspired Vito C? I’ve never been tempted by Minox cameras for the precise reason that they’re so small and lack rangefinders, but there was something that got me about this design. The high degree of functionalism, simplicity and the Voigtländer name defiantly emblazoned across the lens cover despite ostensibly being a Balda C35 minus the textured plastic. In fact this is something that Nigel Haycock discusses in his five frames with this very same camera.

Once unfolded the deliciously contrasty 38mm Skopar f/2.8 lens doesn’t have the short throw of something like the Olympus XA, focusing moves through 0.9, 1, 1.2, 1.5, 2, 3 and 6m before reaching infinity. In my clumsy hands, that’s a lot of room for error but somehow I seem to have been rewarded for my sins.

Have I miraculously become much better at scale focusing or are the lack of controls on the Voigtländer blessing me with smaller apertures and more forgiving depth of field? I honestly don’t know the answer, mostly because the Vito gives you no way of knowing what it’s doing. It’s taken me more than long enough to work this stuff out and, of course, it’s not worth the price of a pandemic, but it’s certainly gone some way to making me think more spatially.

Keep Your Distance

Here’s five of the highlights, shot on Ilford HP5. Thanks for reading, thanks to Hamish for having me again, thanks to Analogue Films for the always excellent developing and stay safe.

Find more of my 35mm images @entitledtodance.

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  • Reply
    September 10, 2020 at 8:41 pm

    Thank you for sharing,
    I think you are too humble when it comes to scale focusing. The photos look great.
    While not a Voitlander, I have several versions of Minox cameras, and love them for the same reasons you do

    • Reply
      Marcus Harris
      September 11, 2020 at 10:37 am

      Thank you! I’m really tempted to get my hands on a Minox now, which is an unfortunate new form of GAS I hadn’t yet explored!

  • Reply
    September 10, 2020 at 11:55 pm

    ah 😉 thank you so much. One article about film camera …;-) I LOVE THAT. There is so many websites for digital.
    Nice camera, I have a Contax T. I will try to get one to compare, Voigtlander does not make bad things in the past and now.
    Thanks for sharing and sharing about film …;-)

    • Reply
      Marcus Harris
      September 11, 2020 at 10:36 am

      I would love a Contax T but unfortunately they’re so hard to come by for a reasonable price. But definitely on my wish list!

  • Reply
    Matthias Rabiller
    September 11, 2020 at 7:48 am

    Nice write-up and features. I’ve been collecting many of these pocket 35mm lately – Cosina CX-2, Minox 35, Olympus XA2, Ricoh FF-1, Revue 35 (rebadged Chinon Bellami) and Voigtländer Vito C. Each has its pros and cons, the XA2 is my favorite, its big bright viewfinder with distance scale make the Voigtländer second. Maybe I should put together a little comparative review one of these days.

    • Reply
      Marcus Harris
      September 11, 2020 at 10:36 am

      Thanks! Yeah I have a Cosina CX-2 but it didn’t really agree with me and the photos I got from it were spectacularly poor so it’s been living in a drawer in exile since that day! The Voigtlander has replaced my Olympus XA as my pocket camera of choice, partly because it’s even more pocketable, a bit less fiddly and I suppose ultimately less valuable. Though I think it’s reached the level that I’d be devastated if I ever lost it!

  • Reply
    Kevin Thomas
    September 13, 2020 at 1:33 am

    Ok that’s cool – like my much-used Vito II’s younger brother 😁

  • Reply
    September 14, 2020 at 11:34 pm

    Thanks for the nob Marcus; seems you are nailing it with that camera. When you get it right with that camera it really delivers 🙂

    • Reply
      September 14, 2020 at 11:35 pm

      ooops that was supposed to say ‘Nod’

      • Reply
        Marcus Harris
        September 15, 2020 at 9:56 am

        Ha! Not at all mate, it’s a wonderful little camera. Got a couple more rolls and apart from trying to use it at 2am one night it still seems to be delivering great results for me!

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