Bessa R3a or Bessa R2a?

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by Leon, May 19, 2005.

  1. Leon

    Leon Member

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    I've managed to convince myself that I need a new 35mm for grab shots and hand held stuff. I used to have a Voigtlander bessa r2 (which I am absolutely kicking myself about getting rid of, but needed the cash at the time) and have borrowed a bessa T before so am used the quality and operation of the cameras.

    I have decided on one of the new voigtlander R cameras - the cost and aperture priority suit me me well, and I can get a reasonable deal with the new fast 40mm Nokton included.

    I am torn between getting the R3a or the R2a.

    The AP magazine review suggests that the 1:1 finder of the R3a is quite difficult to use (esp with the 40mm lines being so close to the edges of the viewfinder) and makes the shutter speed info LED difficult to see in practice. Hence, I am leaning towards the R2a but the only drawback with this is that it has no lines in the viewfinder for the 40mm focal length, so Iwould have to guess at framing slightly smaller than the 35 mm lines.

    Any feedback from users of either camera would be very useful.

    TIA
     
  2. TheMissingLink

    TheMissingLink Member

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    Leon,

    a good choice! I'd make my choice with the 3a: Better difficult to see lines than "astimating" the borders ... especially iwith the more near range between 1 and 2 meters you will have a clue while aiming. The LEDs you will see easily with a bit of training. Don't expect too much from some editors of a magazine;-)
    The quality of the Nokton is far out of debt, like all the others out of the "classic collection" ... except I'd prefer the 35mm if you will also, try "point and shoot", a bit more depth of field and a bit wider angle.

    PErhaps you should give it a try:
    I worked some time with a Bessa 2, external LEDs and a range finder on top, suitable for the lenses ... I Lovaed it for point and shoot, the LEDs I could easily see and I could aeasily use the lines. It was the better choice for me as a wearer of glasses.

    Horst
     
  3. Leon

    Leon Member

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    thanks for your points Horst ... have you actually used an R3a?

    I used to have the 35mm colour skopar with my R2 - which I liked, but the slightly longer focal length and the speed of the nokton will suit me better I think (that and I can only get the good deal if I get the nokton with the camera ...)
     
  4. TheMissingLink

    TheMissingLink Member

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    I see you're squinting for a set as special offer;-)

    I tried the 3a for some films a few days, a really nice toy, sorry: tool, but with my glasses (floating focus?!) I had some difficulties with the frame inside and so I gave it back, changed it for a R2 with a 50mm Nokton and a 75mm, both with the xternal range finders. As I prefer a tiny bit more focal length the latter was my preffered choice and the great 50mm a "nice" addon.
    Expecially the range finders, primarly felt like being in stone ages again;-) They really rule, a plastic view and no need for me to creep into the finder.
    Sorry for not being able to deliver more long-time-approved practices ... finally I missed the sheets and spalshing around with devoloping in bowls;-)

    Aren't you able to lend both for a few days from your/a dealer? Finally your fingers and your eye(s) would make the decisions intuitively after some shots ... for a wrong buy it's a rather hiuge investment, isn't it?

    Horst
     
  5. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    These are interesting cameras. I have no experience with either of them. I would lean toward the R3A for 50mm and longer and the R2A for 50mm and shorter.
     
  6. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Leon,

    I own several Bessa bodies, including an R2(not A) and an R3A.

    The information about the 40mm finder in the R3A being on the edge of visibility is correct. I wear rather close fitting glasses, and can just barely make out the frame if I keep my eye pointed straight ahead through the finder. If I look off-center through the finder, I can't see the frames. I don't find the shutter speed LEDs hard to see, but they're not obtrusive either. They can get lost with the eye in a specific spot, but I haven't tested that much, and don't consider it a problem. You can also buy a CV 40mm accessory finder for the hot shoe, which is very nice. I use it on my R2, T, and L model Bessas, and on my Fuji GW690II because it's within a degree or two on coverage, the same aspect ratio, and much clearer than the built-in Fuji finder.

