Bessa R3A and 40 mm Nokton?

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by Steve Mack, Oct 16, 2012.

  1. Steve Mack

    Steve Mack Member

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    I'm thinking of getting a Bessa R3A and the 40mm Nokton lens to go with it. The price for the kit is what I choose to invest in a rangefinder camera, and I can get a new body and lens with warranties. Has anyone had experience with this combination, good or bad?

    Thanks to all who reply.

    With best regards.

    Stephen
     
  2. chrish

    chrish Member

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    I have the minus 1 version of that kit, the R2A with the 35 nokton.

    I went with the 2a because I had heard it worked better with glasses but the 1x magnification of the 3A sounded nice.

    The only other comment I could make that might be relevant is that I never use the aperture priority mode. Its just as easy to change the aperture to match the chosen shutter speed or change the shutter speed with my finger. So, I don't know if you've looked at the R3M but that might also be a good choice.
     
  3. eSPhotos

    eSPhotos Member

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    I've got that exact setup. Look so sexy and performs wonderfully. Make sure you get the vented lens hood too (more for looks than performance).
    The Nokton (mine is MC) is a stella. I've also got Heliar 75mm and CS 21mm. Both are stellas too.
    Bright viewfinder and the rangefinder is very accurate. Shutter is not as quiet as Leica but the sound is very 'positive'.
     
  4. thegman

    thegman Member

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    I had an R4A, nice, reliable camera which I probably trusted more than my Leica. You don't have to worry about light leaks like with a cloth shutter, the meter is accurate, and shutter speeds are as advertised. Not as sexy as a Leica, but the better camera in some ways.
     
  5. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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  6. arealitystudios

    arealitystudios Member

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    The R3A with a 40mm Nokton is the first "serious" rangefinder I ever purchased. I can safely tell you that I never once regretted buying it and I still use both of them often to this day. The metering is accurate, the Nokton has a nice look to it, and the camera itself is rugged enough for every day use.

    I actually think the Nokton is particular is a great buy. It's pretty dang fast at f/1.4 and it's relatively sharp. More importantly it has nice character. I would take it over the vast majority of modern lenses out there from the likes of Canon, Nikon, etc. I shoot with it around f/2 most of the time.

    The only downside I can think of is that this camera is what started my obsession with M-Mount and Screw Mount lenses...which is not a cheap obsession to have. hahaha.
     
  7. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    Years back when the R3A was new I went with this setup. It was fine. I sold it off though as disappointingly I found the 40 Nokton to lack any unique character to my liking. And the R3A to lack the quality and fit/finish I wanted in a rangefinder body. I particularly disliked the shutter feel and sound. Instead went with a nice user M3 that I got for $550 from Youxin Ye and an ugly (barrel not glass) but perfectly functional 50/2 Summicron DR that I got for $500 from someone here on APUG. Could not be more pleased with the quality of the Leica's better build, classic quiet shutter and smooth advance and the 'cron has such gorgeous sharpness with moderate contrast that I desire in most of my B&W work.

    I know many like the VC bodies but to me for the price they are just not up to snuff, not when I can get used M2/M3 bodies for similar prices. True no internal meter but I found that not as important as I once did...
     
  8. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    So, apart from the Leica (yawn) brag, what specifically didn't you like about the Nokton? :smile:
     
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  9. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    Purely subjective but as mentioned I did not find its "signature" or "fingerprint" to my taste. Shooting 99% B&W I find subtle differences in lenses important and I'm a stickler for getting what I want as subtle, subjective and nuanced as it may be. It was sharp but just did not knock my socks off. Hard to describe and it's simply me, I know.

    I have found, as mentioned, that I like good sharpness but with moderate contrast. The SC version I had seemed ok but in viewing my images from it over more than a dozen rolls and in differing subject matters and lighting I was rarely wowed by it. Again a matter of personal choice but the OP asked for opinions on this set up and I had it.

    Leica brag? Why would I brag about a beat-up ugly user M3 body and an ugly Summicron? Again just sharing experience and opinion. I like a few VC lenses, got the 15mm and the 75mm and like them tons (had the 35/1.2 and sold that off too). But when it came to the reason for a stealth quiet RF to counter my Nikon SLRs and decidedly not quiet Contax G2 the VC bodies to me did not give me what I wanted vs very reasonably priced and classic Leica bodies that have well-deserved reputations.
     
  10. 250swb

    250swb Member

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    I can't say anything about the R3A because I use my Nokton on another make of camera. But thats not important.

