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Old 08-07-2016   #41
Sarcophilus Harrisii
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Now as far as early and late types go.

I was very pleased with myself a couple of years ago as I had to do a lot of work on my later Skopar Vitessa but got it working very nicely thanks very much. To my dismay, then, before I could take more than half a dozen shots the wind mechanism crapped itself. On dismantling the camera I found that the tab attached to the bottom of the plunger that drives the mechanism had fractured off. I'm pretty sure I know why.

Prior to working on mine, I'd found just one or two references to this happening to other owners. Because the knob must be unscrewed from the later versions with the smaller opening in the top cover, I think that some repairers have simply twisted the knob against the plunger which is locked in place by the actuating tab. This places unintended and huge stresses on the tab which is not designed to take any twisting force (it is designed to drive the mechanism up and down, in line with the plunger).

In my case the tab has fractured off the side of the shaft perfectly in line with the base of the tab where it was originally welded on. The joint has failed because of stress.

It's frustrating because I did my research and, being aware of the issue, all that was required to avoid this damage was a couple of small pieces of old rubber inner tube. One to grip the knob with, and the other with which to grasp the plunger shaft to prevent it rotating. This completely avoids damaging the mechanism by twisting the plunger against it when the knob is loosened. Unfortunately I assume a previous owner/repairer already did the damage, because, despite my precautions the part later failed, as mentioned above.

I can only assume that Voigtlander modified the plunger and cover design because it's likely to be more effective at excluding dust by virtue of the smaller cover opening. The older version should have a circular fabric seal around the opening that was glued in place. As the plunger slides up and down the seal "wipes" the plunger clean to minimise dust entry to the interior. (If your example does not have said seal, you can easily fabricate one from some suitable felt or even some yarn which may be glued to the underneath of the cover with some contact adhesive, but it is important to have something there as without it you'll be taking the cover off again after a few months to clean the optics again).

Given that the older versions do not require the knob to be removed in order to take off the top cover and set the RF etc. I'm rather inclined to think it's the better of the two designs to seek out today, overall. By not having to loosen the knob, there's no risk of numptys damaging the plunger before you get hold of your Vitessa as happened to me. Of course if you happen to already have a later version in good working condition, keep the plunger parts clean, free of sand and dust, and lubricated, and if you follow the advice above you ought to be OK. It's something to be aware of, though, and isn't a problem I'm inclined to blame on Voigtlander, because to my mind it is poor workmanship not poor design that causes it to break...
Cheers,
Brett
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Old 08-07-2016   #42
largedrink
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Thanks very much Brett, it's getting late so think I'll ponder on the rangefinder adjustment for a day or two (not too keen to make it worse!). Do you have any idea where the small grooved metal piece may have come from? I am really stumped with that, can't see any glue marks where it may have popped off from. It fell out when I took off the top cover (as did the two focus assembly pieces).
Cheers, Hugh
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Old 08-07-2016   #43
Sarcophilus Harrisii
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Quote:
Originally Posted by largedrink View Post
Thanks very much Brett, it's getting late so think I'll ponder on the rangefinder adjustment for a day or two (not too keen to make it worse!). Do you have any idea where the small grooved metal piece may have come from? I am really stumped with that, can't see any glue marks where it may have popped off from. It fell out when I took off the top cover (as did the two focus assembly pieces).
Cheers, Hugh
Hi Hugh,
It does not look familiar to me, actually. Which could mean two things. That I can't recall seeing it, when I worked on mine (knowing my memory, always a distinct possibility!) or, given there were many ongoing changes to various parts of the Vitessa during its lifespan, perhaps it isn't used on later ones? Yours is earlier than either of my examples, I think, as it lacks the strap lugs later added (and I would not have been at all surprised if some of these changes were running changes made as stocks of parts were used, of course).

You are on the right track checking for signs of a missing part, outlines, discolourations, etc. sometimes provide the answer. Did you know that if you host images elsewhere (Eg. Flickr), you can link larger images into threads? This is how images are "inserted" into the body of threads as opposed to the smaller thumbnails you click on (such as you have added above). Perhaps if you post some larger images of the piece and of the top of the camera someone might spot a clue?
Cheers,
Brett
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Old 08-07-2016   #44
PrestonR
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I don't know about the Vitessa, but I do have something to add.

