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Voigtlander Bessa Leica Mount Cameras Made in Japan by Cosina in partnership with Voigtlander, the many modern Voigtlander Leica Screw Mount and Leica M mount bodies offer inexpensive and often unique options into entering the world of Leica rangefinder photography.

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Bessa R2 or R2a/R2m
Old 05-10-2017   #1
parks5920
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Bessa R2 or R2a/R2m

Hello,

I'm looking to purchase a Bessa and need some help in regards to which will be the better purchase in the long run. There are some good deals out there on the R2, but is it worth the extra $$ to go for the R2A or R2M? Thanks in advance for your feedback.

Best,

Jason
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Old 05-10-2017   #2
Robert Lai
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Based on my experience with the Bessa R, which has the same viewfinder, these cameras have a very clear, sharp viewfinder. The only flaw is the short baselength, which affects focusing accuracy with longer lenses.

Why not consider the R3M? You get a 1:1 viewfinder, which means that you can look at the scene with both eyes open.

Otherwise, you have to decide if the automatic exposure option is worth $50 more to you. I would probably say so, as it is much faster to use on occasion. The only hitch is that the camera is then battery dependent. On the RxM cameras, the battery only powers the meter.

A question which always lurks in the back of one's mind regarding these cameras: why not just buy a good condition used Leica M for the same price?
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Old 05-10-2017   #3
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I thought a Leica M with similar things like a built in light meter, etc would be a lot more expensive?
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Old 05-10-2017   #4
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umm Leica M6 (built on meter) are in the $900-1500 neighborhood. R2-R2a-R2m go for $350-800. So, IMHO, no, they are not in the same price range.

Obviously I'm talking about common prices, not lucky find prices

Got my R2 for $280, with just a bit wear on the bottom cover. Works like a charm and normallly get the same use as my M6.

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Marcelo Paniagua L.
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Old 05-10-2017   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by parks5920 View Post
I thought a Leica M with similar things like a built in light meter, etc would be a lot more expensive?
Ehhh!

What's an additional 4 or 5 hundred dollars among friends?

If the R2 (A or M) fits your wishes, buy it. They are wonderful cameras, they provide a meter, and they can use Leica lenses. What is not to like?

Oh yeah...I forgot. They aren't a real Leica.
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Old 05-10-2017   #6
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Try the R2s instead?
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Old 05-10-2017   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pioneer View Post
Ehhh!

What's an additional 4 or 5 hundred dollars among friends?

If the R2 (A or M) fits your wishes, buy it. They are wonderful cameras, they provide a meter, and they can use Leica lenses. What is not to like?

Oh yeah...I forgot. They aren't a real Leica.
Yeah agree. They are indeed fine cameras but they aren't Leica. Dont expect film Leica build quality at that price. Nice, bright finders though.

Forgot to mention, the meter on my R2 failed once and needed to be fixed. My M6, even thought it gets as much (perhaps a bit more) use as the Bessa R2, havent failed on me yet.


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Old 05-10-2017   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mpaniagua View Post
Yeah agree. They are indeed fine cameras but they aren't Leica. Dont expect film Leica build quality at that price. Nice, bright finders though.

Forgot to mention, the meter on my R2 failed once and needed to be fixed. My M6, even thought it gets as much (perhaps a bit more) use as the Bessa R2, havent failed on me yet.

Regards
As you say, the Leica is certainly built quite nicely, as is expected by something that costs that much. But everything can break, even Leica. And many cameras that may not be built as well can still last a very long time, even Bessa.

No one actually needs to pay luxury prices to enjoy rangefinder photography. There are far more people who cannot afford a Leica than there are who can. At least with the Bessa there is an option.

From purely an anecdotal perspective, everyone has their own story. I have 3 Bessa rangefinders and none of them have needed any repair. I also have a few Leica rangefinders and a couple have needed repair, including an M6.
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Old 05-10-2017   #9
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For most common lens parameters the Bessa R series are fine. If you use a really fast 50 or a fast longer lens (I have an 85mm/f2 that is at least one stop beyond "acceptable" error margin) and you use them at short distances then a longer base for the rangefinder is required.

If you use wide lenses, or average 50s, or f4 teles, or mostly shoot near infinity focus, then the Bessa R cameras are great.

Remember that if you DO have a lens that falls outside the parameters (like my 85) you can still use it, just expect that wide open the focus may vary from what the camera says is OK - ie you may be back-focusing or front-focusing slightly. At smaller apertures the depth of field covers this.
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Old 05-10-2017   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pioneer View Post
As you say, the Leica is certainly built quite nicely, as is expected by something that costs that much. But everything can break, even Leica. And many cameras that may not be built as well can still last a very long time, even Bessa.