    The important thing to me on the R3A is not necessarily framing perfectly with the 40mm frames. I already owned two 40mm lenses, and the CL is one of my favorite cameras, so the R3A was a natural fit in my kit. I got the R3A for the 1:1 finder, which allows you to focus, frame, and shoot very comfortably with both eyes open, and for the longer effective baseline on the rangefinder. I always know well enough for my purposes where the R3A 40mm finder frames are, even if I can't see tham at the moment. Shooting with both eyes open is a substantial difference because you don't feel isolated from the subject or surroundings. You just have a brightline frame floating in front of you. If you're left-eyed, this is immaterial; your right eye would be blocked by the body. If you're using a 50mm or longer lens, those CV hot shoe finders are also 1:1 and sit above the camera body, so could give you the same effect whether you're left or right eyed. The 40mm and shorter CV auxiliary finders are not 1:1, so don't work well this way.

    Build quality of the R3A is similar to the R2 if not slightly better, and better than the T and first R model. It's not a Leica, but it's very solid. Both the R3A and R2A have electronic shutters (autoexposure, you know) and won't work without batteries, so you won't see me getting rid of my R2. I like to be able to have a variety of films loaded.

    Hope his helps.

    Lee
     
  7. Leon

    Leon Member

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    thanks for your comments everyone - very helpful
     
  8. tbm

    tbm Member

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    I love the R3a, for its large viewfinder magnification reminds me of my Leica M3 (which, unlike the R3a, unfortunatealy doesn't have internal exposure metering). I use my Leica 90mm lens and my Voigtlander 75mm lens often, and both have been difficult to focus when on my M6. With the R3a, both are easy to focus.
     
  9. Biogon Bill

    Biogon Bill Member

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    Leon, the best choice for use with the 40 Nokton is the Rollei 35 RF, which is essentially a special edition of the Bessa R2, but with 40/50/80 frame lines & with the same improved close focus capability (0.7 m) as the R2/3A. It does not have AE, but the upside is that it's not battery dependent. Pre-set your shutter speed & you essentially have AE for most situations.

    The Rollei shares the same 0.7x magnification as the viewfinder in your old Bessa R & the viewfinder for the R2 & the R2A. In this viewfinder, 40 mm frame lines are even easier to see than 35 mm frame lines are; I have no problem even with glasses. In addition, this viewfinder is parallax corrected for a 40 mm lens. An R2A will not be; its parallax correction will be for 35 or 50, depending on which frame lines you use with the 40. Further, a nice benefit of the 35 RF is that none of the Rollei frame lines does double duty - so, no clutter from 90 frame lines in the middle of your 35 field of view.

    The difficulty of seeing the 40 frame lines in the R3A is a serious drawback IMHO. One of the benefits of rangefinder photgraphy is that you can see outside the frame lines when composing. If you can't even see the frame lines themselves, you obviously can't see outside them either. Of course, you can work around this by estimating, etc., but this wouldn't be anyone's first choice.

    The strength of the R3A is for use with fast 50s & with teles. They provide 40 frame lines in order that you have the option to shoot a little wider, but this camera is not designed for use when a 40 is the primary option. In my experience, the Rollei 35 RF is the ideal RF camera for use with any 40 mm lens, including the excellent & compact 40 Nokton. A bonus is that it comes with a 2-year manufacturer's warranty, serviced by Rollei-USA.

    Bill
     
  10. Leon

    Leon Member

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    Oh Bill - you have thrown a spanner into the works! I can get a Rollei 35 rf+ t-winder + 40mm sonnar for a little bit less than the r2/3a + Nokton deal too (enough to pay for a couple of filters to fit).

    My two main concerns would be:

    I tend to shoot using aperture as my priority, I used to spin the shutter speed dial on my Bessa R like mad, even built up a bit of a callous! SO I was really looking for the AE option, but then again, I can live with the occasional sore finger.