My father restored a 1970s Fiat 124 Spyder for a customer some years ago. He told me, "No matter what, at the end of the day it is still a 1970s Fiat 124 Spyder and it's going to have all the problems it might have had when new."

Some problems are inherent with design.
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Old 08-07-2016   #45
Sarcophilus Harrisii
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Happily, earlier Voigtlanders tend to rust less than older FIATs.
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Old 01-13-2020   #46
benito
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Reviving this thread for another focusing/rangefinder question... Brett, if you're around, you seem to be the local Vitessa expert, so feel free to chime in.

I have a Vitessa A1 (type 125) with the Ultron. It's in very good shape, except the rangefinder patch is off and the lens does not focus to infinity on my ground glass.

If I physically pull back on the entire barn door/lens/bellows assembly with focus already set at infinity, I can nudge the image just into focus after a couple of millimeters of tugging, but as soon as I let go, the focusing unit pops forward again (tensioned by some sort of spring) just slightly so that infinity is no longer in focus. This in turn affects focus at all other distances and makes aligning the rangefinder difficult/useless.

So basically, if I understand it correctly, my Vitessa is a "focusing unit" camera, and this unit needs to be "collimated." Is this something I could do myself (I have some tools and can follow instructions), or do I need to send it in? (Any suggestions for this?)

Also, the horizontal adjustment screw is in plain sight, but I can't seem to find the vertical alignment screw. I see one that looks about right but can't figure out how to adjust it. I'll post a couple of pics as soon as I can get my images down to 500x500 (really??)
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Old 01-20-2020   #47
Sarcophilus Harrisii
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benito View Post
Reviving this thread for another focusing/rangefinder question... Brett, if you're around, you seem to be the local Vitessa expert, so feel free to chime in.

I have a Vitessa A1 (type 125) with the Ultron. It's in very good shape, except the rangefinder patch is off and the lens does not focus to infinity on my ground glass.

If I physically pull back on the entire barn door/lens/bellows assembly with focus already set at infinity, I can nudge the image just into focus after a couple of millimeters of tugging, but as soon as I let go, the focusing unit pops forward again (tensioned by some sort of spring) just slightly so that infinity is no longer in focus. This in turn affects focus at all other distances and makes aligning the rangefinder difficult/useless.

So basically, if I understand it correctly, my Vitessa is a "focusing unit" camera, and this unit needs to be "collimated." Is this something I could do myself (I have some tools and can follow instructions), or do I need to send it in? (Any suggestions for this?)

Also, the horizontal adjustment screw is in plain sight, but I can't seem to find the vertical alignment screw. I see one that looks about right but can't figure out how to adjust it. I'll post a couple of pics as soon as I can get my images down to 500x500 (really??)
Hi
Welcome to Rangefinder Forum.

To sort your camera focus, first, you'll need to re-set the infinity stop relative to the actual focus point of the lens. (Don't be concerned about the rangefinder calibration for the time being. It's driven by the lens position and you need to correct the latter. Adjusting the rangefinder first will be a waste of time, because when you correct the lens, the rangefinder patch will shift with it, and you'll only end up having to do it over.)

Infinity focus is set in the Vitessas (well, the ones I have worked on, at least) by removing the top cover and backing off the locking screws hidden under the distance scale disc at the top of the focus wheel. Doing this enables you to rotate the wheel (which incorporates the infinity stop lug) without altering the lens focus at the same time.

Bear in mind that in order to set the film gate focus accurately to infinity you'll need a very distant target, a ground glass, and a magnifying loupe. A locking cable release to keep the shutter open on Bulb makes life a little easier.