    What is important is that the 40mm Nokton is a fine lens. Mine is the MC version and it renders in a very similar way to the Canada made 35mm Summilux, it even looks similar at a glance. So wide open it renders a pleasant 'glow' to the image, and it sharpens up and calms down as you stop down. It is also very small for an f/1.4 lens, but it is easy to handle at the same time.

    Steve
     
  11. Vilk

    Vilk Member

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    I only played with R3A/40 a couple of times, but I do have to agree with rich that M3/DR, or even M4-2/DR, is an extremely sweet alternative on the same budget. The latter is actually my pocket PS combo these days, it does the job, brag or no brag... (And where I am now, that "CANADA" is even cooler than "WETZLAR." :smile:)
     
  12. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    I suppose I yawned because whenever there is a thread asking about an rf camera, it nearly always gets filled with comments from Leica fanboys about how wonderful their Leica is. If the OP wanted to know about Leicas they would have asked about Leicas. It's as tiresome as Windows vs Mac.
     
  13. Vilk

    Vilk Member

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    :cool:

    Andy, I have yawned enough, trust me (or better, ask my friend Ryan :laugh:). I carry my beater M4-2 these days because it was the crappiest/cheapest/most readily available box when I ended up with two gift 'crons a while ago. I simply see the combos I mentioned as viable options within OP's constraints. Compared to M4-2, R3A has a superior finder, non-leaking, non-burning shutter, auto mode, standard finder attachment thread, swing back... and may be somewhat lighter, too.

    "If the OP wanted to know about Leicas they would have asked about Leicas."--Not necessarily. Back then I was asking around about R3A as well, a tempting little package indeed, until I realized that it won't work with my DR. It was an unasked-for post like mine and rich's that exposed this glitch in my thinking.

    All in good faith,
    Vilk
     
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  14. 250swb

    250swb Member

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    Or you could look at it the other way and wonder how many people would respond on a titchy little forum (in the world of forum's) if only replying to absolutely the specific combination was allowed. It's like asking 'will a red Porsche 911 go as fast as a yellow Porsche 911', so you are either asking only for people with both to respond, or asking for common sense replies if thats not possible. Although come to think of it, there are probably more people talking on forum's right now who have a red and a yellow Porsche, than have a R3A with a 40mm Nokton. So I'm jealous both ways.

    Steve
     
  15. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    'Titchy little forum'? APUG? 60,000+ members, or hadn't you noticed?
     
  16. 37th Exposure

    37th Exposure Member

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    Better than a Leica (or a Zeiss Ikon)?

    I have the R3A and the all manual R3M both with the Nokton 40mm 1.4. I also have a Zeiss Ikon with Sonnar 50mm 1.5. And a Leica MP (current model not the rare collectible) with Summarit and Summilux 50mm 2.5 and 1.4 respectively. Okay, the Leica is self explanatory and the Zeiss also an excellent camera for a lot less. But the Voigtlanders with their 40mm Noktons are by far the most pleasant cameras I have ever owned. I've heard a lot of "what you paid is what you got" as they were by far the cheapest of the three and all the negative comments from other RF fans about my cheapo Cosina in Voigtlander cover. My response, go right ahead and get that R3A or M with the Nokton. I have never owned such a fun to use camera of the dozen or so I have owned over the last 30 years. The 1:1 viewfinder will give you a while new outlook in your composition. 1:1 means you are composing in "real time" for lack of better word. You are looking at the same ratio your eyes are. You'd think Leica would have thought of that but neither Leica nor Zeiss offer 1:1 finders, at least not in an over the counter version. Composition is quick and accurate as you can view your scene through the finder at real life proportions. I think I get better photos with this. 40mm is also about what your eyes take in in one glance. This is "realism" in photography. Truer than an SLR finder. The Nokton 40mm 1.4 is also sharp with a very classic smoothness to the resulting images, though under a 10x loupe the Leica lenses are sharper and the Nokton does vignette too much for my taste at wide open through f 2.8. The camera itself is reasonably well built and definitely not the piece of junk I have heard it referred as just because it doesn't say Leica on it. The film wind mechanism is certainly precision made as the spacing between frames is perfectly consistent. The roll comes out of the developing tank and you can't help but notice at a glance how even the spaces are without even really looking. The shutter release has a more positive action than the Leica's somewhat mushy one. It "snaps" with more authority albeit with more
    noise. I can't see what not to like about this camera and lens. Which camera of these three do I go for first? The Voigtlander! I forget it doesn't say "Leica" on it as soon as I bring the first exposure into position.