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Voigtlander Bessa Leica Mount Cameras Made in Japan by Cosina in partnership with Voigtlander, the many modern Voigtlander Leica Screw Mount and Leica M mount bodies offer inexpensive and often unique options into entering the world of Leica rangefinder photography.

View Poll Results: For Bessa owners. How do you use your camera now and in the future?
Bessa (any model) is my primary camera 34 23.78%
Bessa is my secondary or backup camera 52 36.36%
I do not use my Bessa much any longer 29 20.28%
I also own a Leica Screw Mount camera 41 28.67%
I also own a Leica M camera 68 47.55%
I also own a RF from another manufacturer 61 42.66%
If my Bessa breaks I intend to have it repaired 47 32.87%
If my Bessa breaks I will not repair it 18 12.59%
I can see myself buying another Bessa. 44 30.77%
The decision by Cosina to stop production makes me less positive about my camera. 13 9.09%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 143. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 10-06-2016   #41
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My main mechanical RF was a Canon L2. And now a black Bessa R takes over and I really like the camera. It came with fungus in finder and misalignment RF, however it's fairly easy to clean and adjust.

What surprised me is my Jupiter-12 can be mounted to the R without damaging anything, and it can focus to all distances. The only problem is the rear elements cover the light meter sensor completely so no metering for me.
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Old 10-06-2016   #42
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My Bessa-T went in the great camera purge.. every now and then I miss it, despite that the separate viewfinder/rangefinder set up isn't the most practical.
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Old 10-12-2016   #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pvdhaar View Post
My Bessa-T went in the great camera purge.. every now and then I miss it, despite that the separate viewfinder/rangefinder set up isn't the most practical.
Isnīt the most practical unless you find a way to photograph without focusing slowly... HCB used to say he made his best photographs with a Barnack, from the early 30's to mid 50's, and that's the majority of his photography, more than 2 decades of shooting before the M3 was invented, precisely because of a good control of subject distance that makes focusing unnecesary most of the times, unless you use your lens wide open a lot... YMMV.
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Old 10-12-2016   #44
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Originally Posted by Juan Valdenebro View Post
Isnīt the most practical unless you find a way to photograph without focusing slowly... HCB used to say he made his best photographs with a Barnack, from the early 30's to mid 50's, and that's the majority of his photography, more than 2 decades of shooting before the M3 was invented, precisely because of a good control of subject distance that makes focusing unnecesary most of the times, unless you use your lens wide open a lot... YMMV.
Cheers,
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You do have a valid point there; it's very tempting to ride the focus if you've got an integrated VF/RF. Something that certainly can be a distraction, and can get in the way of composition and timing..
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Old 10-12-2016   #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Juan Valdenebro View Post
Isnīt the most practical unless you find a way to photograph without focusing slowly... HCB used to say he made his best photographs with a Barnack, from the early 30's to mid 50's, and that's the majority of his photography, more than 2 decades of shooting before the M3 was invented, precisely because of a good control of subject distance that makes focusing unnecesary most of the times, unless you use your lens wide open a lot... YMMV.
Cheers,
Juan
I feel like I more 'in focus' and faster shots with my IIIf than with the M6. I worried less about focus and found the separate Leitz viewfinder for 50mm to be so clear and simple. I'm really considering buying a Bessa T (I sold my IIIf).
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Old 10-18-2016   #46
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I've been using an R for many years, finally moving onto a (NOS!) Zeiss ZM. The R served me well with some minor issues. The film counter plastic window fell out, the backdoor is a mess and I've re-aligned the rangerfinder a few times. But along with (ltm) CV lenses it is a great affordable photo making rig.

I believe I read somewhere it's possible to buy (or strip) a replacement backdoor from other Cosina manufactured cameras. Is that a truth or myth?

Anyway if anyone is looking for a loved but properly functioning Bessa R keep your eyes on the prize in the next few weeks.
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Old 10-19-2016   #47
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Originally Posted by superultramega View Post
I've been using an R for many years, finally moving onto a (NOS!) Zeiss ZM. The R served me well with some minor issues. The film counter plastic window fell out, the backdoor is a mess and I've re-aligned the rangerfinder a few times. But along with (ltm) CV lenses it is a great affordable photo making rig.

I believe I read somewhere it's possible to buy (or strip) a replacement backdoor from other Cosina manufactured cameras. Is that a truth or myth?

