Leica M3 or Voigtlander Bessa R2A?

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by denmark.yuzon, May 7, 2009.

  1. denmark.yuzon

    denmark.yuzon Member

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    After months of saving up, i finally came close (not that close, but close) to buying my very first RF. Im torn between these two great cameras.. i have a friend who is selling me his "like new" R2A, he bought it, and ran 2-3 rolls in it and stored away and never used it ever since.

    Is it still better to buy the Leica M3 provided i see one in mint and in great working condition or im better off buying a 3 month old Voigtlander Bessa R2A?

    I know it is Leica, the IQ is superb, but as well as the R2A, but, built-wise, will it still hold up and take some pretty rough use?

    investment-wise, is it a good decision to invest on leica rather than R2A?

    guys, i know they are not of the same league with each other.. but choosing between these two is quite difficult for a RF noob like me..

    thanks..
     
  2. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Worry more about the glass. What are you going to put on either of these cameras?

    There is nothing like an M3 or M2. However, I would go for the like-new Bessa...simply because it is so new and so cheap. You can always get a Leica later if you want, and the bang for the buck of the Bessa is higher.
     
  3. denmark.yuzon

    denmark.yuzon Member

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    Thanks 2F/2F.. for the Bessa, it includes a 35mm f/1.4 Nokton, which is very sharp and gives outstanding photos as what my friend had showed me.. for the Leica M3, i plan to go with either the Summicron 50mm f/2, or whatever lens that comes with it that i can find that is affordable.. if it includes the Summilux 50mm f/1.4 for a reasonable price.. why not?..

    thats what im thinking.. get the bessa and invest on Leica lenses or voigtlander lenses.. but yeah, Bessa, from what ive read over the internet, is more practical in terms of investment since its cheaper and new and still made today.. after sales service is also a bonus, since here, camera repairmen wont dare touch a Leica..
     
  4. wotalegend

    wotalegend Member

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    There are pros and cons for both. It's a bit like comparing a 1955 Rolls Royce with a 2009 Mercedes. The M3 is a classic, silky smooth and quiet in operation, built without compromise, and feels like it is absolutely indestructible. The Bessas are modern, efficient, have all the required features, and just get on with the job. I have an M3 (with a dual range Summicron) an R3A (with Nokton 40/1.4), as well as other Bessas and lenses. I find the R3A far more usable than the M3 and the main reasons are the TTL meter, aperture priority auto, and the clear bright 1:1 viewfinder. But the DR Summicron is incomparable....I could go on and on. It's up to you.
     
  5. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    The M3 will appreciate in value and the Bessa is an unknown quantity over the long haul.
    For a bit of useless information in 1954 you could buy an M3 with a 50 Summicron for around $350.
    Fifty years later a user body is $600+. I doubt the Bessa will hold value like that.
     
  6. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Scaling to the consumer price index, would make those 350 1954 dollars worth $2775 in 2009. So the 1954 Leica M3 has lost close to 80% of its original price in real terms, not appreciated. A good M3 single stroke was about $1200-$1300 in the late 70's through the mid 80's, so the prices don't just keep going up.

    As to the long term viability, an M3 would likely prevail there, being all mechanical and sold in large quantities with parts available in some form. The R2A needs electronics to work, and those are more likely to fail and be unrepairable than a mechanical camera.

    But the real value of any of any camera is in its ability to perform as the photographer needs. I'd say that anyone using either camera could get their money's worth out of them.

    Lee
     
  7. Peter Black

    Peter Black Subscriber

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    I'd ask for a loan of the Bessa and run a film through it, since how the camera feels to the user is a big deal in getting pleasure from using it. I have an M3 which feels great, but I don't use it as much as I should. I can load it OK, but never forget that loading it is at least a nuisance compared to a normal 35mm like the Bessa. I'd also prefer a TTL meter rather than a shoemount or handheld, but again that is a matter of preference and I can't afford (OK, justify) a metered Leica as I have other alternatives.
     
  8. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    Probably would go for the Bessa. The M3 is limited in view finder frame lines to 50mm, 90, and 135. Being a wide angle shooter you'd need an accessory viewfinder. Plus no incorporated meter. The M's a heck of a camera body but it's the glass that gets the job done.
     
