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  1. #1

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    Voigtlander or Leica?

    As i'll soon be off to Uni and getting my student grant to back up what i've saved so far I wondered if anyone would like to venture their opinion on which is best the voigtlander bessa R/R2 or a leica M2/M4?
    I want a rangefinder with a bright focusing spot for low light (i'd heard the voigtlanders were better than the old M2 and possibly than the M4 or at least equal). Build quality is an issue but really it's just a question of whether the leica bodies justify the extra money (after all money saved on a body is money available for better lenses). What should I be looking to pay (AP states a good M2 can be had for roughly £300 though i've never seen them at that price) and where should I look? (are the camera fairs any good or can problems arise over gaurantees?)
    Finally as I prefer wide lenses which ones are best (i'd like a 35/50 mm and possibly something wider)
    Although i'd like to get a bargain I wouldn't mind shelling out that much extra if the quality is really that different.

  2. #2

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    I have no actual tip to give other than keep in mind that the measuring base on the Voigt's rangefinder is narrower than that on the Leica. You might also want to consider the upcoming Zeiss Ikon. www.zeissikon.com

    -- MW

  3. #3
    David H. Bebbington's Avatar
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    For someone in your position, I'd say Voigtländer every time. A new one should keep going until you graduate and well beyond without attention, and its rangefinder will be much brighter than an old Leica. An M2 for £300 would certainly be a basket case, I would think you'd have to pay £550 to £600 (body only) at least for something worthwhile. The only aspect in which a Leica absolutely has the edge is quietness - Voigtländer cameras have an extra white-painted baffle in front of the shutter used for metering (which is center-weighted and quite good). This has to drop out of the way to take a picture and makes a certain amount of noise doing this. Whatever focal lengths you like, Voigtländer has them - 35, 28, 25, 21, 15 and 12. Lens performance is consistently good, although the 50 mm f1.5 flares against the light a little more than a state-of-the-art modern lens. For me in the UK, the biggest downside of owning a Leica (my last was an M3) was the need to send it to Leica UK for servicing - shatteringly expensive and not very good!
    Last edited by David H. Bebbington; 06-06-2005 at 12:37 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  4. #4
    zinzin's Avatar
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    Hi Matchat,

    I bought a Bessa R2 few months ago and very happy about it. It is the camera I use most now. Never used a BEssa R but comments that i read and heard the build is not as good as the R2 and new R2a/3a (a bit plasticky maybe?) nevertheless people happy about the performance. BTW below a link for a R2A just seen on eBay
    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.d...521152516&rd=1
    there are also a few R and L's.
    I use a 35 and 90mm for mine. The Bessa allows you to adjust the viewfinder for the different lenses (or some of those).
    The following sites sell rangefinder and you may want to browse a bit.
    http://www.robertwhite.co.uk/
    http://www.cameraquest.com/
    Also you may find this other site of interest (maybe you know it already)
    http://www.rangefinderforum.com/
    hope it helps
    cheers
    zinzin

    PS. if you do a search on this forum you should find a few thread with similar queries to yours and plenty of good advises. Hoper you enjoy your RF

    Quote Originally Posted by matchat
    As i'll soon be off to Uni and getting my student grant to back up what i've saved so far I wondered if anyone would like to venture their opinion on which is best the voigtlander bessa R/R2 or a leica M2/M4?
    I want a rangefinder with a bright focusing spot for low light (i'd heard the voigtlanders were better than the old M2 and possibly than the M4 or at least equal). Build quality is an issue but really it's just a question of whether the leica bodies justify the extra money (after all money saved on a body is money available for better lenses). What should I be looking to pay (AP states a good M2 can be had for roughly £300 though i've never seen them at that price) and where should I look? (are the camera fairs any good or can problems arise over gaurantees?)
    Finally as I prefer wide lenses which ones are best (i'd like a 35/50 mm and possibly something wider)
    Although i'd like to get a bargain I wouldn't mind shelling out that much extra if the quality is really that different.
    "A photograph is not created by a photographer. What he does is just to open a little window and capture it. The world then writes itself on the film. The act of the photographer is closer to reading than it is to writing. They are the readers of the world."
    Ferdinando Scianna, Magnum photographer

  5. #5
    Lee L's Avatar
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    Good information so far, but I'd add a bit.

    Picking nits: the Voigtlander secondary shutter is grey, not white. It's there because the shutter design is adapted from an SLR shutter, which relies in part on a mirror to be completely lightproof.

    The effective baselines for different Cosina Voigtlander models vary. The T has a nice long baseline, and the R3A a longer effective baseline than the other R series. See cameraquest.com for accurate info on rangefinder effective baselines for the new Voigtlanders and many of the Leicas. The info is spread around, and some of the superlatives; longest baseline, fastest lens version, only 40mm lens, are out of date as newer Voigtlander models come out.

    A cheaper older Leica may need a CLA to shoot in spec, and a CLA may be the price of a used or new Voigtlander rangefinder. Leicas are better made, and will last longer. Voigtlanders vary noticeably in ruggedness of build. See cameraquest.com in that regard. Lower quality in the R and L bodies, better in the T and R2, and perhaps even a little better in the R2A and R3A. I'd call the T decent quality, the R2 fairly rugged, and the R2A/R3A very solid relative to most other makes.

