RARE! Superb,1934 Voigtlander 6 x 9 Prominent with Heliar lens, original case and mask, Freshly serviced, CLA’d
Cleaned, Lubricated & Adjusted. Ready for immediate use!
This is the legendary Voigtlander Prominent which was designed in 1932, announced in 1933, went on sale in 1934 and was only produced until 1935. At the time it was the most advanced camera that money could buy. No cost had been spared in it's design or production. However this approach ultimately lead to its downfall because very few buyers could afford to own it in the middle of the Great Depression of the 1930's. As a result, less than four thousand were produced.
Eighty-five years later this camera is considered an industrial design icon and is highly sought after by collectors. Look in any comprehensive book on on historic camera design and you'll find the Prominent there. You'll also find it on display in a number of museums and for good reason, because in addition to it's cutting edge design and numerous features, it's easily one of the most intriguing cameras ever built. It’s covered with knobs, scales, buttons and gadgets, all of which is dominated by the big rangefinder which protrudes outward on top, on both sides of the camera. That coupled rangefinder helps focus the camera accurately but it also gives it a strange other worldly appearance. It has an archaic 1930's scientific instrument look that would have looked right at home in a film such as Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" or Boris Karloff's "Frankenstein". The pierced knobs have a fine grippable texture. They feature a look that was fashionable at a time when Zeppelins and aircraft design were at the cutting edge of technology and that technology was obsessed with losing weight and mass with lightening holes and grooves.
One of the knobs advances the film and the other, interestingly enough, is for focusing. This leads us right into one of the Prominent’s advantages. In an era when most cameras focused the image by “front cell focusing” in which the first lens element is screwed in and out, the Prominent focused by moving the lens and shutter back and forth as a unit. This improved optical performance quite a bit, especially when working up close. As a result, the Prominent focused down to a meter, which is pretty handy for a 105 mm lens and it does help when shooting portraits. Voigtlander also designed it in such a way that you can also focus the camera even when it’s closed. Focus can be preset to a distance scale below the focus knob, and when the camera is opened, the lens and bellow automatically slides out of the body to the correct focus. The mechanism that does this is powered by an ingenious spring drive and a minute little chain and sprocket.
Less than four thousand of these cameras that were ever produced and after 85 years less than a thousand have managed to survive. Of the survivors, this is probably one of the nicest examples you'll ever see. This camera in exceptionally fine condition. The real leather covering is lovely. The bellows are soft, supple and completely light tight. The coupled rangefinder works. The image is less than perfect but it's easy to see and it makes focusing quick and easy. The camera also has its original archaic optical exposure-meter. (Which is that intriguing lump on the side of the cameras with all the dials and scales.) It's intact and unmolested and because of it's archaic nature haven't attempted to service it. The rest of the camera has been serviced and cleaned and polished.
The quality Compur shutter has been carefully cleaned, lubricated and adjusted and works as it should. The slow speeds buzz along very smoothly and the fast speeds are clean and snappy. All speeds (T, B & 1 sec - 1/250th) are appropriate.
The 4.5/105cm (105mm) Heliar lens is exceptionally clean and looks virtually new. It’s clean and clear. There are no scratches, no cleaning marks and it’s capable of producing lovely photos with modern color & B&W film.
It comes complete with a lovely original vintage leather case AND the extremely rare reduction mask which allows this camera to also produce 6x4.5 exposures on normal 120 roll film.
All in all, a wonderful rare 6x9 Voigtlander Prominent that's ready to be used if you are so inclined. In case you can read French, here's a link to a vintage owners manual in that language. Thanks for the link Ray!