Being in photography for more than 50 years, I’ve had the pleasure of using many cameras. For years, whenever I wanted to shoot with a twin-lens reflex camera, my camera of choice was always my Rolleiflex. Recently, a Voigtlander Superb became available to me, and the price was fantastic, so I immediately jumped on the offer.
The seller stated this Voigtlander Superb was in excellent working condition and also had the original case. Voigtlander made the Superb with two different lenses. The rarer and challenging to find 7.5cm (75mm) f3.5 Heliar, the one I owned previously. The more common lens is the 7.5cm (75mm) f3.5 Skopar, which this camera had. When I received the camera, there was no mold, mildew, or fungus on the lens, and indeed the camera was in fine working condition. Now it was time to take the camera out for a spin.
Using the Voigtlander Superb
It was time to get myself familiar with the Voigtlander Superb again. Holding the camera is very comfortable. Popping up the viewfinder, I immediately noticed there’s a bubble level in the upper right-hand corner. I liked that. The magnifier is held in place by a small clip, so it doesn’t pop up when you press on the front of the hood like the Rolleiflex’s do.
At least mine didn’t. You focus the Voigtlander Superb by sliding a bar on the bottom of the taking lens. The focusing is very similar to the Minolta Autocord. I prefer this method instead of the focus knob on the side of the camera like the Rolleiflex. It allows me to keep my hands under the camera when focusing. The viewing lens points down when you focus closer, which corrects for parallax (as visible in the image at the top). That’s fantastic.
Looking at the shutter speeds around the Compur shutter, I noticed they are reverse. Then I noticed a small prism/mirror right next to the lens. Holding the camera and looking down allows you to see the shutter speed set in the prism/window. That’s genius. The shutter speeds go from 1/250 to 1 sec, along with ‘T’ and ‘B.’ The aperture settings are f3.5-22 and on a small dial to the right of the viewing and taking lens. When you’re looking down from the top of the camera, you can see the shutter speeds and aperture settings without tilting the camera up to view them. You can easily see the focus distance, which you can see on the top of the viewing lens.
Here’s where the Voigtlander Superb gets fun, loading the film. The Voigtlander Superb has a horizontal loading and transport system. If not all other Twin Lens Reflex cameras, the majority use a vertical loading and transport system. On the left side of the camera is an angled bar that attaches to a metal nub on the back. Lifting the bar from the nub and opening it to the left exposes the take-up spool on the camera. Opening the film back to the right reveals where you load the film in the camera. Put the fresh roll of film on the right, and pull the leader across the shutter area to the take-up spool on the left.
Just above the film chamber is an advance lever. Wind the lever to advance the film. Close the back. On the right side of the Voigtlander Superb is the red window. There is an inside cover for the window. It’s opened/closed by the square knob above the red window. I watch until the frame number reaches #1. Then I close the window. Above the square knob is a switch. This switch resets the frame counter, which you can see on the back of the camera. The film advance lever doesn’t automatically stop at the next frame, so you need to advance it until you see the frame number, which is five cranks.
I took the Voigtlander Superb out a couple of times this week. Here are some of the images from the camera.
The Voigtlander Superb is an 80-year-old gem of a camera. It’s easy to load and unload. The ability to see the shutter speed and aperture settings when looking down on the camera is excellent. I enjoy the bubble level in the viewfinder, so I know my camera is level. It fits nicely in my hand and isn’t too heavy. The viewfinder is just a bit dark, but nothing to deter me from using it in the future. I believe I’ll send it in to have them put in a new mirror. The only thing I can think that’s a downfall of the camera is the camera only shoots as high as 1/250. I LOVE the parallax correction from the lenses.
Another oddity is when I processed the film, and the images are across the film sideways instead of running top to bottom. It just kind of surprised me, but putting the negatives in my sleeves, they work better that way. If you run across one for a reasonable price, buy it, and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. It’s an excellent camera.
I truly appreciate you taking the time to read my post. It does mean a lot to me. If you have comments or concerns about the article or the camera, please drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you. You can find more of my 35mmc reviews here, and more still on my website here.
Contribute to 35mmc for an Ad-free Experience
There are two ways to experience 35mmc without the adverts:
Paid Subscription - £2.99 per month and you'll never see an advert again! (Free 3-day trial).
Content contributor - become a part of the world’s biggest film and alternative photography community blog. All our Contributors have an ad-free experience for life.
Sign up here.
6 thoughts on “Voigtlander Superb – My New Favorite TLR – By Dan Cuny”
Made in Germany in 1940, eh? It does sound like a good camera, and I see several of them on eBay
Great article, excellent photography! A pleasure.
A working Superb is indeed a superb camera, producing images today that stand up well with more modern designs with coated lenses.
De-silvering mirrors do seem to be more of an issue and for most the viewing experience may be an issue. But beyond this wonderful images exhibiting the classic quality of a bygone age can be expected. Even with the Skopar lens, a leader in its own right, the Superb has seen significant price rises over the past few years as it has attracted both user and collector interest. It is not unknown for the tiny prism to be lost, so always do make sure it is there.
For anyone interested in a more in depth review, Mike Eckman has an excellent one on his site. Well worth a read.
Awesome, nice to see someone else loving their Superb. I have one as well, and it too is my favorite TLR to shoot with… not the fastest or most efficient… but it does inspire me like no other camera. I’ll be posting a video about it later tonight on my YouTube channel, check it out!
Thanks for sharing, another owner and lover here… I need to use mine more than I have. I had my mirror replaced when I got it CLA’d a tear or two ago and it’s wonderful to use. I am in the process of making a sort of half-case for it that I can shoot and have it protected; it will also help with the small light leak that I have been unable to resolve.
What an interesting camera. I might keep my eye out for one of those.