Bessa R3a or Bessa R2a?
I've managed to convince myself that I need a new 35mm for grab shots and hand held stuff. I used to have a Voigtlander bessa r2 (which I am absolutely kicking myself about getting rid of, but needed the cash at the time) and have borrowed a bessa T before so am used the quality and operation of the cameras.
I have decided on one of the new voigtlander R cameras - the cost and aperture priority suit me me well, and I can get a reasonable deal with the new fast 40mm Nokton included.
I am torn between getting the R3a or the R2a.
The AP magazine review suggests that the 1:1 finder of the R3a is quite difficult to use (esp with the 40mm lines being so close to the edges of the viewfinder) and makes the shutter speed info LED difficult to see in practice. Hence, I am leaning towards the R2a but the only drawback with this is that it has no lines in the viewfinder for the 40mm focal length, so Iwould have to guess at framing slightly smaller than the 35 mm lines.
Any feedback from users of either camera would be very useful.
a good choice! I'd make my choice with the 3a: Better difficult to see lines than "astimating" the borders ... especially iwith the more near range between 1 and 2 meters you will have a clue while aiming. The LEDs you will see easily with a bit of training. Don't expect too much from some editors of a magazine;-)
The quality of the Nokton is far out of debt, like all the others out of the "classic collection" ... except I'd prefer the 35mm if you will also, try "point and shoot", a bit more depth of field and a bit wider angle.
PErhaps you should give it a try:
I worked some time with a Bessa 2, external LEDs and a range finder on top, suitable for the lenses ... I Lovaed it for point and shoot, the LEDs I could easily see and I could aeasily use the lines. It was the better choice for me as a wearer of glasses.
thanks for your points Horst ... have you actually used an R3a?
I used to have the 35mm colour skopar with my R2 - which I liked, but the slightly longer focal length and the speed of the nokton will suit me better I think (that and I can only get the good deal if I get the nokton with the camera ...)
I see you're squinting for a set as special offer;-)
I tried the 3a for some films a few days, a really nice toy, sorry: tool, but with my glasses (floating focus?!) I had some difficulties with the frame inside and so I gave it back, changed it for a R2 with a 50mm Nokton and a 75mm, both with the xternal range finders. As I prefer a tiny bit more focal length the latter was my preffered choice and the great 50mm a "nice" addon.
Expecially the range finders, primarly felt like being in stone ages again;-) They really rule, a plastic view and no need for me to creep into the finder.
Sorry for not being able to deliver more long-time-approved practices ... finally I missed the sheets and spalshing around with devoloping in bowls;-)
Aren't you able to lend both for a few days from your/a dealer? Finally your fingers and your eye(s) would make the decisions intuitively after some shots ... for a wrong buy it's a rather hiuge investment, isn't it?
These are interesting cameras. I have no experience with either of them. I would lean toward the R3A for 50mm and longer and the R2A for 50mm and shorter.
I own several Bessa bodies, including an R2(not A) and an R3A.
The information about the 40mm finder in the R3A being on the edge of visibility is correct. I wear rather close fitting glasses, and can just barely make out the frame if I keep my eye pointed straight ahead through the finder. If I look off-center through the finder, I can't see the frames. I don't find the shutter speed LEDs hard to see, but they're not obtrusive either. They can get lost with the eye in a specific spot, but I haven't tested that much, and don't consider it a problem. You can also buy a CV 40mm accessory finder for the hot shoe, which is very nice. I use it on my R2, T, and L model Bessas, and on my Fuji GW690II because it's within a degree or two on coverage, the same aspect ratio, and much clearer than the built-in Fuji finder.
The important thing to me on the R3A is not necessarily framing perfectly with the 40mm frames. I already owned two 40mm lenses, and the CL is one of my favorite cameras, so the R3A was a natural fit in my kit. I got the R3A for the 1:1 finder, which allows you to focus, frame, and shoot very comfortably with both eyes open, and for the longer effective baseline on the rangefinder. I always know well enough for my purposes where the R3A 40mm finder frames are, even if I can't see tham at the moment. Shooting with both eyes open is a substantial difference because you don't feel isolated from the subject or surroundings. You just have a brightline frame floating in front of you. If you're left-eyed, this is immaterial; your right eye would be blocked by the body. If you're using a 50mm or longer lens, those CV hot shoe finders are also 1:1 and sit above the camera body, so could give you the same effect whether you're left or right eyed. The 40mm and shorter CV auxiliary finders are not 1:1, so don't work well this way.
Build quality of the R3A is similar to the R2 if not slightly better, and better than the T and first R model. It's not a Leica, but it's very solid. Both the R3A and R2A have electronic shutters (autoexposure, you know) and won't work without batteries, so you won't see me getting rid of my R2. I like to be able to have a variety of films loaded.
Hope his helps.
thanks for your comments everyone - very helpful
I love the R3a, for its large viewfinder magnification reminds me of my Leica M3 (which, unlike the R3a, unfortunatealy doesn't have internal exposure metering). I use my Leica 90mm lens and my Voigtlander 75mm lens often, and both have been difficult to focus when on my M6. With the R3a, both are easy to focus.
Leon, the best choice for use with the 40 Nokton is the Rollei 35 RF, which is essentially a special edition of the Bessa R2, but with 40/50/80 frame lines & with the same improved close focus capability (0.7 m) as the R2/3A. It does not have AE, but the upside is that it's not battery dependent. Pre-set your shutter speed & you essentially have AE for most situations.
The Rollei shares the same 0.7x magnification as the viewfinder in your old Bessa R & the viewfinder for the R2 & the R2A. In this viewfinder, 40 mm frame lines are even easier to see than 35 mm frame lines are; I have no problem even with glasses. In addition, this viewfinder is parallax corrected for a 40 mm lens. An R2A will not be; its parallax correction will be for 35 or 50, depending on which frame lines you use with the 40. Further, a nice benefit of the 35 RF is that none of the Rollei frame lines does double duty - so, no clutter from 90 frame lines in the middle of your 35 field of view.
The difficulty of seeing the 40 frame lines in the R3A is a serious drawback IMHO. One of the benefits of rangefinder photgraphy is that you can see outside the frame lines when composing. If you can't even see the frame lines themselves, you obviously can't see outside them either. Of course, you can work around this by estimating, etc., but this wouldn't be anyone's first choice.
The strength of the R3A is for use with fast 50s & with teles. They provide 40 frame lines in order that you have the option to shoot a little wider, but this camera is not designed for use when a 40 is the primary option. In my experience, the Rollei 35 RF is the ideal RF camera for use with any 40 mm lens, including the excellent & compact 40 Nokton. A bonus is that it comes with a 2-year manufacturer's warranty, serviced by Rollei-USA.
Oh Bill - you have thrown a spanner into the works! I can get a Rollei 35 rf+ t-winder + 40mm sonnar for a little bit less than the r2/3a + Nokton deal too (enough to pay for a couple of filters to fit).
My two main concerns would be:
I tend to shoot using aperture as my priority, I used to spin the shutter speed dial on my Bessa R like mad, even built up a bit of a callous! SO I was really looking for the AE option, but then again, I can live with the occasional sore finger.
And the slower lens issue ... My limited budget wont stretch to the rollei body and a nokton .... but then again, the 35rf deal comes with a Zeiss lens, or made to zeiss specification at least. Are these made by Cosina too? I need to seriously think if I really need to go all the way to f1.4 ....
Also, my general trend for further lenses woudl be to go wide (25mm and less) rather than longer so these would be with the accessory finders anyway - the viewfinder will only be an issue for the 40 lens ....... decisions, decisions