Voigtländer - opinions?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by mhanc, May 28, 2009.

  1. mhanc

    mhanc Member

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    I have been doing a lot of street shooting and would like to add another camera to my bag. Anyone have an opinion or thoughts about Voightlander in terms of build quality and are you happy with the photographic results?

    I know Leica is iconic and the gold standard for RFs, so leaving them out, any other brand I should look at? I am only focused on mechanical cameras - new or used.

    I know the choice is personal, but just wanted to get Voightlander users feedback and other options.

    Thanks

    edit: I shoot mostly B&W using 28, 50 & 85mm focal lengths and value sharpness and contrast as photographic qualities
     
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  2. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    I think the Voigtlander cameras are pretty good. I have seen great work with the. The price is manageable. I am looking into getting one. They sell fully mechanical models and electric models.
     
  3. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    I regularly use a Voigtlander Bessa R3M with CV lenses. I cannot fault either.
     
  4. elekm

    elekm Member

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    The Cosina Voigtlander (no "h") Bessa is an excellent choice if you want a new rangefinder camera. The cost is much less than a new Leica, and the cameras themselves are very solid.

    Cosina has established a decent track record. Its lenses enjoy an excellent reputation.

    You'll probably get some suggestions to buy a used Leica (thread mount or M bayonet), but with a used camera comes the uncertainty of whether the camera needs to be serviced before you use it.

    Also, the earlier Leica (thread mount or LTM -- Leica Thread Mount) cameras are slightly different in operation: You have to learn how to load the film, and it has separate viewfinders for focusing and composing your image. That said, the build quality is excellent.

    You'll also hear stories of people who bought a Leica for $100 or $50, but those are the exceptions and not the rule.
     
  5. elekm

    elekm Member

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    The next question is whether interchangeable lenses is a must.

    There also is the new Zeiss Ikon (costs more than the Voigtlander but less than a Leica).

    Rangefinder photography is a niche market, so those are your only choices for new cameras.

    When it comes to used, that's a different story entirely, and then the offerings open to hundreds of different cameras with the understanding that most should be serviced before you use them.
     
  6. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    Assuming you mean the current/recent Voigtländers bodies built by Cosina, build quality o.k. though not outstanding.
    Rangefinder base a bit narrow for very accurate focussing with telephoto and very fast lenses.
    Otherwise good users.

    Might consider the Zeiss-Ikon, also built by Cosina, but to a higher standard and with a much wider rangefinder base.

    If you are willing to sacrifice metering and having to use external finders for lenses other 50mm, you might consider a Soviet rangefinder (many caveats attached and lots to say one way or another - ask again!)
     
  7. g12

    g12 Member

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  8. denmark.yuzon

    denmark.yuzon Member

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    Im looking at Voigtlander too.. specifically, the R2a, with the 35mm nokton f/1.4.. although, im not closing my doors on a Leica M3.. but, Im a bit concerned with the bottom loading, it may take a while for me to get used to it, and since i go out a lot, i may find myself always looking for a place to sit to cut my films and load it, unlike the Voigtlander which loading is similar to SLR's and a lot easier..
     
  9. ishutteratthethought

    ishutteratthethought Subscriber

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    I have never used a Voigtlander however the images I have seen that they have produced are of top quality.
    The rangefinder I use is an old Contax IIa with a Sonar 1.5 - Tack sharp and easy to handle, I picked a very nice unit up for around $250.00 - $300.00 US a few years a ago, I think they may be a little higher now days.

    Steve

    Look here: http://www.cameraquest.com/conrf.htm
     
  10. DaveOttawa

    DaveOttawa Subscriber

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    My opinion is they are a very good alternative to used Leicas, I mostly use an R2 which has a VF very similar in quality to an M6 but is much lighter to carry. The mechanical feel is very different and the Voigt shutter is much noisier, neither of which are factors for me. Frame line selections are not always same as Leica I prefer the 35+90 on the R2 to the M6 arrangement.
    Pics here: http://www.pbase.com/mononation/cv
     
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  11. Edimilson

    Edimilson Member

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    I have a Bessa R3A along with a set of Voigtländer lenses (90 mm Lanthar, 50 mm Nokton and 21 mm Color Skopar). I absolutely love using it and have had good results (some examples here). Of course my results are pretty modest in comparison with what so many guys here accomplish.
    I also find the camera extremely beautiful with the 50 mm on. There are a few things I dislike though:
    1) Sometimes it's hard to see what's displayed on the viewfinder;
    2) The meter only works after you advance the film. I find that bad. If I advance the film and find out there isn't enough light, I either have to keep the camera like that or make the shot anyway so as not to keep the camera "cocked" (hope I've made myself clear. I am not a native speaker of English).
    3) It's louder than I expected, but then again it's not a Leica, which people say can be very silent.
     
  12. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    No need to cut your film leader with a Leica M.

    The M3 is a bit slower to load than what I'm used to (M6) because of the design of the take-up spool.
    In my case, bottom loading is really no problem, except very occasionally dealing with the detached bottom plate can be awkward (like hanging on a harness over a cliff, where you really don't want to drop it). The bottom loading itself I find easier than many SLRs.
    Most experienced M users will say it's not a big issue, or not one at all..
     
