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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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Which Bessa to buy
Old 1 Week Ago   #1
RobinWinter
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Which Bessa to buy

Ok, so I'm considering buying a Bessa as my daily walk around camera. I have a Jupiter-3, Jupiter 8, and Canon 35 1.8 in LTM as well as some industar lenses and a leica 35mm 3.5. So my options for LTM lenses on it is pretty good. I know the R is LTM and is the cheapest to buy because of this, but of the other varieties, I know the 3R (or R3?) has 1:1 viewfinder, which is desirable for me, since I love the viewfinder on the Konica IIIa/m and the Canon P. So, the question I have is this: should I buy the R cheap and not sweat the not 1:1 finder or go for one of the M mount models and buy the M to LTM adapter (which still allows rangefinder coupling??) Oh, and I dont really have the budget to be buying M mount lenses really ever, so it would really be about build quality and the finder that would motivate me to not buy the R.

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Old 1 Week Ago   #2
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R3M is my choice
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Old 1 Week Ago   #3
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I don't know why but all FSU LTM lenses I have on Bessa R where spot on as is. Yet, almost every FSU lens I have to adapt to M, needed shimming.

Personally, if going with Bessa now, I'll get A version. It is real advantage over just TTL metering, which is as slow as hand-held metering, IMO. And the fear of batteries operated shutters is something similar to big cities people fear for crane mosquitoes, IMO.

One thing about just R as everyday camera. I did it. It was cheap to buy locally. And it quickly went from like new to ugly camera. If you go R route, make sure to get half-case and get ready for white plastic spots on top plate corners.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #4
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Bessa R2 is the one I like the best. Currently on queue for light meter repair. I think it was damaged somehow with a Summitar lens, so be careful with collapsible lens on them.

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Old 1 Week Ago   #5
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Out of curiosity (I'm not really an experienced RF user), if you're planning to use 35mm lenses, wouldn't it be better to have a finder with proper 35mm framelines?
Does the R3 finder have 35mm framelines?
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Old 1 Week Ago   #6
RobinWinter
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Good to know about the M adapter issues Ko Fe, that could be a deal breaker unless I can find some cheap fast 50mm lens to replace my J3.

After a little more research I am considering the As since aperture priority is one of the best things ever. I know the 2a has 35mm framelines and the 3a has 40mm. I figure I can use a 35 with 40 frame lines and just get a little extra in the frame so not a big problem. Really the M adapter issue and the price is going to be the deciding factor.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #7
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I was debating getting a Bessa a few months ago.

I made my mind up that I would go with the R4, since I would have access to all the wide offerings and framelines.

If I needed a portrait/tele camera I figured I could pull out my Nikon F3 for that type of stuff.

FWIW I did not end up buying a Bessa, in fact I went opposite and started culling my collection instead. I think if it were a hard user camera it would be great though. If you buy one new from cameraquest you have a new patch, warranty, etc. etc.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobinWinter View Post
Ok, so I'm considering buying a Bessa as my daily walk around camera. I have a Jupiter-3, Jupiter 8, and Canon 35 1.8 in LTM as well as some industar lenses and a leica 35mm 3.5. So my options for LTM lenses on it is pretty good. I know the R is LTM and is the cheapest to buy because of this, but of the other varieties, I know the 3R (or R3?) has 1:1 viewfinder, which is desirable for me, since I love the viewfinder on the Konica IIIa/m and the Canon P. So, the question I have is this: should I buy the R cheap and not sweat the not 1:1 finder or go for one of the M mount models and buy the M to LTM adapter (which still allows rangefinder coupling??) Oh, and I dont really have the budget to be buying M mount lenses really ever, so it would really be about build quality and the finder that would motivate me to not buy the R.
I would say considering the budget constraints and suitability for your lenses go for the R. In other words, you have LTM lenses get a LTM camera and then there is no need to buy an adapter - which will be an additional cost to acquire a good one (and you would need a good one).

