Voigtlander Vito CLR

This is a development of Voigtlander’s Vito range. That started as the folding 35 mm Vito of 1939. The folding Vitos were replaced by the rigid bodied Vito B in 1954 . The Vito B sired a small range – Vito BL, Vito BR and Vitomatic. Then in 1960 came the Vito C and a small range – Vito C, Vito CD, Vito Cl, Vito Cs, Vito CLR and Vito CSR and these were followed by the Vito Automatic (very different to the Vitomatic of 1957).

So, this is the third range of Vito cameras. The name, Vito CLR, tells us it is the C range with a Light meter and Rangefinder. Both the light meter and the rangefinder are coupled to the shutter. This camera cost, in 1965, £56-19-5 (in old British money, or £56.97 in new British money).

Voigtlander Vito CLR  (C) J. Margetts
As I usually do, I shall start with a physical description of the camera, followed by notes on using it.
My camera is the third iteration of the deluxe version. Deluxe means there are slight variations on the layout of the top plate and I get a ring of black leatherette around the base of the shutter housing. The camera is somewhat bigger than the Vito B – it measures 125 mm by 85 mm by 75 mm and weighs 730g. The main difference in appearance is that the camera now has a ‘standard’ hinged back fastened with a catch on the left-hand side. This is much easier to use than the Vito Bs somewhat strange back (although I like the Vito B’s back for its idiosyncrasy).
On the top plate on the left is a recessed rewind knob. This has a turnable film reminder which can be set to either blue or yellow – sunlight or artificial light? Just right of centre is an accessory shoe. As was usual at the time this camera was made, there are no flash contacts so this is a cold shoe. To the right of the accessory shoe is the window for the light meter. This is reflected into the viewfinder so you can set the exposure without removing the camera from your eye.
Top plate – (C) J. Margetts
On the back of the camera there are three items. On the left is the viewfinder eyepiece. This has bright-lines directly on the rear glass with parallax markings for close-ups. Below the viewfinder and slightly to the left is a lever to raise the rewind knob and free the film advance mechanism. To the right of the back is the film advance lever. This moves through 220 degrees as far as I can judge and advances the film one frame and cocks the shutter.
The front of the camera is a lot busier. At the top is a chrome rectangular bezel. This contains on the left (while looking at the lens) the light meter lens, above the shutter housing the rangefinder window and on the right the viewfinder window.
In the middle of the front, just off centre, is the shutter housing. This contains a Gauthier Prontor 500 LK shutter. The outer ring on the housing is the focussing ring. This ranges from 1 metre to infinity (my camera is marked in metres rather than feet which usually means a grey import but the body is clearly stamped ‘Made in West Germany’ so it is a factory import). This ring has three Happy Snapper settings at 1.3 m, 3.2 m, and 10 m. The last one is the hyperfocal distance at f5.6 and the middle one is the hyperfocal distance at f16. This lens is front cell focusing (only the front element of the lens moves when you turn the focus ring.
The next ring is the shutter speed ring – this adjusts from 1/15 to 1/500 and B. This is also used to set the film speed for the light meter – you need to depress a small black tab immediately behind this ring while setting the film speed. Behind the shutter speed ring is the aperture ring which runs from f/2.8 to f/22. This ring has two sizeable black tabs attached which makes finding the ring by feel easy – this is important when setting the exposure with the camera at your eye.
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In the centre of the shutter is the lens – a Color-Skopar f/2.8 50 mm lens. This is front cell focussing so not ideal but will still produce excellent images. The lens will take 32 mm push fit filters and lens hood. To the left of the shutter housing (again, while looking at the lens) is the shutter release button. This is threaded on then underside for a standard cable release. Below the shutter release is a PC flash connector.
The base of the camera has then usual 1/4 inch tripod boss – slightly left of centre and slightly forward – and a frame counter. The frame counter counts down so tells you how many frames you have left.
Vito B (top) Vito CLR (bottom)


I have completed a test film using Fomapan 200 Creative. This has shown up a problem with the camera – one the seller drew my attention to – the exposure meter under-exposes by around two stops. So, using this camera I need to set the meter for ASA 50 rather than the correct ASA 200. I suspect this is due to the selenium  sensor in the meter deteriorating. This is something we are always warned about with old selenium meters but not something I have actually come across before (it could, as the seller suggested, be the setting ring having moved from its correct position, but I doubt it).
Because of the metering problem, the negatives are very thin and getting a good scan has been difficult. tonal range is not as it should be and there are very visible horizontal lines in each picture. There is also some evidence of a light leak in the pictures – it is on the left-hand side which means it must be from around the hinge of the back. In some pictures it is not very evident, so, perhaps, if the pictures were exposed correctly, it would not be a problem. There are no foam light seals in this camera to deteriorate.
Second test film results are below the monochrome results.
Voigtlander Vito CLR
Cathedral from Broadgate, Lincoln
Voigtlander Vito CLR
City Square, Lincoln
Voigtlander Vito CLR
High Street, Lincoln
Voigtlander Vito CLR
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Voigtlander Vito CLR

Voigtlander Vito CLR

Flowers to test the lens for close-ups.

Second test – with Agfa Vista+ colour film, processed by Snappy Snaps in Lincoln.  Negative density is fine, so the earlier problems were either lack of use or my developing of the film.

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  1. An auction box containing a Vito CLR, a Polaroid Colorpack 80 and a vintage KodakAutographic Jr. No 1 for $17 (£11 approx) so there was a film still in the Vito, will have to see what is on the “found film”. The Vito is being tested as I write. The meter looks OK and so do the shutter speeds. Results to follow.


  2. I’ve enjoyed using my Vito CLR, which I found on eBay. Unfortunately, after a few months I found that when I wind the film on, the shutter would not cock although the film advanced. Very frustrating! I found that I had to turn the winding lever very slowly to engage the shutter. By any chance have you heard of this problem?


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