bessa ll or mamiya 7 ll

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by ManBea, Sep 25, 2009.

  1. ManBea

    ManBea Member

    Messages:
    5
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Location:
    Ontario
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I'm trying to decide which one to get. The price is obviously different but would save for the better cmaera/lens/result.

    Do any of you have experience with these two cameras and if so which one is easier to use and which one produces the best pictures.

    I believe the mamiya is a 6X7 and the voigtlander a 6X9. Would the size of the negative make that much difference in the detail?

    Thanks, :wink:
     
  2. DaveOttawa

    DaveOttawa Subscriber

    Messages:
    285
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2005
    Location:
    Ottawa, Cana
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    I'm assuming you mean the old, German Bessa II not the new Japanese one, if so I've used the Bessa 1 & Mamiya 6 (similar to M7), they are totally different to use, M is easier because VF is so much better. Since you don't give any info on what you plan to do with the camera it's probably impossible to advise which one is best for you. My only comment is that they will probably both hold their value quite well so if you buy one and decide t wasn't for you you could sell it without losing too much.
    Re detail, they both will give highly detailed prints when compared to 35mm enlarged to the same size but you may find you strongly prefer the one aspect ratio over the other. My Bessa I with low end lens is surprisingly sharp as well.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2009
  3. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,822
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2003
    Location:
    Elk, Califor
    Shooter:
    Plastic Cameras
    Hi, I have used the Bessa II and it was a bit hard to use because the viewfinder is very small and not able to be used for glasses wearing people. Also, the film advance uses a red window on the back which can be hard to see depending on the film type and light. Of course it does not have a meter. Was not very easy to use. As for the format, it depends which shape of picture you prefer (6x9 is the same shape as 35mm).

    Jon
     
  4. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

    Messages:
    1,897
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Location:
    Saint Paul, MN
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    A Bessa II is an older camera, and would be a 6X9 format. If this is what you are interested in, and not the new Bessa III which is 6X7 format, then I think that the Mamiya should have better optics, seeing as they are totally modern and multicoated etc. Also, the Mamiya has interchangeable lenses, which is a big positive for many folks, and is also somewhat larger than a folded Bessa of any generation. Again, assuming that you are really looking for a Bessa II, and not a Bessa III, I would also think that it will be easier to find good examples of the Mamiya compared to a Bessa II.

    As for the format, I personally believe that it is a matter of your preferred aspect ratio rather than an issue of negative size. If you like a format close to 35mm, then a 6X9 will be perfect. If your preference is closer to an 8X10 print then I think that the 6X7 will be more to your liking. Since they are the same across the shortest dimension, you are not going to really get more detail of anything, just more image at the ends, if that makes sense.

    If you are thinking of the brand new Bessa, well, it is 6X7 too, so the biggest differences would be the larger size and interchangeable lenses of the Mamiya. Both will have fantastic modern optics. They will handle differently, so that will make a difference to you as well.
     
  5. ManBea

    ManBea Member

    Messages:
    5
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Location:
    Ontario
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    thanks for the quick response. I prefer to photograph scenery and portraits. Yes I do mean the Old Bessa ll. My father in-law used one many years ago in europe and when I view his pictures I'm amazed at the tonality and detail in them. they are much different from the digital ones.
     
  6. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

    Messages:
    1,897
    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Location:
    Saint Paul, MN
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    They are great cameras. I suggest you might want to take a look at certo6.com to see what he has available. He also sells them on eBay and I purchased a Zeiss folder from him and was happy. He will not be the cheapest, but everything he sells has been thoroughly serviced. His prices for a Bessa II will range from $500 on up.

    As for the format, I suggest you go with what you like. I do think, however, that there is something to be said for a modern pretty new camera with modern optics. If I was choosing one or the other for my own work, and I was going to be using this camera a lot, I would get the Mamiya, but that is just me.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2009
  7. DaveOttawa

    DaveOttawa Subscriber

    Messages:
    285
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2005
    Location:
    Ottawa, Cana
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    I have and use a Mamiya 6 with 50, 75, 150mm lenses) and use it for travel landscapes, mostly the 75mm on a carbon fibre tripod. I find it a good tool for that. I could do the same shots mostly with a Bessa I/II BUT I would definitely not enjoy using so much - but I'd have a whack more cash for tickets & film compared to the Mamiya. The image quality would be a bit less with the Bessa so I might not enlarge the prints as much and might have to use a 1/2 grade or so more to make them.
    Portraits, I think you could use either but you'd probaly find more engagement from your subjects using the Bessa just because of the retro look of it (because it IS retro). The Mamiya looks a bit like a pro DSLR with no LCD to the uninitiated.
     
