Voitlander Vs Canon Vs Leica Vs Zorki What to get on a $400 budget.

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Gatsby1923, Jul 18, 2006.

  1. Gatsby1923

    Gatsby1923 Member

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    Last year I picked up a Zorki 4K body at a local flea market from a very nice Russian man. I have been snapping away happily for a year and decided a rangefinder was better than my SLR for incognito public shooting. I have small collection of Leica Screw mount lenses (Some Russian and old canon lenses.)

    So now that I am to be a rangefinder man, I must ask myself, what camera should I buy now? I have seen the now discontinued Voitlander Bessa R’s with a 35mm lenses running about $400 new with warrantee card. One guy will even throw in a Bess L for a dollar more. I have heard mixed things on how reliable they are, but the TTL Meter and built in frame lines must be nice. So if any one is using or has used a voitlander Bessa R let me know what you think of them.

    Next on my possibles list is one of the old Canons. I can find one for under $300 but they are all over 50 years old now. Step up in price just a bit and the same goes for most Leica III’s and IIIa’s. A IIIf seems just out of my price range but has that handy built in flash sync.

    Finaly I have the lowly Soviet era LSM Camera. For $400 I can get a dozen of them, but I’d rather just have those boys for beaters and “beach” cameras. So if you had a $400 budget what camera would you want?


    Take Care

    Dave M.
     
  2. ZorkiKat

    ZorkiKat Member

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    Some Canon and Leitz lenses will not (and should not be used) fit on Zorki and FED cameras. Lens RF coupler cam shape is root of issue. Canon and Leitz lenses with tongue shaped coupling cams will catch on the sloped RF feeler in FSU LTM RFs. At best will upset the camera's RF, at worst, lens will be impossible to remove without drastic measures.

    Jay
     
  3. Michael Mutmansky

    Michael Mutmansky Member

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    Dave,

    I have a Bessa R and also several Canon RF cameras, including an few older Leica-copy Canons, and a couple of Canon P's. The more recent Canon cameras are very good shooters, but most will probably require a CLA to function properly. Figure $75 or $100 for that into the pricing.

    The FSU cameras are great if you get one in proper working condition, or are handy with tools, but few people will repair them, so any problem can make the camera a junker.

    The Bessa R is a great camera with a built-in meter. I can't comment on the longevity of the camera (mine's worked great with no problems), I do think you get an awful lot for the money going that route. The beauty of the Voigtlander LTM line is that they will take any of the many, many LTM lenses that have been made over the last 80 years or so. The lenses they make are also great value as well.

    In my mind, about the only Canon I would consider over the Bessa R is the P. It has a simple function, and the viewfinder works very well. It is a 100% viewfinder. Other of the the Canon RF cameras are good, but often more rare and a bit more expensive than the P. The 7 or 7S are also fairly common, but a bit bigger and bulkier, and I do not believe they were made as well. The meter in most of these is most likely shot, so unless you were serious about using the .95/50 that Canon made, I'm not sure I would select one of these over a camera like the Bessa R or the Canon P.

    I use the R when I really don't want to have an external meter, otherwise, I normally shoot with the P's.


    ---Michael
     
  4. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    If thw Zorki camera is doing a good job then I would stick with it. $400 buys a lot of film and paper.
     
  5. Gerald Koch

    Gerald Koch Member

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    I have a Bessa R and have it to be very reliable and a pleasure to use. One word of caution -- collapsible lenses should not be used on the Bessa cameras as they can damage the shutter curtain when in the collapsed position.
     
  6. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Dave,

    I've owned & used all the cameras you list (still have some, including a IIIa, though no Canons for years) and I'd go for the Bessa-R for sheer usability. Old Leicas have terrible viewfinders -- arguably worse than the Zorkii -- and old Canons are well, old. There's a great pleasure in a good, old camera but a lot less when it needs repairs.

    But bear in mind Claire's advice too, possibly with a new accessory viewfinder.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  7. DBP

    DBP Member

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    I have a wide range of Zorkis and Feds, a Canon L, and a Bessa R. From a shooting standpoint, there is no contest. The Bessa has a brighter clearer viewfinder with multiple sets of framelines and a built in meter. The Canon has multiple magnifications, but no framelines, and the rangefinder is closer in brightness to a Zorki than a Bessa. Is the Bessa as sturdy as a Leica? No, but if you are going in harm's way, carry the Zorki. But if you are really strapped for cash, why not keep using the Zorki? It is certainly competitive in usability with any LTM rangefinder except the later Canons and the Bessa. $400 will buy a lot of film.
     
  8. Daniel_OB

    Daniel_OB Member

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    If Zorki works for you keep it. Do not waste energy on equipment. You will find that Leica will be just on your way and you will always try to hide your low creativity behind the Leica camera. High cost equipment is proved to be very bad choice if you really do not need it. Just in the case if you think Zorki do not assist you good enough look further.
    Leica is nothing better than Zorki. The best camera is one you like and it make pictures you want.

    www.Leica-R.com
     
  9. Jerevan

    Jerevan Subscriber

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    Okay, I think I'd spend the money on film and paper in the first place if you still like the Zorki. I've used the Fed 3, Leica M4 and IIIf. What I gained from this, is that the mechanical feeling of the cameras are different but they all make wonderful photos if you're willing and able and the camera is in good enough shape.