Anyway if anyone is looking for a loved but properly functioning Bessa R keep your eyes on the prize in the next few weeks.
I have an Olympus OM-2000 (bought very cheaply) which was made by Cosina and the back door seems 99% identical to the one on Bessa-R. It doesn't have the rubber coating and looks much neater. I'm thinking of move the OM2000 back door onto the Bessa-R if the original one breaks.

And ye, the film counter window on my Bessa also fell off inside. I re-glued it and put some transparent tape under it to make it secured.
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Old 10-19-2016   #48
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I always got the impression that the Bessas were looked down upon in these parts as the poor relations...

I have an R2a, an R4a and an L and have never felt the urge to use anything else for 35mm.
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Old 10-19-2016   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raoul_Volfoni View Post
One complaint I have is that the shutter mechanism locked a couple of times, the curtains remained open and the shutter release wouldn't work.
...
I heard that when you force the winding lever at the end of a roll that might happen. Unfortunately for me it happened in mid roll both times. I am a little afraid that will occur again every time I use it...
I've had this problem occur with my R3A a few times. Best I can tell, it's happened because the film rewind lever thingy popped out of place a little, and jammed against the camera body in such a way that the advance lever couldn't pull film all the way forward to complete the winding cycle because the jammed rewind lever prevented film from advancing.

Either way, it seems too much resistance from the film when winding causes this problem. This can happen due to a jam or hitting the end of the roll. The last time it happened I was shooting a few frames off in rapid succession on my R3A and didn't check the advance lever before racking another frame with the rewind lever, hard and fast. It made an awful crunch too, yikes!

This issue is my one complaint about the design of the R3A; if you wear your Bessa on a strap across the chest, your rewind lever can snag on your belt or jacket or whatever, and pop out into a kind of "half open" position that can cause a jam.

EDIT: Also, yeah the Bessa feels more like operating a Nikon than a Leica. It's been super reliable and a great camera...just as Nikons are. And with Leica glass mounted to your Bessa you're giving up absolutely nothing to the M in terms of IQ obviously. But yeah, of course the Leica FEELS better in the hands and in use. Are M-cameras that much better? In actual use, I believe not. But in terms of user experience...yeah Leicas feel like Porsches while the Bessas feel more like Hondas. YMMV.
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Old 10-23-2016   #50
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Originally Posted by pvdhaar View Post
You do have a valid point there; it's very tempting to ride the focus if you've got an integrated VF/RF. Something that certainly can be a distraction, and can get in the way of composition and timing..
Or combine methods: give yourself a wide field of focus at f8 or f11; frame and shoot - or alternately frame, and if you decide you have time, shift to the RF window, touch-up focus and shoot. But for street shooting or any shooting where speed is of essence, the camera should always be ready to shoot without relying on the RF.

However, I must admit that I find the Leica IIIf better at focusing quickly than my Bessa-T. My Bessa-R with the integrated finder-rangefinder is a different story.
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Old 12-22-2016   #51
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My Bessa R2 light meter failed on me last week. First I thought it was weak batteries, but remplaced them already and viewfinder light meter leds won't light or show anything.

Any idea where to get it fixed? Looking at the bay, seems R2 prices had rised a bit (bought mine last year for 250, now there are around $400) so I think it deserve fixing. Great camera and had served me well.


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Old 12-26-2016   #52
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I would start by e-mailing our own "head bartender" and ask if his mechanic would take on your repair.

https://www.cameraquest.com/repairs.htm
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Old 12-26-2016   #53
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Sounds like a job for Flex Seal. Might be good for the Nikon F100, too. Ya-hoo!

Chris
Nah, best to work through it. Wears off pretty quick then it's fine. Flex Seal would probably just do the same if not worse.
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Old 01-11-2017   #54
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Yesterday I compared the bottom plates on OM-2000 and Bessa-R. The OM-2000 (came out 1997) has plastic plates too, but there is a layer of nickel-copper-zinc alloy coated on them. Bending both bottom plates in hand, the one on OM is notably harder, while the one on Bessa-R is so soft that I dare not to bend with more force... Additionally the alloy coating makes the camera looks better and feels better, and the paint does not chip as easy as Bessa. I wonder why Cosina dropped this design on the pre-metal-plates Bessas. Cost Issue maybe.
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Old 01-16-2017   #55
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Yesterday I compared the bottom plates on OM-2000 and Bessa-R. The OM-2000 (came out 1997) has plastic plates too, but there is a layer of nickel-copper-zinc alloy coated on them. Bending both bottom plates in hand, the one on OM is notably harder, while the one on Bessa-R is so soft that I dare not to bend with more force... Additionally the alloy coating makes the camera looks better and feels better, and the paint does not chip as easy as Bessa. I wonder why Cosina dropped this design on the pre-metal-plates Bessas. Cost Issue maybe.
It's irritating that they didn't spend just bit more and use better materials, though the plastic plates seem less problematic to me than the chintzy rewind lever. It just feels like it is going to break. I am careful.
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Old 02-11-2017   #56
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The Bessa 35mm series filled a niche that was ignored by the larger firms by providing simple camera without a lot of bells and whistles.

