The Prominent

The Voigtländer Prominent was one of the most sophisticated cameras of the 1950s—also among the most complicated, and just a bit eccentric. It was launched in 1951, a time when 35mm rangefinder cameras were at their peak. Yet it anticipated the approaching popularity of single lens reflexes by offering devices that converted it from rangefinder to reflex use and surrounding itself with interchangeable lenses, viewfinders, close-up attachments, filters, and other accessories that made it a true system camera.

Voigtländer Prominent with Turnit 3 viewfinder and 50mm f/1.5 Nokton standard lens fitted, plus (left to right) 100mm f/4.5 Dynaron, 150mm f/4.5 Super-Dynaron, and 35mm f/3.5 Skoparon lenses.

The Prominent measured 5x3x3” and weighed 2 lbs. The Synchro-Compur shutter, with offered speeds of 1 second to 1/500 sec, was mounted on the front of the body and the standard lens bayoneted directly onto it. Focusing was by a knob on top of the body, with a focusing scale around its edge and a depth of field scale below. As the knob was turned the shutter plus lens moved back and forth. Coupled with a coincident image rangefinder in the viewfinder, this measured and set the distance. In the center of the focusing knob was a key, which popped up to be used for film rewinding. While early models had a knob to wind the film a lever was eventually introduced that took two strokes to advance one frame. The film counter was engraved below this.

Other signs of strangeness: the rewind button, usually on the bottom of a camera, was on the top; a film type reminder, usually on the back, was on the bottom; and the cable release fitting, usually part of the shutter release, was embedded in the top plate.

Filters and lens hood, all made to fit every lens. The two masks were to adapt the hood for the 100mm and 150mm lenses.
All Photos © John Wade

The Lenses
Six lenses were available for the Prominent. There were three 50mm standards: f/1.5 Nokton, f/2 Ultron, and f/3.5 Color-Skopar. Then came the 35mm f/3.5 Skoparon wide angle and the 100mm f/4.5 Dynaron medium tele. Finally, the 150mm f/4.5 Super-Dynaron telephoto was introduced.

All the standard lenses bayoneted onto the shutter mechanism and were focused in the way described above. The 35mm and 100mm lenses, however, bayoneted onto the body via another bayonet, surrounding and separate from the bayonet on the shutter. When fitting lens to body, the standard lenses were turned counterclockwise and the other lenses clockwise, which must have been confusing for photographers in a hurry to change focal lengths.

To focus the wide angle and medium tele, the body knob was turned, and the rangefinder reacted as expected. But the lenses—mounted on the body, not the shutter as with the standard lenses—remained static. Focusing was now effected by the moving shutter assembly pressing against collars at the rear of the lenses. As these collars were pushed in and out, internal lens elements were shifted in relation to one another to attain focus.

Close-up accessories: Focar lens, Proximeter fitted to the standard lens, and mask for use when the Proximeter was fitted to the 100mm lens.

The 150mm lens also used the second outer bayonet fitting, but this time the focusing was not coupled. So the focusing knob was turned until the rangefinder images coincided, the distance reading taken from the scale on the knob and transferred manually to a ring around the lens barrel.

Accessories
Every lens in the Prominent arsenal had the same diameter, so all filters and lens hoods fit all lenses. The first filters pushed onto the lenses. Later, this changed to screw-on versions. Unconventionally, the female thread was on the filter and this screwed onto a thread on the outside of the lens, disguised as a knurled band that looked ornamental but which was perfectly functional.

Since the Prominent allowed the use of the same hood on any lens, the differences in angle of view were accommodated by fitting the hood with masks, according to the focal length of the lens in use.

Simple close-up lenses called Focars were available for the Prominent, which took focusing down to 1 foot.

But, of course, being a rangefinder rather than a reflex camera, this meant a loss of parallax, as well as a non-functioning rangefinder.

The Prominent mounted on the macro copying stand.

To counteract both problems, Voigtländer introduced two Proximeters, each containing two lenses. A circular close-up lens fitted to the camera lens, and attached above this was a rectangular lens that stood in front of the rangefinder windows. This deflected light, converting the rangefinder for use down to the close-focusing limit of the close-up lens, at the same time correcting parallax.

If you think that’s complicated, wait until you see the macro outfit. This consisted of a copying stand with its own special 105mm f/3.5 Color-Skopar lens fitted. A retaining ring was used to screw this lens to the camera’s standard lens. In this way, 1:1 life-size images were possible.

Different magnifications could also be achieved by using the copying stand in conjunction with the retaining ring to screw the 50mm standard lens back to front into the 100mm Dynaron. And to get closer still, there was a microscope attachment.

The Turnit 3 (left) and Kontur viewfinders, with the mask for the 150mm lens.

Viewfinders
Several accessory viewfinders were available, the best being the Turnit 3. Fitted into the camera’s accessory shoe, and with its own parallax adjustment from 3 feet to infinity, this used a series of masks, combined with optics, to cover all available focal lengths.

Used straight it gave the view for a 50mm lens. Dropping down a hinged mask on the front provided a 35mm wide-angle view. Putting that mask up, dropping down one on the rear, rotating the whole viewfinder through 180 degrees, and then flipping up the rear mask again gave a 100mm view. Clipping on yet another mask, supplied with the 150mm telephoto, gave the correct view for that lens as well.

