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Bessa R*M vs. R*A
Old 03-01-2012   #1
stillshunter
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Bessa R*M vs. R*A

Still not 100% on the R2 vs R3 - though leaning towards the R3 for the 1:1 VF and marriage with a Nokton 40mm f1.4 SC. But I digress.....already

I've read Stephen Gandy's pages on the Bessas multiple times and a plethora of reviews, but I'm still found scratching my head. On paper the R*M models appear to have the better VF display, quieter shutter and the bonus of no-battery use...seems like a no-brainer. But then trawling through RFF it seems more folks have opted for the R*A? Can I ask why? Also curious that the amount of used R*As available outnumbers those of the R*M models. Is this due to more sold new or a higher proportion of users wanting to move on from them for some reason (inversely more R*M owners holding onto their cameras)?

Again, I'd jump on an R3M w/- CV 40/1.4 SC tomorrow, but can't quite figure out what's with the proliferation of R3As. Maybe there is something that I am missing....

Really appreciate any insights.
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Old 03-01-2012   #2
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I'd say the choice is such: What is more important to you, aperture priority or battery-less operation?

Personally, I got the R4A, although my other RF does not have aperture priority. I don't miss aperture priority generally, but say on vacation, if I'm rushed from place to place, I think it's a great thing to have.

If you're not bothered about needing batteries (which last roughly forever), then get the R*A, I'd say.
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Old 03-01-2012   #3
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Really it comes down to if you want an all manual mechanical camera or if you want an electronic shutter camera with AE capabilities. I'd go for the M model if I was purchasing. However, I've used an A model in the past and it is very good... very accurate metering and shutter.
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Old 03-01-2012   #4
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I've had R2m and R4m and now have an R4a as I missed the wide finder after I sold the first R4. I don't think it really matters if you're not needing aperture priority AE and are not fetishist about having a manual camera.

All good

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Old 03-01-2012   #5
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I wanted the convenience of aperture priority metering, so I bought a R4A and then a R2A. I always carry a spare set of batteries with me, except for the time that I was out in sub-freezing temps for a couple of hours and the batteries died (they worked once I got home). I wouldn't hesitate to get the A versions, but you have to be happy working with the M type camera.
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Old 03-01-2012   #6
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any A model will be comparable with an M7, as no other film M has aperture priority. so to spend some $ on another camera, why not get one that has a differential versus any other Leica M?

I use an M4, 100% mechanical, but if I were to get a Bessa I'd get one with aperture priority capabilities. Mechanical by mechanical, I prefer Leicas.

the "being all manual" and thus being more reliable is not much of an issue in real life, extra batteries are cheap, easily available, lightweight and don't take much space in the bag: if you can carry another film roll, you can carry about 25 extra batteries.
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Old 03-01-2012   #7
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The R3A is more popular only because today more people are used to using AE cameras,
not mechanical.

As my page on the R2M / R3M explains
http://cameraquest.com/voigt_250.htm

I personally prefer the mechanical cameras.

"All of that said, on a personal note I have to say that I prefer classic mechanical cameras over electronic cameras. So my pick would be the R2M or R3M over the R2A or R3A. I just like the sound of mechanical shutter camera better, as well as preferring the classic metering readout."

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Old 03-01-2012   #8
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Wow, thanks all!!! So many responses in so little time. So it seems AE is the clincher here. I'm not a fetishist about manual but more wanting to maintain control of exposures in most situations. Having said that, convenience is always nice-to-have. Out of interest is moving to full manual on a R*A model a pretty simple and effective proposition?
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Old 03-01-2012   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stillshunter View Post
Wow, thanks all!!! So many responses in so little time. So it seems AE is the clincher here. I'm not a fetishist about manual but more wanting to maintain control of exposures in most situations. Having said that, convenience is always nice-to-have. Out of interest is moving to full manual on a R*A model a pretty simple and effective proposition?
Yes. You turn the shutter speed dial off "A" and onto the shutter speed you want to use. Simple, really. Meter still operates as usual but doesn't control the shutter.
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Old 03-01-2012   #10
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Thanks Leigh.

So it seems the R*A has the benefits of AE with the option to go manual as desired; which betrays a little more about their popularity. This is evident from a simple 'for sale' search, on the big internet auction site, where there are currently 5 used R3As and nil R3Ms (only new) listed for International sellers.

Reliability - R*A vs R*M
Is the mechanical R less prone to problems than its electronic A cousin....or are these pretty much of a muchness, or suffer a different breed of problem?
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Old 03-01-2012   #11
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I have been using bodies with electronic shutters for so many years. Never have problems because of batteries.

For R*A u can see the shutter speed used in the VF whereas R*M only exposure -2 -1 0 +1 +2 indication.

I would be fine with R4A but just that at that point of time a used R4M came first and so I ended up with a R4M.
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Old 03-01-2012   #12
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I bought the r3M because I like the under/o/over indication. Just a habit from the SLRs that I've had. I prefer manual exposure because I am in the habit of pointing the camera at mid to low tones for metering then reframing for the photo.