    The Fed went away, the M4 hardly gets out of the box because I paid so much money for it, I am always agonizing over "what if I drop it". The IIIf comes along just about everywhere because it's so small. So, in my case the most useful camera is the IIIf. And it's always, always loaded with film.
     
  10. elekm

    elekm Member

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    There's a lot of good advice here. When you do end up buying another camera, be sure to handle the cameras, if at all possible. That will also assist you in making a decision. Don't buy simply on price or brand name.

    The Bessa-R is really a sweet little camera. The Voigtlander lenses are excellent.

    Long-term durability seems to be decent, despite the moderate use of plastic. The primary weakness of all of the Bessa rangefinder cameras is Bessa's apparent inability to properly calibrate the rangefinder. That's judging from the number of comments on various discussion boards that all point out this problem.

    My own Bessa was fine. However, my Rollei 35 RF (Bessa-R2 clone) is out vertically.
     
  11. DBP

    DBP Member

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    My first and second Bessa, bought from Adorama, had alignment issues. But then they were both the same camera (Adorama sent it back to me as a replacement for itself)! I wonder how many of the other posts are about that same camera. The one I bought from B&H has been going strong for four years. There was a bit of a dust problem with the first roll, but after a little cleaning it was fine. Admittedly I am a little more gentle with it than I am with a Brick or Speed Graphic, but it doesn't sit in a display case. I did drop the 35/2.5 a few feet once, and the nameplate popped off-easily reglued. Once in alignment it seems to stay that way. And there isn't much else to break.
     
  12. Wigwam Jones

    Wigwam Jones Member

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    I bought a Zorki 4K as my first foray into LTM lenses as well. The camera fell apart in my hands after one roll of film and it smelled bad too. However, I gave it to a friend who had it repaired and it has since moved on to someone who is very happy with it.

    I next bought a Bessa R and I'm thrilled with it. I have never had alignment problems, I have had it well over two years now. It has a few dings and scratches, I have not babied it - it has held up well. I'm pleased. Like you, I use older Canon LTM lenses (also A. Schacht and Steinheil, etc...heck, whatever I can find in LTM).

    I have not owned a Leica II or III, but I have held a few and examined them. My thoughts so far - beautiful manufacturing quality. Bottom loading is not as easy as the standard backs used in today's cameras. Yes, one can get used to it, but it is still a bit of a slow-speed hassle. Viewfinder is squinty - I wear glasses, it may be worse for me than for others.

    I would love to own - even if just to try out - a Canon P or similar. I am a Canon fan from way back, my favorite SLR is still the Canon FX, but I digress. I think it would be lovely, but as you said - older mechanics and no TTL meter.

    I doubt you can go too far wrong in any case, but I'd still repeat my choice of the Bessa R. I still love mine.

    Hope you find this helpful.
     
  13. Max Power

    Max Power Member

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    I started with the usual suspects...Canonet, FED 5, Zorki 4. All were quirky in their own way, and the 1:1 VF on the Zorki led me to a Bessa R3A. I really like the Bessa, and it has replaced my Minolta X-700 as my principal user.
    IMHO the quality/cost ratio of the Cosina product is excellent, and there seem to be many users out there who love their Bessas. The only recommendation I would have is to go with a body which accepts M-mount lenses. You can get M-mount to LTM adapters, but not the other way 'round; this opens up your lens choices quite considerably.

    Just my $0.02

    Kent
     
  14. psvensson

    psvensson Member

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    In your budget range, it's tough. The Cosina equipment has quality problems: out of five pieces of Voigtlander gear I've bought, bodies and lenses, I've had problems with four. Just returned a 90/3.5 to Adorama this morning because it would not focus right. Old Canon gear might be a better buy. Or get a Konica Auto S2 for $40 or so. They lenses are great (if flare-prone by modern standards), and the finder is a bit dim, but they're good cameras. Viewfinder and rangefinder are easy to service and align.
     
  15. Gatsby1923

    Gatsby1923 Member

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    WOW I have gotten an amazing amount of advice hear. I do like my Zorki, but I think it needs new shutter curtain. I think I am going to do a little bit of all the advice I got. I think I am going to get myself a Zorki-6 from Fedka.com, and try and wrangle a Bessa R for my birthday this August. I am going to end up with a very international system. I already have a Russian Camera with Russian and Japanese lenses, and I am using an Imarect finder. I feel very eclectic.

    Take care,

    Dave M.
     
  16. DBP

    DBP Member

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    The long rangefinder base on the Zorki 6 is very nice. You may also want to look at the Fed 2 for the long base, or the Fed 3 and 4 for just overall handling.