No one actually needs to pay luxury prices to enjoy rangefinder photography. There are far more people who cannot afford a Leica than there are who can. At least with the Bessa there is an option.

From purely an anecdotal perspective, everyone has their own story. I have 3 Bessa rangefinders and none of them have needed any repair. I also have a few Leica rangefinders and a couple have needed repair, including an M6.
Yeah, like everything on life, YMMV


Regards

Marcelo
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Old 05-11-2017   #11
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As a Bessa user I'd recommend going for the A or M models if you can afford it. I was after an R3M and ended up with an R3A. The aperture priority has come in very handy at times and got me shots I would have missed without it. Stick a spare battery in your pocket/bag and the power issue is essentially redundant.

The 1:1 viewfinder in the R3A/M models is an absolute gem. I don't say this to stir the pot but you won't find it in any Leica. If you shoot 50mm lenses it's a match made in heaven, if you shoot 40mm it's great, and I shoot 35mm 99% of the time using the whole viewfinder as the frame (but that's not easy if you wear glasses).

If you're so inclined then the A and M models look a little slicker as they are all black, no silver film lever / rewind etc, though I think that depends on which generation the body is.

Wonderful cameras, good luck with it.
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Old 05-12-2017   #12
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Quick question for those of you have both an R2 and either an R3m, R4m, or R2s - are the newer Bessas quieter than the original R2? I'm not asking for a result determined by a decibel meter, just an impression. Thanks.
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Old 05-12-2017   #13
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the "A" is worth it if you will need to shoot quickly in changing light. i prefer the longer baselength "3" bessas because i shoot fast glass at close distances all the time. what luke says:

Quote:
Originally Posted by LukeBanks View Post
The 1:1 viewfinder in the R3A/M models is an absolute gem. I don't say this to stir the pot but you won't find it in any Leica. If you shoot 50mm lenses it's a match made in heaven, if you shoot 40mm it's great, and I shoot 35mm 99% of the time using the whole viewfinder as the frame (but that's not easy if you wear glasses).
just depends on how and what you shoot.

imho, the only significant difference in the film bessas is between the original R, which had a flimsy film door, and the R2/3/4, which all share the same basic body.
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Old 05-12-2017   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by presspass View Post
Quick question for those of you have both an R2 and either an R3m, R4m, or R2s - are the newer Bessas quieter than the original R2? I'm not asking for a result determined by a decibel meter, just an impression. Thanks.
Not really. They all have the same shutter system and body build is really similar (in other words, no additional sound damping). There is a bit difference between the R and R2, because the body build of the R2 is supposed to damp the sound a bit, but not the case of the R2 and further Bessa's, at least IMHO.

Regards

Marcelo
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Old 05-12-2017   #15
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The R2 has the same finder as the R, which to my memory is much clearer, nicer, less squinty than the R2a/m.

It stopped me buying an R2a when I wanted an M camera after my Bessa R.
I tried them all, including M7 ( ugly cluttered viewfinder ) and settled on a Zeiss Ikon as I couldn't find an R2 for sale.

The Zeiss viewfinder is wonderful and elegant, puts the Leica M9 Finder with its chunky lines to shame.


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Old 05-15-2017   #16
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Thank you for the responses, very helpful, one more question, can you use a 40mm lens on an R2 that has 35mm frame lines? My guess is no, but are you only able to use the 35/50/75/90 lens? Thanks again.
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Old 05-15-2017   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by parks5920 View Post
Thank you for the responses, very helpful, one more question, can you use a 40mm lens on an R2 that has 35mm frame lines? My guess is no, but are you only able to use the 35/50/75/90 lens? Thanks again.
You can use a 40mm on an R2, but you'll have to imagine a bit with 35mm framelines.

I shoot 40mm on an M9, as the Leica 35mm framelines are quite tight for 35mm, perfect for 40mm.

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Old 05-15-2017   #18
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You should be able to use just about any M-mount lens on the R2 camera--I think I remember reading that early Leica 21mm wides don't fit but I don't know that for sure.
The frame lines in all the Bessas are manually selected so the lens mount doesn't have to do anything with frame lines. I've used, for example, the frame lines for 90mm with three different lenses: a 9cm Elmar, an 85mm Jupiter 9, and a 100mm Canon.
That worked tolerably well for me. Using a 40mm with the 35mm frame lines shouldn't be to tough to learn where the edge of the frame actually is--some where slightly inside the 35mm frame lines.

