There's an awful lot of people here parading their preferences, prejudices, dogma and misinformation that really is of no help to the OP. Putting aside the fact that simply by having to ask he doesn't really know what he wants or the differences, the nuts and bolts of it are pretty simple.
The Leica, any Leica, has some aura and a higher "fondle factor" than most other cameras. And it's a proven reliable performer. But in the end it's just a box to hold film. The Bessa is also such a box. It has proven to be reliable, it has some useful features that the earlier M model Leicas don't have, but it's not all that high on the fondle scale. But that's the emotional side and nothing to do with the image.
Either body - or the Zeiss - will do the job. After that, ergonomics and pride of ownership are probably bigger factors for some than for others. Earlier Leicas like the IIIf are works of art but have squinty viewfinders and not very good ergonomics. I wouldn't recommend them to the OP. I've had two of them. Now have an M6 and one of the two Bessa I bought. Both good useable cameras. No sentiment there - they do the job.
Lenses? Maybe Leica are the best - maybe not always. Maybe modern is different to vintage glass - maybe not always. But if you want good quality glass that's affordable and which 90% or more people will not be able to tell what brand lens you used, the Voigtlander lenses made by CV are very good quality and good value. You don't need anything better. You might "want" to have a Leica lens but chances are you'll pay a lot more money and maybe not end up with as good a lens because you'll probably be buying second hand and over the years there has been some variation in the lenses Leica produced. Not every one was a stellar performer.
So, if you're inclined to be objective and you're on a budget, get a Bessa body and Voigtlander lenses. If you're swayed by the subjective and have "Leica Lust" and can afford it, buy Leica.
Your images will look the same no matter which way you lean.
Rolleiflex(s) 2.8/80, 4/135, 4/55.
I want a newer Leica outfit and I want a new 4WD ute and I want a new shed with two darkrooms, a print finishing room and a studio and I want a holiday in England and I want a new flat screen TV and I wand a holiday in NZ and I want a Sinar Shutter for both of my Sinar kits and I want a new brush cutter and I want lots of Cognac and I want new teeth and I want my dog to have longer legs so she can beat up Ruby when they squabble over a dead rabbit and I want new rain water tanks and I want a second home in Stogumber where I was born and I want to move Augusta and I want an agent to organise my exhibitions and publications and I want a new lap-top computer and I want . . .
I you are not a professional photographer use what you can afford, enjoy it and spend any extra money on film, paper and print presentation - But really your first priority has to be the absolutely best enlarging lens you can get - Whatever camera lenses you use, their quality will be affected by the enlarging lens
Last edited by John Austin; 03-19-2012 at 07:13 PM. Click to view previous post history.
And that brings us to the Focotar!!! Uh oh here we go again.
Originally Posted by Grumpy Old Man
I made a lot of my early favorite prints with a Focotar on a Focomat.
Right now my 35mm and 120mm enlarging lens is a 80mm Rodenstock.
Now this thread is officially derailed!
I'm gonna try to bring this boil to a head:
Who likes the M9?
Originally Posted by Paul Goutiere
I can count up to 8.2. in increments of IIIF and M2. Since the IIIF was a gift from my father it gets the most milage. Your milage may differ, so one needs to use New Leica Math.
IIIF = 8.2/M2(35mm3) > VC/Zeiss < Summicron
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Originally Posted by daleeman
I photograph things to see what things look like photographed.
- Garry Winogrand
The price of Leica lenses, both used and new, have come to be out of the range of many film rangefinder fans. And yet many people continue to do excellent work with 'inferior' optics. As a recent (2 years) owner of a Leica M4-2 my impressions are going to be different from many Leica old timers here but I purchased my M body for the handling and nice bright, long base, VF/RF. Two years ago used VC lens prices were much lower than now and I could get the 21mm f4 in LTM with viewfinder, and a 35mm f2.5 PII for a total of $540 in like new condition. My only Leica lens is a 60 year old 90mm f4 Elmar that was about $150, but in very nice shape.
The 35mm VC lens is just outstanding with sharp, contrasty negs, nothing lacking there and very compact on an M body. I haven't used the 21mm lens as much as I thought I would and really can't comment on it. I just purchased the 90 Elmar and have not had much chance to try it out. The 35 sit on the body 95% of the time.
My final take? Buy what you can afford, devote time to taking pictures and improving your technique. Limit your time spent on the photo forums listening to 'experts'. Be happy.
Agree! Most of my learning has been through trial and error, and learning to 'see'. And there's still a lot of learning to go! Once you've got the best kit you can afford, try not to think about it - they are tools that help you say what you want to say, not ends in themselves...
Originally Posted by pen s
My final word... I'd take the Leica lens over the CV lens in most cases... that is except the price premium for quality is too great (it just is!! for these 20-30 and 50 year old lenses!!!!), and I don't pay that much of a premium for panache.
Most of the best learning is through error. In the book about Edwin Land (Insisting on the Impossible) there is a section which describes how Land didn't like coming up with a solution to a problem immediately. He preferred to go through all the variables which didn't work first. This way you learn much more about the process than if you get it instantly right first time. I think he called it success through failure.
Originally Posted by coigach