Originally Posted by Way
My wife and I are violinists and have had several students attend the Colburn school's orchestras so we are quite familiar with the school and venue. I could meet and show you the Bessa III and Mamiya 7II. Loading of the Bessa or Mamiya is no different than any other modern swing door camera. Please PM me if you are interested.
It was so kind of you and Wendy to travel all the way downtown to share your expeience with the MF Bessa III and the Mamiya VII II, both with 80mm lenses. Thanks so much!
Impressions of the Bessa III and Mamiya VII II in a brief test at Zipper Hall, The Colburn School, Los Angeles.
My need is for a quiet shutter for pictures during a live performance. So we went to the rear of Zipper Auditorium and The Colburn School. That location is rated as having a particularly highly rated acoustic quality. It's therefore not too forgiving for any added sounds. Using a DSLR, of course, is out of the question even during loud passages. It will reveal instantly even a Leica shutter. This thread on the Bessa III intrigued me, but how would it fair in practice? So we did the following simple and purely subjective test. Wendy kindly went on the stage and played piano, a fine Steinway grand.
Way and I stood in the center behind the very last row of seats. We focused on the sharp lines of the piano stool with both cameras. I used ISO 400 NP Portra (film being processed) at f 5.6 and aperture approx 1/30 sec. I fired the Bessa III first, but only realized it went off because I could now wind on the next frame. That was a much more noisey experience; one can hear some ratchet clicking on a cogged wheel. Not as loud as that in a dungeon of the inquisition, but for sure there would be screams at me if did that repeatedly during a concert. Shooting the Bessa III again, I could just make out the very understated tap, like someone softly taps the back of the fingernail against the LCD monitor, so softly that one can just make it out. That's how quiet it is. Way then fired the Mamiya VII II and this was louder than the Bessa III for sure, but quieter than the Leica CM. It could be lost in the environment of a large concert hall. The lever winding of the Mamiya VII II is much more acceptable and if one does it slowly, it could pass unnoticed. The Bessa III? forget it!!
So the Bessa III is the winner of quiet shooting. The only quieter camera is the Canon G11, which is absolutely noiseless, (with the synthetic shutter noise disabled). If one can take just one
perfect shot in each movement or part of a music piece, then it will be utterly unnoticed by the entire concert hall, (delaying winding the film until the intervals). The Mamiya VII II, however, is especially worthy of consideration since it has wide angle lenses almost without peer. So there are two very great choices.
As a general comment, the Bessa III is not a light camera, it appears to be almost the weight of the Mamiya VII. However, it's well built. The setup, from closed to ready to fire, is all of 2 seconds at the most! One simply releases the catch on the cover by pressing the edge towards the lower hinge. (Obviously it will not and mustln't not open if one hit or actually pressed on the release itself as that would open up the camera in one's pocket). The lens comes forward with the bellows on a track and solidly clicks in place. There was no evidence of any looseness or lateral sway. The rangefinder is bright and easy to focus (but the Mamiya VII II is just a tad easier to use and to get into focus.) When the focus ring of the lens is turned, the lens does not move at all on the frame of the camera but stays solid as if it was just one piece.
So apart from waiting for the processed film, the testing of the Bessa III assures me that this is as stealthy as one can get with any camera outsdie of the Canon G11 and is likely to work very well in live classical music performance settings. I do caution against trying to use this even this camera in a recording studio as that so faint a Bessa III click will then cost a lot to be removed by the sound editing engineer!