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sweet little Bessa R
Old 12-10-2004   #1
FrankS
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sweet little Bessa R

My Bessa R arrived in the mail yesterday, and now I know what all the fuss was about. I'm just a little late getting on the bandwagon.

I loaded it up with FP4 (all I had, would have prefered 400) and stuck my "new" Canon 50mm f1.8 on it and took it out to the local coffee house for the evening. I had to shoot @ 1/8 sec and f1.8 but I took lots of frames so some should be good.

It's a sweet little camera. It fits into the Nikon FG bottom case that I had my Leica IIIf in, so it's that small. The viewfinder is a revelation! Even wearing eyeglasses I can see the framelines well.

Since I got to this point later than most of you I had the chance to do a lot of reading on the net about people's experinces and impressions of the R. I think I was able to avoid the dissappointment felt by some who hoped the Bessa would be up to Leica's build standard. I read it all and therefore had lower expectations. I knew the camera had a lot of plastic etc. The older cameras like the Leica and Canon RF that I have are real, they are metal. The Bessa is somewhat of a retro-lookalike wannabe with it's molded plastic top plate, but one thing, the most important thing, is not just cosmetic. This camera has real capability, and that's the functional thing that cameras are (should be) all about. It's only those (myself included here) that enjoy the camera as an object itself, who would be dissappointed. I know the Bessa R is not an old Leica/Canon/Nikon/Contax, but that's okay. I love the functionality of this camera. I even like that there is plastic on it, because that material choice allows the camera to be as light as it is. (Titanium would also do the trick but I wouldn't be able to afford it.) With the old Canon 50mm f1.8, it slips into my coat pocket and almost disappears there because it is so light. And since the camera is just a light tight box holding the film and the lens, and it is the lens that is responsible for the image, the plastic does not matter. The great viewfinder, the built-in meter, and the great ergonomics of the rest of the camera are all functionally great. I am a bit of a traditionalist and I wish the camera had metal top/bottom plates (like the R2) but I am happy with the trade-off for weight and cost. When I want the sensual tactile experience of a classic camera I can use my older metal ones. Since I'm using the same vintage glass on all my RF cameras, the images will all look the same anyway. When my primary goal is to come away with the best pictures possible with minimal fuss, it's the Bessa R for me.

Sorry for the ramble, but whenever I get new photo gear, I do a lot of thinking about it, and I know better than to expect my wife to be interested in this sort of banter. I can only hope that some of you are.
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Old 12-10-2004   #2
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frank, that r is a great camera. i enjoy mine when i want something light and don't want to hassle with the handheld meter.
to really tempt you...when it is combined with the cv 35/2.5 lens, it is a great small & light and lethal combo. even with the 75 along for the ride, my little tamrac bag barely weighs in.

you gonna be one happy guy!

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Old 12-10-2004   #3
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Enjoy, Frank!!
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Old 12-10-2004   #4
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Congrats Frank !! Glad it turned out well !
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Old 12-10-2004   #5
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Frank,

Congrats on your new Bessa R! As I'm sure you know, my R is my favorite camera, and I take it nearly everywhere. I also love exploring what can be done with all the old Leica SM lenses out there - and if I ever upgrade to an R2 or higher, I can get a simple SM to M adapter and keep using those lenses. What a deal!

As you mentioned - the people who pick at the Bessa R and downplay it are trying to compare it head-to-head with a Leica - and that's never been the point (at least to me). It ain't a Leica, and as you said, if you want that level of build quality, you should get a Leica (or vintage Canon, hehe). But my R has proven to be rugged enough for me, and although I do try to take care of it, I don't baby it, either.

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Old 12-10-2004   #6
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Congrats, Frank! Enjoy your new camera, and shoot as much as you can!
I, on the other hand, just got a very nice little Canonet this morning, and already shot a roll! I'm off to the darkroom to develop the negs....

Denis
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Old 12-10-2004   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by denishr
Congrats, Frank! Enjoy your new camera, and shoot as much as you can!
I, on the other hand, just got a very nice little Canonet this morning, and already shot a roll! I'm off to the darkroom to develop the negs....

Denis
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Old 12-10-2004   #8
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Frank, enjoy! I hope you'll be able to get some iso400 film for the R soon.


