Venerable Voigtlander Cameras: Under $100
By James Grahame
On October 9th, 1959, my grandfather walked into a camera shop on New Bond Street in London and picked up a shiny new Voigtlander Vitomatic II. He took good care of it, and it was passed on to me about a decade ago. I admired it and fiddled, but without instructions I couldn't even make the shutter fire. Zeiss/Voigtlander had stopped making cameras in 1972 and I was unable to find a manual. Luckily, I recently found an excellent free source for old manuals and brought the Vitomatic back to life.
The Voigtlander name was eventually licensed by Cosina and reintroduced in the late 1990s. The Voigtlander Bessa L was the lowest cost model in the lineup; it has been discontinued so you can pick them up for as little as $100 (without lens). These cameras don't include a built-in eyepiece; they're designed to accept Leica-mount wide angle lenses which include detachable viewfinders (as shown in the photo). This simple design has its advantages; the optics are simpler, the cameras are smaller, and the film is closer to the lens (for sharper images). A brilliant way to get into wide-angle photography.
$99 Voigtlander Bessa L clearance (Camera Quest)