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Photo : Classic camera : Classic 135 format : RF (Range Finder) : Voigtlander Prominent family
Voigtlander Prominent family
The Prominent family of Voigtlander, Germany is one of the best and sought after RF in the market, began around 1950 to compete on tough competition with Zeiss's Contax and Leica M on lens interchangable RF, Prominent I type I which release with "unique focusing", with the upperleft knob as it's cousin Vito III, 120 relative as BessaRF and Bessa II, to move the lens plane chamber for focusing (the lens has no focusing ring and I was told that they are symmetrical design which rendered more quality, and Contax AX, first Contax AF SLR which use with MF lens used this moving chamber method).
Not for long it had to drive out Prominent I type II which add the accessories shoe on the top of the camera (type I has detachable accessories shoe). When the competition gets tougher, because the "very bright finder" of Leica M was released to the market, Voigtlander pushed Prominent I type III, which has brighter finder (compare to early Prominents) and some bright lines crop masks for lens.
But the Prominent I type III still can't keep up with Leica M, so Prominent developed the last of it's series Prominent II, which has much larger and brighter finder (again, compare to early Prominents but this time it was closed) but still have the same superior machanical and optical design than the competitors, but many disadvantages kept Prominent from winning the market. But for me, Prominent II is one of the best design RF camera (machanically and optically) and it's unique look and feel make me very enjoy when using it.
The era of Prominent ended when SLR start to take over the market from RF, then Voigtlander release Ultramatic and Bessamatic as its SLR lines to compete with Zeiss's Contaflex and Leica SL.
The advantages of Prominent to other RF are :
The disadvantages of Prominent to other RF are :
- The unique or odd machanical and optical design make are very eye catching.
- In Prominent I type III and II the bright lines for each lens are very easy to see.
- The limitation of "lens availablity", it's very limited choice compare to Zeiss's and Leica's.
- Prominent I has very small finder window, hard to compose and focus (but solved in Prominent II).
- The unique focusing, the upperleft knob focusing which someone may find difficult to use and handle the camera steady.