Voigtländer Vito CL camera

Repairing & Revisiting a Voigtländer Vito CL – Here there be Dragons – By Has Gustafsson

“Here there be Dragons” – a text said to be found at the very edge of maps a long time ago when the world was still not explored. Said text, I guess, was to discourage seafaring explorers, and land-based alike, not to venture into the unknown, or at least be wary. However I suspect that it actually pushed them to do just that…

The old warning came to my mind when I decided to repair my dads old Voigtländer Vito CL. A comment on my “Voigtländer Vito CL – The Dad Cam” article made me feel that I had to get it working again, be there dragons or not.

A bit of working the internet turned up an old repair manual with some beautiful handmade isometric drawings which at a first glance had dragons all over. A wee dram, a couple of cups of Earl Grey (not at the same time though) and some frowning later the dragons turned out to be the cutest little kittens. All that was needed was two flat head screwdrivers, a couple of tweezers, some careful dismantling and meticulous sorting of the parts removed.

A disassembled camera
No dragons here, just  beautiful engineering

There were two problems to sort; the lens, or rather the shutter assembly, had some heavy play where it attaches to the mounting plate and the focus needed adjusting. None of the two turned out to be particularly difficult to fix. It took me about two hours from start to end. Disassembling the camera and tighten the lockring for the shutter assembly was very straightforward, the infinity focus adjustment took some reading to understand but once I had my head around it, it was sorted in 10 minutes.

Infinity focus adjusting cameras
Adjusting infinity focus
Voigtländer Vito CL camera
…and back together in one fully functioning piece.

I have to say that now that its back to working order it is a real joy to use. The hard part is guesstimating the focus distance. For wider shots stopped down, it’s no problem but close focusing fully open is a totally different story. It’ll take a great deal of  practice or a tape measure to get it right.

The light meter is what really amazed me. It is just so good. I threw some really tough scenes at it, see the images below, and it just nailed it. Every frame on the roll, except where I messed up myself, was perfectly exposed. I saw a glimpse of it, and wrote about it in the first article, when I tested the shutter speeds and they were all exposed exactly the same. I never imagined this though.

To sum it up; I will be using this gem on a daily basis from now on. The small size and ease of use makes for a perfect day-to-day camera. I feels really good to be able to continue using the same camera my dad used.

Two outdoors people by a lake
Friends in difficult lighting. No problem for the Vito CL. The white ghosting in the bottom left is from a buckled neg.
A kitchen table in front of a flowerladen window
Another tough job. Obviously handled well.
A stream in the forest
Somewhere out there is a couple of white-throated dippers.
Woman outdoors with a blanket
Waiting for the birds. Missed focus by about 1-2 dm. Short distance at full open with a viewfinder camera is a challenge…
Boot clad feet
…and more waiting…
A woman editing by a laptop
Editing. Again a really difficult scene where the light meter excels. My focus estimation; not so much.

If you want to see the dipper image I was editing, it’s here on Instagram or here on Vero.
I shot the test images on Ilford HP5+, developed in Fomadon R09 1+25, scanned with Plustek 8200i.
Little or no editing after scanning.

Find me on
Instagram (fotografhassegustafsson),
VERO (fotografhassegustafsson),
Grainery (swededreams)

or http://www.hassegustafsson.se (In Swedish only)

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7 thoughts on “Repairing & Revisiting a Voigtländer Vito CL – Here there be Dragons – By Has Gustafsson”

    1. Thanks. Actally I have three of them. One more CL, the DeLuxe version and a standard CLR and they all work. Amazed. 🙂

  1. Hello,
    I bought the Vito CL Deluxe 3rd version.
    When i removed the top, a small mirror glass fall fell. I think it”s for to reflecting needles exposure in viewfinder. Sad thing, i don’t know where were it before i removed the top of this camera.
    I wanted to fix something, i successes but this small mirror, i really can’t find where is his place.. It’s small mirror about 1cm x 5mm.

    1. I do have a CL Deluxe 3rd version but it is in perfect condition so I’ve never had to take it apart. I can check some day when I have the time and get back to you here.

      1. Hello, thanks for your reply.

        Really? We have the same model.

        I’m amazed how easy is to remove the top part. No parts depend of.

        I found out that behind side of the small mirror had some glues. So I think it was glued somewhere but didn’t find where.
        It would be nice if you could check where it came from. You are my last chance, i already love this Vito CL.
        I found a great site Buktus, and asked the right manual repair. I got this but it was only for the 1rst and 2nd models of CL Deluxe, which had different look of the lightmeter.

      2. I found where the mirror was glued!!!
        I took my time and start to think. There is an support (like bronze metal) 45° inclined. I took the mirror and fix some double tap and fixed it on the bronze support. And now I see the needle in the viewfinder. I’m so happy.

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