Another Bessa choice question

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by haris, Aug 29, 2005.

  1. haris

    haris Guest

    Hi,

    Since I don't have money for new Leica stuff, or even secondheand komplete Leica set, I am going to get new Bessa and secondhand Summicron lens, 50mm for start, and will see later for another one or two.

    I am spectacle and contact lenses wearer, and don't plane to go wider than 28mm. So, I think choice would be Bessa 3A. Then again, 2A and 3A are same priced, and I wonder is it better to get viewfinder 0.7 magnification (2A) or 1.0 magnification (3A). I don't know real life differences between those two magnifications.

    Second question is, except magnification, is there some other differences between those cameras (build quality, or any other).

    Third question is actual compatibility of Bessa 2A, 3A cameras and Leica lenses. How that works in real life?

    I have read informations on www.voigtlaender.de site, but there are no usefull informations. So I would like answer(s) from someone who in pactice knows them. Yes, I will look at www.cameraquest.com site, too.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Lee L

    Lee L Member

    Messages:
    3,247
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Haris,

    The basic difference between the R2A and the R3A is viewfinder magnification and the framelines shown. The R3A shows framelines for 40mm, 50mm, 75mm, and 90mm lenses at the same magnification that you see without optics. So if you leave both eyes open, the image through the viewfinder and the other eye match exactly and you can get the effect of the framelines floating in space. I love this feature, and it's the main reason I bought the R3A. With glasses, the 40mm frame may be on the edge of visibility in the finder, or perhaps just outside it. With contacts, you should be able to see the whole 40mm frameline. I can just make out the 40mm framelines with glasses that fit close to my face, but most people can't see the 40mm framelines in the R3A while wearing glasses.

    The R2A viewfinder has framelines for 35mm, 50mm, 75mm, and 90mm, and magnification is 0.7 lifesize, so you get different sized views through the viewfinder and your other eye, making it hard to frame with both eyes open, and a feeling that's more constricted (like an SLR) than with both eyes open.

    One other thing that will matter in making this choice is which eye is dominant. If you're left-eyed, the 1:1 finder on the R3A is no great advantage, as your right eye will be blocked by the camera body.

    Neither camera has finder frames for your widest 28mm lens choice. You'll need to use an auxiliary finder for wider than 35mm. The Cosina Voigtlander wide angles shorter than 28mm are supplied with auxiliary finders. 28mm and 35mm finders, and a mini 28/35 combo finder are available separately.

    The R3A and R2A are on the same chassis, with the only difference in the viewfinder magnifications and framelines. Build quality is the best in the Bessa line, perhaps a bit better than the R2, and definitely more rugged than the R and L.

    Nearly all Leica mount lenses should work on the R2A and R3A. Exceptions might be some of the extremely deeply recessed wide angles, and perhaps some of the lenses with auxiliary finders (sometimes called "frog-eyes" in English) that modifiy the field of view through the Leica cameras. If the "frog eyes" are removable, such as on the dual-range Summicron, you can still use the lens without the auxiliary finder. You can mount bayonet M mount lenses directly, and Leica screw mount lenses will fit with an adapter from Leica or Cosina Voigtlander. I think Cameraquest has a list of Leica lenses that might be too close to the shutter curtain or obscure the metering cell to be used on the two cameras.

    Hope this helps.

    Lee
     
  3. laz

    laz Member

    Messages:
    1,118
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2005
    Location:
    Lower Hudson
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have an R2 and love the bright viewfinder. FWIW I bought the Voightlander 21mm lens and it is spectacular! My personal opinion is that Leica cameras and everything remotely connected are way way over priced because of collectors.

    Yes there is no denying that they are about the best but the prices are absurd!

    -Bob
     
  4. haris

    haris Guest

    Than you Lee and laz,

    And exactly prices of Leica made my decission to go to Bessa body and seconhand Leica lens. You know I must have atleast one Leica lens :smile: And who knows, it can easily happen that that would be only Leica lens I will have, but atleast one, to satisfy my desire... :smile:

    I think I will go to 3A. If I need separate viewfinder for 28mm, then there is no point to go to 2A, because if I get 50mm, I think I will go to 28mm and go to 35mm in future. Well, will see, but 3A is 95% decided...

    Thak you again and regards.
     
