135compact.com 35mm ultra compact cameras Voigtländer Vito C / Balda CA 35
you look at the Voigtländer Vito C, you are certainly reminded of the
Minox 35 series. There is a very similar Minox model, the Minox 35 ML.
And there is a Balda CA 35, which is technically the same camera as the
Vito C. There is a reason for this.
Karl-Heinz Lange, chief camera engineer of Balda since 1981, had
formerly worked for the Rollei company, then owner of Minox. He was
involved in the development of the Minox 35. Rollei also owned the
Voigtländer brand and Lange had begun the development of a new camera,
the Voigtländer Vito C. The choice of this name is a bit unlucky, as
there was already a Voigtländer Vito C from 1959 to 1967, a very
popular high quality camera. And where is Balda in all this? As far as
I could trace information, Balda made the shells and other parts for
Minox. For some Minox models they did the assembly as well, sometime
completely, sometimes partially. So they did for the Vito C. When the Voigtländer brand was sold in 1981, Lange changed to Balda, and
became chief engineer at the Balda factory to improve this production.
So there was a Vito CL which had a self-timer added and a backlight
compensation and a Vito (without further letter), a simpler camera with
a cheaper F5.6 Voigtar lens.
Sometimes, when production numbers went down, Balda issued a camera
under its own brand to raise profitability. So they did with the Vito
C, which became also the Balda CA 35, technically the same camera with
a different shell texture. Balda improved its line by adding the CL
features (CE 35) and they produced a Revue branded edition. Production
material was then sold to China where the CE 35 was continued.
The Voigtländer Vito C was
released around 1980, dates are a bit uncertain. It's an
automatic camera. Its main features are:
38mm F2.8 Color Skopar lens, 4 elements in 3 groups, min. focus 0,9m Electronic shutter, 1s at F2.8 to 1/500 at F16 (mine does longer times than 1s) Size 103x62x32, Weight 147 gr. 25-800
ISO, special flash connection, cable release socket, low light warning
and distance setting in the finder, indicator whether shutter is cocked
Camera with strap, case and Balda flash. You can see the differences in shell texture, but they perfectly match.
Front closed. Very sober design.
view. Viewer and advance lever at the top.
Seen from above.
Rewind lever, shutter status indicator, exposure counter, shutter release button with cable release socket. If the arrow points towards the shutter button, it's cocked.
Seen from below. Rewind unlock button, tripod socket, battery
compartment (2 SR44).
open, lens extended.
lens with 2 CdS cells and ISO setting. Note the massive mechanism for
lens extension, said to be more reliable than the Minox one. On the
edge of the body, near the strap: strap release, press with a ballpen
and the strap comes off.
Camera open, seen from the top.
The bright finder has framelines and parallax indications.
Camera and flash. The flash has it's own photo cell. ISO setting slider is at the inside of the connection.
Seen from top: Function slider, off and two distance ranges. The ranges
are indicated in the window. Between flash and camera: ready light.
Flash on and set to close range. Mine is noiseless, it doesn't beep or whine.
Seen from the back: the battery compartment lid is hinged and opens
from the inside when the flash is detached. Takes 2 AA batteries. Guide
no. 18 (m/ISO 100)
Seen from below. Releas lever.
Coming soon: Film compartment open.
Voigtländer Vito C is a very small and lightwight camera with a
superb lens and an automatic shutter/aperture system. It resembles the
Minox ML series, but is quite different. It's an automatic camera, the
aperture/exposure time settings are not indicated, there is just an
"OK" in the finder or a flash warning. The distance indicator in the
finder is a great help. It uses simple SR44 batteries,
easy to find, no battery type issues. The shutter is audible, it's said
to be more reliable than the Minox ones. Same for the lens barrel
extension, its stronger than the Minox mechanisms.
So this is an easy camera, set to hyperfocal distance it's just point
and shoot. It feels solid, but is very light.