Voigtländer is the oldest camera maker in the world. The company was founded, astoundingly, in 1756. To help put this in perspective, that makes Voigtländer 20 years older than the United States of America. Amazing. Historically an important figure in the photographic world, Voigtländer’s contributed numerous innovations that later became industry standards. These include zoom lenses for 35mm cameras, and built-in flash units. The company has a strong reputation for quality and capable optics, but surely there are a few duds in their long and storied history?
When I got my hands on my first Voigtländer, the Vitomatic Ia, I found it to be a homely machine. It had a certain visual clumsiness to it, but looks aside, it felt sturdy and well-built. It’s a camera that befuddled me, impressed me, and infuriated me. After a weekend of shooting and a week of ponderous contemplation, I’ve finally put my finger on what I love and loathe about this ugly duckling from West Germany.