You will recall that Your Humble Filmosaur took the foolish gamble of going on vacation with an old, untested Kodak Brownie Hawkeye and actually managed to make it pay off (as described here); not a jackpot, but a respectable result. Well, never let it be said that I’m a prudent gambler – you see, I did not go on vacation with only one untried camera; I went with two.
Equally unknown upon my departure was my Voigtländer Vito. I’d cleaned it and done what I could, but as we all know, the true test is film, and I hadn’t put any through the Vito prior to my trip. But that oversight would soon be addressed along the rocky coastline of Downeast Maine.
Initial use seemed to be successful, and the Vito seemed to be working as expected: winding film, cocking and firing the shutter, not falling apart. This was encouraging, but the results would of course remain a mystery until I got back home. I had loaded a roll of Kodak Gold 200 for testing purposes. As you can see, it worked, producing reasonably sharp images that had a distinctly vintage look to them through the uncoated Skopar lens (as you might expect, they are considerably sharper in their full size versions).
I actually had three cameras with me: the Voigtländer, the Brownie Hawkeye, and my Kodak Retina I. I knew the Retina worked – I’d put a test roll through it, but that was it – but the other two were having their respective debuts. Simply playing the odds, I figured at least one of them had to cooperate.
So, as you can see, the Voigtländer test was successful…sort of. You see, the 36 frames of Kodak Gold having been duly exposed, I then loaded up some Kentmere 100 to see how it did with black & white film. That’s when it all started to go pear-shaped. The aperture started to stick, in spite of having been cleaned, and worse, the shutter interlock began playing up, sometimes failing to reset when I tripped the shutter, and thus the film could not be advanced. This rapidly became annoying.
With a dozen or so shots on the roll of Kentmere, I gave up. The Retina had performed flawlessly and was empty at this point, so I carefully wound the roll in the Voigtländer back just far enough to keep the leader exposed and transferred it to the Retina to finish it off.
Once I got home I pulled the camera apart again and started trying to work out the kinks. The shutter interlock problem seems to have been bits of dirt and debris being dislodged by use and jamming the relatively delicate mechanism. The aperture iris also required some further cleaning – carefully polishing the blades and the plates that retain them – but in spite of this attention it is still prone to feeling a bit tight after sitting for a while. This means, of course, that more film testing will be necessary. I may have to resort to more mundane subject matter for this; my next vacation is not for some time yet.