Leica - Bessa comparison.
I just got the M4-P that I bought from a RFF member. It came the same day as an R2A from PV. So now I have an M4-P, R3A, R2A, Oly RD and Oly RC to try out.
I spent the afternoon comparing the cameras. The M4-P is going to need a CLA on the slower speeds (1/4, 1/2 and 1 sec), but the two Bessas are like new. Here are some observations. BTW, I can only keep one camera from the Leica and Bessas and one camera from the Olympuses. That will leave me with one M mount and one fixed lens rangefinder. So I have to decide. Perhaps you can give me some insight.
1) First the M4-P. I gotta say that this is one sweet camera. I haven't held a Leica for 15 years so excuse my drooling and babbling. The Leica feels sturdier, a bit heavier and smaller in the hand. It even looks smaller, even though the actual measured difference is minimal.
It is definitely quieter both to wind and the shutter speeds. The shutter sound is more like a soft "snick" than the higher pitched "chink" sound of the Bessas. There is no meter in the Leica so there is the drawback of having to use a handheld meter or guess. We will see if this becomes a problem or not. I used to meter like this and have become spoiled by automation. There is something to be said for being able to meter without the eye at the camera though. I find that I worry less about metering and more about photographing. But that is just me.
The RF base is longer so I can use my 135mm f/3.5 Schneider SM lens wide open on it.
The Leica is not hard to load, except for having to juggle the baseplate while you put the film in. The film starts easily and I had no problems getting it to wind on.
The Leica is definitely a well built and beautiful camera. I got an excellent example with a new skin and no marks on the metal. It really is mint. I got it at such a nice price that even with adding a CLA I am still ahead of the game based on recent used prices for a mint M4-P. But with the CLA it is more expensive than buying a used Bessa by about $250-$300.
2) The Bessas are identical except for the viewfinder frames and the fact that the shutter sound is a bit quieter on the R2A than the R3A. My guess is that it is just sample variance. The R3A vf has too much magnification for me. Many people really like it, but I feel more comfortable looking through the R2A. In fact I bought the R2A to replace the R3A and then this darn Leica showed up.
The vf has a bit less mag than the Leica(.68 vs .72) so the 35mm frames are just a bit easier to see. This could also be from the fact that the 35mm frames on the R2A cover less area than the 35mm frames on the Leica. The 50, 75 and 90 frames are very close in coverage between these cameras. The 35mm frames are definitely different in coverage though. Which is more accurate I won't know until I run some film through.
The Bessas are a bit lighter than the Leica, although I don't know that you would really notice it much while carrying them.
The Bessa shutter sound is certainly not loud they are just not as quiet as the Leica, but this is also a subjective measurement. The Oly RC and RD are much quieter than the Leica. So it is relative.
The built in meter with AE is a very nice plus and it has me really thinking hard about which camera to keep.
The viewfinder on the Bessas has some reflections that show up when there is lighting behind you. It is not bad but is there. The Leica did not have these relections in the same situation. But the vf on the Bessa is a bit brighter and contrastier than the Leica. This could be due to the fact that the Leica is older and needs to be cleaned. The difference is very small though.
Loading film is easy with the swing back. I would say that it is a bit easier than the Leica, but IMHO it is really a non issue.
The Bessa are nice cameras. They do not cause the heart to flutter when you hold them but they are a good serviceable camera that does the job.
3) The Olympuses are very similar cameras. The RC is smaller with a slower max aperture, but it is pocketable. The RD has a larger lens so it is a bit bulkier. The viewfinders are almost identical and the lenses are very close in quality. They are both very quiet as well.
This will be a backup camera to the M mount so it will not get used nearly as much. I can only keep one of these.
Now I have to decide what to keep. It really comes down to whether I want an in- camera meter and automation or that Leica feel. Now I could go out and get an M6 but the M4-P with CLA will really stretch my budget to breaking. The extra $300-$500 for and M6 is just not doable now. Tough decision.
I would also like to try a CL. But that will have to wait. I am tapped out and full of GAS.
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