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  1. #1

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    A poor man's Leicaflex (sort of)

    Yes, it does belong under Rangefinder...

    Visoflexes are seldom expensive nowadays; a 16464 focusing mount needn't cost much; and the 65/3.5 Elmar is hardly one of the most expensive lenses in the Leica armoury. If you were lucky you could pick up the lot for a couple of hundred quid (300 euros, $400), and at worst you shouldn't pay over £300, 450 euros, $600. The expensive bit is the Leica-M to go on the back.

    But amazingly, a Viso goes straight onto a Bessa-T, even with the release arm correctly positioned to fire the shutter release. A screw Viso might go onto the Bessa-L but I've not tried it. Has anyone else tried this?

    Cheers,

    Roger (www.rogerandfrances.com)

  2. #2
    ZorkiKat's Avatar
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    On a slightly different note, the Russian KMZ factory created their first Zenit SLR by "fusing" a reflex housing to their existing Zorki Leica-type rangefinder camera. They took off the rangefinder top and replaced it with a pentaprism and extended the lens mount forward to accomodate the reflex mirror. They retained everything else, including the lens mount which remained the same LTM M39x1. The lenses had a different register from the RF LTM though.



    Under the top plate of the first Zenit can be found similar contraptions which bear semblance to the linking arms and actuating levers found in the Visoflex.
    The first mechanism was faithful to the Viso. The second model, the Zenit-S (shown in the picture above), though looking similar no longer had this.

    Jay
    FED ZORKI SURVIVAL SITE
    RANGEFINDERFILIPINAS
    Zorkikat.Com

    "不管黑猫白猫能抓到老鼠就是好猫。" 邓小平
    It doesn't matter if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice.-邓小平

  3. #3
    Lee L's Avatar
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    I found a Leica screw mount bellows with a chimney reflex finder at a camera show. It could be a Novoflex, marked Made in West-Berlin USA-Sektor Germany. Beside it was a Steinheil Culminar 135mm f:4.5 barrel mount lens and an adapter to put the separable lens head on the 39mm threaded bellows, marked "Novoflex fur Culminar 13.5 cm". Got the whole setup for $75 (as an inexpensive alternative to a Visoflex, sacrificing the potential use of M-mount lenses) and was surprised at the excellent results. I looked up the 135 Culminar lens construction and found that it was the same as the Leica 100mm f:4 Elmar-R macro lens. A photo is here: http://www.apug.org/forums/attachmen...achmentid=4419

    This all fits perfectly on the Bessa screw mount and M-mount cameras (with the proper screw-to-M-mount-adapter)and does a fine job. The Culminar 135mm focuses to infinity on the bellows and goes down to 0.75x. Being Leica thread mount, the bellows can take not only camera lenses, but a large number of enlarging lenses, including my Schneider 45mm Apo-Componon HM and a Beslon 100mm f:4.5 (made in Wetzlar) that performs very well. This setup also allows me the use of my rangefinders with ground glass focusing and a lock up mirror on telescopes.

    Layout for the 135 Culminar lens, LTM bellows with chimney finder, and Novoflex adapter was $75. The Bessa T was $185 new. That's $260 for the lens, bellows, and M-mount body.

    Haven't had a screw mount Viso to try with the T. My planned source for an M-mount Viso sold all his to Japanese collectors over the internet.

    Lee

  4. #4

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    I have never used a Bessa. I did have a brace of M5s. I also had a visoflex III, Bellows II and a goodly assortment of lenses. One of those lenses was a 65mm Black Elmar. Now there was a nice lens! The Visoflex is a bit clutzy for handheld use; However, I was using it mainly on a tripod. The viewing screen was quite nice. I would lift the mirror prior to exposure. I had adapters for usig the lens head from a 90mm Elmarit and 135mm Tele-Elmar. Additionally I had a 180mm 2.8 Tele Emarit and a 280mm 4.8 Telyt in foco-rapid mount.
    It may seem strange to people that have not tried it but this is a very handy and useful device..M camera and Visoflex..a bit slower, best suited for good light and no reflex viewing at infinity with the wide angles. In my opinion this is still a very viable approach to 35mm photography.
    Claire (Ms Anne Thrope is in the darkroom)

  5. #5

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    Hey, Roger, have you actually used a Viso? I ask because decades ago when I took up photography one of my goals was to photograph live fish in aquaria. Small fish, my tanks, mainly. At the time use screw mount Leicas and accessories were very inexpensive, so a Leica to carry around and a Visoflex to make it into an SLR seemed potentially attractive.

    The more I learned about operating a Leica with a Viso and an auto-stopdown SLR with a macro lens the more I inclined to the SLR. And that's what I eventually got.

    But I still wonder how badly, if at all, I'd have rued the day If I'd bought a Leica and a Viso instead. What do you think?

    Cheers,

    Dan

  6. #6

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    Dear Dan,

    Yes, I have one -- otherwise I wouldn't have known it went on the T! Have had for years, probably decades (I've forgotten when I got it). I agree completely with Claire, and you: for fish in an acquarium, or most hand-held use, an SLR with auto-diaphragm is a LOT easier, but for some applications (especially copying) I do in fact use my Viso III, 16464 and 65/3.5. And like Lee, I have the bellows (M not screw) which I can use with almost anything.

    Cheers,

    R.

  7. #7
    Lee L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Hicks
    And like Lee, I have the bellows (M not screw) which I can use with almost anything.
    Just to be clear, the setup I have is an integrated mirror / chimney finder / bellows that doesn't split into separate components. The chimney finder focuses on ground glass and has a flip up magnifier or straight unmagnified viewing of the ground glass. The mirror requires a cable release to flip out of the path to the film and a twist of a knob to return. It doesn't give you the option or reflex or chimney finders like some of the Viso models.

    It works on the Bessa L bodies as well, being LTM. (Total system price US$144)

    The Bessas with a Viso setup of some sort do give you TTL metering for macro and close up work. Stephen Gandy at cameraquest.com has photos of some Visoflex models on the Bessa T here (scroll down): http://cameraquest.com/VCBT.htm

    Lee

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee L
    Just to be clear, the setup I have is an integrated mirror / chimney finder / bellows that doesn't split into separate components.
    Lee
    Sorry, Lee, I misunderstood. As well as the Viso I have a 'no-name' reflex housing in Leica screw but with separate bellows (I didn't know there was an integrated unit from anyone).

    Cheers,

    Roger

  9. #9
    Lee L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Hicks
    I didn't know there was an integrated unit from anyone.
    No problem Roger, just clarifying a bit. I didn't know about this item either until I spotted it and started playing with it. I'm still not sure of a maker. It's not built like a Viso/tank, but is very usable. After I bought it and the lens, I showed the seller how the 135mm lens head comes off the rigid barrel and goes on the bellows.

    Lee

  10. #10

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    I've owned a Visoflex and 65mm Leitz Canada Elmar for years. I made one of my favorite color (Velvia) landscapes with this combo (and my single stroke M3). I have a 24x16 print hanging on my east facing bedroom wall.
    Tom Hoskinson
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    Everything is analog - even digital :D

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