Also there MIGHT be some possibility that the M is more reliable, but I really don't know.
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Old 03-01-2012   #13
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I bought an R4A for the times I need to act quickly and don't have time to take a meter reading.
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Old 03-02-2012   #14
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I can't comment on electronic shutter vs. manual shutter reliability, but my R4A came with a 3 year warranty, so I feel pretty secure about it.
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Old 03-02-2012   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stillshunter View Post
Thanks Leigh.


Reliability - R*A vs R*M
Is the mechanical R less prone to problems than its electronic A cousin....or are these pretty much of a muchness, or suffer a different breed of problem?
I can't really comment because both my R3A and R4A have been totally reliable. Never had the M models. The often advanced point about battery failure is a furphy in my opinion.
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Old 03-02-2012   #16
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I bought the r3M because I like the under/o/over indication. Just a habit from the SLRs that I've had. I prefer manual exposure because I am in the habit of pointing the camera at mid to low tones for metering then reframing for the photo.
The R*A models have an AE lock button on the back of the top plate, just behind the shutter dial. You can meter anywhere you like, hold the button down and it locks the shutter speed until you reframe and release the shutter in the normal way. Release the AE lock and it's back to fully automatic for the next exposure.
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Old 03-02-2012   #17
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Quote:
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any A model will be comparable with an M7, as no other film M has aperture priority.
My Zeiss Ikon would disagree with this statement
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Old 03-02-2012   #18
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My Zeiss Ikon would disagree with this statement
As would mine
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Old 03-02-2012   #19
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Hexar RF and Minolta CLE would disagree, too
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Old 03-02-2012   #20
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Originally Posted by Leigh Youdale View Post
The R*A models have an AE lock button on the back of the top plate, just behind the shutter dial. You can meter anywhere you like, hold the button down and it locks the shutter speed until you reframe and release the shutter in the normal way. Release the AE lock and it's back to fully automatic for the next exposure.
Lots of cameras have that, but I find it unsatisfactory because if I'm doing portraits I set the exposure then might take a dozen frames. I don't want to keep setting AEL every time. Yes, I know the R*A camera can be totally manual if you want, so I suppose you have the best of both worlds, if you want. I still prefer the R*M exposure display. I often deliberately "overexpose" and it just seems clearer.
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Old 03-02-2012   #21
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My Zeiss Ikon would disagree with this statement
It's not a Film "M." Only Leica makes "M" cameras. Others make "M mount" cameras...
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Old 03-02-2012   #22
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It's not a Film "M." Only Leica makes "M" cameras. Others make "M mount" cameras...
!!!

nitpicking. but still, you are right. technically speaking
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Old 03-02-2012   #23
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Thanks all. I'm this much closer to my mind being made up.
1. I'd prefer the 1:1 VF and more accurate focusing with a normal lens - so the R3.
2. Looks like for the price and purpose, especially considering the warranty (3 years sounds good!) that the R3A is a sensible option.

Now to avoid Dante's Hexar reviews and all talk of "you'd be better of with an M3" Neither of which should matter as I'm almost set on lens number #1 being the Nokton 40/1.4. So just the CL and CLE left to avoid then....
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Old 03-03-2012   #24
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Originally Posted by stillshunter View Post
Still not 100% on the R2 vs R3 - though leaning towards the R3 for the 1:1 VF and marriage with a Nokton 40mm f1.4 SC. But I digress.....already

I've read Stephen Gandy's pages on the Bessas multiple times and a plethora of reviews, but I'm still found scratching my head. On paper the R*M models appear to have the better VF display, quieter shutter and the bonus of no-battery use...seems like a no-brainer. But then trawling through RFF it seems more folks have opted for the R*A? Can I ask why? Also curious that the amount of used R*As available outnumbers those of the R*M models. Is this due to more sold new or a higher proportion of users wanting to move on from them for some reason (inversely more R*M owners holding onto their cameras)?

Again, I'd jump on an R3M w/- CV 40/1.4 SC tomorrow, but can't quite figure out what's with the proliferation of R3As. Maybe there is something that I am missing....

Really appreciate any insights.
The R2A froze on me last winter (the batteries, I mean). But if your not shooting in Siberia everyday, go for the *A. But who knows what the 2012 has in store for us? Maybe the Apocalypse is coming after all. I was thinking of getting R4M and documenting the whole event. Might be hard to get batteries

Other than that, it's great to have AE, as you don't have to take the camera from your eye to see your shutter speeds.

The matte finish on *A is soo cool. Way nicer than the classic black of the *M.

And one more thing, I like to have a lock button on the shutter release.

All in all, a faster way to do things, which is what RFs are for. You can always go on manual to if you feel like it and get the same experience of the *M (the clicks of the dials are more "snappy" as opposed to the *Ms which felt little loose to me. Oh, but look at me, talking like a Leica guy)
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Old 03-06-2012   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stillshunter View Post
Reliability - R*A vs R*M
Is the mechanical R less prone to problems than its electronic A cousin....or are these pretty much of a muchness, or suffer a different breed of problem?
I've used an R3A, an R4M and two Bessas T for a few years, including trips and beach, and mechanical and electronic cameras, both have been 100% reliable.

I got a mechanical one first (wonderful camera!!!), but it's a fact AE is the perfect shooting style for lots of scenes. When it works well, why not use it too? It helps us concentrate in what really matters...

Cheers,

Juan
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