I specifically searched for this camera as I was sent one by a friend and I proceeded to break it. To be fair I think it was a bit dodgy to begin with. I put a very expired film in it which I didn’t know had stuck together inside the cartridge. The stuck film proceeded to break the mechanisms of the tiny camera, in particular the tiny protruding lever that stops the film when it catches on the sprocket hole. So I kept looking for a cheap replacement and this post lets you know I finally found one.
The vitoret was produced in the mid-1970s and is slightly bigger than the cartridge that holds the film. It is mechanical and doesn’t need batteries. There are some weather symbols on the top that adjust the camera settings. It can switch between two speeds 1/125th and 1/60th, the aperture between f5.6 and f16. When the lowest or dullest weather is selected the camera chooses 1/60th and f5.6 for all other settings it chooses the speed 1/125th. If you look at the instruction leaflets here, you will see the camera was made for 80asa film, so the current Tiger option will always slightly over-expose but should be ok. You can use this chart as a guide, plus remember the lowest, widest aperture will be at 1/60th.
When the camera arrived it had a film in it so I got that developed. There were 3 usable photos on it.
Then, being brave, I loaded another expired film, a Scotch 200 which had expired in 2000.
I figured that would be perfect speed-wise if it wasn’t glued up like the last one. I took the set-up to Knaresborough and, before you ask, I did not go to Mother Shipton’s cave as I have been there a few times and that’s enough. Luckily no jams or breakdowns with this example of the vitoret so here are the results.
I did see the Mother Shipton statue though. I left in a couple of dodgy results as they show the issue I had with the camera perfectly. It was so small that my equally small fingers kept going in front of the lens. For the next film, I tried really hard to avoid that. I chose Lomography Orca for the next run as it was rated at 100asa. I developed and scanned this one myself. They are a bit of a hit-and-miss selection, with different results in terms of exposure, plus there are scratches all over them. There is also an odd line down one side. I definitely used enough chemicals, it is hard not to due to the small size of the film.
Most of these were taken in around Dorset with the first two shots exceptions. The last shot is of Gold Hill which is famous in the UK for the Hovis advertisement. For people my age, this advert is consistently voted the best one ever and the music brings a warm homely feeling. Go to the end of this post to see it.
Ok, so the camera worked which was great news as I have wanted to try reloading a 110 cartridge for a while, hence I had the very expired ones. I tried using this one without the cartridge inside and with my finger on the small lever which cocked the shutter. It never popped out and it still fired…more good news. The reloaded film would not have sprockets so this test was important.
I read this post about taking a cartridge apart and managed to do it without too much trouble.
Then, using the FCK127 I cut down two 120 films into 127 and 110 sections. I had some trouble with that on the first roll as I don’t do it often, I was sure I fogged both sections. Loading the first 110 section into the cartridge was a real pain in the butt too, I much prefer using the 16mm cartridges which are made to be reloaded. The first roll was a 12 exposure so it only used half of the cut-off I had but as I needed the backing paper there wasn’t too much I could do. I could tape the window on the camera, but I didn’t feel like doing that. By the second roll, I was much better…I think, but only time will tell.
Once the film was in the cartridge safely, I took everything out of the dark bag and I taped the sides down slightly to avoid it popping open.
Then it was just a matter of loading it into the camera and trying it out…it didn’t work 😦
The film wound on, but the shutter would not fire. WHY!!!!
I took the cartridge out and had a look inside. I wound on the imaginary film and with the cartridge out the camera started to fire again. So something about the cartridge was stopping the camera from firing, a stopper of some kind. I reread the linked webpage, it said look for a notch on the cartridge. There was one, so I cut it off. It made no difference. I looked inside the camera again and finally saw a ‘nubbin’ on the bottom right side of the frame window. When the cartridge was loaded it pushed on this which in turn pushed out the shutter cocking lever. So, if I cut off that nubbin, the camera should work with or without the cartridge loaded…wait, if I had known that before then maybe the first example of this camera I had would have still worked by cutting that nubbin, bugger.
The small ‘nubbin‘ was here, I cut it off before taking this photo. This allowed the lever to pop out and stop the film advance until the shot was taken.
The nubbin pushed this section out on the opposite side. That locked the shutter button until the lever caught on the sprocket hole. With the nubbin removed the Vitoret could now not lock the shutter or stop the film wind on.
The only issue with this drastic action would be when using the camera with a normal cartridge. It would now fail to stop when the next frame was loaded. You would have to keep the camera open until the shot was taken and then close it until you wanted to move to the next frame. If you forwarded it, not take a photo, then close it to protect the lens…you will have lost the shot. This is not an issue for me as I got this camera specifically for this experiment. Plus I guess, I could alway glue a new nubbin on.
OK…did it work?
YES, the first film was fogged but I did get some images from this short roll. The camera did jam once and I had to take it out and push it along, hence the thumbprint. But with a bit of practice, I could start refilling the cartridges much more successfully. I still have one reloaded cartridge left to try and the two cut off 127 rolls. To be honest, after that I probably won’t be trying it again. I much prefer the Minolta 16 cameras to use the FCK127 cut-offs when I have them.
As for this camera, it’s great. It is so tiny that it even fits into tiny girl trouser pockets. Though I have to say I am not keen on the format, I even like half-frames over 110 shock-horror!
And now for the Hovis advert, good old YouTube. Plus a couple of extra videos for fun.