Sharp photos with an old RF Bessa Voigtländer 6x9?
Recently I bought a RF Bessa Voigtländer 6x9 that I guess is from the 1930-ies. After having had some service on it, I have put a roll of t-max 100 through it. The pictures do not come out very sharp, I am afraid. The out-of-focus areas are just beautiful, though. The camera has a helomar lens f3.5, which, although not being the best lens still would give sharp pictures at smaller apertures, I hoped.
Maybe I am doing some wrong, such as handholding. But should that not be ok on higher speeds? My camera lacks a cable release, it only has a lever on the lid, which probably does not help. I so much would like this camera to be sharp, so if anyone has any advice, I would be grateful.
Perhaps the rangefinder is out of adjustment. You can check by opening the back and setting the shutter on "B". With the shutter open you can place a strip of frosted scotch tape across the film plane check the image focus against the rangefinder setting.
I don't think its the rangefinder really. The photos are not too sharp even in their best areas. It might help when I use the camera on f3.5 of course.
I am sorry if this is obvious and you know all this, but:
I think you need to try it on a tripod, stopping down the lens a bit. If the camera was serviced, is it possible the lens was assembled in the wrong way? Another idea would be trying some other sort of film. T-Max is very sensitive to development temperatures and overdoing the agitation (for example) would give you problems that would seem to be camera-related. Are you looking at the negatives only, or actually see the outcome on a wet print? If you do wetprints, what size?
“Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity.” - Lao Tzu
the negatives. Unfortunately I do not have access to a scanner right now to show an example. Neither do I have access to a darkroom.
I am hoping to be able to use the camera handheld. That would make it very portable.
Now, the pressure plate seem to be a little loose. Maybe I should try to stabilize it.
Last edited by Erik Petersson; 09-25-2009 at 03:19 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: to give a better reply
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The Helomar is the budget "Triplet" lens from Voigtländer so this will be one reason why you're not getting great sharpness. But I think you're aware of that
I used a Triotar on an early Rolleiflex and that was only really sharp stopped down to f16. Another factor may be how the glass has aged, I have Novar lens on a 1930's Ikonta and the glass has hazed slightly, I've seen the same on Tessar's and it happens with some Leica lenses too. New glasses were used in the 30's, older lenses don't suffer in the same way.
Try it on a tripod stopped well down.
The camera exposes very well - the aperture and the shutter seems to be consistent - so I will bring a roll of Velvia 50 and a Provia 400f with me on a trip this weekend. The positives will be easier to evaluate.
The camera might also be usable for portraits and other pictures that do not need to be über-sharp.
Perhaps film is not enough pressed against pressure plate .
I have old Super Ikonta C 530/2 and 531/2 (6x9) and now I always wind the film after opening camera and just before shooting : so film is less loose .
If film is not correctly plane , results can't be sharp .
As said, it could be many things. The first thing you ought to do is to open the shutter on "T" and check if the lens is cloudy. The next thing is to dissassemble the lens and clean the glass, and assemble them again. In the front, the mounts for the first and second element are screwed together, and if the mount for the second element isn't screwed in correctly the pics won't come out sharp.
Doesn't the shutter have a cable release thread? It should.
My RF Bessa with Heliar performs nicely. The negatives are sharp. Only a little less so than a post-war and coated Tessar, and the difference can only be seen in high enlargements.
It could be that your Helomar is bad. All lensmakers had (and have) some variation in quality between examples. I once had a Zeiss Ikon Nettar 6x9 with a Tessar that wasn't sharp. Stopping down only changed the DOF, but still wasn't sharper than a box camera meniscus.
Sample variation. I have many Rolleicords with Triotar, and they all are very sharp already at 5,6 - 8. The corners improved by stopping down a stop or more than that, of course. The only Triotar I have that is a 3,8 on my Rolleicord I, type 2.
Originally Posted by Ian Grant