And now for what really matters,
The Experience of Using a Voigtlander Vito ii
It’s hard not to marvel at the meticulous and clever designs of fully mechanical cameras and with the Voigtlander Vito ii there's no exception. Folding the lens out works flawlessly. When folded in, the camera is still quite a bit larger than say a Rollei 35, but the 35’s lens does not retract. What that means is that while the Rollei will fit in a front pocket, it feels awkward. On top of that, the Rollei’s lens being exposed means you will need a lens cap. I have not figured out if they make one in the Rollei size yet. I’m sure they do...
But with the Vito, when the lens is retracted into the body its mostly flush. In fact, most of the cameras components are streamlined into the body. Because of this the Vito slides right into my pocket and I don’t have to worry about the lens getting scraped. Nor do I have to worry about accidentally setting off the shutter release. So usually I would go ahead and wind the camera and set the shutter tension before closing it up. This way, when I was ready to take a shot the camera was ready to go once opening it up. This can be more important than you’d think since having to shift the tension lever before you can trigger the shutter ads an extra step which can make a difference when wanting to quickly grab a shot.
Operating the camera took some getting used to. Because the shutter speeds, aperture, and of course focussing scale are located on the lens, you need to reposition the camera to see your settings. It took me a few rolls to not constantly forget to wind the tension lever. But eventually It came naturally and I realized it made sense to always have the camera ready to go and started doing all that before closing it.
I have so much fun shooting with anything that gives me a novel experience. I especially enjoy the challenge and the process of getting used to shooting differently. The vito checked those boxes. But if this were my only camera, I would definitely prefer a rangefinder. I’m fine with scale focussing, but the viewfinder proved to throw my composition off quite a bit. In fact it straight ruined a few shots, cutting my subject off.
Should You Buy The Voigtlander Vito ii?
If it's going to be your only shooter, no. You may have trouble using scale focussing and the viewfinder (AKA a hole in the camera) is not going to be the most effective way to frame your shots. However, if you are like me and you enjoy using different cameras with different quirks, then yes, buy this camera!
I think I paid a pretty decent price for this camera considering its condition. It feels practically new. A camera twice my age and it still looks new! I could probably sell it and make a few bucks in fact, but I really love this guy and I’m pretty sure I will be keeping it. After fully testing it I still loaded another roll of film because I knew I wanted to keep shooting with it. I still have not developed my color film shot with the Vito ii, but here are a few black and white images I shot at the dog beach. Dogs. Hell yeah.