Leica M2 vs. Voigtlander Bessa R3A
I own both a 1950s Leica M2 35mm rangefinder film camera and a more modern Voigtlander Bessa 3RA 35mm rangefinder film camera. Both accept Leica M lenses and are basically a light box to mount the lens on and to shoot to 135 film. So which do I prefer? Here are some facts of each:
Leica M2 spec
- 0.72 magnification viewfinder for 35mm, 50mm, 90mm framelines (Leica M3 is 0.91 magnification for 50mm framelines and better rangefinder focus accuracy).
- 1/50 flash sync speed – uses 2 rear flash sync ports and can use with PC sync cable via adapter
- Fastest shutter speed 1/1000 (for when wanting to use wide apertures in daylight)
- Horizontal cloth shutter (quiet)
- Leica build quality – compact but solid with nice slimline ergonomics
- Leica prices despite the age
- Film loaded from the bottom
- No light meter (I use a separate Sekonic light meter or do a test shot with the M9)
Voigtlander Bessa R3A spec
- Large bright 1:1 magnification viewfinder with 40, 50, 75, 90 framelines
- 1/125 flash sync speed with useable hotshoe without need for adapters
- Fastest shutter speed 1/2000 (for when wanting to use wide apertures in daylight)
- Vertical metal shutter prone to jamming
- Cheaper lightweight build but lighter to carry. Nice slimline ergonomics.
- More affordable (approximately half price)
- Film loaded from the back door
- TTL Centerweighted light metering
Leica M2 vs. Voigtlander Bessa R3A – Which do I prefer?
For ambient light photography the Leica M2 is reliable and rugged and hard to beat. I use it with a 1.4x magnifier on the viewfinder with my Leica Noctilux lens. For flash photography the Voigtlander Bessa R3A makes Leica M film camera strobist work possible and far easier than using the M2. The large Bessa viewfinder is beautiful to use but the reliability of the metal shutter is a problem.
Both have their place in my camera bag. 🙂