    And the slower lens issue ... My limited budget wont stretch to the rollei body and a nokton .... but then again, the 35rf deal comes with a Zeiss lens, or made to zeiss specification at least. Are these made by Cosina too? I need to seriously think if I really need to go all the way to f1.4 ....

    Also, my general trend for further lenses woudl be to go wide (25mm and less) rather than longer so these would be with the accessory finders anyway - the viewfinder will only be an issue for the 40 lens ....... decisions, decisions
     
  11. Biogon Bill

    Biogon Bill Member

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    Leon, for most shooting, pre-set the shutter speed dial & just worry about aperture. You may have to play with it a little bit in low light shooting, but if you do this before you begin shooting, you'll have a goodidea of where you need to be. But if you're hooked on AE & 40 mm focal length, then go for the R3A.

    I have seen the Rollei 35 Rf used with a year still left on the warranty for $450 USD & you may be able to get it cheaper. Combined with the 40 Nokton, this is still cheaper than the deal at Robert White. But I must add that the Rollei Sonnar is a superb lens & with today's fast films, it can handle many low light situations.

    The 40 Sonnar is a legendary lens, designed by Carl Zeiss & built by Rollei in Germany under license from Carl Zeiss. The barrel is built by Cosina on contract from Rollei, but all assembly of lens elements in the barrel & quality control is done at the Rollei factory. It also uses the renowned Rollei HFT coating, which is the same as the famous Zeiss T* coating. The Cosina barrel is a brass barrel & is from the second generation of Cosina RF lenses, which are a step up from first generation build quality, which is to say excellent. The major upgrade here from a Cosina lens is the coating - absolutely no flare with this lens - & high standard of quality control that Zeiss demands of all its licensees. Of course there is also the superb Sonnar design from Zeiss.
     
  12. Leon

    Leon Member

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    being that my picture taking teeth were cut in landscape and tripod type work, I always think of DOF before I worry about shutter speeds - that's what comes naturally to me I'm afraid I find it very difficult to think the other way around.

    I want to buy new as I have had my fingers burned with used stuff too many times now! I cant find any UK sellers that beat the robert white prices sadly :sad:

    Do you use/ have you used one of the Rollei 35rf Bill?
     
  13. Biogon Bill

    Biogon Bill Member

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    Yes, I have used the 35 RF for over a year. I have the 40 Sonnar as my primary lens. Because I don't use portrait length all that often, I opted for the CV 75/2.5 as my longer lens rather than the more expensive Rollei 80/2.8 Planar. I love the compact size of the CV 75 Heliar & it is very sharp. Because it is a longish 75 (Pop Photo measured it at 77 mm.), it works very well with the 80 mm frame lines. Pop Photo also found it's maximum aperture to be not quite f/2.5 but actually f/2.7. When I look at its lens design on the Cosina website, it looks to me to be a copy of a Zeiss Sonnar, so it could just as easily be called an 80/2.8 Sonnar, which is probably what it would have been if it were made by Zeiss or Rollei.

    Cheers,
    Bill
     
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  15. Leon

    Leon Member

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    bill - thanks mate, that has all been very helpfull. I'll let you know which way I go.
     
  16. Biogon Bill

    Biogon Bill Member

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    Best of luck with your decision, Leon. There are a lot of good choices out there. I'm looking forward to hearing your decision.

    Bill
     
  17. gareth harper

    gareth harper Inactive

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    I quite fancy a rangefinder myself.
    In the short term my next camera (other than just having replaced my dead EOS33) will have to be a d****l SLR, but in the longer term I would love to bag a reasonable priced rangefinder, with reasonable TTL metering and I'd be interested in something like a 24mm and 35mm lens set with appropriate viewfinders. I don't fancy the type of finder that mounts on the top plate by the way.
    The voightlanders look very nice, are they available with something like a 21-24mm and 35-40mm ish interchangeable finders? Leicas are way out of my price range, plus the snob value turns me right off (though really I should pay no such attention to such matters).
    Sorry if this is a dumb question, but I get very confused on the issue of rangefinders. Never used one, but I really like the idea.
     
