Thinking of picking up a Bessa R3M

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by tron_, Jul 10, 2012.

  1. tron_

    tron_ Member

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    So I shoot a lot of 35mm (SLR) and 120 film. I have a Yashica Minister-D rangefinder as well as a (now broken unfortunately) Olympus 35RC. I really love those rangefinders and feel that I really want an M mount rangefinder.

    So this brought me to several options. I prefer having a meter built in so I narrowed it down to the Leica M6, Zeiss Ikon, and Voigtlander Bessa R3M. The Leica was my top choice but the 1/2000 max shutter speed of the Bessa is very attractive. Also the Voigtlander is the cheapest of all three rangefinders while being the only mechanical one.

    I have been reading tons and tons of reviews on the Bessa and although aperture priority would be nice, I have heard hte R3A has shutter problems. Can anyone elaborate on the reliability of the R3A? Also, if you have experience with any of the three rangefinders listed above I would appreciate if you could tell me your thoughts about the cameras.

    At this point I am leaning towards a R3M with a 40mm 1.4 Nokton.
     
  2. sr44

    sr44 Member

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    The M6 is also mechanical like the bessa. I'd say go for the m6, used they aren't that much more than an M mount Bessa, and way way better built. I have a Bessa-R which works just fine, but it does feel pretty cheap and un-refined. On the other hand, having 40mm frame lines would be nice to have, and something the M6 won't provide.
     
  3. tron_

    tron_ Member

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    Can you please tell me a little more about the build quality of the Bessa? Some people online say it's great and others (like yourself) say the build quality leaves you wanting more.

    The only thing about the M6 is that I would be buying an older camera that would most likely need a CLA to be 100%.
     
  4. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    I had a R3A for a short amount of time. Bought it new. Liked it ok but frankly for the build quality and feel find it too expensive and nothing particularly "special". Could be because I love my M3 at the time so much and it was butter smooth. I did sell it in the end. I also sold my M3 when I rewarded myself with an MP after a particularly good year. Frankly I'd choose the M6 if i were you.
     
  5. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

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    I have an R2a - I think all the Rs are all built on the same chassis, but I'm sure someone can correct me if I'm wrong - and the build quality is fine; there's nothing about it that I think "I wish that was better quality". It feels strong and robust.

    On the other hand I have never so much as held a Leica that I can remember, so I have nothing to compare.

    What will matter the most, I suspect, is what you think when you physically pick one up - it'll either suit you or not. If you don't want to put it down again, it's probably the right camera. Same goes for the M6 or the Ikon
     
  6. thegman

    thegman Member

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    I had a R4A for a while, never had a problem with it. Also had a Zeiss Ikon, I did have a couple of issues with that, but I bought it second-hand, not new like the R4A.

    Personally, if you've got the choice of an Ikon or an R3M, I'd get the Ikon every time, they are more like Leicas in terms of build quality. The M6 is of course a great camera, but I preferred my Ikon.

    The Bessas can be somewhat "clunky", but I never had a single issue with regard to usability or reliability, but I'm not the type who thrashes their cameras anyway. I think any of them will serve you well, but if you're like me, and like your cameras a bit prettier, I'd say Ikon or M6. If you want aperture priority, then of course, it's Ikon.
     
  7. tony lockerbie

    tony lockerbie Subscriber

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    Don't Cosina build the Zeiss Ikon, they certainly build most of their RF lenses. I have an M2 plus a Bessa R and a R4A with a lot of CV lenses. A Bessa won't come close to the quality feel of any Leica, but that said, they are a lot cheaper and (in my experience) work just as well. The problem with Leica is the astronomical price for their lenses, very hard to justify when the CV lenses perform so well. My most used outfits are the M2 with a 35mm Nokton and the R4A with a 28mm Ultron and 21mm Color-Skopar. The R4A is a bit plastiky but so far has been reliable, the viewfinder/rangefinder combination is excellent, as is the metering.
    If both outfits were similar prices then the Leica would be a no brainer, but they are not and you need to weigh up how much you use the camera and how hard. The Cosina and Leica will produce almost identical results but the Leica will last longer and have a much better resale value..oh, and that red dot!
     