For my non-professional needs - the Bessa R - which was adapted from an existing Cosina SLR body - has exceeded expectations.

Purchased used in 2005 for mere couple of hundred dollars, I've only run maybe 40 rolls of film through the camera. The Bessa R - or - my Rollei 35 S are still my go to 35mm cameras when traveling on the road - mainly because I'll be able to find another if they are lost.
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Old 02-22-2017   #57
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The Bessa 35mm series filled a niche that was ignored by the larger firms by providing simple camera without a lot of bells and whistles.

For my non-professional needs - the Bessa R - which was adapted from an existing Cosina SLR body - has exceeded expectations.

Purchased used in 2005 for mere couple of hundred dollars, I've only run maybe 40 rolls of film through the camera. The Bessa R - or - my Rollei 35 S are still my go to 35mm cameras when traveling on the road - mainly because I'll be able to find another if they are lost.
Well that's right. Losing a Bessa-R, or having it stolen, would not feel like the end of the world - as opposed to having a prized Leica M stolen, lost or damaged. Still that you generally choose the Bessa as your traveling camera over a M2 is boss.

The fact that the Bessa was built on a SLR chassis, as you point out, was presented to me, when I was a newcomer, as an undesirable or less desirable characteristic: "not really a rangefinder" was the refrain.
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Old 07-19-2017   #58
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In moderate use my Bessa R has behaved well and never malfunctioned.
I'm thinking about getting a Bessa L with 25mm Snapshot Skopar as well.

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Primary 35mm camera, but...
Old 07-19-2017   #59
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Primary 35mm camera, but...

I use my Bessa R2 and R4 cameras as my primary 35mm bodies, but whenever I can, I use medium format. I have Fuji GSW690 and GW690 that I consider my main cameras, but their weight precludes me from taking them on long hikes. When somebody invents an anti-gravity strap I will use the Fujis all of the time.
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Old 10-13-2017   #60
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Still using my R2C without any problems
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Old 10-13-2017   #61
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I didn't bond with the Bessa R I briefly had. Mostly due to the plastic-y feeling and light weight. Superficial, I know.
I'm much happier with a Canon 7.
That being said, I'd love a R4 one day for wideangle lenses, but can't afford/justify one.
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Old 10-22-2017   #62
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Just found and purchased a nearly mint R2 - I am really pleased. I had an R for a while and I sold it - and I found I missed it. I also have a T which is a wonderful camera, but not as pretty or as handy as an R2. As a Barnack shooter - I really like the T rangefinder - and that's the one I reach for for a really fast or long lenses. I use a CV 40/1.4 on the R2 - I have a tendency to frame too loosely - the 35mm frame lines are just about perfect for me. I tried an R3a briefly - I may get another one - but I could not see the 40 frame lines or the display. Darn glasses! I should probably try the R4m...
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Old 01-09-2018   #63
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I bought a Bessa R for a great price and although l shoot a lot with a IIIg and IIIc l really like the Bessa R, obviously l had to buy a Nokton 50mm 1.5 to go with the Bessa
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Old 01-09-2018   #64
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obviously l had to buy a Nokton 50mm 1.5 to go with the Bessa
Well, naturally! That's compulsory, surely?
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Old 01-14-2018   #65
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My Bessa R2 light meter failed on me last week. First I thought it was weak batteries, but remplaced them already and viewfinder light meter leds won't light or show anything.

Any idea where to get it fixed? Looking at the bay, seems R2 prices had risen a bit (bought mine last year for 250, now there are around $400) so I think it deserve fixing. Great camera and had served me well.

