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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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Has anyone actually opened up a Bessa?
Old 12-30-2016   #1
traveler_101
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Has anyone actually opened up a Bessa?

This is not particularly important; I am just curious. I own a R which seems mechanically sound, but I wonder about its works. I realise that the covering is plastic and have read that the interior frame is made of die cast metal, but what about the works? Has anyone opened the camera to see whether the gears and other mechanisms are actually made of steel as opposed to plastic?
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Old 12-30-2016   #2
tunalegs
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Quote:
Originally Posted by traveler_101 View Post
This is not particularly important; I am just curious. I own a R which seems mechanically sound, but I wonder about its works. I realise that the covering is plastic and have read that the interior frame is made of die cast metal, but what about the works? Has anyone opened the camera to see whether the gears and other mechanisms are actually made of steel as opposed to plastic?
A few years ago some ham-fisted amateur tried on apug.

Complained about the quality and it being "too hard" to fix, then claimed they threw it in the trash. I don't think they've got experience working on modern cameras, so I would discount any comment they make about the relative quality of the thing.

That said you can see some plastic gears hiding out in there, but that's not exactly unusual for the price range and age of these camera.
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Old 12-30-2016   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tunalegs View Post
A few years ago some ham-fisted amateur tried on apug.

Complained about the quality and it being "too hard" to fix, then claimed they threw it in the trash. I don't think they've got experience working on modern cameras, so I would discount any comment they make about the relative quality of the thing.

That said you can see some plastic gears hiding out in there, but that's not exactly unusual for the price range and age of these camera.
Thanks for the link. I agree the guy went ballistic because he couldn't repair the camera, but on the other hand, I don't like what I see there with plastic gears.
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Old 12-30-2016   #4
tunalegs
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In truth those plastic gears are probably not any worse than the soft brass gears in some old cameras praised for their quality (and may actually be better in some respects). Assuming they don't turn brittle after 40 years, I don't think there's anything wrong with them.
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Old 12-30-2016   #5
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Yes, if you open up a Bessa you find all the inner workings of an M3.
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Old 12-30-2016   #6
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I all honesty, Paul is hardly an amateur. There are really no amateurs on that website, except for the newbies who seek advice.

The Bessa R is one of my all time favorite cameras, but you have to be careful w/ what you are comparing them to. I had been shooting a pristine M3 for my first real rangefinder camera, and later bought a Bessa R. Yes, compared to the the Leica, the R certainly could have been seen as a piece of junk, just like a Corvette is a piece of junk compared to a Ferrari. But it worked fine, and you could replace it over and over if it broke (which a few did w/ the rewind crank issue) for the price of a CLA'd M3.

The cameras are built to a price point that means they should be replaced and not fixed. Besides, look how much an M3 or even a Leica III would have cost in real dollars when they ware new! So it's really comparing apples to oranges. I still say that if you shoot screw mount lenses, the Bessa R is one of the best cameras out there for that as a tool to get the shots. If you want a quality feel to the shooting experience, then buy a Leica and pay accordingly. The photos will look the same.
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Old 12-30-2016   #7
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No one could build a camera today built like the one in the '30's - 50's and sell enough of them to break even.

My young son is thrashing about with a new Olympus digital mirrorless 4/3rds camera, and getting great work done with it for $700. including 2 lenses.

I'm super happy putzing about with a 60 year old camera.
Don't kid yourself, the "good old days" weren't.
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Old 12-30-2016   #8
tunalegs
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve M. View Post
I all honesty, Paul is hardly an amateur. There are really no amateurs on that website, except for the newbies who seek advice.
I don't know them, but of course I do know he threw what is honestly a pretty simple camera into the trash because it was too complex for him to figure out.

Anyway the less said about apug and its users the better...

Quote:
Originally Posted by davidnewtonguitars View Post
No one could build a camera today built like the one in the '30's - 50's and sell enough of them to break even.

My young son is thrashing about with a new Olympus digital mirrorless 4/3rds camera, and getting great work done with it for $700. including 2 lenses.

I'm super happy putzing about with a 60 year old camera.
Don't kid yourself, the "good old days" weren't.
That's the truth. Heck, one can't even sell something like a Holga and break even these days. Makes one wonder.
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Old 12-30-2016   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve M. View Post
. . .
The Bessa R is one of my all time favorite cameras, but you have to be careful w/ what you are comparing them to. I had been shooting a pristine M3 for my first real rangefinder camera, and later bought a Bessa R. Yes, compared to the the Leica, the R certainly could have been seen as a piece of junk, just like a Corvette is a piece of junk compared to a Ferrari. But it worked fine, and you could replace it over and over if it broke (which a few did w/ the rewind crank issue) for the price of a CLA'd M3.

The cameras are built to a price point that means they should be replaced and not fixed. Besides, look how much an M3 or even a Leica III would have cost in real dollars when they ware new! So it's really comparing apples to oranges. I still say that if you shoot screw mount lenses, the Bessa R is one of the best cameras out there for that as a tool to get the shots. If you want a quality feel to the shooting experience, then buy a Leica and pay accordingly. The photos will look the same.
Interesting comment. I too really like the Bessa R, but I don't have a M series camera with which compare it, and as it is my main shooter now, I have been wondering how long I should expect it to last and what I should do if it needs repair. When you say "replace rather than repair" I begin to think: either I should buy a back-up R now or think about an alternative camera for my LTM lenses. Or perhaps I am just fishing for an excuse to feed my gear acquisition syndrome.
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Old 12-30-2016   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve M. View Post
Besides, look how much an M3 or even a Leica III would have cost in real dollars when they ware new!
Or a new one today in today's dollars. There are some who bemoan the plastic in the M6.
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Old 01-13-2017   #11
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A few months ago I opened the top plate to clean the finder and re-glue the film counter window back on. In my memory things were neat and clear under top plate.

The day before yesterday I opened the bottom plate to see if I can switch it with the bottom plate on OM-2000. I saw one or two plastic cogwheel inside the self timer part, but I don't think they will break.

1970s camera uses plastic cogs too, for instance Yashica Electro 35 GX (costs $533 today). I can knock someone out with that camera and still find the plastic cogs intact.

I used to be a material snob too but the R is really a nice camera and it has made me change my mind about materials. The R's VF/RF (which to me is 90% of a rangefinder camera) is killer for the money, and it is easy to carry. It's my latest RF but I've shot more rolls in it than other RFs I own.

When I go to work everyday, the R stays in the Fjällräven bag.
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Old 01-13-2017   #12
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No, I've never opened my Bessa R.

I love my Bessa R, and I knew what I was buying. I thought it would be a back up for my IIIf, but now my IIIf is a back up to the R. I use it with caution; advance slowly, don't push it hard at the end of a roll, don't let it hit anything while I'm getting into a car or other stupid actions. I've had it 10 years (bought from the RFF master), and use always: since then I've spent 2.5 or more the original price on my IIIf.

You guys who think you are going to a war zone with a camera, or to a protest march then maybe the R isn't for you. But in reality those types of photography are over for film photography.
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