Quote:
Originally posted by bmattock
As you mentioned - the people who pick at the Bessa R and downplay it are trying to compare it head-to-head with a Leica - and that's never been the point (at least to me). It ain't a Leica, and as you said, if you want that level of build quality, you should get a Leica (or vintage Canon, hehe).
And even then one might prefer the R over a Leica. My M2 cost me about the same as my R but guess which one I use more?
I like the M2 but it's heavy, doesn't have an internal light meter, and loading film is slow (try loading an M2 when it's -15 C outside). No, for me the R is a perfect camera (though it has very stiff competition from the Leitz Minolta CL).
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Old 12-10-2004   #9
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Congratulations on the new R, Frank. I am a complete newbee to the world of rangefinders (only been a few months now). The only rangefinder I have is the Bessa R with the 35/2.5 color skopar lens. I absolutely love shooting with this setup. I can't compare it to a Leica since I've never even held one. I suppose, some people could say I don't know what I'm missing. I say, who cares? I'm having way too much fun with my little toy. I guess ignorance is bliss.

I'm looking forward to seeing your images.

Bubba
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Old 12-10-2004   #10
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Interesting to read your comments about the R qualities, Frank... and I think that's a pretty healthy viewpoint. It was somewhat similar for me when I set out to buy a new Snapshot Skopar 25mm from B&H, and the Bessa-L body was only $100 additional. A "no-brainer" as they say, and it turned out much better than I expected. Certainly no parity there with my M2, but entirely worthwhile.
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Old 12-10-2004   #11
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During out meeting in Barcelona I had the option to grab Don's Bessa-L with the 21/4. Was inmediately surprised by how well that pretty little thing balanced and I found the build quality to be pretty good as well.
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Old 12-10-2004   #12
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Glad to hear that your Bessa-R has finally arrived and from your well-reasoned account, you'll be pleased as punch with it. I've also done considerable reading about the R and the consensus seems to be that it's a heck-of-a camera and a steal at current prices.

I'm looking forward to seeing some of your shots from the evening at the coffee house. I don't think you'll be disappointed with the camera OR the Canon lens.

Walker
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Old 04-25-2005   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by backalley photo
frank, that r is a great camera. i enjoy mine when i want something light and don't want to hassle with the handheld meter.joe

Joe, how do you manage to use the R without a handheld meter? I've tried both using handheld and built-in metering and the handehld is always the best. Yes i know that incident readings will be more accurate but I find that the meter in the R gives terrible exposures and I just can't trust it. My OM-1 is better.

Paul
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Old 04-25-2005   #14
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Damn, why am i so easily influenced. Now i think about really selling everything and getting a bessa.
OK, but i'd have to keep the medium format gear of course.

Glad you like it,frank. I wish you to be this enthousiastic about the first printed pics too.
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Old 04-25-2005   #15
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paul,

it's just the years of experience...lol

i don't do anything fancy with the built in meter, except for a (like w/ a handhld) general sweep of the area and i tilt the camera down a bit and then hold that reading.
i have since sold that lovely little camera to gene so he may have some insight here also.
maybe your meter is off.

joe
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Old 04-25-2005   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by backalley photo
i have since sold that lovely little camera to gene so he may have some insight here also.
maybe your meter is off.

joe
I find the metering on the R extremely reliable -- as it was on the R2 I owned. I think the built-in meters are one of the Bessa strong points. Bearing in mind that it's centre weighted and can be influenced by bright sky. Outdoors I tend to point it down a bit or meter off my hand and adjust. Indoors it has been a treasure.

Gene
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Old 04-25-2005   #17
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I'll do some more checks later but I've been out today with 200 film loaded and in bright sunshine (sun behind me) I got a reading of 1/500 @ f5.6 yet my digisix read 1/500 @ f11.

Paul
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Old 04-25-2005   #18
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I understand some Bessa meters are off. The simple solution is to adjust the film speed accordingly. Hope this helps.
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Old 04-25-2005   #19
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I always strive to meter any scene without the influence of the sky, unless I am particularly interested in capturing detail in the sky.
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Old 04-25-2005   #20
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Yes, I purchased the BessaR from FrankS. It seems to work flawlessly for me. It is only one of the several LTM cameras I use regularly, as well as a few fixed lens RFDR's. The nature and style of photography that I regularly do with RFDR cameras is not very dependent on spot-on accurate metering, so I cannot comment on the ultimate accuracy. I would have to shoot some slides, rather than my regular ration of ISO 400 speed b/w film to determine the meter accuracy.

