View Full Version : Does anyone use Bessa L with normal lenses?
You'll have to excuse me, I'm in the middle of a 72 hour paper on the political culture in norway during the high middle ages, with emphasis on societal changes due to the introduction of christianity, and when I take breaks I REALLY switch one side of the brain off, but...
Does anyone here use the Bessa L as a "regular" camera with normal lenses with shallow DOF? It seems like it would be a LOT of fun to learn to use a RF camera without a rangefinder - I mean, you should be able to take REALLY candid shots if you even taught yourself to aim a 50mm without a viewfinder...
Or maybe I'm just weird...
I have an L with a 21mm Color Skopar which I don't use a lot; after going digital I can't seem to get back into film. It should be possible to use the camera with, say, a 50mm lens but focusing could be more of an issue. The nice thing about the wider lenses and scale focusing is that you have greater DOF, making it easier to achieve sharp focus. The longer the lens the less advantage you have...
The difficulty is what attracts me to it :)
Sure, it would be annoying to develop roll after roll of 36 pictures out of focus, but when you finally get it right, you would have serious bragging rights!
Especially with a 1.1 aperture lens..
I use two L's fairly regularly with CV lens ranging from 21 - 90mm. Its great fun to use as you say and sometimes very frustrating, you can get some wonderful artistic images with the out of focus pictures, my wife makes quilts for a living has used a number of them as inspiration for designs.
Not that big a deal, there even are a couple of scale focus cameras with 50mm normals that have quite a following right now - e.g. the Welti.
For most of photographic history, normals were, well, normal. And only the pros and the rich had any kind of focus confirmation, everybody else made do with scale focus.
While it would be frustrating to scale focus close-up with a fast lens, fully open, it always has been easy for landscape. And for apertures from f/5.6 on, guessing at the distance is good enough for group portraits - at f/11 it will look as if you had nailed the eyes even in a close-up.
In the sixties, there were loads of scale focus cameras with 50mm lenses, and people used them all the time. But that doesn't mean you can do the same now and be happy..
45 years ago, the most common print size for 35mm film was 9x6 cm. Today that has become 15x10 cm. You'll notice focus errors less on those small prints than on larger ones. That's why they got away with scale focus 50mm lenses then, and why you may be disappointed now unless you practice guessing the distance correctly.
The reason I thought about this was that I initially was going to buy a Bessa R2A with a 15mm 4.5 CV lens, but it would be almost stupid NOT to get the L+15mm Cameraquest deal, so I considered getting the L+15mm _first_, and then waiting with the R2A.
The L and the 15 4.5 were made for each other. I have a lot of photos with that combo. But, you'll be more frustrated than thrilled with images from a 50mm. I've never been a fan of making photography deliberately hard. :)
I own an L since 1999, which came in bundle with the 15mm, to which a year later I added some vintage equipment: 5cm Elmar f3.5, 13,5cm f4.5 Hektor (both coated) Leica Multiple viewfinder 3.5 -13.5, Voigtl. separate rangefinder. I've used this equipment as my only film camera until a few months ago for family/holiday pictures. I've used 400 ISO negatives which provide the necessary flexibility in terms of DOF, and with some practice in the distance measurement, I observed not fast but reliable results. The L has shutter times as short as 1/2000 and so occasional strong light can be handled as well. The 5.0 cm is easy to focus and I can recommend it. The 13.5cm is more difficult at close distances, since the measurement read on the rangefinder needs to be set on the lens barrel which has a much amplified scale, but success rate in my experience by far exceeded 50%. Most mistakes were actually due to the external RF which i had inadvertently disadjusted. A couple of years ago I added an uncoated 9.0cm f4 Elmar which has sometimes rather unpredictable flare, other times very charming colours effects. Finally last summer I added an R body which came with a 50mm f2.5 Skopar, a very nice lens, and I use it since then for above lenses except the 15mm. Yes focussing with the built in RF is more safe, but in my experience not really much faster. Speaking of a 5.0cm with aperture above f2.5, in low light I would even say that sometimes the smaller magnification of the rangefinder patch is a greater handicap compared to the manual setting on the basis of external RF. It's a pity that CV is abandoning the L39 thread for M-mount, on the other hand there are plenty of lenses out there to try, at reasonable cost. In any case I can recommend the use of the L also with above equipment, with some practice and patience, since even a true RF may not be the best tool for action photography. Regards
Sure you can.
My 1946 Adox Adrette has a 50mm Schneider Xenon f/2 lens, in-shutter with scale focusing only and the worst finder I've ever seen. No provision for a cold shoe in which to put an accessory rangefinder, so the user had to be good at guessing. Close focus is 1 meter and wide open, it's a crapshoot. I love that camera. Almost completely silent with the leaf shutter. Fantastic lens with excellent rendering. As long as I do my job of exposing and focusing correctly, the camera will turn in spectacular images.
Cameras like these were common until Kodak and Canon made coupled rangefinders a little less expensive than Leica and Contax. You'll just have to hone your craft a bit more, but once you become good at it, you'll miss fewer shots.
I think a 35mm Summaron or 50mm Elmar on any LTM body is pretty much the perfect carry camera for everyday use, everywhere. Especially with a Barnack or bottom loading copy. They are tiny, sharp and the Barnack bodies lend themselves to scale focusing very well since the finders are not as quick to use as modern offerings.
No reason at all that a Bessa L can't do the same thing. Have fun!
I think I've pretty much decided against going this route. I'll buy the R2A first and wait with the 15mm. I'll probably get the L with the 15mm as well, and use that house exclusively with the 15mm.
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