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Voigtlander Focussing Brilliant

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The first
Voigtlander Brilliant was introduced in 1932 and whilst resembling a TLR, the viewfinder did not focus at all - it was just a fixed lens. In 1938 a proper focusing version of this camera appeared - under the name Voigtlander Focussing Brilliant. The camera illustrated below is one of these:

HERE for a potted history of how the Voigtlander Brilliant, Komsomolets and Lubitel cameras fit together.

Photo of Voigtlander Focussing Brilliant

1939 Advert for the V6 and Focussing Brilliant

An advert for the Voigtlander Brilliant range from the 1939 edition of British Journal Photographic Almanac

Photo of Voigtlander Focussing Brilliant

Photo of Voigtlander Focussing Brilliant

The bumps/holes and markings on the side with the film winder are for the film counter.

This photo shows the filter compartment with the extinction meter and yellow "cloud" filter.

All these photos were taken with an Epson PhotoPC 650 digital camera.


Lens Type

Uncoated Voigtar (taking), Uncoated Rapid-S-O (viewing)

Focal Length


Maximum Aperture

F3.5 (taking), F2.2 (viewing)

Film Type

120 Roll Film

Picture Size



8 speed Compur + B + T

Flash Sync


Self Timer


Its worth pointing out that the 'Focussing' in the title 'Voigtlander Focussing Brilliant' refers only to the upper viewfinder lens. As far as I can tell, ALL Brilliants had focusing on the lower taking lens (and I also never realised until I read the above advert that 'Focussing' and 'Focusing' are both correct spellings!).

The Voigtlander Brilliant was available in a large range of shutter and lens combinations. In 1939 the basic non focusing viewfinder model (the
V6) started at (pounds, shillings and pence), 2 15s 0d and went up to 8 12s 6d. The Focussing Brilliant as pictured here started at 10 10s 0d and went up to 16 0s 0d. This particular model I believe would have cost 11 10s 0d. According to the dealer stamp inside it was sold by the Sheffield Photo Co Ltd. At Year 2000 prices this would equate to a massive 349!

Sheffield Photo Co Ltd dealer stamp

 This picture clearly shows the Sheffield Photo Co Ltd dealer stamp (actually a transfer) which confirms the camera was originally sold in the UK. The curved markings to either side of the stamp are the edges of adverts directly moulded into the Bakelite. The left is for "ILLUSTRA FILM" whilst the other is for "BESSAPAN FILM".

Focussing Brilliant cameras are relatively common so do not fetch a large amount of money. Today expect to pay 20 to 40 for a Focussing Brilliant, depending on lens/shutter fitted. Also make sure the cloud filter and extinction meter adaptor are in the filter compartment. If not - at least get a discount as these items will be hard to find on their own.

This Voigtlander Focussing Brilliant has had one trip out with some success. It proved to be as easy/hard to use as a Lubitel (the ground glass dot on the focussing screen in both cameras is quite difficult to use) and the automatic frame counter was temperamental, loosing a whole frame somewhere and leaving uneven spacing amongst the other 11. There was also some evidence of vignetting in the corners of the photos which might indicate the Voigtar lens doesn't really have the coverage for the full 6x6cm frame. Overall though the following photos prove the camera is in working order and with care and practice I expect it would produce good results.

Photo of some disused stone steps

Photo of the edge of an old stone pond

These photos were taken using Jessops 200 ISO Black and White print film. The negatives were then directly scanned using a flatbed scanner into Coral Photo Paint 7 and turned into positives.

Some very helpful
instructions for the non focusing Brilliant V6 can be found on the MarriotWorld site.

Another good Voigtlander Focussing Brilliant page can be found at:

Got a question or can't find the info you are looking for? Click HERE to contact us.

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All text and images Copyright © 2000-2011 Roland Givan, unless otherwise stated. All Rights Reserved.

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