  18. Leon

    Leon Member

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    Gareth - go to www.robertwhite.co.uk and you'll see the whole current cosina voigtlander range. the widest incamera finder is teh 35mm frame on the bessa r2a but you can get supplementary hot shoe finders for all the wider lenses.
     
  19. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Gareth,

    Actually, the wider CV lenses all come with auxiliary hot shoe finders included in the price, with the presumption that no camera comes standard with a wide enough built in finder.

    Also, don't let the people you term Leica snobs put you off of good equipment if you can afford it and like it. People who actually put film in their Leicas tend to be put off by collectors who run the prices up. But don't blame the hardware for snobishness, that's a cult of humans. The prices on used Leica RF gear seem to be dropping since the recent introduction of new Leica mount bodies from other manufacturers. Tape the body or obscure the nameplate like a lot of shooters do if it makes you more comfortable.

    I shoot Leica and other brand compatible RF equipment based on what suits my pocketbook and shooting needs.

    Lee
     
  20. gareth harper

    gareth harper Inactive

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    Thanks guys,

    I'm not that keen on the idea of hot shoe finders, but then maybe I'd have to try it to see, it might not be that bad. One worry would be about the vunerability of the finder. And how worried I'd be about that might depend on the cost of replacing them.

    I agree with you Lee, it does put me off, though I know at the same time I'm being a bit silly. Anyway I don't need to worry as I simply can't afford a Leica at the moment, but as you say prices are slipping.

    Meanwhile I have come accross A Canon QL17 G3. It may need a little work to get it going again, but if I can get it going it should give me a taste of rangefinder shooting.
     
  21. Frank Petronio

    Frank Petronio Inactive

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    Don't overlook picking up a Hexar AF for about the same money. Great lens and build quality, easy to use, and in some ways better than a Leica (or at least a nice compliment.) I am actually considering getting a second one.

    I had a M6 and Summilux, which I do miss as they were lovely in the hand, but when I think about the kinds of photos I would use it for - quick, stealthy, low light - the Hexar is the more practical and probably more successful tool. As much as I like the idea of using a RF for focusing, it is slower than AF and sometimes more difficult to use.

    The old Canon are great too, especially if you are lucky enough to find a good working model or get it CLA'd. The old mercury cells are still on eBay - I think buying the original batteries makes more sense than mucking around with Weins or adjusting the meter (not!?).
     
  22. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Gareth,

    I just ran some film through the Canonet QL17 that my mom handed down several months ago. The shutter was stuck, so I went in through the front of the lens and flooded the shutter repeatedly with solvent until it stayed working for several days. You can find info online, most of which says to go through the rear of the lens, which requires special tools.

    The results are really great, it's a very fine lens, but the finder and focusing ease isn't Leica or Cosina quality, and you only get a 40mm lens. My exposures were consistently good, so the shutter is working at correct speeds now. I also am using either a piece of PVC or an O-ring to hold a hearing aid battery #675 (IIRC) in place and run the internal meter. These batteries are air-zinc and correct voltage like the Wein, but cost less than $1 each in a blister pack of 4 to 12 batteries. At typical prices, the QL17 is a great bargain.

    I haven't shot AF cameras myself, but have shot using CV rangefinders side-by-side with two guys using Canon 20D's with 70-210 IS zooms. They post their stuff online to sell, so I can check their results. The 20D seems to put the soccer players on the near edge of DOF, and sometimes in front of the DOF, so you get sharp spectators and soft focus players. Obviously there are many AF systems out there, and they perform differently in different situations, but you may want to check out AF performance before dropping a lot of money. I'd be really upset if I spent the money on a 20D and got poorer results than my R3A or Bessa T and a 135 Hektor that cost $100 in excellent+ condition. And don't get me started on the double line boke on many of the photos from the 70-210 Canon AF zoom vs. the much smoother Hektor.

