I don't really think of myself as a collector, but I've bought and sold a few old Voigtlanders, so I've watched the prices on those. Earlier versions of the Bessa aren't usually worth as much, because they don't have coupled rangefinders, so a Bessa I with a Vaskar lens might go for under $100.
6x9 cameras with coupled rangefinders generally sell for more money, and the Bessa II just has everything going for it--great coated lenses, coupled rangefinder, compact design, nice finish, well made leather cases, and vintage styling.
If they would just have put the shutter button on the top plate of the camera body with the door hinged on the right side, like on the Perkeo II, instead of putting the release on the door, which is hinged on the left side, it would be perfect. I found it tricky to hold the camera steady in the horizontal position.
Another issue which is common to all folding rollfilm cameras is the problem of film flatness. To fix it would be to make it a much heavier and bulkier camera, though, like the Fuji 6x9 rangefinders, so it would no longer be a pocketable 6x9 camera. A Linhof 6x9 back is heavier and bulkier by itself, without even having a lens, shutter, or bellows.
I believe the question of film flatness in 6X9 format can be a problem even with best modern cameras, including the Fuji 6X9 rangefinders. Over the years I have done a number of resolution tests of 6X9 cameras, including the Zeiss Super Ikonta C, Moscow 4, Moscow 5, and Fuji GW690II and GSW690III. What I have found is that it is quite difficult to to get consistent results from one testing session to the other.
One problem, of course, is that we tend to use the resolution charts at a distance of 10X-20X the long focal length of these lens, and focusing at close distance, severely stretches the limites of rangefinder focusing with lenses of 100mm and more. However, I believe that the film flatness issue David mentions is as great a problem in obtaining consistent results with 6X9 cameras as the focusing ability.
On the whole I find that in order to get the kind of quality I expect from a 6X9 format folding camera it is necessary to avoid subjects closer than about 8-10 feet, and to always use the camera at as high an aperture as practical, say f/16 to f/32. What you need is to get as much depth of field as possible to make up for the lack of flatness at the film plane and for the relative lack of precisioin in the rangefinder focusing system. With cameras of this type diffraction is less of a problem than depth of field.
Although I have never worked with a Bessa II, and I understand that in the world of 6X9 folders it is considered the creme de la creme, I suspect that some of the issues relating to rangefinder focus and film flatness still apply, since they also apply to some extent with the modern Fuji rangefinders of this size.
Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb
Last edited by sanking; 03-16-2006 at 12:41 PM. Click to view previous post history.