  8. ntenny

    ntenny Member

    Messages:
    2,282
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2008
    Location:
    San Diego, C
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Some of Voigtlaender's older lenses actually are staggeringly good. I've got a Bergheil (circa 1920) whose Heliar is, I think, every bit the equal of the Planar on my Rolleiflex. Obviously there's some sample variation in lenses that old, and I've got a good one, but I wouldn't automatically write off the optics of a prewar Voigtlaender too casually, even as compared to the modern best-of-the-best.

    -NT
     
  9. sanking

    sanking Member

    Messages:
    4,813
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2003
    Location:
    Greenville,
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Like others I assume you mean the 1950s Voigtlander Bessa II versus the modern Mamiya 7?

    The Bessa II was a very good camera in its time and in good shape is still capable of making nice sharp pictures. It is a bit difficult to use because of the squinty viewfinder, film advance is by means of the ruby window, and the shutter release is on the left hand side of the camera, which is bothersome to most right handed persons. Also, the pressure plate was a weak point to begin with and may not give even pressure some 50+ years later. The camera had several lens options, but all of them were 105mm.

    The Mamiya 7, on the other hand, is without question the sharpest MF rangefinder ever made. It is easy to use, the viewfinder is big and bright, film advance is automatic by lever, and there is an internal meter and automatic exposure control. It is a system camera in that range finder coupled lens are available in 43mm, 50mm, 65mm, 80mm and 150mm.

    I have a Bessa II with Color Skopar in very good condition, and a Mamiya 7II outfit. I enjoy making negatives with the Bessa but it requires a different approach that takes more time than with the Mamiya 7II, and the final image quality is not up to what you expect from Mamiya 7.

    To get the most out of a Bessa II I would suggest putting it on a tripod and use at apertures of f/11 - f/32 to minimize possible lack of alignment of the range finder and problems with the pressure plate.

    Sandy King
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2009
  10. ManBea

    ManBea Member

    Messages:
    5
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Location:
    Ontario
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I Thank all of you for the expertise. the opinions seem to guide me to save and purchase a used maiya 7 ll. It should satisfy my expectations for a while till I start to working on developing my own pictures. then I will have more controll over the final picture.

    thanks again for all your opinions. greatly appreciated.
     
  11. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,070
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It seems to me the argument would be portability (Bessa) vs. versatility (Mamiya 7).

    The ultimate performance edge very probably goes to the Mamiya, but that's kind of moot IMHO- if I were going for world record sharpness, I wouldn't reach for a folder in the first place. I mean, is this logical: you want a compact, low-weight, unobtrusive kit, so you pack a fixed-lens folder... and a tripod so that you can get the very best performance out of it. :rolleyes:

    Much, much more important is how you will use the camera and whether it will help you feel productive.

    Incidentally, I have a batch of Mamiya 6es, my camera of choice for travel. The 3-lens kit (50/75/150) + two bodies easily fits into a small bag. Another compact kit that I used to use consisted of two fixed-lens Fuji RFs, that also worked well. I cannot bring the Mamiya 7ii into my family because then I will want all the lenses; that is the nature of my illness. So I am resolute in my decision to stick to the 6es!
     
  12. ManBea

    ManBea Member

    Messages:
    5
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Location:
    Ontario
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    maybe the comparison should be the mamiya 7 ll vs the fuji GW 690 even though one is 6X7 and the fuji a 6X9. these cameras are more similar than the Bessa ll vs the mamiya 7 ll.

    I don't know because I haven't tried any one of them. I have an Isolette ll with the solinar lens. it produces good pictures but wanted a bit more vesatility and sharper pictures.
     
