View Full Version : M6 or Bessa R3A ? Looking for RF for 75mm & 90mm

03-04-2005, 08:41
Hi folks,

I'm looking for a second RF to complement the Bessa R2 I've got already. The R2 is used for 35mm and 50mm lenses, and in future maybe a 15mm.

I'm interested in a second RF for the 75mm and up range, 90mm, maybe 135 (but that's not likely).

Ignoring the fact that a Leica is a "Leica" and an R3A isn't. Ignoring the fact that the R3A has AE, which I'm not interested in, being a manual shooter, which is the better option for my long focal lens requirement:

Leica M6, which has a longer RF base than the R3A, with a .72 possible .85 VF magn.


R3A, which has shorter RF base, but has 1.0 viewfinder magnification ?

Many thanks oh-wise-ones,

03-04-2005, 08:45
If you have the cash, go w/a 0.85 M6 or M6 TTL, it's pretty close to 1.0x & has the larger baseline. If you don't need a meter & can handle the absence of 75mm framelines, I would highly recommend an M3.

03-04-2005, 08:53
M6 or M3, close in price.
M6= Meter and wider frame lines
M3= more accurate focusing

I haven't used the Bessa....


03-04-2005, 08:56
The R3a's rangefinder should be fine to focus 75 and 90mm lenses in the 2.8 apeture range. The advantage of the 1:1 viewfinder is that the frame lines for the longer focal lengths are quite large and leads to easier composition.

I recently replaced my R2 and R3a with a .72 Leica. My desire was to have one camera which I could use for all focal lengths. The focusing abilities of the Leica rangefinder is greater than the R3a's for 75 and 90mm lenses, but in the real world, the R3a is quite adequate. The limiting factor to me about my Bessa's was the R2's focusing issues with longer lenses and the R3a's lack of wide angle capabilities, which lead me to Leica.

In a few months the new ZI should be available. I handled a prototype of the ZI and the rangefinder/viewfinder is wonderful. Very comparable, and possibly better than the Leica one. Perhaps a little more $ than a used M6, but it may be worth the wait.

Better wait to hear what the wise ones say though.

Huck Finn
03-04-2005, 08:57
Ijonas, the M6 is the better choice for your interests.

A third alternative is the Zeiss Ikon, due out this spring. It has a longer base line than either of the other two & combined with its magnification of 0.74x, yields an effective base length almost as long as a Leica with 0.85x magnification. As important is that it will give you greater versatility than the Leica .85 because its viewfinder includes 28 mm frame lines, which the .85 Leica does not.

Three good choices.

03-04-2005, 08:58
Oops, the wise guys hit the Post Reply button before I did.

Huck Finn
03-04-2005, 09:02
Rover, great minds thinking alike! :cool:

03-04-2005, 09:03
rover: How did the build quality of the ZI feel compared to an M?

03-04-2005, 09:10
Thanks folks,

That's great food for thought. Especially the Zeiss Ikon option seems very alluring, spec-wise anyway.

Time to start saving up... Oh and Manolo: I take it you wouldn't be interested in buying my dSLR collection to fund a fellow RF nut's quest for gear ?


03-04-2005, 09:22
Honestly, there is nothing like an M. Honestly again, there is a lot of over kill with the M too. Hey, if you can have and afford the absolute best quality then you should get it. And nothing can ever be taken away from Leica for producing the best. I doubt there will ever be another like it. Infact, the only thing that I have handled that compares is my Hasselblad.

That being said, for comparison sake, the build quality of the R3a is more than adequate for 99% of all photographers. It is really a well made machine, it just isn't a Leica.

The ZI is closer to a Bessa than a Leica M. At least the prototype was. Based on the conversation Huck Finn and I had with the Hasselblad representative who was showing the ZI, I wouldn't be surprised if the final version has some further refinements beyond the prototype. From my point of view, the R3a is a refinement and slight improvement over the R2. The ZI was perhaps a refinement qualitywise above the R3a, and maybe even more so in final production dress. And the Leica M, it is in it's own class.

03-04-2005, 13:34
I quite agree with Manolo that baseline trumps magnification. While extra VF magnification does make focusing long lenses easier, a long baseline is better for several reasons. The most subtle is that the long-base RF moves the doubled image more (relative to itself) for a given focus change, and this is even better for the user than a magnified view of the same doubled image moving less! Also, the long-base RF is less dependent on mechanical perfection in the mechanism. Yet more, while a lower-magnification viewfinder is less accurate, it has advantages in providing frames for wider lenses, and a long baseline adds back the focusing precision (in a user-friendly way).

The only advantage for a higher-magnification viewfinder is, I think, in using 90 & 135mm lenses where it makes framing easier... and if the VF magnification is 1:1 (or close) that's advantageous for keeping both eyes open. I seldom use 50mm or longer lenses, so tend to discount these factors, and I do have external 1:1 viewfinders for 50, 75, and 90mm focal lengths.

Brian Sweeney
03-04-2005, 14:07
If you do not require a meter, the M3 cannot be beat for telephoto lenses. Prices for User condition M3's that have been CLA'd are running ~$800 or so. Cameraquest has an overhauled double-stroke M3 at $800. The M3 viewfinder is very well corrected for flare. Look one over before making a final purchase.

With that said, the M6 Wetzlar that I played with last week was a real joy. The meter is nice, just like my Nikon F2S. The lucky new owner got it in near mint condition for under $1,000.

Huck Finn
03-04-2005, 17:18
Honestly, there is nothing like an M. Honestly again, there is a lot of over kill with the M too.

That being said, for comparison sake, the build quality of the R3a is more than adequate for 99% of all photographers. It is really a well made machine, it just isn't a Leica.

Rover, I think that your remarks on this topic are very incisive. Leica is still building their cameras the way they were 50 years ago. Think of the way other machines were built 50 years ago. Anything from lawn tractors to snow blowers to automobiles. None of them are built the way they were 50 years ago. It's nice to know that someone is still doing it to that standard of ruggedness.

However, as you point out, it may be overkill. While cars don't have the chrome bumpers & sheet metal they did 50 years ago, they get better milage & have crumple zones for safety. While you can't fix your car yourself the way you could when the car was all mechanical, modern cars are also more reliable & less finicky than the old ones were. Something's lost, but something's gained.

When you think about it, the market is always putting pressure on manufacturers & suppliers to produce quality goods at cheaper prices. Leica has resisted this. But is Leica quality necessary to get the job done? As you say, probably not in 99% of the cases. It is natural that the market would come up with cheaper & maybe, in some ways, better solutions. The R3A offers features like 1.0x magnification that you won't find on a Leica & the ZI offers still more refinements that you won't find even on a Leica. But neither is a Leica. Each gets the job done in its own way & each can be appreciated for its own virtues. Each will have its appeal to different people. Viva la difference!