The Vitessa was an innovative 35mm folding rangefinder camera made by Voigtländer in the 1950s. The folding bed was replaced by a barn-door assembly, the focusing was operated by the user's right thumb via a wheel on the back of the top plate, with a distance dial (and depth-of-field scale) set into the top plate.
The film advance and shutter cocking were operated with a large plunger rod pointing out of the top plate, that could be retracted when the camera was folded. It suffered a number of small variations during its production. The very first models did not have strap lugs nor automatic parallax correction. T
he most expensive models had a 50mm f/2 Ultron lens, the others a 50mm f/3.5 or f/2.8 Color-Skopar. They all had a Compur-Rapid or Synchro Compur shutter to 1/500. The later models had an uncoupled selenium meter.
Vitessa shows a superb, almost Leica M3 quality fit and finish, uses Exposure Value settings, a system popular in the 1950's. Its design and mechanics are unique in its class, like Voigtlander Prominent's unique design. Voigtlander Vitessa L is the most elegant 35mm Folder camera.
The Vitessa range has several versions and models. There are several nicknames of Vitessa, eg. in German it was called the Leuchtturm, means The Lighthouse named after the unique plunger rod. The unique front covers are usually referred to as the "barn-doors".
At the end of the 1960s, Zeiss Ikon / Voigtländer produced a series of compact 35mm cameras called the Vitessa 500, and some 126 film cameras called the Vitessa 126, that are both discussed elsewhere.