Voigtlander Bessa III/Fuji 667

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by sanking, Nov 25, 2009.

  1. sanking

    sanking Restricted Access

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    OK, I resisted the temptation for a long time but finally decided to sell off some ULF lenses that I was no longer using and buy the new folding 6X7 cm Voigtlander Bessa III.

    The camera arrived today and my impression is highly favorable with the feel and look of the camera. I ran a rolll of film through the camera and found it to be a very easy camera to work with with. It has the best viewfinder I have ever seen on a rangefinder camera, and the shutter is so quiet you have to strain to hear it release. As others have remarked, the Bessa III out Leicas the Leica in this regard.

    I did find the overall size somewhat disappointing in that one of my major reasons for buying this camera was to have a nice compact traveling camera that will make high quality negatives. But the Bessa III 667 is in fact quite a bit less compact and heavier than my 1950s vintage Bessa III, which is 6X9 cm format. The dimensions of the Bessa III are 165mm long X 101mm high X 38mm thick, and the weight is 830 grams. The dimensions of the Bessa III are 178mm long X 109mm high X 64mm thick, and the weight is 1030 grams.

    Now there is no comparison in ease of use of the two cameras as the new Bessa III has it all over the old Bessa II in this respect, and I am sure that the optics of the Bessa III will be quite an improvement over any of the lenses offered with the Bessa II, but I am a bit disappointed with the size of the Bessa III.

    Sandy King
     
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  2. Renato Tonelli

    Renato Tonelli Subscriber

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    I am a bit disappointed by the size and weight also. I have been using it as a 6x6; I wish it could go to a 6x9 but I can live with 6x6 and 6x7. I also like the more "modern" way it operates in comparison to the older folders I have. If I remember correctly, It will not close with a filter on the lens - somewhat of an inconvenience as I use the yellow 8 90% of the time.
     
  3. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Sandy, 64mm thick? Really? That is surprising. It looked more svelte in the photos I saw. So I guess it isn't any more pocketable than a mamiya 6.

    How about the stability of the pop out mechanism and the focusing cam?
     
  4. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    Seeing a Bessa III in person, I was surprised at what a monster it looks like. It was on the shelf next to some of the Fuji 6x9 rangefinders---and those are HUGE cameras---and while it wasn't *that* big, it looked basically like it belonged with them, rather than with the more compact "classic folder" form factor. I didn't handle it or see it folded up, but it did make me wonder how well it really achieves the compactness of its ancestors.

    -NT
     
  5. david b

    david b Member

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    Let us know how the photos are.
     
  6. sanking

    sanking Restricted Access

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    How thick is the Mamiya 6 folded?

    The pop out mechanism and focusing cam seem remarkably stable, with no play at all.

    Sandy
     
  7. P C Headland

    P C Headland Subscriber

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    I really wish you guys would stop talking about this camera :tongue:

    I saw a comparison photo over on RFF, and was quite shocked at its size in comparison to the old 6x9 folders. But then, I was quite taken aback the first time I saw a Fuji 645 folder - quite a bit bulkier than my Iskra.

    Still very tempting though. But I will resist. I will.
     
  8. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I will measure it now. About the same as the ga645zi, IIRC.

    Okay... 6" by 4.5" by 3.5".... 152 by 114 by 89mm. Without a lens it's about 60mm thick. Of course the main advantage is... three small lenses... and I don't have those other annoying lens temptations in the 7/7ii line...
     
  9. Richard Wasserman

    Richard Wasserman Member

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    I agree that it is a bit bulky. I shot several rolls with a Bess III that belongs to a friend of mine and it is a well built camera, with a very nice viewfinder, excellent meter, and a terrific lens. If it was smaller than it is I might feel drawn to it as a supplement to my Mamiya 7, but as it is I don't. It is really nice though....
     
  10. sanking

    sanking Restricted Access

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    Build quality of the Bessa III is really very high, better than Mamiya 6/7/7II without question. However, based on the size of the Mamiya 7II format I don't see why the Bessa III could not have been made more compact. In fact, the present body would easily allow for a full 6X9 cm format.

    Perhaps that is what Cosina has in mind, i.e. introducing a 6X9cm camera based on the same body?

    Sandy King
     
  11. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    Thanks for the report. I've been thinking about this camera for quite a while, but before making the investment, I want at least to be able to handle it and see if it would be a replacement for my Perkeo II, which is truly pocketable. I'm sure the image quality of the Bessa III will be much better, but when image quality comes first, I've got other cameras.
     
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  12. Oren Grad

    Oren Grad Subscriber

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    1030g is quite a bit less than the big Fujis, though, and the Mamiya 6/75 and 7/80 combinations too. Having put in a fair amount of neck and hand time with both a GW690II and a 6, I'm optimistic that it would feel relatively light to me.

