Going bessa?

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by dugrant153, Jan 2, 2012.

  1. dugrant153

    dugrant153 Member

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    Hi folks,

    I've been a pretty happy Nikon 135 shooter but have recently ran into a few situations where I've begun to think about moving to a Bessa rangefinder instead.

    I like shooting in natural light (even in dark areas) and really need a good silent camera. I love my F3HP but it's really hard to focus in dim light without an F1.4 lens on it and a really good screen (in progress of finding a G or H screen still).

    So I've been thinking about possibly selling off a good chunk of my Nikon gear and going Bessa rangefinder instead. However, the Bessa would most likely be new and the Nikon system would not be enough to cover it so it's extra money out of my pocket to play. So, with that in mind and before I go and make this drastic move, I'm wondering what I gain from going Voigtlander Bessa? I'm looking at the R2M or R3M and maybe a 35mm or 40mm lens. Need fast but affordable :smile:

    Off the top of my head, are rangefinder lenses more "sharper" at F1.4 than SLR lenses? Seeing as how I shoot a lot wide open this could be a deal breaker for me.

    Current lineup I have and am hoping to get something similar with a Bessa setup:

    Nikon F90x + 35mm F2 Ai lens
    Nikon F3HP + 50mm F1.4 Ai(s?) lens

    Thanks in advance. This forum has been really really helpful!
     
  2. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    With an SLR there is always the problem of camera shake when the mirror comes up which degrades lens sharpness. The Voigtlander lenses are excellent and compare favorably with Leica lenses. I have 3 bessa's and love them.
     
  3. Trask

    Trask Subscriber

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    I can't speak to the relative merits of RF lenses being sharper than SLR lenses -- because I've never done a verifiable test -- I CAN tell you that as I've aged to my present 60 years of age I find RF cameras, be they Leicas, Canons, Nikons, Zeiss Contax or Yashica, to be much easier to focus in marginal light and/or in situations where there are no obvious lines to facilitate use of the split image on the SLR focusing screen. And, obviously, my whole mental grasp of the image is very different between an SLR screen and the RF direct view. I've got lots of SLRs, but I find I am increasingly using RF cameras.
     
  4. mcgrattan

    mcgrattan Member

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    I just picked up a Pentax MX with a 50mm f1.4, and Leica M3 and did a side by side comparison in this very dark living room. Both are pretty much best in class in terms of viewfinders. The MX finder with f1.4 lens is brighter to look through, but the rangefinder is definitely easier to focus in the darker parts of the room, on subjects where there are no hard edges to use the split-image section of the SLR finder. However, in the lit areas of the room [still pretty dark] it evens out a lot more, and it's easier to focus the SLR on textured subjects like an expanse of fabric as the microprism ring in the finder makes that a lot more obvious than the rangefinder does. The SLR will also focus a lot closer.

    I'd expect I could nail accurate focus with the M3 more often than the MX for the sorts of subjects [people] I'd want to be shooting in low light, and I find myself hunting for focus a little less with the rangefinder. I'd still be happy enough shooting the MX with the f1.4 in any situation where there was enough light for me to hand-hold it, but the rangefinder would have preference.

    N.B. the MX has a much higher viewfinder magnification than most SLRs, and that's with an f1.4 lens. If the lens was a stop or two slower, or the finder magnification/brightness a bit less, the rangefinder would have a significant advantage. I'd definitely prefer the rangefinder with wider lenses, too.

    I've had much better success shooting at small gigs and social events with a rangefinder (or, to be fair, with a Hexar) than I have with an SLR.

    On the other hand, I don't think you'll see much real-world quality difference with the lenses. Good quality fast primes in normal focal lengths -- 35mm, 50mm, etc -- are going to be excellent on both rangefinder and SLR systems.

    Matt
     
  5. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    If you're having trouble focusing those rather fast lenses, what about getting a Nikon body with good AF, e.g. an F100, or at least a good electronic focus indicator. If you want, you could affix an external viewfinder to the body for ease of composition and then just let the AF do its thing :wink:

    Yes, an RF will provide you a nice big viewfinder, but you'll still have to focus using the patches. I wouldn't assume that'll be any easier without trying first- some people find it difficult. (I happen to like RF focusing and not looking through the lens)

    Most recently, I picked up a bessa T, which I bought just to use the 21mm color skopar. Terrific combination. The external VF is so much fun to use.
     