Then there was the Kontur viewfinder which, when looked through in the conventional way with one eye closed, showed only a white rectangle on a completely black background. But used with both eyes open the white rectangle became superimposed on the actual view.

The reflex housing used for eye-level viewing, with the right-angled viewing attachment that doubled as a Kontur-style viewfinder.

Reflex Viewing
The Prominent was turned from rangefinder camera into a single lens reflex by the addition of a housing that bayoneted onto the body. It was supplied with its own 100mm f/5.5 Telomar medium telephoto lens, which reflected its image via a 45-degree mirror up to a focusing screen on top.

A lever protruding from the back hovered over the camera’s shutter button. As it was pressed down, it flipped the mirror out of the light path, then pushed the shutter release.

The fitting on top could be used at right angles to look down onto the screen, or flipped aside and used at eye level in the same way as the Kontur finder. This top assembly could also be slid off and replaced with an attachment that viewed the focusing screen from eye level similar to a conventional single lens reflex.

The Prominent’s flash gun built into an ever-ready case.

The Flash Gun
Finally, the Prominent had its own flash gun and it wasn’t like others. This one was built into an ever-ready case so that, as the camera was opened for shooting, the flash gun was ready for action. The problem was that users complained because this placed the flash gun below the lens, leading to ugly shadows on a subject’s face. That problem was solved when it was pointed out that the answer was to use the camera upside down!

Values
There were several slightly different versions of the Prominent I launched between 1951 and 1957, all worth around $300. The Prominent II, launched in 1958 with an improved viewfinder, fetches around $700.

Share | |
COMMENTS
xiaofangs's picture

TP-link TL-WR703N is a truly plug and play wireless router. TP Link router Traveling on business or hotel, only the network cable into the TL-WR700N Ethernet port (cable must be connected to the other side of the hotel rooms have been networked Ethernet port socket), then it is plugged into a power outlet, the The room has a Wi-Fi wireless coverage. At this point, you can take out your cell phone, Pad support or any other Wi-Fi wireless Internet access equipment, wireless Internet access anywhere in the room, without any setup.

ronalmessi's picture

I admire the valuable information you offer in your articles. I will bookmark your blog and have my children check up here often. I am quite sure they will learn lots of new stuff here than anybody else! spekhargaponsel visit information in this site situsmedis

tonylee5566's picture

my storage seems to be slowly running out. I'm not sure how this is occurring. I have 13.36 GB total space, 4.76 GB Available, but 7.14 GB Misc. Now, I have no idea what Misc is. I do not store music or movies on my android tablets 7 . I went in and deleted a few large files (ROM zips, mostly), but only got this far. I can't seem to find anything else.

magee's picture

,,its great to know the about the late cameras that was made, very nice and durable,,great!!

buy real twitter followers

lhaizza's picture

I really like to read articles and information published on this website. Thanks for sharing your wonderful ideas and opinions. fisher island homes florida

roter's picture

The fitting on top could be testinside 70-401 used at right angles to look down onto the screen, or flipped aside and used at eye level in the same way as the Kontur finder. testinside 70-411 This top assembly could also be slid off and replaced with an attachment that viewed the focusing screen from eye level similar to testinside 70-412 a conventional single lens reflex.

spiele's picture

Really your blog is very interesting.... it contains great and unique information. I enjoyed to visiting your blog. It's just amazing.... Thanks very much. http://www.spiele12.com

refore's picture
obat herbal's picture

Yakinlah Diabetes dapat sembuh Dengan obat diabetes herbal amazon Plus
Tahukah anda yang dimaksudkan dengan Diabetes Melitus. Diabetes Melitus merupakan salah satu jenis penyakit atau terganggunya pada kesehatan yangmana oleh kian tingginya kadar gula dalam darah. oleh karna kian kurangnya hormon insulin atau berkurangnya berfungsinya hormon insulin dalam penyerapan kadar gula secara maksimal oleh oleh itu penyakit seperti ini termasuk didefinisikan sebagai jenis penyakit gula darah.
Obat Herbal Alami amazon Menurunkan Kadar Kolestrol
Tahukah anda yang dimaksud Kolesterol. Penyakit Kolesterol adalah komponen lemak yang berada dalam pembuluh darah kita. Zat Kolesterol pada dasarnya berguna untuk sumber energi, membentuk dinding-dinding sel di dalam tubuh kita, serta sebagai dasar pembentuk hormon steroid. obat kolesterol

fazrin's picture

thank you for the information, healthy greeting.
http://obatherbalasmaanak1.blogspot.com/

fazrin's picture

thank you for the information, healthy greeting.
http://obattumorlambung54.wordpress.com/

fazrin's picture

thank you for the information, healthy greeting.
http://obatkatarakalami55.blogspot.com/

fazrin's picture

thank you for the information, healthy greeting.
http://obatinsomniaalami55.blogspot.com/

fazrin's picture

thank you for the information, healthy greeting.
http://obatsesaknafasalami55.blogspot.com/

fazrin's picture

thank you for the information, healthy greeting.
http://obatmaagkronisalami53.blogspot.com/

bramonoanum's picture

Things are things and eventually they wear out and are replaced by new things. http://obattbc77.wordpress.com/ It amazes me that that old vegetable peeler has lasted so long http://obattbc77.wordpress.com/2014/12/18/obat-tbc/

X
Enter your Shutterbug username.
Enter the password that accompanies your username.
Loading