Is the Bessa R my only option?

styvone

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Hi everyone,

I've been shooting with a Canon P for the past year, but those 35mm frame lines are so hard for me to see without pressing my eyeball against the VF glass. To add, I've been wanting a meter in my rangefinder for quicker shots.

I've been doing some research and am looking for an interchangeable rangefinder with the following:

- Built-in 35mm frame lines that are easy to see (preferably by itself, but I won't cry if it shares the frame with a ~90mm frame line). Needs to have 50mm frame lines as well (I primarily shoot 35, but like to use 50 from time to time)

- Built-in TTL meter with easily accessible batteries

- Fully mechanical (batteries only power the meter; camera can still shoot without)

- Takes LTM lenses natively

- Swing film back door and lever film advance

My research indicates that my only option is the Bessa R... unless there are other rangefinders out there that I am not aware of.

A cursory scan on eBay shows that these bodies are going for ~$500, which to me is a lot considering I got my P for ~$200. I'm hesitant because I've read many posts discussing the "plastic-y" feel of the Bessa, which doesn't feel fantastic when I think of the long-term. I don't want to shell out the money for a Leica, since I don't feel comfortable walking around with such a heavy investment strapped around my neck.

Does anyone know if the Bessa R is my only option here? Or should I just suck it up, use an aux finder + get faster at Sunny 16 on the P?

Many thanks in advance!
 
Leica M3 + 35mm with goggles is a great option for easily seen 35mm framelines (but no meter). I would not rule out cameras with electronic shutters. If you actually want to see the 35mm frameline, the Hexar RF is really good, costs just as much as a more cheaply-built Bessa, and has 1/4000 top speed. Modern electronic shutters are not in any way more unreliable than mechanical ones.

Neither are LTM native but adapting is so easy.
 
I agree that the Canon P finder is sort of painful as far as eye relief is concerned. Some of the other late model Canon's are better in that regard. For instance the VI-L has a great very good finder in that regard - a super quality camera too. The Canon 7 models also have eye friendlier finders IMO - it's an inexpensive camera too - fairly good quality.
 
umm I vould vouch for Bessa (especially Bessa R2). Finder is really brigth and framelines are very easy to see. Build quality is great. Not brick build like Leica but not cheaply build by any stretch of imagination. There is some plastic in there but not necesarily cheap. Have one and sold it some years ago to afford some lens but not because I was unhappy with it.

If you want to go on a more pragmatic way, Bessa T with viewfinders are great. I use it when I want a clear finder. It has a wonderful rangefinder for weak eyes like mine.


Marcelo
 
Learning Sunny-16 is important with any camera. I'd also suggest acquiring a new and reliable exposure meter when you feel ready. Meters are not a place to skimp on cost.

The Bessa R is actually a pretty decent camera - it is not inspiring as far as build quality is concerned though. Its finder is one of the best ever, and the TTL meter is very reliable. It's a practical choice more than a camera to be inspired by.

There's no question that Leica M's are uncompromising cameras in most respect - the cost is very significant though - and rising.
 
I used a Bessa R for years. The brightness of the finder is so nice ! The frame lines are clear. It is a great little camera. Meter was good enough for me.
 
I use to own a Konica Hexar RF as a back up/alternative to my Leica M and it was a delight to use. Granted the RF wasn't quite as good as a Leica M due to lower VF mag and a little less bright but overall, but it was still quite nice. Build quality was excellent and I suspect it would require much less servicing than Leica's due to their nagging service issues like mechanical shutter speed accuracy and a shutter trip point that tends to shift over time. Compared to Bessas, RF adjustment on the Hexar isn't as too hard to do as the top cover comes off with only minimal tools. True it relies on batteries but how hard is it to carry a spare pair?
 
Well beaten topic of discussion :)
So, rewind and repeat...

Bessa R series are based on universal Cosina made economy SLR chassis . Like Nikon labeled FM10.

Top plate is bright plastic. Paint worn out on left, right top edges and this white plastic is revealed. Back is covered with very soft rubber. It gets scratched and punched.
Back damage is preventable with half-case. Top plate not so much.
Film pressure plate is hold by two thin plastic pegs.
The difference in feel of exterior quality is noticeable in favor of your P.

Strap lugs placed to have lens going up.

Lightmeter... I had same issue with R and R2M. In uneven light (dark, bright and shadows within the frame) it goes nuts. To get it back to normal you would have to guess guess correct shutter speed, select it and point RF patch exactly where it is correct.

Is it worth of 500 USD used? I had mine for 250 CAD with J8 and it was like new on local purchase and within couple of years it lost paint on top plate as I mentioned and back rubber was awful because I didn't used half-case.

T... I had it LN as well. VF bracket became loose after two roll of film. I googled it... Sure enough well known issue.

If you are looking for long term use and durable, just get Leica LTM after CLA. It is still best LTM camera, IMO. SBOOI for 50mm (it is superior to M3 non 1:1 VF) and pay extra for 35mm brightlines VF. Or DIY from crapped out Minox 35, Olymus XA.
If you won't like it, it is easy to sell without significant loss.

Lightmeter in camera isn't much different from free light meter app from the phone. Except phone's one is WYSIWYG.
 