  6. white.elephant

    white.elephant Member

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    I'm 57, and I find my Bessa R2a very easy to focus in marginal light. I love my Bessa, it's favorite camera body and I have shot Canon FTb, as well as Nikon F3.
     
  7. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

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    Why would you get a Bessa when there's Leica M-series bodies? Or even Zeiss Ikon, for that matter.
     
  8. dugrant153

    dugrant153 Member

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    Budget. The cost of going Zeiss Ikon or Leica M is pretty expensive. And getting a way older Leica body doesn't really appeal to me as I'm sure I'd have to add the cost of a CLA. Or something.
     
  9. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

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    Correct me if I'm wrong but Bessa's require batteries, no? That alone would rule out a body for me.
     
  10. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    One of the requirements was SILENT. The Bessa's aren't that much quieter than what you already have. They're a vertical travel shutter and ain't quiet.
    Leica is ruled out for budgetary reasons. (1.4 lens) I believe the only fixed lens RF was the Yashica Lynx. leaf shutter, so no noise.
    A screw mount RF like Canon would give you quiet and a 1.4 lens is around $400-$500. the finders, like the older Leicas are kinda squinty though. You could use an accessory finder, focus once and compose with the finder.
     
  11. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    I think mcgrattan summarized the focussing concerns pretty well. I can't speak to the Nikon system specifically, but in general I think it's true that the advantages of RF focussing are greatest in low light and/or for aging eyes (that would be me).

    One thing to think about might be a Bessa-R, which should be much cheaper used than the later M-mount versions; it doesn't get you into M lenses, of course, but if cost is a concern you'd probably mainly want screwmount lenses anyway. That might be a way to get a toe into the Bessa ecosystem without having to sell a huge amount of equipment to finance it.

    If I remember aright, the Bessa-R and the R*M bodies will still work without a battery---you don't get metering that way, of course, but the shutter works. I get pretty clear warnings when the battery is fading on my -R; the meter LED gets more and more reluctant to go on (but seems still to be accurate when it is on).

    -NT
     
  12. dugrant153

    dugrant153 Member

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    I've considered the older R and even the T but heard that the R2's and R3's were better built?
     
  13. Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Mustafa Umut Sarac Member

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    Even latest , most expensive Nikon is faraway worse than even 1924 Leica. Learn something from here.
     
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  15. BryceEsquerre

    BryceEsquerre Member

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    i just got myself a bessa r2 (olive) and a color skopar 50mm 2.5 . Already, i am falling in love with the idea of rangefinders (this is my first one). it is so magestic in use and the patch is so nice to use that i probably won't be using my 35mm slr's much anymore. get one! you won't regret it. i got an incredible deal off craigslist. everything in the og boxes used with only 1 roll of film, so it's immaculate. the manuals and whatnot are still in the packaging. he also included the nice cameraquest lsm to m adapter. i got it for 450 (which i understand is a kickass deal). go with an r2! it's awesome.
     
  16. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    As a straight-out replacement, I'd go to a Bessa instead of a Leica RF...but not instead of an SLR. SLRs have too much on RFs IMO. I like to have both, but I'd never give up having an SLR to have only a RF.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 3, 2012
  17. Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Mustafa Umut Sarac Member

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    hahaha :smile:
     
  18. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    Rangefinders and SLRs do their own particular things very well.
    For me it's not a question of "either or" but I'm happy to have both to use as needed... :smile:
    You'll also find excellent lenses in both worlds, though it's usually easier to find good SLR lenses at bargain prices.
    Unsuprisingly, rangefinders often have an edge when focusing wide angles in gloomy light, while SLRs with good viewfinders let you see a longer lens "snap" into focus better.

    In the SLR world, if you want the best and snappiest manual focusing there is (like an H screen, but *far* better in all respects), hava a look through a Leicaflex SL viewfinder. The camera even has a spot meter and better dampened shutter and mirror than the F3...
     