  5. Lee L

    Lee L Member

    Messages:
    3,247
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Haris,

    If you go with the R3A, you might want to consider a 40mm lens as your standard focal length. Leica and Minolta made the 40mm f:2 Summicron-C and 40mm f:2 Minolta Rokkor for the Leica CL and Minolta CLE respectively back in the 70's and 80's. They are essentially the same design. These lenses have excellent reputations and are not too hard to find used. Last time I looked, good samples were in the US$250 range. They are a good match for the R3A body with its 40mm framelines, and are a good compromise between the traditional 50mm and 35mm focal lengths. With the 40mm Summicron-C, a good slow film like Agfa 25, Panatomic-X, Ilford Pan-F, or Efke 25, and Rodinal 1:100, I've gotten results that many experienced photographers insist must be medium format.

    Lee
     
  6. haris

    haris Guest

    Thank you Lee, in fact when wrote mine above post, me too thought about 40mm lenses... Do photographers have telepathic abilities?... :smile:
     
  7. Ara Ghajanian

    Ara Ghajanian Member

    Messages:
    368
    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2004
    Location:
    Providence,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've been looking at Leicas for a while now, trying to gather enough research to justify spending $1000 on a good used body with no meter. From what I've seen they are wonderful cameras and probably worth the money you'd spend. The question I have is if you had a Leica lens on a Bessa body, is there any difference in image quality than if you had that same lens on a Leica body? Is there anything a Leica body does that improves image quality or is it all in the lens? I know about the quiet shutter and the impeccable build quality, etc., but does any of this affect the image directly?
    Ara
     
  8. haris

    haris Guest

    Ara, body is just a box which holds film and lens. Better body means that body can work in worse shooting conditions (bad weather, sand, rain, high or low temperatures, etc...), or that shutter can make more shots (for example there are cameras which shutter can make 50.000 cycles (open and close), and there are cameras with more than 100.000), have integrated good meter, motor for winding or rewinding film, ergonomic is such that hands doesn't get tired when you hold camera for long hours, etc... Those are things which separate good from bad body. But for getting good photograph important is photographer skils, after that lens and how photographer process film and make photograph on paper. Body can make life easier, but has no imact on photograph, if it is in working condition, and if its parts works correctly (for example if shutter is not broken so when you set shutter speed of 1/125 shutter fire at 1/60...).

    Of course, one has to be carefull can one maker lens fit normally on another maker body. As far as I know, Bessa bodies I was talking about works with Leica lenses. And on www.cameraquest.com site you can find informations which Leica lenses not work with Bessa body.
     
  9. Lee L

    Lee L Member

    Messages:
    3,247
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Ara,

    If the shutter and focusing are accurate, the film to lens flange distance correct, and the body internals properly baffled and blackened, you shouldn't see a difference in a Leica body vs. a Bessa body with the same lens. I've had no problems with several Bessa bodies, including the R3A, using both Leica and Cosina-Voigtlander lenses, nor have I heard complaints along these lines on the Cosina Voigtlander Users Group. The image quality with my Leica lenses is the same on the Bessa bodies or the Leica bodies.

    The only major difference among bodies that would affect image quality is the baseline of the rangefinder, which varies among both the Leica and Bessa rangefinder bodies. The Leicas in general have longer effective baselines, and so can focus a fast lens at wider apertures and longer focal length lenses more quickly and accurately. With the 1:1 finder, the Bessa R3A isn't bad in that regard. The Bessa T, with the 1.5 magnification rangefinder, is the most accurate of the Bessa focusers. At medium apertures and at shorter focal lengths, the advantage of a longer effective rangefinder baseline diminishes. The Leica cameras themselves have different magnifications (and perhaps some small mechanical baseline differences), so a .85 finder will focus more accurately than a .58. The M3 has a .91 finder magnification. You can find specifics on effective rangefinder baselines for various models on cameraquest.com.

    If you check the reviews by Erwin Puts (a Leica lens expert), a number of the C-V lenses rival the Leica lenses proir to current production (i.e. the latest Leica designs) in image quality. The CV 75mm f:2.5 Color Heliar is one of my favorite lenses. Puts says it's a derivative of the rare and highly-regarded Elcan (E.Leitz-Canada) 75mm f:2.5 design, but I didn't know that before I bought, and I trust what I see on the negatives more than anything else.

    Lee
     
  10. laz

    laz Member

    Messages:
    1,118
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2005
    Location:
    Lower Hudson
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Okay okay, I'll confess, I have a less that secret desire for a Leica lens. And to tell the truth if my ship came in I would probably spring for a Leica over-priced or not.

    Of course when my ship comes in I'll be at the airport!