There is always the quirky Bessa T, which requires you to add an accessory finder and has a separate rangefinder window... but is about $400 and does have probably the best rangefinder you will find anywhere near it, and a Leica M mount to boot! But... accessory finder... decoupled rangefinder/viewfinder experience.
 
I have the Bessa R which I purchased from Camera Quest maybe 14 years ago. It has performed wonderfully, but if I had it to do again I would buy the Bessa R2A (at least I think that is its number/name). It is for M Leica lens so I got the 'R' (I have LTM lenses that I like) but it is basically the same but it has an 'A' setting which it really great (I have it on SLRs). So you set your aperture and set the shutter dial on 'A' and just shoot (of course after focusing). If, like me you have LTM lenses, all you have to do is buy an adapter.

I used a roll through it over Easter, during Wuhan I have not been using it much: now 'bliss' (Micawber):

Easter Motel, Santa Barbara, CA:

Kodak Gold 200 by John Carter, on Flickr
 
I will play the contrarian here and recommend a Canon L1. Switchable viewfinder. The entire viewfinder/rangefinder image is either 50mm or 35mm with an additional magnified view that is roughly 135mm.

To replace the TTL I use a cold shoe mounted Reveni light meter. Small, light, and accurate. (There are other shoe mount meters, do some research. Hamish Gill at 35mmc has reviewed several.)

The L1 is a Canon V variant. Extremely well built. 100% manual operation.
 
The Bessa R is a fun little camera and I do recommend it if you must have a built in TTL meter because it’s your only option in an LTM body. I second the recommendation for the later M Bessa bodies because you can use one as a back up for M lenses. The only Bessa I still own is the Bessa T. And later R2A is more robust.
 
Thank you all for your responses!

It sounds like the Bessa R is the only camera that fits the bill.

Getting an adapter for LTM to M isn't totally out of the question - if I got an adapter for my lenses, I'd be in a dilemma of getting a Bessa R2 (or any later model) or saving up just a bit more for a Leica M2. But, in the latter case, I'd lose the light meter... decisions, decisions!

It's not that I don't know how to Sunny 16 - I'm at a stage where I can predict it quite comfortably, but my anxious mind always nags at me to double-check with my phone light meter. This process of pulling out the phone, taking a reading, checking, and putting phone back into my pocket before framing and shooting is quite cumbersome/distracting. Maybe I should just trust myself and shoot. I also have a 35mm aux finder I made from a Canon Sure Shot Owl - perhaps this will help with eye relief.

The Bessa R can wait - right now they're going for $500, which feels like a lot for what I'm getting. If I'm going to spend lots of money, I think I'd rather shell out for the "forever camera" - one I can rely on being serviceable for the foreseeable future.

Thanks again everyone!
 
I keep forgetting to pull out my Bessa R and give it some exercise -- Completely undeserved neglect. :eek: The R is just a pleasant and full experience, and as we all know it is unique in the world of LTM. It checked all the boxes for me when I first got it, and still does. So...it does have real value for a serious LTM user.

I feel bad about the neglect of my R but I have too many cameras that are enjoyable to use. I know I'm not the only one here with that problem.

I also didn't know that these guys (Bessa R) have increased in value so much. I bought mine used from Pro Photo Supply in Portland Oregon about 5-6 years ago for $145 (yes, I actually remember what it cost), complete with box, strap, and all the other stuff that comes with a new one. It was a good deal, and even the store clerk knew it. I remember I bought a Rokkor 45/2.8 LTM lens at the same time for another $50. Personally, I think the Bessa R is solidly worth 250, perhaps $300, but $500 seems a bit much. Then again, I haven't been following the film camera market lately...I hear it's been active.
 
Hi everyone,

I've been shooting with a Canon P for the past year, but those 35mm frame lines are so hard for me to see without pressing my eyeball against the VF glass. To add, I've been wanting a meter in my rangefinder for quicker shots.

I've been doing some research and am looking for an interchangeable rangefinder with the following:

- Built-in 35mm frame lines that are easy to see (preferably by itself, but I won't cry if it shares the frame with a ~90mm frame line). Needs to have 50mm frame lines as well (I primarily shoot 35, but like to use 50 from time to time)

- Built-in TTL meter with easily accessible batteries

- Fully mechanical (batteries only power the meter; camera can still shoot without)

- Takes LTM lenses natively

- Swing film back door and lever film advance

My research indicates that my only option is the Bessa R... unless there are other rangefinders out there that I am not aware of.

A cursory scan on eBay shows that these bodies are going for ~$500, which to me is a lot considering I got my P for ~$200. I'm hesitant because I've read many posts discussing the "plastic-y" feel of the Bessa, which doesn't feel fantastic when I think of the long-term. I don't want to shell out the money for a Leica, since I don't feel comfortable walking around with such a heavy investment strapped around my neck.

Does anyone know if the Bessa R is my only option here? Or should I just suck it up, use an aux finder + get faster at Sunny 16 on the P?

Many thanks in advance!

To me the Bessa R2 is a lot more enjoyable than the Bessa R, and better made too with metal body plates.

It becomes LTM by mounting a LTM lens with M adapter into the M bayonet -- then unscrewing the lens. Bingo. LTM camera.

Stephen
 
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