  9. arealitystudios

    arealitystudios Member

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    For what it is worth, I own a Bessa R3A and wouldn't trade it for anything. Yes it is not a Leica, but I've put Leica glass on it and it takes pictures like a champ and the results are lovely.

    Strangely I hate shooting with Leica bodies. I borrowed an M6 from my boss years ago and that darn trademark red dot attracted all sorts of attention wherever I went. "Hey is that a Leica!?" people would constantly stop me and ask. I suppose if I needed the status symbol I would have loved the attention but ultimately I just wanted to be left alone to take pictures.

    So for my part I would prefer a cheaper and yet reliable camera body with the ability to use high quality Leica glass. The money you save on the body will give you the option to buy more lenses down the line should you want them.
     
  10. Uncle Bill

    Uncle Bill Subscriber

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    Tough call, I am going to state I am a happy Leica M3 owner, with a 50 f2 'cron and a Gossen Profisix meter and I get perfect exposures every time. I do have a Voightlander R2a for the 35mm frame lines and have an AE body in my M mount kit that does not cost the moon. Anything wider, you can use an external viewfinder.
     
  11. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    By the same scale of the cpi they still have more perceived value than other cameras of the same era. And there isn't anything that compares to long term value and production numbers vs common usage today.
     
  12. Rob Skeoch

    Rob Skeoch Advertiser Advertiser

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    Either one would be great to use... but if you haven't used a rangefinder much I would spend the least money to see if you like it. In my own shooting I find a camera without a built-in-meter to be a hassle.

    -Rob
     
  13. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    I have an R3M which I bought new. I chose it instead of the R2A or R3A because I prefer non-battery dependent cameras. It is quick to use, I rarely use the built in meter, preferring a handheld incident meter which can be used before raising the camera to my eye. I also had the chance at time of purchase to buy a second hand M6TTL, but I didn't like the idea of having to dismantle the camera to change rolls and having to juggle camera, base plate and film.
     
  14. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    My M6 has gaffers tape strategically applied in a roughly camouflage pattern... What red dot?

    In 7 years, only 2 people have commented on my Leica. A professional photographer thought I was using a Voigtländer (because of the lens cap on the C/V lens I was mostly using that day).

    Looks and what other people think shouldn't be a factor: To 99.9% of the population, my M6 looks like a piece of junk!
     
  15. denmark.yuzon

    denmark.yuzon Member

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    thanks guys.. ^_^
     
  16. Alex Bishop-Thorpe

    Alex Bishop-Thorpe Member

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    I can only comment as an R2A user, but construction was one of my main concerns when I bought it last year. Actually it's been around one year I've owned it, now I think about it...
    In that time it's replaced my Nikon FM2n as my main camera, and I've dropped it a few times...its got some scratches, dinged up my nice little Canon 50/1.8, and had quite a few rolls through it by now. Hasn't missed a beat in any respect, the RF alignment is spot on and it's quick and easy to change rolls. The body construction holds up really well to everyday use.
    The only thing I'd change would be to get a R3M to compliment it, since the metering system looks a lot nicer for manual use.
     
  17. Philippe-Georges

    Philippe-Georges Member

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    What about something 'in between' and consider the Zeiss Ikon?

    Philippe
     
  18. sandermarijn

    sandermarijn Member

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    I just bought an R2A after months (or more) of contemplation and am very happy with it. It feels tough (lots of metal) and it is not as heavy as the Leicas, which is a pro for me. I also couldn't do without the R2A's aperture priority; this rules out the Leicas for me (M7 is over the top).

    My reasoning was to buy the cheapest possible body and invest the rest of my money in glass, which for me has to be either Zeiss or Leitz. I haven't regretted this strategy so far.

    Another consideration for me to get the Bessa instead of a Leica is the better and cheaper availability of (new) accessoires. I got an eveready case and a diopter correction lens, both new, for the price of which I could never have gotten the Leica equivalent.

    To sum up the pros and cons of R2A, for me:

    Pro: relatively cheap, small, light, very well-built and thought-out, aperture priority, great bright viewfinder with bright focusing patch, accessoires readily available and not so expensive.

    Con: maybe not so well built as a Leica, but I don't care so much about that.

    Go for the R2A and save the rest of your money for glass, would be my advice.