    -Bob
     
  11. psvensson

    psvensson Member

    Messages:
    625
    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2004
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I just weighed between getting an R3A and an M3. They're pretty much the same price, if you get a user M3 on eBay (but you could end up having to pay for a CLA as well). After fiddling with an R3A, I went with the M3. The main reason was that the shutter of the Bessa is louder and shakes the camera. I already have a Bessa T, so this time I was looking for a really smooth shutter. It had to be the Leica. I bought one from a sophisticated seller than vouched for the accuracy of the shutter and viewfinder.

    If you use glasses, the M3 finder, which has slightly less magnification, gives a better view of the 50mm frameline.
     
  12. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    9,281
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2002
    Location:
    Bergen, Norw
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I have one - I bought it just to see what all the fuzz was about. And I still don't know.

    All right, I admit it was the cheapest one of all: a 135mm Hektor. It's still stuck on my FED-2 camera, I have to push back the rangefinder coupling from the inside to get it off. As soon as I've finished that roll of film. And then I'll put the collapsible Elmar copy back on, and use the 21mm VC on the Bessa-L. An the Hektor goes in the cabinet.
     
  13. Lee L

    Lee L Member

    Messages:
    3,247
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Ole,

    I find that the 135 Hektor doesn't have the contrasty 'snap' of the later Leica lenses, but it's plenty sharp. My 1954 version has wonderfully smooth bokeh, and at 5 feet can easily resolve the finest of hairs on my 13 year old son's face across the frame, even wide open (if you can call f:4.5 wide).

    Lee
     
  14. laz

    laz Member

    Messages:
    1,118
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2005
    Location:
    Lower Hudson
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Maybe you should try selling it to Haris :D
     
  15. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    9,281
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2002
    Location:
    Bergen, Norw
    Shooter:
    Large Format
  16. haris

    haris Guest

    Thing is: I want one best Leica lens I can afford. That would be current Summicron 50mm, of course secondhand. If I need to go with compromise, then it would be better to go with new Voiglaender lens. So, only one, but Leica. Other lenses probably will be Voigtlaender. There is no point to go to older and cheaper Leica lenses because new Voigtlaenders are almost same priced and same or even better quality than old Leica lenses. Atleast that is what I could hear and read.
     
  17. Snapper

    Snapper Member

    Messages:
    224
    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2004
    Location:
    Brighton, En
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    The other advantages of the Summicron over the Voigtlander 50mm Nokton lens is that it's a lot smaller and lighter, and you can focus at 0.7m instead of 1m.

    As for picture quality, I'm still trying to find a big difference between the two lenses....
     
  18. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    9,281
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2002
    Location:
    Bergen, Norw
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    My only "modern" Leica-compatible lens is the Voigtländer 21mm f4 Color-Skopar I use on the Bessa-L. If the other CV lenses are anywhere near as good as this one, they're very good indeed!
     
  19. laz

    laz Member

    Messages:
    1,118
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2005
    Location:
    Lower Hudson
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I too have the Voigtländer 21mm f4 Color-Skopar on my R2 and it is spectacular. With all the variables that go into the final product I just don't get the Lecia "thing" Present APUGers excepted, I think there is quite a bit of status seeking going on out there.
     
  20. danielclift

    danielclift Member

    Messages:
    7
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2004
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    If you buy one of the Bessas, you should also keep in mind one major difference between the R3A and the R2 - the R3A has a battery-dependent electronic shutter, compared to the mechanical shutter of the R2 where the battery only powers the meter. This matters more to some people than others, so I highlight it only for awareness sake.

    With regard to buying an eBay M3 - I started out similarly with a beat-up user M3 which I got CLA'd before using - it worked great, but I really missed the convenience of having a built-in light meter, and the film loading on the M3 is a bit more of a hassle than on the later models. If you are really intent on having a Leica body, try to pick up a cheap M6 'Classic' (pre-TTL) body instead. They are going for great prices on eBay right now, only slightly more than the cost of a good user M3 + CLA, because so many photographers are selling them to upgrade to MPs & M7s. The M6 is a great camera and preferable to the M3 for users because of the meter and faster film loading/rewind.
     
  21. danielclift

    danielclift Member

    Messages:
    7
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2004
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    The best Leica 50mm right now is the new Summilux which apparently performs slightly better than the Summicron at all apertures ;-).

    If you are going to get a 50/f2, get a good example of the slightly older black Summicron version without a built-in hood, but WITH the focusing lever. My understanding is that the optics in this version are the same as the current model with the built-in hood, but in a lighter more compact lens form, and this lens is generally cheaper on the used market than the latest model. The even earlier black 50mm without hood or focusing lever is apparently a slightly older optical design.