Regards.
Yep, try Stephen Gandy at CameraQuest
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Old 02-13-2018   #66
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The R4M with the very wide VF is such a great tool to have in my kit. I really hate external finders. When the Leica .58x came out I was overjoyed and Cosina turned it up to 11. My dislike though about CV bodies is the vertical rf seems to remain off. Not a deal killer for wides.
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Old 02-22-2018   #67
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Mr K and a CV Bessa R3A started my resurrection of using film again. Eventually evolved to the R3M which I proudly still own and shoot today. Add the CV Hand grip and IMHO you have the most ergonomic film rig on the market today.
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Old 02-22-2018   #68
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I have been using a Bessa-R for a couple of years, and just picked up a Bessa-T. I like them both very much, and they hold their own among a large gang of other cameras that I use regularly. First, within any format I am especially fond of smaller, lightweight, all-mechanical cameras. I like cameras that are simple and straightforward to use. I like big bright viewfinders. These Voigtlanders have all of these qualities, and they are also more robust and convenient than many of my antique cameras.
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Old 02-23-2018   #69
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I have been using a Bessa-R for a couple of years, and just picked up a Bessa-T. I like them both very much, and they hold their own among a large gang of other cameras that I use regularly. First, within any format I am especially fond of smaller, lightweight, all-mechanical cameras. I like cameras that are simple and straightforward to use. I like big bright viewfinders. These Voigtlanders have all of these qualities, and they are also more robust and convenient than many of my antique cameras.
Welcome to the forum! Can't help but agreeing that these are two commendable camera models, especially considering that I own both of them myself! And, yes, some compromises made in materials has had the virtue of keeping the cameras light.

Curious about how you use the Bessa-T. That was my first rangefinder but I haven't used it much since I acquired a R (and a Leica IIIf). Of course the T takes M-mount lenses . . .
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Old 03-25-2018   #70
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The Bessa R3a is the best shooting M mount camera I own. It is what I take out when I just want to capture photos on a vacation or at events where I don't have time to meter manually. My longest used camera was my M4-2, and it was a great camera to use when I wanted to slow things down a bit.

I only wish the R4a wasn't discontinued.
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Old 03-25-2018   #71
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I bought a Bessa R for a great price and although l shoot a lot with a IIIg and IIIc l really like the Bessa R, obviously l had to buy a Nokton 50mm 1.5 to go with the Bessa

A silver Bessa R arrived in our store last week along with the CV Nokton 50/1.5. I was tempted but didnít succumb. Tried the lens on a M4/3 body and was impressed. Wonder what that would be like on my RD1.
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Old 04-08-2018   #72
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I’m curious and feel like this may be the best place to ask this question. What is the honest difference in shutter noise on a bessa vs an m body? I’ve watched a few YouTube comparisons but still don’t have a solid idea.

I own a CL and an m4-p and the m4-p is a bit more quiet than the CL. I’m wondering if the bessa is comparable to the CL or more or less quiet? I always thought for some reason that the automatic bessa’s would be a little less noises due to the electric shutter.
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Old 04-09-2018   #73
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Iím curious and feel like this may be the best place to ask this question. What is the honest difference in shutter noise on a bessa vs an m body? Iíve watched a few YouTube comparisons but still donít have a solid idea.

I own a CL and an m4-p and the m4-p is a bit more quiet than the CL. Iím wondering if the bessa is comparable to the CL or more or less quiet? I always thought for some reason that the automatic bessaís would be a little less noises due to the electric shutter.
The Head Bartender has a description of the Bessa's shutter noise on his Bessa Comparison Chart, about halfway down the page. I think it's the shutter material that has the bigger impact on sound and not the electronic shutter per se. The Bessas have vertically travelling metal bladed shutters vs. horizontally travelling rubberized cloth for Leica M.

I have a Bessa L and a M5, and to my ear the Bessa's shutter is a bit louder and a bit more metallic sounding. But like the Head Bartender says, it's relative, and you may or may not find it objectionably louder.
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Old 04-14-2018   #74
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Iím curious and feel like this may be the best place to ask this question. What is the honest difference in shutter noise on a bessa vs an m body? Iíve watched a few YouTube comparisons but still donít have a solid idea.

I own a CL and an m4-p and the m4-p is a bit more quiet than the CL. Iím wondering if the bessa is comparable to the CL or more or less quiet? I always thought for some reason that the automatic bessaís would be a little less noises due to the electric shutter.
Metal is metal, cloth is cloth regardless of the drive mechanism. My IIIf and a M6 that I tried are much quieter than my Bessas R and T. But then cloth shutters develop problems more easily.
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