The R would do the job and it is a nice camera in the hand and is easy to use with its big bright finder, in my opinion. I use mine frequently. If however you want to spend more money I would say get the 2RM rather than the 3RM. The reason is noted by Swift1. The 3RM has 40mm framelines, not 35mm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swift1 View Post
Out of curiosity (I'm not really an experienced RF user), if you're planning to use 35mm lenses, wouldn't it be better to have a finder with proper 35mm framelines?
Does the R3 finder have 35mm framelines?
I doesn't cost a lot to get a good quality R; I got mine from Japan and it is in great condition. Worst comes to worst and you don't like it, you can sell it and move on to more expensive gear.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #9
Juan Valdenebro
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Hi Robin,
I use four Bessas... You may end up with more than one... They're great: all of them and my Hexar AF see more use than my Leica, and that's a lot to say...
You should get the R3M, as Akiva said. Don't miss the 1:1 finder... I have the R3A and never use the AutoExposure because it's better to know in what light you walk in, and that's easier than some people think... My other Bessas are all manual, and I feel better with cameras having all their speeds ready to use without batteries. Both R3's have "clean" framelines for a 50, with lots of space around, a pleasure. You can also use the whole finder for a 35 view... By the way, I use my J-3 a lot on it, again, more than my 35 Leitz and my 90 Leica: brands are irrelevant. The J-3 is great stopped down for street, and pure magic at f/2 focusing close... And weighs nothing!
Good luck with your new Bessa!
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Old 1 Week Ago   #10
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I say get a bessa L... with a Soviet current finder, maybe? If you keep going, you’ll probably end up going wide... voigtlander wides are cheap plentiful and optically pretty good... you can get a bessa L for under $100 and it’s honestly easier to use than my M....
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Old 1 Week Ago   #11
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If you want to use external finders, get a T. M-mount cameras can use both mounts lenses, not the other way... Screwmount cameras have that limit forever, I've suffered it... Anyway, even though I love T's as much as for having two, that one would be nice as a second Bessa, 'cause focusing while you see all your composition is the rangefinder thing that was born with the Leica M3... The R3M is kind of a modern M3...
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Old 1 Week Ago   #12
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I have owned and used the R for a while now. Bought mine new from our head bartender and it has served me very well over the years.
I did have an R2A for a couple of years and that camera was nice to use as well. In fact, I used the R2A with my ltm lenses and one good adapter. The nice thing about going that route is that you can buy a good--Leitz/Leica/Voigtlander--adapter and just leave it on the camera. And it doesn't matter which lens(es) the adapter is for, frame lines are manually selected in the Bessa cameras.

I ended up selling my R2A and have kept the R. Not because the R2A wasn't good or enjoyable to use, I just liked the R a bit better.

If the availability of auto exposure is important to you, go for the "A". If it isn't, then I would pick whichever you find that is in the best condition--the R2A will be significantly more expensive.

Very occasionally I miss the ability to use M-mount lenses--the new 50 f/1.1 lens comes to mind--but otherwise I am content with my current selection of ltm lenses. I would recommend NOT collapsing any lenses when they are on the Bessas. And, I also will point out that the Jupiter-12 lens is most likely not going to work well with the Voigtlander cameras.

Rob
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Old 1 Week Ago   #13
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I sold my Bessa R when I bought an R2. I didn't like it and sold it. I eventually bought another R.

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Old 1 Week Ago   #14
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you can get a pretty decent canon P or 7 for less than you're going to spend on *most* bessas. There are reasons for not going that path, but it's worth considering. There's little to go wrong, and they're very repairable.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #15
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I tried a Canon P, twice. It's simple and solid, but the Bessa R has a much
better finder (especially for 35mm lens users) and an accurate built-in meter.

The Bessa R with CV Color Skopar 35/2.5 lens is a terrific combo.

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Old 1 Week Ago   #16
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The Bessa viewfinders are really spectacular. You really won't find the Leica viewfinder any better. I have the Bessa R, which is actually a great camera to use. It's no frills, so it is fast to use. It is the LTM version of the Leica M6 in my view. The semi-spot metering lets you get very accurate metering.
Regarding the viewfinder comparison, the view through the Bessa R finder is as good as (if not better) than the view through the Leica M7. The Bessa rangefinder patch never whites out in backlit situations. The M7 did, until I upgraded the finder to add the condenser lens back (taken out mid M4-2 production to save cost).

I then upgraded to the medium format Bessa: Voigtlander Bessa III 667W. Yes, this has it all! 6x6 or 6x7 format.
Very accurate autoexposure (with compensation available), or manual.
Literally silent shutter - they thoughtfully provided an LED in the viewfinder to tell you when the shutter fires. Otherwise, you don't know when it takes a picture.
The lens is the equivalent of 28mm in 35mm format. Killer sharp and distortion free.
Best of all, the viewfinder is not only parallax corrected, it will also change frame size as you focus. As you focus closer, the lens actually moves towards longer focal lengths, and the angle of view narrows. The big Bessa shows you this change.

I like this so much, I just bought its normal focal length brother - the Fuji GF 670. Same goodness, in a folding camera format.

The GF 670 shows its lineage from the Fuji GS645. The 645 has all the ancestral lines of the other cameras, including the viewfinder with frame size change as you focus. I bought a Fuji GS645 from another RFFer a couple of months ago. Nice portable little guy.

Since B&H have some new old stock Bessa R2M R3M and R4 available, I was tempted to get an R3M. With the 1:1 viewfinder, you can focus with both eyes open. You then see a frameline suspended in space - a very cool effect. However, having spent money on the medium format cousins, I can't justify further spending. But, as others have pointed out, once you try the Bessa goodness, you are tempted to get more.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #17
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Thanks for all the responses. I actually have a Canon P which I love, but the fact that the Bessa can meter up to iso 3200 is a huge plus since I do a lot of street shooting at night. Really leaning towards the R3A if I can find a good price on one. Honestly, if the P had a TTL meter I would never look back.

