When my grandad died in 2008 I inherited his old cameras. Theoretically, at least, since nobody knew where they were. At the time, I knew he’d taken some wonderful pictures of post-war Korea in 1955 which I published – but we weren’t able to find the camera used to take them, nor did we know what kind of camera it was. A year or two ago we did come across a 1967 Halina Paulette Electric and a 1988 Olympus OM101, but nothing older.
Just this week, my gran happened to find a leather case which contained the camera I knew must exist. It was a 1949 Voigtländer Vito II. The case also contained a 1959 Halina 35x.
They are both 35mm viewfinder cameras with manual focus and no light meter. Amazingly, they were both fully working and in excellent cosmetic condition! I guess that’s what you might expect from a meticulous Royal Engineer. The original receipt for the Vito II was in the box, and was handwritten:
Received £15-15-9 in lieu of one Vito II camera purchased from this establishment – 31/7/54 by Cpl King
That’s getting on for £400 of today’s money (2012, if you’re reading this in the future!), and confirms its place as an advanced amateur camera. It had a better lens and shutter than most cameras of the late 40s / early 50s. The lens pops out on a collapsible set of bellows when the door is opened. 60 years after its manufacture, I’d much rather use this than a modern digital camera!
The Halina 35x already contained a roll of colour film, although it had not been exposed. I have started to use that film, and I hope I’ll be able to post the results here soon. Colour films don’t always age well – the pictures are likely to be colour-shifted but might not come out at all. One way to find out!
The two cameras are beautiful pieces of machinery. I’m proud to own this camera and to continue using it, so watch this blog for pictures from these two cameras, hopefully coming soon!
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