  8. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    The Voigtländer doesn't feel as nice and won't last as long, and the RF base is shorter, but these arguments are at least as important in persuading yourself that you need a Leica as in taking pictures. And, as Tony points out, you have the advantage with the Voigtländers that you don't get that bloody red dot.

    That said, I still prefer my Leicas over my Voigtländers, even my olive drab R2.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  9. mhanc

    mhanc Member

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    You can make good [and bad] photographs with any of the choices here. One alternative is to get the M6 body which will be the only one you will ever need and you can most likely get 100% of you money out if you wish to sell... and then use non-leica M lenses such as the Zeiss ZM or Voigtländers. This approach might be one way to thread the needle here?

    Good luck!
     
  10. Rob Skeoch

    Rob Skeoch Advertiser Advertiser

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    I own a retail store called Rangefinderstore.com and have used and sold all three models.

    Personally I shoot with an M6 and a Zeiss Ikon... and a CL but that's not part of this issue.

    The Bessa's are OK. I like the R2M better than the R3M because of the framelines. I'll never use a 40mm since I don't have one and few models exist so having those framelines doesn't help me much.
    The R2M's are not an older model, they are both current. By the way the R4M most likely is the most useful model if you are using wideangle lenses.

    The Zeiss Ikon is a very nice camera, the viewfinder is great and it has the useful range of framelines. Construction is good but will breakdown with real rough and heavy use. Mine has been through China, Haiti, Malawi and a bunch of other places with rough use and I did have to have it tuned up after a few years.

    The M6 is a great camera but most of them are now 20 plus years old. Most of them need a tune up even if they seem to be working fine. The M6 I have is my 5th one, so I guess I really like them. Great framelines, manual shutter, nice build and you can always sell them and get your money out.

    If I was buying a rangefinder I would look for a nice M6 or a new Zeiss Ikon.
     
  11. tron_

    tron_ Member

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    Thanks for the replies everyone, I really appreciate the first hand advice. The only reason I would get the R3M over the R2M is because I don't think I would use the 35mm frameline and would just pick up the 40mm.

    I was cruising the auction site and found a few M6s, what would be a fair price for a body in near mint condition? The reason I ask is because there is such a big range in prices that I am finding.

    Also, I have began to look at the Zeiss Ikon again. Has anyone had any issues with the electronic shutter? Personally I would like to steer clear of an electronic shutter camera but if reliability is not an issue then I would be okay with it.

    Finally if I were to purchase a used M6 what am I looking at in terms of a general tune up?
     
  12. sr44

    sr44 Member

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    Mine being the screwmount R is probably the worst of the bessa models as far as build quality, I think the later models are improved and use metal parts for the body instead of the completely plastic R. My main issue with the R is the lack of smoothness in the film advance and rewind knob, the shutter speed knob feels like it will probably fall off some day, and the whole back panel flexes quite a bit. However, the light meter and the viewfinder are both excellent. The shutter sound is definitely no leica, it's only slightly less noisy than my Nikon FE, and a lot more chintzy sounding.
     
  13. Mark_S

    Mark_S Member

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    I shoot mostly LF but I have an R2M which I drop in my briefcase when going on business trips. I use the 35mm f1.4 lens with it, and have been happy with both the results and the camera.
     
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  15. froyd

    froyd Member

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    I know you hear a lot of stories about Bessas are great and Bessa are not robust. Everyone has their own standards based on what other equipment they use and what kind of money it's in their wallets. For me, the Bessa R2a was the first rangefinder. Without a direct frame of comparison I thought it was a wonderful camera and I enjoyed every minute of using it. After acquiring an M4, I can see why some people call the Bessa rough.

    If you are happy with your Yashica, you'll be quite happy with the Bessa. The Besa might feel lighter, but the nicer VF will make it feel like a better camera in use.
     
  16. tron_

    tron_ Member

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    I definitely don't expect the Bessa to be at the same level of build quality as the M6 or Ikon, I just want to be sure I am buying a camera that won't break on me haha. I am pretty good to my gear though, I don't plan on becoming a freelance foreign correspondant trying to cover conflict with this camera :smile:

    Plus the Bessa is nearly half the cost of the Ikon or M6, that's a lot of money I can put towards some nice glass.

