What is the most beautiful camera ever made?

Started Jul 10, 2013 | Discussions thread
Dr JLW Senior Member • Posts: 1,044
Re: Nikon SP, Leica M3, Rolleiflex 2.8f, Nikon F2 and X100

Nice choices. As a work of art I still like the LeCoultre Compass but for cutting edge design for function I think the original Voightlander Vitessa has to be one of the best.

It had "barn doors that unfolded at teh press of the shutter button and larong plunger to wind the film. This looked a bit ungainly but I was abot to fire 8 shots in five seconds with this camera and tunlike the more common rapid wind the plunger action did not move the ccaemra much as the forces were counter balanced.

It had a compur rapid shutter and its f/2 Ultron lens was one of the best 50mm f/2's of the 50's. These cameras sometimes went out of alignment but a well lined up Vitessa or Promonent or Vito III with a 50mm Ultron at f/2 was a a match for any Leica with the new Summicron or any of the Nikkors of that era. I had access to special lens testind devoice and the F/2 ultron was the best at f/2 of the various lenses I tried which included Sumicrons, Sonnars Nikkors and Switars. This test was not always predictive of what slides wourl look like but my Ultron slides looked very good even at F/2.

The camera folded to fit in an inner jacket pocket although it was fairly heavy. VItesse means speediest and its rapid unfolding at the touch f a button and plunger film advance and shutter cocking made it very fast to operate. It focused via a thumb wheel on the back so you could prefocus before opening the camera. It had no accessory shoe although they offered an optional one that clipped on. It debuted in 1950 so it was way ahead of its time.

These are quite affordable so if you want a really neat very functional film camera take a lok at the original Vitessa. The Vitessa L's are also very nice and corrected a design flaw. For reasnons I never understood the original Vitessa scratched the film with roll of more than 20 shots. The "L" model fixed that and added a nice but now usually dead built in selenium exposure meter.

Steve Gandy slightly disagree favoring the L model and I think that is very reasonable. Here is his take and pictures


The Voightlander Prominent I and II were also very neat designs but you have to know a bit about optics to appreciate them and they lack the overall elegance and functional beauty of the original Vitessa.

Fair disclosure, I used to covet the Vitessa L in camera shop windows as I walked home from middle school. I used a Vitessa in high school. I lost it in a suitcase that was stolen. I have since bought a replacement for my collection.

This thread shows beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder but if you have not seen a Vitessa, and love 35mm cameras take a look. If you get to a camera show look for one and handle it if you can. It has a great look and feel if in decent shape.

Post (hide subjects) Posted by
(unknown member)
(unknown member)
(unknown member)
(unknown member)
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow