Durability of Bessa R

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by Steve Mack, Jan 9, 2008.

  1. Steve Mack

    Steve Mack Member

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    I am curious about the durability of my new Bessa R. I bought it along with the f/2.8 335mm lens as part of a kit offer (I think I got one of the last ones) and I've been very pleased with it, since it has let me explore RF photography without breaking the bank.

    I have also read some quibbles about the durability of the camera. While I don't expect it to be as durable as a Leica, I would like to be reassured about its own durability. If I treat it as it should be treated, like a piece of precision optical equipment, should I expect many relatively trouble-free years of shooting, (with the exception of the occasional CLA, of course.)? I don't expose my kit to weather extremes, I don't bang it around carelessly, I don't take it places where I could drop it into the sea/lake/river/pond/creek, and I especially don't lend kit to people. So, should I be pretty satisfied with the life-expectancy? What do you all think?

    TIA!

    With best regards,

    Steve Mack

    The man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he could learn in no other way.

    Mark Twain
     
  2. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    I have been using an original R for years without trouble and, as I am an archaeologist, it doesn't exactly have an easy life.

    David.
     
  3. Uhner

    Uhner Member

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    Don’t worry. Your Bessa should be all right for many, many years.
     
  4. Donald Boyd

    Donald Boyd Member

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    Baby it and it should be okay.
     
  5. elekm

    elekm Member

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    The Bessa-R has a bit more plastic than I would like to see in a camera. However, in some cases, plastic can absorb impacts that would leave a dent in a metal plate.

    One of the things that I've heard from other users is the markings. All of the indicators, including the marks for frame lines and even the name of the camera, are painted on rather than engraved and then filled. On some cameras, the paint has worn away.

    On my own Bessa-R, which received very gentle use while I had it, the paint was beginning to wear away after three years.

    Aside from that, there is the usual issue of deteriorating foam in the channels of the back after 10 years.

    The shutter is an all-manual Copal and seems reasonably durable. The rest of the mechanics aren't that complex, although I imagine a heavy-handed user could damage the film-advance mechanism by forcing the advance at the end of a roll.

    I never took one apart, so I don't know how much plastic gearing, if any, is used. Hopefully, there aren't any.

    Overall, I think this camera should hold up adequately for day-to-day use.
     
  6. bessa_L_R3a

    bessa_L_R3a Member

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    Is there anything specific about a Leica that makes it last so much longer than a Bessa R or R3a (the one I have)?

    Is the paint more durable? Is the film advance lever better built? What's the most salient difference in the Leica body that makes it last so much longer?
     
  7. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    What makes it last longer?
    Internally the Leica is far more robust. Gearing in the advance system and even the shutter are seriously overbuilt. I'm not sure if you could break most of the components unless you were trying to. Quality of the material is important too, I've not taken a Bessa apart but I SUSPECT that there would be a serious quality difference.
    Paint is paint. The Leicas typically use engraved logos that are then filled with paint. The paint can fall or wear out of the engravings but can be repainted with paint sticks. Wipe on wipe off!
     
  8. pesphoto

    pesphoto Member

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    R's are a great camera, just be careful not to wind the film advance too fast or it might jam on you.
     
  9. GM Bennett

    GM Bennett Member

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    I have two "R" bodies, one of which I bought new, the other used. Other than a little brassing, they're both in fine condition and the rangefinders are still accurate. They're just simple bodies to transport the much nicer Voigtlander glass as far as I'm concerned - an R body is relatively inexpensive and with a couple of bodies the minor hassle of changing a LTM mount lens doesn't come up as often. Durability-wise, I routinely throw (ok, place) a Bessa R and 35mm pancake in my motorcycle tank bag, and it's no worse for wear. YMMV, I guess.
     
  10. dxphoto

    dxphoto Member

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    winding the film is tricky... sometimes I got two frames overlapping partially.
    Also the battery goes quickly.

    Other than these, i don't see any problem of it as a user camera.
     
  11. Nick Merritt

    Nick Merritt Member

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    The basic Bessa design, including shutter and film wind construction, is one that Cosina has used for years and years. In particular, the Copal shutter is very sturdy and a time-proven design. It's been modified for the Bessa to have two sets of curtains, but I don't think that will cause any problems. The film wind concerns others have mentioned shouldn't be much of a concern; just don't try to wind too fast in succession. And plastic-bodied cameras have been out there for 30 years; they may not look as nice when worn, but they're plenty sturdy.
     
  12. BrianPhotog

    BrianPhotog Member

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    I haven't babied my R2, R2a, or L in the years I've used them...and they've been bumped around in my unpadded shouldbag, been dropped more then a few times, and seen action in typhoons.

    My only complaint is the winding mechanism (the frames spacing), but that has nothing to due with durability. Seeing that the winding mechanism in the L and R (single throw) is different then that of the R2/3/4 (racheted) he may not have to deal with that one.

    Anyway, they are great day2day cameras.
     
  13. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    Is the Bessa line of cameras as durable as an "M" Leica? Does a Bessa cost as much as a Leica?? Of course not...and it is not as durable as a Leica "M" body, but it is a nicely finished camera using a well established building block approach perfected by Cosina by many years of manufacturing similar bodies for entry-level SLR's for major brands.