    As you guys can see I'm quite torn as to what I should do :tongue:
     
  17. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    If you feel you're going to keep it "forever" and you've used RF and like the shooting style then suck it up and get the M6. If you think you'll only use it lightly and overall feel is not so important get the Bessa. The M6 you can sell for what you paid, maybe even more, and it will likely hold its value a while if not go up. The Bessa you might be able to sell what you paid for it but if in time they prove not all that sturdy then their price may drop over the years especially if Cosina introduces more rangefinder bodies later.
     
  18. tron_

    tron_ Member

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    I really like rangefinders, I enjoyed using my Olympus 35RC before it broke and I love the Minister-D. I don't use the Minister-D very much only because it was my grandfathers and I don't want to damage, break, nick, dent, scrape it since it has sentimental value.

    The frustrating part is all these cameras have their own pros and cons. In an effort to help myself think more clearly, here's a list I made. And if anyone cares to know this is something I have been thinking about every night laying in bed before going to sleep for quite some time now :smile:

    Leica M6
    Pros:
    -Legendary camera with great resale
    -Best build quality out of the three
    -Mechanical shutter
    -Proven to last

    Cons:
    -Expensive considered it would be used
    -Quirky film loading (not a huge deal, I think I could get used to it quickly but I just had to say)
    -Would probably require a RF adjustment and CLA out of the box
    -1/1000 max shutter speed


    Zeiss Ikon
    Pros:
    -New camera
    -Very good build quality (if not the same as the Leica)
    -Dedicated 35mm and 50mm frame lines
    -1/2000 max shutter speed

    Cons:
    -Electronic shutter (on/off switch meaning no battery = no shot, that kind of weirds me out)
    -Expensive (but then again it will be new, IIRC Zeiss still makes the silver ones new and the black ones were discontinued very recently)


    Voigtlander Bessa R3M
    Pros:
    -New camera (with warranty IIRC)
    -1/2000 shutter speed
    -1:1 viewfinder
    -Lease expensive

    Cons:
    -Iffy build quality (from what I gathered)
    -Kind of strange system where you have to select the frame lines manually
     
  19. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    For each camera give each Pro aspect a numerical value from +1 to +10 of how important it is to you. For the Con aspects do the same but as a -1 to -10 as to how much of a problem this con might be to you. Add them up and divide by the number of pros and cons aspecfts for each to get your final average score. Go with the one that's highest.
     
  20. Rob Skeoch

    Rob Skeoch Advertiser Advertiser

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    The Zeiss Ikon is just in Black now, it was the silver model that was recently discontinued. The Black was the better seller by far.
    -rob
     
  21. Pioneer

    Pioneer Member

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    Everyone has an opinion, some of them are even based on some logic. Buy what you think will work for you based on your needs and what you are comfortable with spending. If you are barely making the house payment, have a new kid on the way, or desperately need some transportation to get you back and forth to work, then you may need to be careful about what you get.

    I use a Zeiss Ikon and love it, but I knew what I wanted when I bought it. I wanted the Nokton 50mm 1.1 and I wanted to be able to shoot it wide open outdoors. That means sloooow film and fast shutters. The film is easy, but the shutter wasn't. Based on my SLR experience with my Pentax 50mm 1.2 I knew that I needed at least a 1/2000 seconds shutter speed outdoors. Even faster is better yet but the fastest I could find was 1/2000 seconds. That immediately eliminated the Leicas. But I still wanted the best build I could get for the money. So I went for the Zeiss Ikon. The fact that it was new was also a plus, I was not dealing with someone else's screwups. I've done that before and survived it, but I didn't want to do it again if I could help it.

