Leica CL or Bessa R2?

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by Robert Kennedy, Jul 21, 2004.

  1. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    So, I am looking to buy a small, quiet RF.

    Obviously a Leica is the ideal choice. Ideally a CL or CLE. Small and quiet. BUT there is the new Bessa R2 which is NOT as quiet I hear, but just as small.

    And the Bessa is new, the same price roughly, and takes new batteries.

    So, I am thinking about the Bessa, but is it really THAT loud? If it is, maybe the CL/E is the way to go. But Zinc Oxide batteries die fast in the desert.

    Any suggestions?
     
  2. lee

    lee Member

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    Robert,
    It is not a Leica and it is loud for a rangefinder but it is not as loud as a SLR. I would go with the Bessa.

    lee\c
     
  3. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    The "M" mount CL was manufactured by Minolta and marketed as a Leitz Minolta CL and as a Leica CL. An excellent camera. I own the Leica CL version.

    The Minolta CLE is also an excellent camera. I own one with a complete set of the Minolta lenses. I have used both extensively in Sonoran Desert photography - never had a battery problem
     
  4. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    The Minolta/Leitz CL cameras use A single Mercury 625 battery. The 625 can be replaced with a non-Mercury battery, but the meter will need to be recalibrated.

    The Minolta CLE uses two type 76 button cells, I use the ones with Silver Oxide chemistry - they last for a long time.
     
  5. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    The CL and CL/e are well known to have circuit board problems as they age. They can not be repaired once this main board goes. I use a Bessa R and love it. The Bessa uses the same type of shutter as the CL I believe so the noise factor is a wash. You can put Leitz glass on your Bessa, which I do, so get the best of both worlds. If my Bessa craters, I just chuck it and get another one. They're cheap enough to do just that.
     
  6. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Well Eric, mine are vintage late 1970's for the CL and 1980 for the CLE and both are working fine. If a circuit board craps out, I'll make another one - if necessary - they are simple enough.
     
  7. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    I agree with Ericr Service on a twenty + yr old camera is chancy. Leitz glass on the Bessa woud be the way to go. But the new stuff from voigtlander is also pretty good & gives Big Bang for the buck.
     
  8. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

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    Robert,
    back when I owned several Leicas, I had a CL. For its time it was an impressive little camera and the 40mm Summicon was a very sharp lens. Compared to a Leica M, I was never able to get used to viewfinder, small and dim, the shutter speed dial on the front of the camera, and the CDS cell is very slow to respond in changing light. Match needles with mercury batteries are not the answer either.
    Although I've never used a Bessa, I would buy one of those rather than a used CL. Have you considered a used Leica M? I maintain that once you've used an M camera you'd never want a Bessa or a CL.
    Take care,
    Tom
     
  9. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    When the CL's first came out I drooled over them big time. Nice little package. But it would have been a toy for me as my system was Nikon at the time. Last year when I started looking for a good RF 35mm camera I reconsidered the CL but was warned off by several people who should know. I looked at Leica M's and the Bessa. While the M's are beautiful cameras, they were to heavy for what I wanted. An important part of my selection criteria was weight as the camera would be used to augment my LF system. The Bessa is made by Cosina who also make the bodies for the lower end Nikon film cameras and also for several other name camera manufacturers too. The mechanics and metering system are tried and true.

    The images I have gotten from this camera leave nothing to be desired. The viewfinder is also brighter than an M as well. I am under no delusions, the Bessa is no Leica M, but with Leitz glass on the Bessa I have the best of both worlds.
     
  10. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    I have two Leica M3s (a single stroke and a double stroke). I've had them since the 1970's and they are superb cameras. I do not use my CL any more for the reasons you mention, but I do use my CLE - which does not have the CL's drawbacks.
     
  11. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    While the M series is nice, my wallet is NOT that nice. I'd rather dump the money into the business-end of the camera and get a good lens.
     
  12. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    Update - I have HEARD....Heard mind you....that this year at Photokina, Cosina is coming out with the "new R2". Well, I guess the R3.

    Hence a while ago they stopped making the R2s. Now, I could get one soon. They still seem to be out there.

    Or should I wait for the "R3"?

    My bet is that the price will be higher, and I doubt I could get any discount on an R2 body after the R3 hits. Cosina's stopping of production seems to be designed to assure that.

    But could the R3 be "that much better"? Anyone hear any rumors on features, etc? If it has some vital feature I might hold off, but other wise.....
     
  13. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    The Bessas are not bad, I was tempeted to buy one, so I tested them at the locacl shop that had a couple in stock

    The first one to come (L) looked cheap and feeled cheap. Light, plastic film advance lever, ugly balance.
    The R was much better, felt more solid and the Skopar 50mm lens was superb. I shot some APX100 with it and the pics came out tack sharp
    I think R,L, and Ts are selling quite cheap now @cameraquest.com.

    The R2 usies leica M mount , same as bessa T and they claim it is similar to Leica CL.
     
  14. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    I've had a CL for decades and had it CLA'd at Leitz last year. I'm not a huge range finder fan but it is very nice to carry a tiny camera system with no compromise in performance over my bulkier SLRs. I like to carry it in a small fanny pack when I'm lugging my 4x5 view camera. That way, after I get the 4x5 shot set up, I can run around shooting 35mm while I'm waiting for the light.

    Today, If I didn't already own the CL, I would probably lean heavily towards getting the Voightlander. CL's are all 25 years old and both cameras take M lenses.
     
  15. voceumana

    voceumana Member

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    I just bought an R2 from Cameraquest (Stephen Gandy). It just arrived today, and for less than 25% of the cost of a new Leica, you get what appears to be an extremely good quality camera.

    Shutter noise is a little less than on my Nikon FM2 SLR--not at all objectionable, but not the "hush" of a Leica RF.

    At this point, I'm really happy I deceided on the Bessa R2, and I doubt I'll ever feel differently.

    Guessing at the R3: Cossina/Voigtlander is making the Epson digital RF body, and it has a 1.00 viewfinder magnification. I suspect that will be part of the new R3, though I am just guessing. Very likely, it will be compatible if you buy R2 system components.
     
  16. dlb435

    dlb435 Member

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    CL or Bessa???? NOT

    OK, I went with a Bessa (too noisy) and a CL (meter problems) and finally got the Leica M6. Save your money and get the Leica M6.
     
  17. naaldvoerder

    naaldvoerder Member

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    Have a look at this site.
    http://www.cameraquest.com/index.htm
    It explains a lot. One thing is to keep a certain type of Minolta SLR, if you buy A CLE, because it shares the circuitboard with it
     
  18. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    I still advocate Canon GIII or an old black Hexar if you must have THE QUIETEST camera. Cheap too :smile:
     
  19. Frank-G

    Frank-G Inactive

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    In some ways I liked my CL better than my R3A---especially with the frame-lines. However, I found the R3A a lot easier and faster to snap with. So I bought a 2nd R3A body and sold my CL.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 1, 2006
  20. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    I haven't heard any rumors or anything about their future products, but one thing always comes to my mind: Will the new one(s) be always better than the old ones? Well, quite frankly the answer is more likely no than yes to me.

    Have they reached their peak, and/or maxed out their investment, technology, production, and sales yet? Are they still climbing up the ladder steps to reach the Leica-Zeiss RF heaven?