Unfortunately still just cant make up my mind. I start looking at the R for about $300, but then the R2A and R3A show up for about $500-$600, so for $200 or so more I have a camera that is a bit more future-proof. But then I'm into Konica Hexar money, and I absolutely LOVE Konica cameras. Ugh, maybe I'll wait until I'm in Japan in September and see if I can stumble onto something there. I think the question of how well my LTM lenses will work with any camera with an adapter is the main issue. If only there was a Bessa-R with LTM mount and 1:1 finder, haha.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #18
Juan Valdenebro
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Hi Robin,
Are you used to night street shooting with an AutoExposure camera?
If meters get fooled during daylight from overcast sky backlighting, by night a lot more, bacause light sources are present all the time... So, you'll end up deciding how much more light every scene requires above your camera metering for a decent exposure, all the time, frame after frame...
That, or if using AutoExposure, heavily underexposed negatives one after another... AutoExposure for well exposed negatives is something that doesn't exist: what exists is Autoexposure for negatives that record every image as a medium gray image in promedy...
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Old 1 Week Ago   #19
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Hi Juan, I use an XA series at night a lot and a Canonete and shoot mostly tri-x. Maybe its the huge latitude of the film, be so far I've been happy with the results and have no complaints about how they've metered at night.
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Old 1 Week Ago   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobinWinter View Post
I start looking at the R for about $300, but then the R2A and R3A show up for about $500-$600, so for $200 or so more I have a camera that is a bit more future-proof.
If you are patient you can buy for less. A few months ago I bough R2A with Super Wide Heliar 15mm+ 15mm finder+ J8 + two LMT->M adapters for 500. So, minus the price of lenses it is probably less than 300$. I also bought R4M with 21mm Skopar (M mount) for 900, so again - without a lens it was about 600$. I had some issues with my previous R2A shutter when batteries where near dead, but otherwise I love the camera, my M6 sits idle now for quite some time...
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Old 1 Week Ago   #21
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I used XA for night street and it was not sufficient. Only for well lighten parts and with next to the tripod exposures.
Honestly, pushing film to 3200 due to the street shooting at night is the last thing I would use AE for. To me "A" for street shooting is due to normal day and to have perfect exposure while walking shadow/sun street sides and have AE convenience. This is where AE shines. This is what I noticed from Bessa "R_A" models users. Perfectly exposed negatives during normal light shooting. I enjoyed it with Oly XA as well.
While for night street shots I always do M mode on digital cameras or measure with external light meter the incident light or spot meter with iPhone.
But J3 and 1/30 also works at night with HP5+, if on FED-2.
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Old 11 Hours Ago   #22
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Thanks for the input everyone. I decided to pull the trigger on a R3A that I saw on the bay for $400.00. Fingers crossed my FSU and Canon LTM lenses all work well with it. Cant wait!
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Old 10 Hours Ago   #23
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I have a Bessa R and I think it is the best bang for the buck among all interchangeable-lens rangefinders.
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Old 9 Hours Ago   #24
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Pick up a Bessa L and plunk a 25/4 Snap-Shot on her along with the Brightline finder. It was my walk around camera for several years. I got really good at guessing which of the click-stops for focusing was best (remember you only need to accurately guess those).

At first I was hesitant about it being too wide, but the lack of distortion and sharpness won me over.

That set up was VERY lite weight and easy to carry on a thin neck strap.

B2 (;->
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Old 3 Hours Ago   #25
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Having had (and now sold) a couple of M-mount AE cameras, and having had (and gifted) a Bessa R, I would say that there is little difference for the 2. The metering in the R is straightforward, in your vision indicators that allow quick adjustment. It's not like an SLR with "what you should" and what you are - and the AE cameras tend to be that way as well - it's simply "you are right", "you are high" or "you are low" - it's very quick to adjust and you can meter one area then shoot entirely another. Or quickly meter a region and set for the average, or meter once and shoot knowing that getting a bright light in the metering spot, or out of the metering spot, won't affect anything.

I would caution a little with the screw mount though. It's easy to think it makes little difference with screw mount lenses. I have now owned and used 7 Leica-mount cameras - 4 screw mount and 3 M mount - and with a decent handful of lenses all screw mount. For my use I'm more than happy with the screw mount cameras but the M mount makes lens changes super fast and easy. If you want to swap 35 to 50 and back during use then an M mount is a real advantage. If you like to choose a lens and leave it at that for the session it makes no real difference.

I've never had an issue with adapters, which have either been branded and come with a lens I bought, or unbranded bought over the net. I use chromed brass adapters not aluminum.

The R is a more plastic camera than the more modern descendants. That never bothered me, it does bother some.

Good luck!
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