If I understand correctly, with the Vitessa model you own, it should not be necessary to take off the wind plunger knob to clear the cover. After removing the cover securing screws from underneath the cover should be ready to come off. Because it's trapped within its external slot in the rear of the cover, the focus wheel will come out with the cover. But the wheel will also be under a bit of tension from the focus carriage springs. This makes the cover seem like it's reluctant to leave the body. If you set the distance near the minimum, and hold the camera body with the doors facing your palm—you can apply just a little gentle inward pressure to the lens and barn doors. When you've relieved the spring pressure a little, rather than jamming the cover, the wheel will then come with it sweetly.

Watch for the presence of spacing shims underneath it. These set the installed height of the wheel such that when the cover is finally re-fitted and screwed on, the wheel has some clearance top and bottom of the cover slot. You can indeed reassemble the camera without the shim, but will suffer an unpleasant focusing action as a consequence. So watch for them and, if present (at least one probably will be) don't misplace it.

Incidentally, reversing the above steps is the key to slipping the cover back onto the body quickly and easily. Invert the cover, place the wheel in its slot at the correct rotational position for minimum distance, and gently ease the body into the cover whilst you apply gentle inward pressure with your palm. After the first couple of times, it's quick and easy, (and you'll get some practice at it, because the cover has to be re-installed between adjustments, every time you want to check the RF patch).

In all likelihood you'll find the wheel and the components that bear on it will benefit from a good clean and light grease. Not strictly essential but some owners complain of scratchy, jerky action of the wheel. Ensuring the wheel and its connected parts are free of dust and lubricated (because the system is under some constant spring tension) will make the camera much more pleasant to use.

Getting the lens correctly calibrated entails adjusting its position relative to the film plane such that it yields the sharpest possible image on the ground glass.

Out of necessity, this means that initially, you'll need to be able to focus the lens to infinity and slightly beyond it—else you will not be able to accurately ascertain just where that sharpest distance is. But you've said part of the issue is that the lens stops short of good focus on targets greatly distant.

So first you'll want to: temporarily refit the focus wheel; set it to infinity; back off those securing screws I mentioned earlier; and then rotate the wheel a few degrees towards close range before re-securing the screws.

The result of this (temporary) adjustment should enable you to now focus the lens out to infinity and also a little past it. It's then a case of patiently fine tuning the lens distance using the glass and loupe with the aperture open until further improvements in sharpness are impossible to discern. Being extremely careful not to rotate the wheel in the process, you loosen the fixing screws. The wheel can then be rotated independently of the properly set lens until it's securely against the infinity stop before being re-secured. Re-check focus sharpness, and, if you kept the lens from moving, you're done—otherwise repeat above steps until correct.

You can then move on to calibrating the patch alignment of the (previously cleaned) rangefinder system until it agrees with the lens at infinity, after which the lens/RF match should be cross checked at around five feet.
Cheers,
Brett
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Old 01-20-2020   #48
Solinar
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Many moons ago I was shown how to check the infinity calibration of lens by using what the tech referred to as "Back-sighting"

It involves taping a translucent target to the back of the film gate and then placing a light source to direct the rays from the target, through the lens to a second camera - which is an SLR. A longer focal length lens is best on the second camera - but whatever lens that is mounted to the SLR will need to set to infinity when viewing the image from the first camera.

https://www.rangefinderforum.com/for...5&postcount=11



See Mike Elek's write up below.

http://elekm.net/zeiss-ikon/repair/collimate/
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Old 01-20-2020   #49
Phil_F_NM
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This method with an SLR is how I accurately calibrate my motion picture lenses. Each lens needs to be critically focused to infinity, perfectly in its own mount, because alll sorts of factors can cause mounting to be different (tighter threads in one port vs. another, a tiny burr on the threads or seat, turret warpage, etc.) I've used this on a bunch of cameras and it works great. Doing it with something that doesn't have access to the film plane, like a Barnack, would be difficult though. You'd have to frost some very thin glass or plexi and insert it perfectly to get the correct focus at the film plane.
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Old 01-23-2020   #50
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Wow, thanks for the responses!

I had seen Mike Elek's guide to collimation and I used that technique in addition to the ground glass with loupe as a redundancy.