    For me and what I wanted to do, my choice was pretty much made for me. And I love my camera and my lens. So far it is everything I expected. But the point is, the Zeiss Ikon may be the WORST choice you could make. I don't know because I don't know what you want to do. If you don't know, figure it out and you may find your choice has already been made. Just buy the very best that you can afford, that does what you need it to do. That helps reduce the chance that you will be disappointed. Maybe saving your money and buying an M3 is your best choice right now. You can usually get good used ones for $800 or a little less. A new Bessa will run close to the same anyway. The M3 doesn't have a built in meter, but there are certainly worse things in life. Add a decent little 35mm or 50mm lens, and spend some time to learn how to work with a rangefinder. Then later, when you can afford it, you can trade up and get that M6, or something a little nicer. Or you may decide that you really don't like rangefinders at all.

    Like I said, think it through and get the camera that is best for you right now. And go shoot some pictures for crying out loud!!
     
  22. vintagesnaps

    vintagesnaps Member

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    I got the R3M and it's working out well for me so far. I haven't used rangefinders nearly as much as 35mm SLRs but got a Konica some years ago at a camera swap. I also got a vintage Voigtlander not too long ago but both of those are limited of course by not having interchangeable lenses.

    I'd gotten a digital (yeah, I know) Ricoh GXR and they came out with a unit that takes Leica M lenses, so for me it's been a good way to get into having lenses (Voigtlander) that will work with the digital camera and a mechanical film rangefinder. To me it's a nice camera (and I love the 1:1 viewfinder, a bit of selling point for me) but I've never even used a Leica to compare. (If I did, maybe the Bessa would pale by comparison, but it was a practical option).

    At this point for me, a Leica wouldn't be the most realistic choice but that might be something I'd end up wanting eventually. I guess it depends on how much you'd use a rangefinder (or any camera for that matter) to determine what price range is affordable or what camera would be worth more of an investment.
     
  23. carbon_dragon

    carbon_dragon Member

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    I've got two M2's, a CL, an M8, and a NEX-7 and use Leica M lenses on all of them. The M2's are really God's gift to photography, they're great cameras. The CL is really tiny and still very high quality. The M8's a great camera if you can stand the APS-C format. Great IR photography ironically. The NEX-7 is in many ways, the CL mk II. Not a rangefinder, exactly, but so like a modern version of the CL. The experience is very much like a film rangefinder (almost more like the M2 than the CL) and the magnification and focus peaking helps me focus almost better at age 55 than I can do with my M2.

    Hope your Bessa works out for you. I jumped straight from Minolta AF SLRs to M2s without anything in-between, but I started with a Konica I and maybe that gave me the bug for a rangefinder experience.
     
  24. tron_

    tron_ Member

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    I've been doing even more reading online and have found some people to have rangefinder alignment issues with even new Bessas. Has anyone else had issues with their R2M/R3M/R4M? Realistically I think I am leaning towards the Ikon at this point with the M6 being the close runner up.

    It looks like the M6 and Ikon will be the same price, but there is one thing that really appeals to me about the Ikon; the 1/2000 shutter speed. I think that would be a really useful thing since I find myself sometimes wanting to isolate a subject with a shallow DOF even in brighter areas. So like Pioneer said on the previous page, a slow film in combination with a fast shutter speed would allow this.

    The other nice thing about the Ikon is that it would be a newer camera. Although, I guess I don't really care how old a camera is as long as it works flawlessly and I could pick one up in mint condition though. The Ikon is the more expensive choice of the two.

    Reasons for going with the Leica at this point is the proven durability of the camera. I have not seen too many long term reviews for the Ikon so I am unsure as to what to think of it in terms of years and years of use. On the other hand it seems as though there are tons of people who have Leicas that are decades old.
     
  25. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    My earlier mentioned new R3A, was from when it first came out, was off slightly vertically on the RF patch. Still worked fine just irritating and added more to my suspicions of only moderate quality workmanship.
     
  26. tron_

    tron_ Member

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    I've been contemplating this so much that the other day I actually had a dream about using a Bessa hahaha. Like I said I'm leaning toward the Leica or Zeiss. The Leica seems like the more appealing option right now because of the resale value, cheaper price, and the fact that I never really use aperture-priority because I like manually selecting my values. Paired with the M6 would probably be a Zeiss 50mm f/2 and/or something from the CV lineup.

    I guess the next question is how much can I expect to pay for an M6 in good condition? I know earlier in the thread I put the price at 1200-1500 but was wondering what a more accurate price would be.