Voigtländer is an optical company founded by Johann Christoph Voigtländer in Vienna in 1756 and is thus the oldest name in cameras. It produced the Petzval photographic lens (the fastest lens at that time: f/3.7) in 1840, and the world's first all-metal daguerrotype camera (Ganzmetallkamera) in 1841, also bringing out plate cameras shortly afterwards. It set up a branch office in Braunschweig in 1849, moving its headquarters there later. The company issued stock in 1898, and a majority of the shares were acquired by Schering in 1925.

Over the next three decades, Voigtländer became a technology leader and the first manufacturer to introduce several new kinds of product that would later become commonplace. These include the first zoom lens (36–82/2.8 Zoomar) in 1960 and the first 35mm compact camera with built-in electronic flash (Vitrona) in 1965.

Schering sold its share of the company to the Carl Zeiss Foundation in 1956, and Zeiss and Voigtländer integrated in 1965. In 1972 Zeiss/Voigtländer stopped producing cameras, and a year later Zeiss sold Voigtländer to Rollei. On the collapse of Rollei in 1982, Plusfoto took over the name, selling it in 1997 to Ringfoto.

From 1999 until the present time (2011), Voigtländer-branded products have been manufactured and marketed by Cosina; for these, see Cosina Voigtländer.


  • Founded by Johann Christoph Voigtländer in the year 1756 in Vienna (Austria), it was the first factory for optical instruments and precision mechanics there.
  • In 1763 the company got protection by a decree from Austria's Empress Maria Theresia.
  • In 1797 the state allowed Voigtländer to produce measuring instruments.
  • In 1823 they got a royal privilege to produce opera binoculars.
  • In 1840, Voigtländer produced the first camera lens which had been developed on the base of analytical calculations. This was an early landmark on the way to practical usage of photography. These Petzval portrait lenses had been designed and calculated by the mathematician Professor Jozef Maximilián Petzval and further developed by the company founder's grandson Peter Wilhelm Friedrich von Voigtländer. The exposure times had been reduced dramatically by using the new 149mm lenses which allowed an aperture up to 1:3.7 .
  • In the following year 1841 Voigtländer introduced cameras made of metal.
  • In 1862 Voigtländer had produced its 10,000th camera lens.
  • In 1868 the Voigtländer headquarters moved from Austria's capital Vienna to Braunschweig in Germany.
  • In 1898 Voigtländer became a stock market company.
  • In 1900 the "Reise Kamera" (travel camera) was introduced.

  • In 1929 Voigtländer entered the mass market with the Bessa camera for 6x9 format.
  • In 1939 the VITO, their first camera for 35mm film, was well received by the customers.
  • In 1955 the 4,000,000th lens had been produced.
  • In 1959 they introduced the Zoomar, the world's first interchangeable zoom lens.
  • In 1970 Voigtländer was merged with Zeiss-Ikon.
  • In 1974 Voigtländer became part of Rollei .
  • 1980 Plusfoto became Voigtländer's sales organisation.
  • Since 1987 Ricoh and Chinon make cameras for Voigtländer.
  • In 1994 the last part of the original Voigtländer company in Braunschweig was closed.
  • In 1995 Ringfoto bought Plusfoto and the Voigtländer brand.
  • In 1999 the popular 35mm viewfinder camera body Bessa L was introduced, developed and produced by Cosina

Voigtländer camera lenses[]

Despite the success of early metal cameras designed by Voigtländer, lenses were the company's main contribution to early photography in the 19th century. The success of Voigtländer's camera lines of the 20th century was due to the quality of its lenses. At the turn of the century Voigtländer had a branch office in New York, Voigtlander & Son Optical Co. It advertised Voigtländer lenses like the Dynar for use with the better range of Kodak cameras.

The first miletone was with the Petzval lens, which became a standard lens for portrait photography. It is Voigtländer's greatest lens design from the company's days in Austria. Many cameras of both renowned and unknown makers were equipped with Voigtländer lenses, mainly with the fast Petzval lens since portrait cameras were the bread-and-butter tools of photographers. The lens had four elements in two groups. The two front elements were glued together, the two back elements just placed close to each other. The lens had a characteristic vignetting and curvature of field, but it produced images which were very sharp in the centre.

At the turn of the 20th century Voigtländer switched to another fast lens design, the Heliar, a symmetric lens invented by Carl August Hans Harting in 1900, improved by him as an asymmetric lens in 1902. Other fine lens designs of that time were the Dynar and Kollinear.

During the 20th century the Skopar and Color Skopar lenses became the standard ones on Voigtländer's own cameras.

A milestone in camera lens making was the Zoomar, the world's first interchangeable zoom lens.


  • Petzval portrait lens
  • Dynar, Tele-Dynar
  • Heliar
  • Radiar
  • Voigtar
  • Skopar
  • Color Skopar
  • Zoomar
  • Skoparon
  • Dynaron
  • Lanthar, Apo-Lanthar
  • Vaskar

Voigtländer cameras[]

early cameras[]

35mm SLR[]


35mm rangefinder, interchangeable lens[]

35mm folding[]

  • Vito
  • Vito II
  • Vito IIa
  • Vito III
  • Vitessa L

35mm fixed lens[]


120 folding[]


120 TLR[]

127 folding[]

  • Perkeo 3×4

Folding plate cameras[]


reflex cameras[]

  • 1905: Heliar Reflex ( 9 x 12 )
  • 1908: Bijou
  • 1909: Vida
  • 1912: Spiegel-Reflex-Kamera

stereo cameras[]

  • 1902: Stereoskop
  • 1905: Stereo and Panorama Kamera ( 9 x 14 )
  • 1907: Stereophotoskop ( 4,5 x 10,7 )
  • 1911: Alpin Stereo ( 10 x 15 )
  • 1912: Spiegelreflex-Stereo
  • 1913: Stereflektoskop ( 6 x 13 )

Zeiss Ikon / Voigtländer[]

35mm SLR[]

For the Icarex line, see Zeiss Ikon.

35mm fixed lens[]


  • Vitessa 500 L / 500 S / 500 AE electronic / 500 SE electronic / 1000 SR

126 film viewfinder[]

  • Bessy k/ak/as/s
  • Vitessa 126 CS / 126 electronic / 126 S electronic

Voigtländer (Rollei)[]

35mm SLR[]

With 42mm screw lenses:

  • VSL 1 (TM)
  • VSL 2CX automatic (prototypes)

With Rolleiflex SL35 lenses:

  • VSL 1 (BM)
  • VSL 2 automatic
  • VSL 3-E
  • Vitoflex E (prototypes)

35mm rangefinder[]

  • VF 101 (1974–76)
  • VF 102 (1974, prototype)
  • VF 135 (1976–80)
  • VF 35F (1981)
  • XF 35 (1981)

Intermediate period[]


  • Vito
  • Vito
  • Vito CS
  • Vito C-AF

110 film pocket camera[]

  • Vitoret 110 (1976–81)
  • Vitoret 110 EL (1976–81)

Disc film

  • Voigtländer VITO -disc

Later products with the Voigtländer brand[]

Long after the demise of the original Voigtländer company, the brand was re-used by Ringfoto and Cosina.



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