    I'm also very encouraged to hear that the mechanical fit seems so precise. It would be nice to know how well it will hold up with use, but the cameras will probably all have been sold before enough of them have put on sufficient mileage for that to become clear.

    Thanks for sharing your impressions Sandy, will be interested to hear more as you have a chance to work with it.
     
  13. sanking

    sanking Restricted Access

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    I just exposed a resolution target with the Mamiya 7II with 80mm lens and the Bessa III, on the same roll of film, at f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11 and f/16 for both cameras. Will do the same tomorrow with a real life outdoor scene with lots of detail.

    This was the first resolution target I have exposed since I got my new eyes. Wow, it was so much easier to focus on the target with the rangefinder than before.

    Sandy
     
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  15. Tom Kershaw

    Tom Kershaw Subscriber

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    Sandy,

    How would you compare your potential application or use of the Voigtlander Bessa III to the Mamiya 7II?

    Tom
     
  16. sanking

    sanking Restricted Access

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    Tom,

    I use the Mamiya 7II as a system camera, and travel with two bodies and five lenses. And a DSLR converted to IR. Compact but a fair amount of weight.

    My anticipated use of the Bessa III would be to throw it in a small bag with my Canon 50D converted to IR. Less weight, more compact, more freedom, but without of course the wide range of lenses of the Mamiya 7II outfit. Kind of force the discipline of a one lens camera.

    Sandy
     
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  17. sanking

    sanking Restricted Access

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    Developed the film and looked at the results with a microscope. Something of a draw IMO. The Mamiya 80mm f/4 is a tad better at the edges but the Voigtlander Heliar f/3.5 is a tad better at the center.

    I failed to note the distance from the lens to the target so these results are only good as comparative data. The results certainly speak well for the Heliar. No other MF lense that I have tested in the past has come close to the Mamiya.

    Sandy King
     
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  18. Rob Skeoch

    Rob Skeoch Advertiser

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  19. david b

    david b Member

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    Rob...just watched your video. What did it tell us other than you had the camera in your possession?
     
  20. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    Interesting question David, normally I would agree with you, but as I at the moment, and for another week, have one of these cameras, I looked at the short video with different eyes.

    I was interested to hear the difference in the shutter noise for the Bessa III, compared to the other camera, did you note it's unreal quietness. Very quiet camera unless you wind the film on quickly, when the ratchet noise of the winder becomes noticeable.

    I also was interested in how good the metering was in aperture priority, seems reasonably good if the picture representations are accurate. I am using aperture priority tomorrow for a roll, then switching back to full manual for the other rolls. I'll see how it works for me.

    As to the sharpness of the negatives and prints that follow, very, very good.

    One aspect is the crispness of the negatives, something that I cannot describe in any other way. My wife has just come back from a trip overseas and saw a new print on the refrigerator. After a short look, she moved closer and mentioned the sharpness and clean look of the print. The print by the way is a pearl surface Ilford 8x10 RC print, the film was Tri-X.

    Having enlarged Mamiya 6 and 7 negatives for some friends, my humble opinion is that Mamiya lenses are pretty much amongst the best in the business and have been since the RB then later the RZ cameras were around. The Voigtländer Heliar lens on the camera I have, does appear to live up to the heritage of the name.

    Mick.

    Ps:- It was interesting to hear Rob talk, with the accent difference, I at first thought he introduced himself as Rob Screw :D
     
  21. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, I thought the shutter sound was one of the most interesting things to be learned from the video. I know it sounds trivial, but it is surprisingly quiet.
     
  22. guyjr

    guyjr Member

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    I took a look at the video, and as an owner of the Bessa III, I can tell you that the shutter, in real life, is actually quieter than what you hear in the video. My guess is the gain was turned up on the mic, which is good so you can actually hear it, but believe me, if you were standing where the model was in the shoot, you'd be hard pressed to hear it at all... almost like someone dropping a pin onto the ground, that's about how quiet it is. :smile:
     
  23. sanking

    sanking Restricted Access

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    Interesting. I had the same impression from looking at the video. Standing three feet from the camera in real life I don't think the shutter would be audible.

    Sandy King
     
  24. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm sure it is, since by comparison the 35mm Bessa sounded like a bucket of nails falling down the stairs, but having them both there gave some basis for comparison.
     
  25. Richard Wasserman

    Richard Wasserman Member

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    The Bessa III is the quitest camera I've ever used. At times I wasn't sure if I had released the shutter or not, as I couldn't hear it over normal conversation. 35mm Bessa's–not so quiet....
     
  26. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    Well today I ran off three rolls taking people pictures, mainly where the camera was about 1½ to 3 metres from the subjects.

    More than once, the subjects upon noticing I was winding on the film, said, "are you sure the shutter fired?"

    Only the 10 year old twins I shot, heard the shutter click!

    Great camera, great price, great wait, I fear.

    Mick.