  19. Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Mustafa Umut Sarac Member

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    I used Leicaflex with Summicron 50 and yes , it is the best SLR and most artistic rendition lens. I dont buy cameras and lenses with others suggestions but selecting from my library covering 80 years of photography.
     
  20. OldBodyOldSoul

    OldBodyOldSoul Member

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    I have a Leicaflex SL and, while its finder is big it's also so yellow it's almost unusable. It's too bad they used whatever they used to make that prism, because the lenses I have are very nice (60/2.8 Macro Elmarit, Angenieux 45-90/2.8).

    As for the Bessa, my intention was to get one but Hexar AF solved that problem in one quick blow. Nikon F3 and Hexar AF are a killer combo.
     
  21. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    Yes, the SL prisms are subject to desilvering... :sad:
    Not all of them have problems, and even when, it's often not too bad (mine has a couple of spots visible if you actually look for them, but when looking *through* it's not noticeable and it's still the best SLR VF I've ever used, including some Olympuses).

    There are several people around who can replace or resilver SL prisms, it's not even that expensive...

    The Leicaflex SL2, though I don't like it's focusing screen quite as much as the SL's, seems to not be (or at least far less) affected by desilvering.
     
  22. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I can't offer a comprehensive review, but the T is built very well, in my opinion. My gear has to take a beating, I am constantly juggling bodies and films and I am admittedly not all that responsible when it comes to last-minute packing and stuffing my pockets!

    Also, I agree withe many online reviews that the (inexpensive) 21mm skopar is almost without peer. And with the external VF on there, well, it just spoils you with regard to almost any other VF :smile:

    I have extensively handled but not owned the new zeiss ikon... it feels wonderful, perhaps even somewhat opulent. Likewise the various newer Ms. But the advantages of owning those higher-end bodies have more to do with resale value than actual utilitarian purpose. As well-made and well-designed bodies that perform well, take great glass, and gets the job done, the bessas are very hard to beat. I would definitely pick up another bessa without thinking twice... if for no other reason, the money saved can be spent on Zeiss or Leica glass :smile: I don't have a shortage of money to spend, but I have a hard time rationalizing the cost of certain bodies, and certain obviously partisan comments only better clarify my reasoning. I am much more inclined to part with my money for lenses.

    Just get these cameras in your hands and all will be clear.
     
  23. Klainmeister

    Klainmeister Member

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    May I suggest you spend $20-30 and get an old Minolta Hi-Matic or something similar and try a an RF before going all out? I found my pictures are dramatically different depending on using an SLR vs RF. For some reason, I naturally compose better with an RF, but others are the opposite.

    Just something to consider.
     
  24. segedi

    segedi Member

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    Colin, I don't think the M variety requires a battery for the meter but can fire away with a mechanically controlled shutter without it. The A variants are dead without batteries though, unlike an M7 that has 2 mechanically controlled speeds available.

    I recently sold my R4A, but not because I didn't like it. It was just made redundant with having 2 M bodies. For an intro into Rangefinder photography, I think Bessas and CV lenses are a great value.
     
  25. dugrant153

    dugrant153 Member

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    Oh I've shot with a Konica Auto S2 and find it to be a very different experience. Unique I must say. Not sure if better for me just yet :smile:

    Has anyone used Bessa's in professional roles? I'd like to know how they stand up as cameras for rigorous work - events for example
     
  26. dugrant153

    dugrant153 Member

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    So I finally had a chance to play with a bessa and the first thing I noticed... Is its too small for my hands! I have long fingers so I guess I need a camera with a little more "girth" to handle better as I found my hand holding the lens also balancing most of the weight of the camera.

    Further the 50mm 1.1 on the r2m I was trying took up 25-30% of the viewfinder space so I could barely see a good chunk of the lower right frame! Mind you this lens is huge (for an rf lens) so this is probably an exception?

    Nice glass and camera though. Rangefinder was not super easy to use as I thought it would be but maybe some practice would fix that.

    Ps: also tried a Leicaflex SL with summicron R and that camera is amazing! Not my cup of tea as im not sure it will last the rigors I may put it through but it's nice!