I got this and another couple of cameras recently and, for the first time in a long time, I feel like “That’s it I am done buying, it’s not going to get any better than this.”
I have had the Prominent on my list of desirable cameras for some time but prices have always been above what I was willing to pay. Now I know that apparently, reasonably priced Prominents are like buses; you wait ages and two turn up at the same time.
I was browsing that auction site as usual and a Prominent popped up in my searches well below what I normally expect. It was for a body only and it had some slight damage. The price was low enough though to think it was worth the risk also the seller stated it had been tested and working. There was another bidder but I was lucky and got it at what I thought was a very good price. It arrived and all worked as expected; so now I needed a lens.
A great rangefinder such as this deserves a good lens so I wanted either an Ultron (2.0) or maybe a Nokton (1.5) the latter being pretty unlikely as they go for several hundreds of dollars. The Ultrons too are usually $200 plus so this was going to be a stretch.
One pops up on my radar at under a third of what am usually seeing and it is attached to another Prominent body. I have had relatively good luck selling cameras lately so knowing I have one body in what seems like working-order, taking a chance on another and selling it on will mitigate the cost of the lens.
I bid, I win at below my maximum bid. I now have two Prominent bodies and a lens for less than I have seen the lenses go for; sweet!
Body one is the first type body with a knob winder, the second is the second type with a dual stroke lever. The damage to the first one is just a missing lug that helps to hold the bigger lenses on, the second body seems in excellent condition.
Both of them have the quirk that the focusing is done using a knob on the top left of the camera (where the rewind is); I am fairly familiar with this as my Bessa RF has the same.
I like this camera so much, everything works well and it has some nice little features such as when you are rewinding there is a little pin that spins with the film so you can see it is moving. The rewind itself is via a pop up little handle that is so well machined as to make it look like nothing at all when folded.
Loading the film is pretty standard and setting the first frame on the counter is straightforward. It starts from one and counts up with no issues going over 35.
The shutter is cocked from winding the film and you can see this on the front similar to the old folders (but automatic). The self timer is neat in that you push the little cocking lever past it’s cocked position to a red dot.
On the base is a simple indicator for B&W, tungsten or daylight colour film which you can set as a reminder.
The camera is nice and weighty (but not too much so), it feels solid.
|Voigtländer||Prominent||35mm Range-finder (with interchangeable lenses)||c1956||50mm 1:2.0||B, 1, ½, 1/5, 1/10, 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/250 and 1/500||F2-16|
The lens has some cleaning marks but images are good in my opinion though I chose to use Fomapan 100 for the first roll and I find that has poor performance in strong contrasty light conditions. I put a roll of Kodak Ektar through the first body and happy with those results. I’m in the process of shooting a second roll through the second body this time Ilford and will share the results soon.
I now have two 35mm rangefinders; this one and the Vitomatic (which I will use mainly for trips due to it’s compact size). I have two TLRs; the Mamiya and another Voigtländer which I will post about soon… The Mamiya is great but it is a big heavy beast and not always convenient. Lastly I have the Miranda if I want 35mm SLR. With that set (plus my Digital Pen-F) I am happy I have all the options I want whatever I am feeling and I like each and every one of them for their own reasons. I also have the Bessa should I fancy non square medium format.
I am selling the film cameras I don’t see myself using so I can focus on using these and getting back into being more a creative than a tester. Obviously I am a collector of Voigtländer so if another interesting one comes up I will consider it.