I will say that the b/w negatives I have shot appear to be well exposed, when I have used the built-in meter.
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Old 04-26-2005   #21
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I have a Bessa R and have just bought a 2nd backup body which was ex-demo... when I got it I noticed they were metering a full stop differently for the same scene with the same lens!
My local camera repair guy tested them both and confirm the ex-demo was out my a stop... so it does happen.
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Old 04-26-2005   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeneW
I find the metering on the R extremely reliable -- as it was on the R2 I owned. I think the built-in meters are one of the Bessa strong points. Bearing in mind that it's centre weighted and can be influenced by bright sky. Outdoors I tend to point it down a bit or meter off my hand and adjust. Indoors it has been a treasure.

Gene
After 3 years and about 3500 frames i can confirm that ! Beeing always as reliable as the sophisticated meter of my F80 I ask myself what all these processor based and software supported systems are good for.
If Paul's R gives "terrible readings" with a gap of two stops the meter is simply kaputt !!.
I cannot understand how one can consider this to be a problem of sloppy quality or tolerance ? A gap of two stops is tolerated in NO camera and in no meter either, excepted at a 50yo selenium meter but even then it must be offered as "broken". So best would have been to send the R back to the shop immediately, reason enuff to get another sample., without any discussions.
Regards,
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Old 04-27-2005   #23
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Bertram I can't send it back to the shop as I bought it from a member of the forum. When i got it I started using it with a handheld meter so didn't really notice a problem.
It was only when i noticed the odd shot where I had in fact used the built-in meter I saw it was over-exposing.
I saw postings on the forum about how you all raved about the metering but I was disapointed when I gave it a try. Even my old Canonet and 35rc were better.

I have been in touch with the distributors in the UK and they said it probably wouldn't be expensive to adjust but there could be a £25 inspection charge if I decided not to have the work done after the estimate is given.

I have been checking the Bessa against my OM-1 and my Digisix and find that the difference is only about 1 stop. I have been out today to shoot a roll today with adjustment made to the film speed setting on the camera, so I'll wait and see how that goes.

Paul
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My Bessa-R
Old 04-23-2006   #24
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My Bessa-R

Hi

I own my Bessa-R now for almost two years, first with the Skoppar 35 2.5 recently extended with a Jupiter-8 50/2, which I love now! Comparing this camera with all the latest digital SLR's I am more happy every day. A recommendation!!
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Old 04-23-2006   #25
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Quote:
I know the Bessa R is not an old Leica/Canon/Nikon/Contax, but that's okay. I love the functionality of this camera.
Franks: it's certainly no classic but as you say it can happily live with most LTM glass available and IMHO the price/value ratio is wonderful! When I got mine, my expectations were never that the R would be the same experience as those classic beauties and so I was not dissapointed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kuvvy
...but I find that the meter in the R gives terrible exposures and I just can't trust it. My OM-1 is better.
Paul
Did you put new batteries in it when you got it or are they possibly the originals? I bought my Bessa R new from CameraQuest in August of last year and just last Monday, replaced the batterise that it came with. The last roll, I was getting some odd readings(like 1/8 at f2 in daylighton 400 speed film) and then noticed that the VF leds were flickering when the meter was activated. Brief moment of paniced thought:"now what did I do?" til I recalled that the signal from the camera to replace the batts is the flickering. Two new batteries and I'm good to go again. Five months isn't a long time but: a) I use the camera a lot and b) even though the instructions reccommend taking the batts out when shooting long time exposures I decided not to so I wouldn't lose them. And accepted the shortened batt life.
hopefully your fix is that easy!

Once I get the "new" Canon IVsb CLAed, and get my Zorki 3m back, I will have my RF short list of cameras. Each of these has a place in my affections and compliment the others pretty well, I think.
Rob
Edit: I just noticed the date on these posts. Guess I'm a bit late with my helpful advice.
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Last edited by rbiemer : 04-23-2006 at 11:53.
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Old 04-23-2006   #26
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Congratulation FrankS ! I bought the Bessa R because was curious to work with the extreme wide angle (15mm which I later changed for the 12 , I like go to extreme, sometimes!). Than I noticed was a goos, small reliable camera so I add the VC 35 mm and started to use more and more ! It has been my approach to RF photography and now is the most used camera for me ! it s excellent, you'll like it !
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Old 04-23-2006   #27
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Congratulations on the purchase Frank, sounds like you will be bonding with your new toy for the next little while.

Bill
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