Bessa R for $180

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by revdocjim, Jan 18, 2011.

  1. revdocjim

    revdocjim Member

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    I'm interested in picking up an inexpensive rangefinder, and my daughter (17) is quite interested too. I have an old Pen EE that I let her play with and she loved the change of pace from her DSLR, and the "cool retro look". :smile:

    So I've come across a Bessa R for about $180 in very good condition but with no lens. I'm pretty new to the rangefinder world and wanted to get some feedback on whether that is a good deal or not.

    My daughter would probably not have the patience to work with a camera that didn't have metering built in so I'm hesitant to go for something that is completely manual.

    We would end up sharing it because I've recently been carrying around a Klasse and enjoying it a lot.

    Any advice or feedback would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. elekm

    elekm Member

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    It's an excellent camera and a good place to start. With any Cosina Voigtlander Bessa, make sure that the rangefinder is in calibration vertically and horizontally. It's not terribly difficult to adjust yourself, but it's best if you have one that's correct from the start. This seems to be a thing that Cosina is unable to correct.

    Otherwise, it's a very nice camera. I owned one for several years and used it extensively for a couple of years.

    There's a review of it on my site.
     
  3. Taslim Abdani

    Taslim Abdani Member

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    I paid about $270.00 for my Bessa R but it came with a 50mm Jupitar lens and some other accessories. You could probably pick up a Jupitar lens rather cheaply from ebay or from Fedka (he is reputable). The Bessa R takes screwmount lenses. Good luck.
     
  4. elekm

    elekm Member

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    I agree with Taslim. A Jupiter would be a nice starter lens. Plus, there are a huge number of lenses available from Leica, Canon, Nikon and the former Soviet Union, as well as a good selection from Cosina.

    Cosina has produced a very good range of well-made lenses for the Bessa-R. In fact, you might almost be able to say that the Cosina lenses are better made than the Cosina bodies.
     
  5. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    Good deal, good camera, assuming everything is working well and all that. I get a lot of use out of mine. The only real grounds to criticise it, I think, are that (1) the rangefinder base is kind of short, and (2) the materials and workmanship are appropriate for the price point, i.e., a significant cut below a Leica or even the later, more expensive Cosinae. I don't find either of these to be a problem in practice.

    About the Jupiter lens, be aware that many people think the Soviet lenses are not quite made to the same focussing standard as the original Leica mount---they seem to work fine at longer distances and/or smaller apertures, but focussing errors may emerge close up or wide open. It's hard to tell just how accurate this is, because there's a lot of sample variation in Soviet lenses anyway...and with all that in mind, you might do better to look at some of the less expensive Western or Japanese lenses for a starter instead.

    See http://www.cameraquest.com/ltmlens.htm for some quick summaries of a wide variety of Leica-mount lenses. Not everybody agrees with everything written there, but IMHO the page does a fair job of acknowledging differences of opinion.

    -NT
     
  6. revdocjim

    revdocjim Member

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    Thanks for the helpful info
    I went ahead and bought it!
    I was also able to pick up a Canon 50/1.8 (type II) for about $100. It isn't in the greatest condition with a bit of clouding but the clerk and I looked at it closely and then looked at the diagrams for that lens and we're pretty sure it is on the element just behind the aperture ring which should be relatively easy to access so I'll be giving it a try.
     
  7. Brian Legge

    Brian Legge Member

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    Honestly, if you're trying to stay cheap, I'd just go with a Jupiter 8 from a reputable place. I used one I picked up from Fedka on a Leica IIIc without any issues that bugged me - and I was quite happy with the shots I was getting out of it.
     
  8. pecama

    pecama Member

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    Hello,

    sorry if i borrow your thread for a question: is a bessa R with a voigtlander ultron 35/1.7 a good deal for 430eur?
    Thank you very much in advance!
     
  9. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I love my Bessa R. I wanted it for a long time, and I was really glad to get it. The viewfinder is better than any Leica IMHO. Just don't abuse it. I don't think they could take too much of a beating.
     
  10. doktor

    doktor Member

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    Bessa R for 180 usd thats good deal. When I spoke with Leica service guy the russian m39 mount are no different from Leitz (i.e. the focusing standard). There are some m39 lenses for Zenit and those have different distance from the focal plane. Russian lenses are often copies of german construction. The problem is the quality standard, but it not means that You can't find a good one.
     
  11. agphotography

    agphotography Member

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    Actually I was a bit curious about the present value of a Bessa R as well. I have an R2 coming to me and I've been trying to find a Nokton 50mm f/1.5 I happened to find one locally at one of my camera shops and it's attached to a Bessa R for a decent price. I thought to buy the kit, keep the lens and sell the body :wink:
     
  12. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    They seem to go for between $200 and $250. Sometimes $300 if someone on E-Bay decides they REALLY need it NOW. I shopped for probably close to two years before I "pulled the trigger" on one. They piqued my interest starting when my trusty old Leica IIIc broke, keeping me from being able to use two of my favorite lenses (Summar and Sumitar). I could get two or three Bessa Rs for what it would cost me to fix the Leica. And the Bessa R's viewfinder puts any other 35mm RF viewfinder I have ever used to shame.

    I got it via APUG with a want ad. The want ad was up for some time before I got a response that was just right. It was used, but in near-new condition, for $225, I believe. That included the manual and a body cap. I put more wear on it in one or two days of shooting it than it had had in it's life before me, so I really don't think it was used for more than a few rolls by the original owner. Either that or the guy was obsessively careful with his cameras.

    Oh yeah! It was black too! A definite plus for me.
     
  13. agphotography

    agphotography Member

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    Interesting. Well maybe I'll go pick that up tomorrow and see if anyone needs a Bessa (or keep it for a backup)

    Thanks for the heads up my friend.