Hi all,

I am the proud owner of a Vitessa ("A3" type I think, per Bertacchi's taxonomy). It's in good cosmetic and optical shape. Unfortunatley, it's got a few problems. This is the first one I've owned, so I'm looking for advice and comparison from long-time Vitessa owners (especially owners of multiple examples):

1. I had great difficulty getting a film to start winding. The leader engaged in the slit in the take-up spool and stayed there (did not flutter out). But when I re-mounted the camera back and began to wind on, the sprockets where not engaging the sprocket-holes in the film, so no advancement. It was as if the long semi-cylindrical bar protruding from inside the camera back, meant to press on the film just left of the sprockets, was not working. (But how a stationary part like that fail??) Is this camera typically hard to load and get a film going, or is this a true problem with my copy?

2. When finally, after 15 attempts, I got the film to start advancing, it got progressively harder to advance with each frame, until it jammed totally at about 20 frames. At this point I declared it a junk film (not a test roll) and opened the back in daylight to see what was going on. Nothing looked wrong. By fiddling around with the film, then replacing the back, I could alternate between jammed and Problem No. 1 (not advancing). I tried another film of a different brand just in case that was the problem; it too started with difficulty, wound on increasingly tightly to about frame 20, then the sprockets started shredding it. Great. Film chips too now!

3. When I open the camera (the "barn doors"), the standard erects violently fast with a loud THWACK. Is this normal for the Vitessa? Again, I have no other copy of a Vitessa to compare to, but I'm not accustomed to this behavior, compared to my old medium-format Super Ikonta and Voigtlander folders that open slowly and only with user help. I'm concerned that when the Vitessa opens this way, is that causing undue wear or possibly de-calibrating things through shock?

I'm preparing to send this to Essex Camera for Problem No. 2 at least; I guess the question is, are the other things true problems too?

Thanks for any advice...
--Dave