  13. lns

    lns Member

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    Is there a Voigtlander with framelines for all those lenses? Offhand, I know the Leica M6 (which you can get used for $1,000 to $1,200) works. The Zeiss Ikon also has the proper framelines. The Leica M4-P is another option, albeit meterless.

    Nothing wrong with a Voigtlander camera. I'm just not sure they have the framelines you are seeking. You can always use an external viewfinder for the 28mm, but not everyone likes those. And if you're willing to use an external viewfinder, I'd consider a used M2 or M3.

    -Laura
     
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  15. mhanc

    mhanc Member

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    Thanks everyone for the feedback and ideas - very helpful. Perhaps used Leica is the way to go for not too much additional cost - well, about 2x the cost, anyway. Can always sell and recover most if not all of the cost. [Prices of used gear seem to have been increasing over the past 3 month or so.]

    Perhaps not for me but just curious in general as to thoughts on the old Nikon rangefinders.
     
  16. psvensson

    psvensson Member

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    My experience with Voigtlander was mixed, and I eventually gave up on the brand. I had a 28/1.9 that was very poor wide open, and developed a mechanical problem as well. The rangefinder on my Bessa T is out of alignment and can't be adjusted to be accurate at range and close at the same time. The 50/3.5 collapsible Heliar, however, was mechanically and optically a gem.
     
  17. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Old Nikon rangefinders are fine. To my mind they're a little odd but many people love them.
    The back comes off for loading & is somewhat easier than the Leicas. The focus is done either by using the focus ring or the little wheel near the shutter release ala Contax.
     
  18. fotch

    fotch Member

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    The old Voigtländers were German made and had a level of quality and precision not matched by the current Voigtländers. That doesn’t mean anything bad, just that a Cosina is a Cosina, regardless of what name they put on it. Now, for being a Cosina, is sounds like a nice camera, for what it is. A Leica is a Leica, not an imitation or reborn cheaply made camera. You get a level of quality and precision that is becoming less common in products made today. Picture quality has more to do with the photographer than anything else. That said, if you need real durability or just like well made precision devices, you obtain the real thing. Value wise (not initial cost) I think a used Lecia with a quality CLA by Sherry or Dag, will return more than enough resale value as the years roll by than the current rebirth of old camera brands made by Cosina. I understand the concept of using a famous name to sell product, (example: shoes ) so my comments are not to fault Cosina, rather, to draw a real comparison of two products and the logic of buying one over the other. JMHO
     
  19. kivis

    kivis Subscriber

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    Voigtlander Bessa's are outstanding values and I have owned a couple of them. But I decided to use a Nikon FM3a instead. Built much more sturdy than the Bessa's; better view for all lenses, aperture preferred plus real manual, and lenses are cheaper. Negatives are shutter noise. What else? I do not know.
     
  20. Denis K

    Denis K Member

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    If you just want to try out a Voigtlander camera let me attempt to talk you into getting a Voigtlander Vito II folder (ca. 195x) that has been CLA'ed. These camera's are a jewel. Being a folder, it will have a fixed lens (in this case a 50mm f/3.5 Tessar) which means you won't be tempted to buy new lenses for it. The Vito II is very compact compared to a Leica or Bessa and folded up, it fits in the palm of your hand. This means you can take it to places you wouldn't even take a Leica. I normally carry a M6TTL but have found the Vito II to be useful and fun. It's hard to pin-point, but I would characterize it as a gentleman's camera; one that you could carry to a black-tie event and not feel out of place.

    The Vito II is meterless, so it lends itself to a film with exposure latitude like Tri-X, as well as the speed needed to support indoor photography; the natural stomping ground of a gentleman.

    Denis K
     
  21. Jeff L

    Jeff L Subscriber

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    I like my R2C alot. Built in meter and framelines. I use it along side my Contax RF's- actually I use it more. Voigt 21mm is nice too.
    Jeff
     
  22. fotch

    fotch Member

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    What Denis K said. I had one years ago and regret selling it.:sad:
     
  23. Henry Alive

    Henry Alive Subscriber

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  24. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Cosina is a Cosina regardless of what the label says. Probably a nice camera but not a real Voigtlander. But that is just me. :smile:
     
  25. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

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    I had a Zeiss ZM lens and it was very nice. I currently have two CV lenses - the 28/3.5 and the older 15/4.5. I've not used the cameras, but I would heartily recommend the lenses, at least the 2 that I've used. The 28/3.5 is a great street photography lens.
     
  26. Rob Skeoch

    Rob Skeoch Advertiser Advertiser

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    I've been using the Zeiss Ikon's for a while now. You can see a brief discription of what both Zeiss and Voigtlander offer on my website.
    www.bigcameraworkshops.com

    The M6 might have the frame lines you want although the Bessa R4 is becoming more popular since people are often using a wide angle with the rangefinder and less the short tele. I've had 4 M6's over the years... they're a nice camera but most of them are 20+ years old already while the Bessa and Zeiss are new.

    -rob

    -rob