James's Camera Collection: Voigtländer Dynamatic II

Voigtländer Dynamatic II W. Germany Other Voigtlander Cameras 35mm cameras
Voigtlander Vito Dynamatic II
Camera type: Rangefinder
Approx. date of manufacture: 1960
Approx. original price: $139.50
Approx. street value: $20

The Dynamatic II is an interesting departure from the earlier Vito cameras. It's a little larger than the Vito C but a lot heavier. Like the Vito C it has the front-mounted shutter and rear-mounted advance. It has a rangefinder and a meter needle next to a shutter inside the viewfinder in "manuell" [sic] mode. It also has an automatic mode, though I haven't figured out exactly what that means.

My Dynamatic II has the Color-Skopar lens (there was a Lanthar version) and the deluxe finish—pretty chrome trim on the front, whereas the basic model simply had black leatherette.

This camera was tested by Modern Photography magazine in March of 1961. I will quote the test in its entirety below. It was written by William Johnson.

Among the new generation of cameras with automatic shutters, the Dynamatic II is the first to feature the Prontor-Matic, which in turn is the only one of the shutters to provide for complete manual operation. The camera is distinguished at first glance by the position of its exposure meter window and film speed setting ring—right at the front of the lens mount. there are actually three expsoure meter windows, placed dquidistantly around the lens; the film speed setting rig, which is slightly recessed into the front of the len mount and most easily turned by using both thumbs, is connected to a rotating baffle that controls the amount of light passing through the three meter windows. Accessory filters are fitted over the windows so that exposure is automatically compensated.

For automatic operation, te aperture ring is set ot "Auto" and the shutter-speed ring is set t the desired speed (the B setting can be used only with manual aperture settings). The resulting aperture is shown in a window on top of the camera and also on a scale to the right of the viewfinder frameline.

click for larger adThese aperture indictations do not function when the camera is on manual—in other words, to use the exposure meter for a manual reading, you must first set the camera on "Auto". However, you can take a close-up reading with the camera on "Auto" by partly depressing the shutter release, which keeps the aperture setting locked when you move back to take the picture.

In our tests with the Dynamatic we found that it produced well-exposed color transparencies on automatic operation. The epxosure meter proved to be accurate down to a light level requiring an exposure of ƒ2.8 at 1/30 sec. for EI 400.

The viewfinder has a bright silvered frameline that could be seen in its entirety by this glasses-wearer. The lens mount does intrude into the bottom right-hand corner, but we did not find this irksome in our field tests. The rangefinder image is adequately bright, and so is the aperture indicator. Our only complaint against this indicator is that the high- and low-light sectors of the scale are excessively narrow, making it difficult at times to tell if the reading is ƒ2.8 or too dim, ƒ22, or too bright.

The Dynamatic II has a powerful, geared advance lever set right into the camera body about 3/4 in. from the top. The takeup spool has a tenacious claw which makes it almost impossible to muff film loading. In rewinding, it also obliges you either to rip the sprocket hole or open the back at the poitn of resistance and release the film leader—but you may consider this a lesser evil or no evil at all. The subtractive frame counter, which must be manually set, obligingly counts back to zero as you rewind.

Our tests of this ƒ2.8 Lanthar lens showed acceptable sharpness with some sharpness falloff at the corners at ƒ2.8. At ƒ5.6 to 8, shaprness was good with some falloff. Overall sharpness decreased slightly at smaller apertures.

Camera manual: Orphan Cameras.com

Modern Photography magazine camera test: March 1961

©opyright by James Ollinger. All Rights Reserved.