    M2/M4 will require a meter, Voigtlander makes a nice one for the hot shoe, or you can buy a Leica meter or handheld for them. The Bessas all have good accurate meters built in, reading off the gray front shutter.

    I really like the 1:1 finder and focusing in the Voigtlander R3A, but I also like the R2 and T a lot. The T needs auxiliary finders, and the R3A has built in finder frames only out to 40mm. The R2 and R2A will get you out to 35mm with built in frames, but have shorter effective baselines.

    If you want to buy an RF that your kids can use in 50 years, get a Leica. If you want to save some money and have a shorter life expectancy in an otherwise sound and well built camera, look at the C/V Bessa T, R2, R2A, or R3A. Cheaper and less well built, but still servicable are the L and R. Most of the C/V lenses are relative bargains. Careful reading at cameraquest.com or online searching of reviews by Erwin Puts and others will tell you about the lenses. I'm particularly happy with the 75mm f:2.5, 21mm f:4, and 15mm f:4.5 that I own, but others that I don't own get great reviews as well. The wider C/V lenses include auxiliary finders in the price.

    Best places I know of to buy C/V new would be cameraquest.com and perhaps photovillage in the US, and I hear good things about Robert White in the UK(oGBaNI). Used Leicas are all around, and prices vary, but I have no good ideas for UK purchases. A "bargain" used Leica from KEH could be a very good shooter. It looks to me like the new offerings from C/V and others are driving down used Leica prices over the last couple of years, especially on bodies.

    I've heard the reported problems with UK official Leica service and prices. There are several good independent Leica repair services in the US. Perhaps someone on the list can refer you to a good independent UK service person.

    CVUG, Cosina Voigtlander Users' Group, subscribeable from cameraquest.com is a good place to ask questions and browse archives on new Voigtlander equipment.

    OK, so perhaps I added more than a bit. Hope this helps.

    Lee

  6. #6

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    I have no personal exerience with the Voightlander cameras. I do believe from whar I have read that they should do what you want. Precise focussing with a 35 or 50mm is an easy target for a well made rangefinder. There is one more choice that seems to be readily overlooked. The Konica Hexar RF is said to be a reliable camera. The feature of a built in motordrive may be desirable. The lenses are also said to be very good. At this time it seems the camera is discontinued and available at what may be very decent price. If you can find a nice kit with the lengths that you desire and a favorable price you may be very happy. Also I believe that the Hexar RF also has a frameline for 135mm.

  7. #7
    Frank Petronio's Avatar
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    I've had beat-up M2s and cheaper, older Leica lenses before, and I think they are wonderful but also false economy. Of course a Leica is great but it should be a good servicable one. In the USA you can find a good M4 or M6 for $900 to $1200. A nice M2 or M3 might be found for $7-800. A decent 35/2 Summicron runs $800, or you could get a Voightlander lens for $300 or so.

    Leica quality feels much better in your hand, without question. I feel like I make better photos with the Leica, but it is an intangible feeling - maybe it is respect for the camera or knowing that the camera will not be the weak link in the chain? Or simple pride of ownership?

    If that is too much by all means check out the Bessas. Or, in terms of quality for the money, a good 1980s Nikon SLR with manual AIS lenses is an even better bargain and excellent for students. Look for a Nikon F3HP or the FM2n, plus the better AIS lenses like the 24/2, 35/2, 50/1.4, and 85/2. They are excellent and dirt cheap.

  8. #8

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    I have both and love my Bessa R. It should be fine for you and you can always add a Leica after the impoverished student phase and still use the same lenses for both. My only reservation is that the Bessas have a shorter rangefinder baseline so their focusing isn't quite as accurate. Most of the time you will never notice, but you might if you use longer focus lenses wide open at any distance.

    David.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woolliscroft
    I have both and love my Bessa R. It should be fine for you and you can always add a Leica after the impoverished student phase and still use the same lenses for both. My only reservation is that the Bessas have a shorter rangefinder baseline so their focusing isn't quite as accurate. Most of the time you will never notice, but you might if you use longer focus lenses wide open at any distance.

    David.
    I also have both and agree with David - except for one small point. My Voigtlander is the T model which has a long rangefinder baseline. Different Voigtlander models have different rangefinder baseline lengths.
    Tom Hoskinson
    ______________________________

    Everything is analog - even digital :D

  10. #10
    mikeg's Avatar
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    Hello,

    You don't give a budget, but I would go for a Voigtlander. I own a Bessa R2 and love it. I've handled an R in the shop before buying the R2 but I haven't seen the latest R2A & R3A. The R felt OK but was a bit plasticky over the R2. As for lenses, again I would go for Voigtlander as they provide very good value for money. I've got the 35mm f/2.5 Classic, it's excellent -- light, small, very sharp and reasonably priced. As far as wider lenses, the 21mm and 15mm have excellent reviews, but if you don't want to go that wide then don't forget the 25mm, again it's reasonably cheap and good quality. It's not rangefinder coupled, but you won't need it as the depth of field is enormous.

    Robert White is the best place to buy new here in the UK. Remember to mention APUG if you phone or click through on the advert here on APUG! If your budget won't stretch to new but you want the guarantee of a dealer then take a look at FFordes at www.ffordes.co.uk. They have quite a few 2nd hand Voigtlander bodies and lenses. I've brought a number things through them and they've been very reliable.

    Mike

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