Beirette VSN front

The beirette vsn

When you share you hobby with the world, the world starts to share with you. My beirette vsn was a gift from a friend who found it on a shelf and thought I might have fun with it. And of course he was right. The beirette vsn is my second camera from the DDR / East Germany. It’s a beautiful and quite small camera with full manual control. It came in mint condition (sadly I lost the small plastic part of the metal advance lever) with box, bag, manual and even the warranty letter. I love to use it with a flash, somehow the 45mm lens creates magical portraits. And it is great in low light situations as well. The first Beirette camera was produced in 1939 by Kamera-Fabrik Woldemar Beier which was renamed in 1972 to VEB Kamerafabrik Freital. The beirette vsn was produced from 1974 till 1989, my camera dates from 1983. Some sources quote production numbers of 1.8 million cameras.

About the camera: As the Beirette VSN is made from plastic and aluminium, it is quite light. The camera works fully manual and has no light meter. The camera is equipped with a hotshoe to attach a flash in low light condition as well a connector for a cable release under (!) the shutter release for use with the “B” setting. (I found this out while reading the manual for the first time when I prepared myself for this post.)

Taking pictures: Again: The camera works fully manual. Choose your desired f-stop between 2.8 and 22 and calculate the correct shutter speed (1/125, 1/60, 1/30 and B).  If you use 100-200 ISO film, you might also just use the weather symbols. Then guess the right distance (0.55 till eternity) and shoot. The available depth of field is shown on the front of the lens.The mirrored viewfinder helps for shooting self portraits. In low light situations, attach a flash and set to 1/30.

Beirette VSN front Beirette VSN set Beirette VSN top Beirette VSN bottom Beirette VSN back Beirette VSN manual imm030_31 imm029_30 imm021_22 imm004_3 08a Vilinger Münster

Camera  beirette vsn
Year built  1983 (model built from 1974 – 1989)
Serial number  –
Lens  Meritar 1:2,8 / 45 mm
Shutter  Priomat
Film format  135
Special features  
Manufactured by  VEB Kamerafabrik Freital
Date of purchase  04.2012
Price  Gift, original price 95,- Mark (Ost)
Place of purchase  Aimaq von Lobenstein

Tips&Tricks: With the “weather symbols” you change the f-stops (2.8 – 22) and with the ISO setting you change the speed (1/125, 1/60, 1/30 and B), so I suggest to write down the film speed on a small paper and store it in the hot shoe. To calculate the right exposure, I suggest to use a paper calculator.

Film purchase & processing: Standard 135 film, I prefer 200 ISO. Films can be developed everywhere.

Useful Links: (review in German)

My pictures on Flickr

11 thoughts on “The beirette vsn

  1. Hello, Recently i bought a Beirette vsn at a Garage sale from a German couple for $2.00
    so i have a few questions for somebody of your knowledge,
    What film does it take?
    Does it require batteries?
    How is the film placed in the camera?
    Thank you so much. – Luke

    1. Hi Luke, all I know is written in the post above. The beirette uses standard 135 film, needs no batteries and inserting film works technically like in any other 135 point and shoot. Have fun, it’s a great camera!

  2. This post helped me so much, thank you Christoph!
    A friend o’ mine has just brought me this camera from Berlin. So, is it really a good camera? What are the strengths and what are the weaknesses in your opinion?
    Compliments for your photos and blog.
    Thank you

    1. Hello Francesca, great you like my blog and that I could help you with the Beirette. Strengths are size and weight, the low light capabilities of the simple lens, and the gentle touch on faces when you use it for portraits. Downsides are the quirky film speed equals aperture setting, the missing light meter and the compared to a Rollei, Minox or Lomo long lens, so you need a handbag. Have fun with it!

  3. Hi again Christoph! I’m sorry if i’m bothering you… i was wondering if you could explain me how to use the focus ring of the Beirette vsn, because i had some problems with it. Thank you.

    1. Hi Francesca, no problem.
      When you look at the grey ring under the focus ring, you see on both sides numbers. Those are the depth of filed indicators. On the Focus ring itself, the distance to the subject is marked.
      To focus follow the following steps:
      1. Select the right f-stop matching the light conditions
      2. Guess the distance to the main subject
      3. Make sure that this distance is in between the f-stop number

      Example: you want to shoot with an f aperture 11 and you subject is 5 meters away: The “5” on the focus ring has to be in between the two “11” on the grey plastic ring.

      To get sure that your main object is in focus, just align the referring distance with the little red index, this always works.

      Have fun!

  4. Hi, great article. I recently purchased a VSN2 without a manual. I was delighted to learn this camera has a cable release socket. It hadn’t occurred to me to look UNDER the shutter button. Thanks again. Shooting my first roll now.

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