    M u s t s t o p t y p i n g ......

    Lee
     
  23. gareth harper

    gareth harper Inactive

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    Hello Lee,

    7dayshop.com sell Panasonic PR675H, 6 batteries for 2.99
    Shame I just did my 7dayshop order the other week. Can you buy these batteries at chemists (drug stores) ? Is that the right one?

    I use two EOS30 series cameras at the moment. The auto-focus is very similar to the 20D. It's very accurate. However I don't tend to use the servo/predictive mode, and it is difficult to predict the movement football players. I use it 99% of the time in single shot mode, sometimes switching it off once I have focus. It is pin point accurate. Sometimes I think auto-focus is miss-named, to get good results the user must tell the camera exactly where to focus. Often for sports where you can predict the direction of movement it's best to focus on a fixed point (just like you would do with manual), frame and wait. Some might say that in that situation auto-focus offers no advantge, but if you pick your point carefully and get focus confirmation, you know it's focused exactly on that spot, there's no guess work. Having said that some folks are amazingly tallented manual focusers, just I'm not.
    The auto-focus also works well in low light if you have a fast(ish) lens, it allows me to focus with precision when I'd be guessing with manual focus.

    I quite fancy giving the Canonet a whirl. I figure if I shoot 400asa focus shouldn't be too critical. Are there any hyper-focal markings? I can pretty much see how most of it works, but I'm puzzeled by some of the markings.
    Also people should pay less attention to it than an SLR, that's the real big appeal for me. Even raising a small SLR to ones eyes seems to set off alarm bells wherever you point it.

    Anyway once I have a battery I'll see if she will fire the shutter. I'm probably enquire at the old school camera shop Quiggs in Glasgow about getting her serviced. I belive there's a chap in Glasgow they use who is a dab hand with older cameras and hopefully reasonably priced. It seems a shame not to use such a lovely old camera.

    Thank-you for the battery tip.
     
  24. Biogon Bill

    Biogon Bill Member

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    Hi, Gareth -

    I don't fancy the type of finder that mounts on the top plate either. One option is that you can just learn to estimate for wider shots.

    No rangefinder camera - Voigtlander or otherwise - is available with interchangeable finders, although I must say that it strikes me as a good idea. I know that Nikon had something like this on its 1950s' rangefinders, but I don't think that it offered anything as wide as 25/25.

    The best solution IMHO is to get a camera with a viewfinder that includes 28 mm frame lines. Since you are not interested in a Leica, there are two other alternatives. The first is a Konica Hexar RFwhich sold for about 4 years (1999 - 2004) before it was discontinued, but which you can still find new if you dig hard enough. They are also available second hand. The other is a Zeiss Ikon, built by Cosina in partnership with Carl Zeiss AG. Cosina is the manufacturer of the Voigtlander Bessa series of rangefinder cameras. It is a brand new camera, scheduled to be released in June.

    Rangefinder cameras provide frame lines for composing your picture in the viewfinder. These are "parallax corrected," which means that these frame lines shift slightly as you focus the camera to adjust for your point of view depending on whether your subject is close or far away.

    What some people, who disdain auxiliary viewfinders, do is that they use the full view of the finder for lenses the next standard focal length wider than the widest frame lines in the camera's viewfinder. The full view typically approximates this next widest focal length. The full view of the finder on the Voigtlander Bessa R2A, for example, which provides 35/50/75/90 frame lines, approximates the field of view of a 28 mm lens. The viewfinder on the new Zeiss Ikon is said to approximate the field of view of a 24/25 mm lens. The only drawback to this is that there is no parallax correction for shots where the subject is at a closer distance, so you have to learn to estimate. My guess is the parallax corrected 28 mm frame lines would be of some help doing this.

