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  1. #1
    csoars's Avatar
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    Pentax K to Voigtlander?

    I've been shooting 35mm pentax K cameras for the last few years or so, starting when I was given my first SLR before traveling overseas, and since then most of my shooting has been travel/street/reportage/candid, with some live music and staged promo/portraiture stuff with off camera strobes. I often find myself with 'never enough light', shooting indoors, at night, etc. My most used focal lengths are between 35-100mm, and I've bought and sold a variety of lenses, to the point where I use primes exclusively. I've used some nice lenses, from the digital DA limiteds, and when I came back to film last fall (and picked up the (in)famous Pentax LX), I even had a stint with some exotica like the 50mm f/1.2

    I've recently been using an olympus XA as a daily companion, and even with the faded RF patch, diminutive size and lack of manual control, find it very appealing. The SLR with the bulky retrofocus lenses, huge pentaprism and loud Ti shutter/mirrorslap attracts attention just by pulling it out of the bag, never mind tweaking focus and tripping the shutter. The tiny XA with the leaf shutter rarely gets noticed, and seems quicker to focus in good light (super short RF base) though the tiny zuiko lens isn't that great wide open, and the 4 blade aperture makes for primitive OOF higlights/stars.


    So all this has me thinking that perhaps I should consider selling my K-mount system and buy into a Voigtlander Bessa R2A and a few lenses. What's surprising/puzzling me is the price of some of the glass, and trying to discern between the 'family names' (-cron, -lux, skopar, heliar, etc). Though I shoot manual exposure 90% of the time, I'd not mind AE/EV comp,

    If I want to go this route, it'll be ordering sight unseen. The idea is to combine the XA with the SLR system, and end up with a compact 2 lens system as a carry-everywhere solution. With the hotshoe I could even continue with my occasional 'studio/location' shots, though shooting this without DOF preview would be a bit odd. Don't need TTL.

    If you're still reading, thanks for sifting through the rambling. I suppose I'm looking some first hand knowledge of the Bessa, and some lens recommendations for 35mm & 90mm. I don't have thousands to spend, and I'm used to paying $200 for second-hand Pentax primes. I love fast glass because it's easier to focus with an SLR, but I usually end up stopping them down a bit for sharpness/contrast. Sounds like RF lenses don't suffer as much at maximum aperture, which would be nice. Also, how do you ensure focus at f/1.4? Do the VF and RF patch show a bright image with easily discernable detail? How's the film advance lever and loading? Etc. How many of you have switched from SLR to RF? Gone back? Use both?

  2. #2

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    As you know, the speed of a lens has nothing to do with the viewfinder image you see in a rangefinder. Also, everything will appear to be in focus all of the time, so you'll need to rely on experience when it comes to selective focus, depth of field and "bokeh."

    The most critical element of a rangefinder focusing system is alignment, and this been an issue with the Cosina Bessa series. Most cameras are fine, but far too many aren't. This is where a Leica excels, but always check the rangefinder of any camera before buying.

    The faster the longer the lens, the higher the need for absolute alignment in the viewfinder.

    The Bessa cameras are very easy to use. They're based on the SLR bodies that Cosina used to make for bigger camera companies. The lenses are excellent optically and mechanically.

    Rangefinder photography isn't for everyone, and it's not the best tool for every job. Hold on to your Pentax camera(s) and lens(es).

    Most rangefinder users also use SLRs. Here's a sort of broad statement: Leica users tend to want to shoot everything wide open to maximize the out-of-focus performance of the lens. This works in some but not all situations, but it's very useful in portrait and when photographing subjects at moderately close distances.

    I'm a bit more selective about the aperture, and with wide angles, the aperture begins to become less important.

  3. #3

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    As you love your XA: try to get a XA2, I picked one up in Holland for 25 Euro's with its flash.
    There must be a thread about them at the 35mm forum....

    Peter

  4. #4
    csoars's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elekm View Post
    Rangefinder photography isn't for everyone, and it's not the best tool for every job. Hold on to your Pentax camera(s) and lens(es).
    I suppose the biggest thing I'd notice would be the minimum focus distance that appears to stop at 0.7m, which means I won't be able to get to close regardless of how wide the lens is. I'd like to have both, but I'm thinking if a rangefinder covers my 35mm street/travel/day-to-day needs, I could invest in a medium format SLR for artsy/portraiture/studio work. I feel like 35mm slr does both ok, but neither exceptionally well.

    Quote Originally Posted by archphoto View Post
    As you love your XA: try to get a XA2, I picked one up in Holland for 25 Euro's with its flash.
    There must be a thread about them at the 35mm forum....

    Peter
    But the XA isn't giving me enough exposure control or focusing ease, the XA2 seems even worse in this respect, hence the desire for a Bessa.

  5. #5

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    The Voigtlander branded lenses available in LTM and "M" mount are much better than the fixed lens on the Olympus XA cameras, even though the lens on the XA is quite good for the camera size. On the XA, when I scan my slides at high resolution (4000 ppi) I notice chromatic abberations at the corners of the frame (color fringing). You won't see this with any of the Voigtlander lenses.



 

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