One of the things I liked about using my R2A was that it was simple to just buy one good quality LTM to M adapter and leave that on the camera so that I could use almost all of my LTM lenses.

Rob
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Old 05-15-2017   #19
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Great, thank you!
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Old 05-15-2017   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by parks5920 View Post
Thank you for the responses, very helpful, one more question, can you use a 40mm lens on an R2 that has 35mm frame lines? My guess is no, but are you only able to use the 35/50/75/90 lens? Thanks again.
As already discussed - 35mm framelines are about right for 40mm (in some cases just outside the frame, others pretty much right on).

You can mount any lens on, it's just whether the framelines work. I have an 85mm mounted on my R-D1 at present - it only does 28, 35 and 50mm framelines. I swap a 40mm on and the 35 frames are a touch too big but give a decent idea.

Remember that framelines on film cameras (I can't speak foe the R-D1) are set for slide size - so are narrower than the specified lens on print.
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Old 05-15-2017   #21
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I have owned both M6 and Bessa R2M. The better camera is no doubt the Bessa. I base that on the better viewfinder and bigger RF patch, the 1/2000 s shutter and the handling (weight). I eventually sold both, for various reasons, but I sold the M6 first.

The only thing I didnīt enjoy with the Bessa, was the flimsy feel of the rewind knob. It is plastic and feels like it is going to break. It didnīt though.

The Bessa is a newer camera, light seals should last longer and is a joy to use. Buy more lenses for the money saved or film!
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Old 05-15-2017   #22
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I have the R3a and the R4a and just love them. They are light, portable, discrete and with clear unmuddled viewfinders and I personally have not had any performance issues. If you're being "realistic" about your GAS then I would get one, leaving room for the later purchase of the other, but if you have more self restraint then me the R2 is probably the middle road choice. I find the automatic aperture + AE lock quite handy for travel, and use it 95% of the time that way. Build quality is sturdier than you might think, but I also feel good knowing I am not lugging around an expensive luxury item when travelling rough.
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Old 05-16-2017   #23
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Quote:
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The only thing I didnīt enjoy with the Bessa, was the flimsy feel of the rewind knob. It is plastic and feels like it is going to break. It didnīt though.
I didn't know the RxM has plastic rewind knob. I have Bessa-R and the rewind crank is metal, I've heard people complaining it being flimsy (or even calling it made of plastic) but I've never had problem with it.
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Old 05-16-2017   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by parks5920 View Post
Hello,

I'm looking to purchase a Bessa and need some help in regards to which will be the better purchase in the long run. There are some good deals out there on the R2, but is it worth the extra $$ to go for the R2A or R2M? Thanks in advance for your feedback.

Best,

Jason
What lenses do you own / plan on acquiring? If they are LTM you might consider a Bessa R; if you own M mount lenses, do you tend toward 35mm or 50mm? If 35 get a R2; if 50 or 40 get the R3M with its 1:1 finder.
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Old 05-16-2017   #25
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Quote:
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What lenses do you own / plan on acquiring? If they are LTM you might consider a Bessa R; if you own M mount lenses, do you tend toward 35mm or 50mm? If 35 get a R2; if 50 or 40 get the R3M with its 1:1 finder.
I don't have any glass yet, but really would like to get R2x with the m mount, which I'd like to use on my micro 4/3 with the adapter.
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Old 05-16-2017   #26
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I have far more Leica mount lenses than I care to think of, and all are screw mount - even the roughly Y2K models. You have to really want a Leica lens (i.e. spend a small fortune) to NEED to get M mount lenses.

You can get (cheaper) screw mount adapters for your micro 2/3, or mount an M-screw adapter into the M mount if you wish.

I have gone for M mount cameras - I have a Minolta CLE and an Epson R-D1 - for the convenience of changes and because I wanted the digital (which only comes with M mount) but I also use a Leica IIIc - as I want, with any of my lenses, and I have also had a FED 2 and a Konica Hexar RF in the past - screw mount and M mount. I previously had a Voigtlander Bessa R with screw mount - and it was perfectly fine as well, VF as good as any and the nice simple (centred) light sensor was very good. Only gave that camera up when I bought the Hexar RF.

So my camera advice is - if you have no lenses, ANY of the Bessa R, R2 and R2m are functionally identical other than the mount. Metering is more centered on the R, build is more substantial on the later cameras. If you don't change lenses much, the R is a fine camera at a better price point than the R2m.

The 1:1 finder (the R-D1 has one) is nice, but not necessary.
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