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If 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.
Features and Operation
The camera’s 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
The Voigtländer Vito C is a very small and lightweight camera with a luminous, 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 and is a true point and shoot. It feels solid but is very light.
Where to Find a Voigtländer Vito C
The Balda CA 35 is one of the very compact (sometimes called ultra-compact) 35mm viewfinder cameras which were popular in the 1980s. It was made by the West German firm Balda (Bünde). Body, front door and lens tube are made of black plastic. It has to be opened like an old folding camera: The lens tube comes out of the front of the camera when the front door is opened. The viewfinder's bright frame shows parallax marks near its top line. The distance selection ring around the lens tube is coupled to a red transparent marker in the finder that changes the colour of one of the distance symbols of the bright frame bottom line to red. The symbols are one man (1 metre), two men (1.5 metres), three men (3 metres) and a mountain (far distance). The film speed selection ring is placed around the front lens element. Above this ring are two little lenses of the camera's light meter. This meter controls the shutter speed and aperture. The optional flash Balda CF 18 can be coupled to the camera's left side.
The ultimate feature of this camera is its shutter's exposure "click" sound which distinguishes the CA 35 from all cheap plastic cameras. Balda also produced this camera for Voigtländer as Vito C, the flash as Voigtländer VCS 18. A very similar model was produced as the Minox 35 ML.
Karl-Heinz Lange, the chief camera engineer of Balda, was the designer of this camera. He used his experiences from his time at Rollei where he was involved in the development of the Minox 35, and where he had begun the development of the new camera which should become Rollei's Voigtländer Vito C.
- Type: compact viewfinder camera
- Manufacturer: Balda
- Year of launch: 1980s
- Film: 35mm with speeds 25 to 800 ASA
- Lens: Baldanon 1:2.8/38mm (four elements in three groups)
- Viewfinder: optical finder with a bright frame that includes distance symbols, LED indicators show need of flash and exposure success
- Focusing: manually
- Exposure: meter-controlled aperture and shutter speed
- Film advance: Lever with exposure counter, and rewind crank
- Flash: With ASA pre-selection, and electronic control supported by a photo resistor (sensor window with two selectable apertures)
- Weight: 170g with film and batteries
- Size: ca. 102×63×32 mm
Check out this camera on Instagram #canondial35
Post References and Attribution
This post was created with information kindly contributed by 135Compact