  13. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,070
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Why not seek out some members near you who have these cameras and try 'em out. There are very good arguments for all of them. There are ways to trade/loan gear through apug. Also, KEH understands your plight and would probably ship you all of the above for a small fee, to try out for a week. When I was trying to decide similar thing, I kept stuff going back and forth between myself and KEH for months.

    6x9... well it depends what you're after. For me the ratio isn't what I go for, usually, it reminds me a lot (too much?) of 35mm: too long to match the standard print sizes I like, but too short to make me think of pano compositions. So for me it's an unfortunate compromise in the same way that 35mm format is a compromise. But that's just me, of course, pay no heed- do what you want to do. There is a 6x8 fixed lens fuji, you might look at that. When I had a horseman 6x9 field camera, incidentally, I use the rb 6x8 back with most of the time. Go figure!

    Bottom line, you have to try them out. Don't let some online chat site decide what tool is best for you!
     
  14. ManBea

    ManBea Member

    Messages:
    5
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Location:
    Ontario
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I guess the best comparison would be between and mamiya 7 ll and the fugi GW 690. I just thought for sharper pictures with more detail and cost savings that the bessa ll would fit the bill. If I got the Bessa ll a few years later I would be wondering if I should have gotten the mamiya or the Fuji, assuming that they produce sharper pictures with more detail.
     
  15. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,070
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Well I have a concern with folders in general, namely that the fold-out mechanism might not be stable enough over time. If the mechanism were made of invar or such, then fine, but even so, repeated deployment of that mechanism worries me, and I expect that the camera will need routine care and even so, I don't know how well the thing will maintain rigid coplanarity as it wears. I could be overblowing this issue of course, time will tell. But honestly I don't think there is much argument for a folder if what you want is ultimate sharpness. That's just not what RF folders are designed for.

    The mamiya 6 pop-out mechanism is more clever than that of a traditional folder, IMHO: the lens is firmly supported from all directions. Why this design hasn't been used more, I don't know, maybe it's just too expensive to do well. But it's a real gem of a design. My two favourite camera designs: the mamiya 6 and the olympus XA, both are so clever that I get a kick out of using them :wink:
     
  16. sanking

    sanking Member

    Messages:
    4,813
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2003
    Location:
    Greenville,
    Shooter:
    Large Format

    The Fuji GW690III and GSW690III are excellent cameras with very sharp modern Fujinoin EBC lenses. Theses lenses don't test quite as high in resolution as the Mamiya 7 lenses, but the extra width of the negative of the Fuji makes up for it and image quality is about equal with both cameras. The Fujis are large, but the hard plastic construction keeps weight down.

    The Fuji 69 cameras are of older design than Mamiya 7 and lack internal metering. Most irritating, they also lack a B setting on the shutter and the method for making long shutters if very clunky. Still, they are great cameras if you can live without the meter and can work around the lack of B setting.

    I owned both the GW690 and GSW690 before acquiring my Mamiya 7II outfit. I was very pleased with the Fujis, but overall Mamiya 7II has many advantages. On the other hand, in most cases you can buy a Fuji with lens for a lot less than Mamiya 7 with lenses so the Fuji is real good value.

    Sandy King
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 26, 2009
  17. sanking

    sanking Member

    Messages:
    4,813
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2003
    Location:
    Greenville,
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Just for the record, the fold-out mechanism for the Bessa II is very rigid and most models that I have seen are still in good condition at this point. The major problem in terms of sharpness with the Bessa II is the pressure plate and the rather long lens of 105mm which requires good adjustment of the rangefinder.

    BTW, a friend who has a Bessa III and a Mamiya 7II oufit tells me that the lens of the Bessa III tests better than any of his Mamiya 7 lenses. Tha is pretty impressive if it turns out to be generally true.

    Sandy King
     
  18. Keith Tapscott.

    Keith Tapscott. Member

    Messages:
    1,426
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2005
    Location:
    Plymouth. UK
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If or when Voigtlander make an all mechanical 6x7 rangefinder camera with a similar specification to their R3M 35mm, then I will seriously consider buying one.
    I would want this camera to be able to have a series of wide-angle and short telephoto lenses as well. This would make it a competitor to the Mamiya 7 II system.