Brett, your detailed advice was absolutely spot-on. Who knew it could be so simple? A bit tedious and painstaking, but easy enough once I knew where the screws were. The underside of the speed dial had indeed accumulated some crud that gave the action a grindy feel, but it was easy enough to clean that up and re-lube.

I also went back and found your post explaining how to get to the vertical alignment under the corner pivot screw of the rangefinder mechanism. As you stated, it was buried under a solidified cap of grease, so I had to douse it in naphtha to loosen it.

Now I've got a well-aligned Vitessa. The only issue remaining is that I've discovered all the speeds are very slow and the shutter also sticks if I push the shutter release all the way down - a slight depression and it seems to reset for the next shot ok. There's some good Youtube videos of dismantling a Compur Rapid shutter, so I tried to take a peek, but it's held down by a special screw with those 2 holes and I don't have a tool to turn it. Probably a message from the camera repair gods to leave it alone while I'm still ahead
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Old 01-24-2020   #51
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I caught the Vitessa bug a month or so ago. Was looking fora Vitessa-L w/Ultron but haven't been able to pull the trigger because of prices so settled on a Vitessa-N (I think) w/Color-Skopar 3.5 (not the 2.8) for $64.

How does the 3.5 perform?
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Old 01-24-2020   #52
Sarcophilus Harrisii
Brett Rogers
 
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Originally Posted by raydm6 View Post
I caught the Vitessa bug a month or so ago. Was looking fora Vitessa-L w/Ultron but haven't been able to pull the trigger because of prices so settled on a Vitessa-N (I think) w/Color-Skopar 3.5 (not the 2.8) for $64.

How does the 3.5 perform?
I don't have any personal experience with the Color-Skopar f/3.5. As I believe I may have mentioned previously, my own example crapped itself before I could find out (though a parts donor presented itself recently, so, it may yet live). But various 35mm format iterations of Voigtländer's coated Skopar are generally well regarded, so I doubt you'll be disappointed with it. The camera as fitted with either type of lens has been the subject of conversation at this website several times—if you do a search for thread titles mentioning "Vitessa" you should find a number of hits going back well over ten years covering both Ultron and Color-Skopar examples.
Cheers
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Old 01-24-2020   #53
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Thanks Brett.

I'll see how this one performs and it may scratch my itch for a Vitessa although it's not the "L".

This will be my first Voightlander. I also admire the Prominent (pricey) and Vitomatic IIa (less pricey). They have those hallmarks of exquisite German builds.
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Old 01-24-2020   #54
Sarcophilus Harrisii
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benito View Post
Wow, thanks for the responses!

I had seen Mike Elek's guide to collimation and I used that technique in addition to the ground glass with loupe as a redundancy.

Brett, your detailed advice was absolutely spot-on. Who knew it could be so simple? A bit tedious and painstaking, but easy enough once I knew where the screws were. The underside of the speed dial had indeed accumulated some crud that gave the action a grindy feel, but it was easy enough to clean that up and re-lube.

I also went back and found your post explaining how to get to the vertical alignment under the corner pivot screw of the rangefinder mechanism. As you stated, it was buried under a solidified cap of grease, so I had to douse it in naphtha to loosen it.

Now I've got a well-aligned Vitessa. The only issue remaining is that I've discovered all the speeds are very slow and the shutter also sticks if I push the shutter release all the way down - a slight depression and it seems to reset for the next shot ok. There's some good Youtube videos of dismantling a Compur Rapid shutter, so I tried to take a peek, but it's held down by a special screw with those 2 holes and I don't have a tool to turn it. Probably a message from the camera repair gods to leave it alone while I'm still ahead
I'm pleased things went smoothly for you, and I appreciate hearing how it all went. Well done.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #55
CarrotRoom
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I have two of these, one needs the rangefinder adjusting and the other works very well. I don't think these are intrinsically unreliable and I agree the Ulron is a lovely lens
I really really need to reduce my collection, here's a pick from mine.

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"The fascinating moment which you wish to preserve for ever in a photo disappears as quickly as it comes; you must be prepared . It is not enough for you to know what this lever or that knob does, you must learn to handle your camera as instinctively as the pianist find his notes" Voigtländer Manual 1933


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