Thinking of picking up a Bessa R3M
So I shoot a lot of 35mm (SLR) and 120 film. I have a Yashica Minister-D rangefinder as well as a (now broken unfortunately) Olympus 35RC. I really love those rangefinders and feel that I really want an M mount rangefinder.
So this brought me to several options. I prefer having a meter built in so I narrowed it down to the Leica M6, Zeiss Ikon, and Voigtlander Bessa R3M. The Leica was my top choice but the 1/2000 max shutter speed of the Bessa is very attractive. Also the Voigtlander is the cheapest of all three rangefinders while being the only mechanical one.
I have been reading tons and tons of reviews on the Bessa and although aperture priority would be nice, I have heard hte R3A has shutter problems. Can anyone elaborate on the reliability of the R3A? Also, if you have experience with any of the three rangefinders listed above I would appreciate if you could tell me your thoughts about the cameras.
At this point I am leaning towards a R3M with a 40mm 1.4 Nokton.
The M6 is also mechanical like the bessa. I'd say go for the m6, used they aren't that much more than an M mount Bessa, and way way better built. I have a Bessa-R which works just fine, but it does feel pretty cheap and un-refined. On the other hand, having 40mm frame lines would be nice to have, and something the M6 won't provide.
Can you please tell me a little more about the build quality of the Bessa? Some people online say it's great and others (like yourself) say the build quality leaves you wanting more.
The only thing about the M6 is that I would be buying an older camera that would most likely need a CLA to be 100%.
I had a R3A for a short amount of time. Bought it new. Liked it ok but frankly for the build quality and feel find it too expensive and nothing particularly "special". Could be because I love my M3 at the time so much and it was butter smooth. I did sell it in the end. I also sold my M3 when I rewarded myself with an MP after a particularly good year. Frankly I'd choose the M6 if i were you.
I have an R2a - I think all the Rs are all built on the same chassis, but I'm sure someone can correct me if I'm wrong - and the build quality is fine; there's nothing about it that I think "I wish that was better quality". It feels strong and robust.
On the other hand I have never so much as held a Leica that I can remember, so I have nothing to compare.
What will matter the most, I suspect, is what you think when you physically pick one up - it'll either suit you or not. If you don't want to put it down again, it's probably the right camera. Same goes for the M6 or the Ikon
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I had a R4A for a while, never had a problem with it. Also had a Zeiss Ikon, I did have a couple of issues with that, but I bought it second-hand, not new like the R4A.
Personally, if you've got the choice of an Ikon or an R3M, I'd get the Ikon every time, they are more like Leicas in terms of build quality. The M6 is of course a great camera, but I preferred my Ikon.
The Bessas can be somewhat "clunky", but I never had a single issue with regard to usability or reliability, but I'm not the type who thrashes their cameras anyway. I think any of them will serve you well, but if you're like me, and like your cameras a bit prettier, I'd say Ikon or M6. If you want aperture priority, then of course, it's Ikon.
Don't Cosina build the Zeiss Ikon, they certainly build most of their RF lenses. I have an M2 plus a Bessa R and a R4A with a lot of CV lenses. A Bessa won't come close to the quality feel of any Leica, but that said, they are a lot cheaper and (in my experience) work just as well. The problem with Leica is the astronomical price for their lenses, very hard to justify when the CV lenses perform so well. My most used outfits are the M2 with a 35mm Nokton and the R4A with a 28mm Ultron and 21mm Color-Skopar. The R4A is a bit plastiky but so far has been reliable, the viewfinder/rangefinder combination is excellent, as is the metering.
If both outfits were similar prices then the Leica would be a no brainer, but they are not and you need to weigh up how much you use the camera and how hard. The Cosina and Leica will produce almost identical results but the Leica will last longer and have a much better resale value..oh, and that red dot!
The Voigtländer doesn't feel as nice and won't last as long, and the RF base is shorter, but these arguments are at least as important in persuading yourself that you need a Leica as in taking pictures. And, as Tony points out, you have the advantage with the Voigtländers that you don't get that bloody red dot.
That said, I still prefer my Leicas over my Voigtländers, even my olive drab R2.
You can make good [and bad] photographs with any of the choices here. One alternative is to get the M6 body which will be the only one you will ever need and you can most likely get 100% of you money out if you wish to sell... and then use non-leica M lenses such as the Zeiss ZM or Voigtländers. This approach might be one way to thread the needle here?
I own a retail store called Rangefinderstore.com and have used and sold all three models.
Personally I shoot with an M6 and a Zeiss Ikon... and a CL but that's not part of this issue.
The Bessa's are OK. I like the R2M better than the R3M because of the framelines. I'll never use a 40mm since I don't have one and few models exist so having those framelines doesn't help me much.
The R2M's are not an older model, they are both current. By the way the R4M most likely is the most useful model if you are using wideangle lenses.
The Zeiss Ikon is a very nice camera, the viewfinder is great and it has the useful range of framelines. Construction is good but will breakdown with real rough and heavy use. Mine has been through China, Haiti, Malawi and a bunch of other places with rough use and I did have to have it tuned up after a few years.
The M6 is a great camera but most of them are now 20 plus years old. Most of them need a tune up even if they seem to be working fine. The M6 I have is my 5th one, so I guess I really like them. Great framelines, manual shutter, nice build and you can always sell them and get your money out.
If I was buying a rangefinder I would look for a nice M6 or a new Zeiss Ikon.