    Here are some other websites for rangefinder camera information:

    www.zeissikon.com

    www.voigtlaender.de

    www.cameraquest.com

    Happy hunting!
    Bill
     
  25. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Gareth,

    That looks like the correct battery at 7dayshop. The voltage should be 1.35 or 1.4 volts. I cut a very thin slice of plastic 1/2 inch cpvc plumbing pipe to center the battery. I also have some O-rings of the right dimensions to center the battery. The O-ring numbering systems vary, even among suppliers here in the US. The one you see mentioned on the internet is a #13, but I forget the dimensions, which are in fractional inches. If you can't find a reference for the size, get back to me and I'll see what I can find. You should be able to get the zinc-air 675 at almost any chemists. Once you have the battery and camera in hand, you could fit a proper O-ring at a local hardware store.

    I've never used autofocus at all, or even read about it in the magazines. It's quite possible, perhaps likely, that the two people I mentioned weren't using it properly, so I'll reserve any final judgement on autofocus until I've used it properly myself. The last time I looked at a new SLR to see how it worked was 1983. The one I use is a 1977 or 1978 design, so I'm really outdated in that regard. That one has an auto-exposure mode, which I used once in 1981 shooting on fisherman's wharf in San Franciso.

    There are no hyperfocal markings on the Canonet, but mine has two scales, meters and feet. I think what may be confusing you is the aperture scale. It has f-stops from 1.7 to f:16, then a red A for shutter speed priority with auto aperture, the on the other side of the red A are numbers 28, 20, and 14, which I recall as being the guide numbers for use with the dedicated flash. I don't have that item. The lever for changing the ASA has window, cloud, and sun symbols, but there is a real numerical ASA scale as well.

    If you want a DOF scale for any lens and use Windows, visit dofmaster.com. You can download a free program there to print out a DOF dial scale to your own specifications. There's another program there for printing out a hyperfocal chart for multiple lenses. Nice stuff.

    Having a Copal leaf shutter, the Canonet is far quieter than any focal plane shutter.

    One thing that I haven't mentioned that I like about the Bessas is the trigger winder. You can find info on it at cameraquest.com, and possibly also Robert White. I can get between 2 and 2.5 frames/second out of it, and I like the grip and bulk it adds to fit my large hands. It's an all mechanical trigger advance that's reasonably quiet, no batteries. I understand that either the Hexar or Contax (perhaps both, I haven't used either) has a reasonably quiet motor advance as well.

    Lee
     
  26. gareth harper

    gareth harper Inactive

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    Thanks for all the info Lee!

    I'll see if I can pick up a battery on Monday from the local chemist.
    We've got o-ring kits at work, so I should be able to make one up OK.
    Now that Konica looks nice, so with a 24mm lens I would be capturing round about the full-viewfinder, that sounds workable. I could always think about the Bessa with the 35mm finder and just accept that 28mm would be as wide as I went. I do like 24mm lenses though. With 24's and 28's and fast film it's easy to pre-set the focus, so focus shouldn't be a problem.

    That Zeiss looks lovely, wonder what the price will be though.

    Thanks for all that, you've cleared up a few rangefinders points that were puzzling me. Cheers.

    I have to say I love auto-focus. With wide angle lenses you don't really need it that much, but with standard or longer lenses it's a real boon, and it's pin point accurate. Oh one thing that does bug me is the EF lenses don't have as good hyper-focal markings as the old FD lenses. Now from 35mm and up I don't really care that much. But I bought a EF24L and the markings are rather poor. Auto-focus is almost pointless on a 24mm, whereas good lens markings almost priceless.
    I don't know much about shooting football, I don't know what techniques people will use when shooting such sports, you'll have a much better idea than I. Auto-focus can accurately follow/predict the momement of objects moving towards or away from you, but only if their movement is linear (for want of a better word). With football the guys are all over the place, so I've no idea how the sports guys operate their auto-focus in these situtions. Auto-focus is brilliant, but at the same time it won't perfrom miracles.

    Anyway I'll get that Canonet going, get her a service hopefully and have a bash. Such a lovely wee camera I've got to give her a whirl.