Voigtlander Bessa R Review (Leica Screw Mount Camera)

Voigtlander Bessa R Review

Voigtlander Bessa R Review (Leica Screw Mount Camera)

A short write up / Voigtlander Bessa R Review with example images to accompany the YouTube video I shared on for this 35mm film camera.

Looking for a modern Leica screw mount camera?

Did you know that such a thing even existed!? The Leica thread mount (“LTM”) or Leica screw mount dates back to the 1930s and the original Leica Barnack cameras (aka. Leica iii cameras).  Examples include my Leica iiia, Leica iiig and Leica iif.  All of these cameras were manufactured in the period from the 1930s through to the 1950s.  After that came the amazing Leica M3 and with it the Leica M mount.  Thereafter all Leica film cameras adopted the newer Leica M bayonet mount and the screw mount was dropped.

Voigtlander Bessa R Review Cover Photo

Voigtlander screw mount cameras

So what if you want a more recent screw mount film camera?  Well luckily in 2001 the Japanese company Cosina Voigtlander released the new (at the time) Voigtlander Bessa R 35mm film camera that came the Leica thread mount design. (The Voigtlander Bessa L also has the screw mount whereas the Voigtlander Bessa T, Voigtlander Bessa R3A and Voigtlander Bessa R4M are all Leica M mount cameras (of those that I use)).

Leica iif Photographer

Voigtlander Bessa R Specs

In terms of camera specs here is a quick overview of the Voigtlander Bessa R vs Leica iii cameras –

  • Built in combined rangefinder / viewfinder
  • 35,50,75,90mm framelines (compared to only 50mm for *most Leica iii)
  • Parallax corrected framelines (unlike *most Leica iii cameras)
  • 0.68x magnification viewfinder (Leica iii – 1.5x)
  • Built in light meter with viewfinder LED display (Leica iii – no light meter)
  • Bessa R lightmeter battery – 2x LR44 (Leica iii – no batteries)
  • Minimum focus distance – 0.9m (Leica iii – 1m)
  • Maximum shutter speed – 1/2000 (Leica iii -1/500 or 1/1000)
  • Maximum flash sync speed – 1/125 (Leica iii – N/A, 1/30 or 1/50)
  • Hotshoe for speedlights and triggers (Leica iii – coldshoe + PC sync port)
  • Voigtlander Bessa R weight – 395g (Leica iii – various (from <395- ~450g)

*Most Leica iii cameras – All models except the later Leica iiig (which has 50mm and 90mm framelines and parallax correction).

Test Roll – Voigtlander Bessa R Sample Photos

Voigtlander Bessa R Testing
Bessa R + Heliar 50mm Testing
Voigtlander Bessa R
Bessa R + Heliar 50/3.5
Voigtlander Bessa R - Test

Voigtlander Bessa R Portraits (Models – Poland)

Voigtlander Bessa R Portrait
Voigtlander Bessa R Photo
Voigtlander Bessa R Portrait
Voigtlander Bessa R Portrait
Canon 35mm f1.8 LTM

Is the Bessa R camera right for you?

The Bessa R is not for everyone. Let’s list some pros and cons, especially if comparing to a Leica iii camera –

  • Lightweight
  • Leica screw mount (“LTM”) – if you use those lenses
  • Easy film loading
  • Cheaper than many similar cameras
  • Bright viewfinder with 35mm,50mm,75mm,90mm frame lines
  • Built in light meter
  • Very plastic build (not built like a Leica)
  • Low magnification viewfinder – not ideal for 75mm and 90mm especially)
  • Screw mount not M mount – most people seem to want M mount

Voigtlander Bessa Film Loading

How to load film in a Voigtlander Bessa R? Extremely easily. All Cosina Voigtlander cameras share a similar design with a hinge back. Loading film is as easy as loading film into your favourite SLR camera. See the video below for a visual.

Are you a Bessa fan!? You may also like these:

Voigtlander Bessa T

A quirky camera with a rangefinder but no viewfinder. Love this camera and it is Leica M mount too!

Voigtlander Bessa R3A

One of the more popular Bessa cameras. The R3A and R3M offer Leica M mount and a 1:1 viewfinder. This camera is the most Leica M like of the group for me.

Voigtlander Bessa L

Another quirky offering from Voigtlander. The Bessa L has no viewfinder and no rangefinder! That might sound terrible but it is fantastic with wide angle lenses such as the 15mm Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar.

Voigtlander Bessa R4M

Do you wish your Leica camera had wider frame lines? If yes this could be the camera you are looking for! The Bessa R4M and R4A are one of a kind offering 21mm and 25mm framelines in addition to the more common 28mm, 35mm and 50mm.

Voigtlander Bessa R2C – Review coming soon!

This is a very special camera. Similar to it’s Bessa R2M or R2A siblings, the Bessa R2C is a Contax-RF mount Bessa. This opens your world to all the amazing Contax-RF mount lenses! This video covers the Voigtlander Bessa R2C + R2S and the more come R2, R2A and R2M.

Minolta X300 - Test (+See Patreon for the Announcement)

Author: matthewosbornephotography

Coventry, UK studio based Model and Wedding Photographer offering both Medium Format Film and Digital Images. 1-2-1 Photography and Lighting Tuition also available.

2 thoughts on “Voigtlander Bessa R Review (Leica Screw Mount Camera)”

  1. While I like the Bessa series in theory, I’ve read a lot of complaints about the Bessa R’s all-plastic construction and so have never really been tempted to get one. If someone is looking for a camera body for shooting L39 lenses I think the later Canon rangefinders are a much better option. Just like Vogtlander they have all the improvements that Leica still refuses to incorporate (like the swing-open film door), a longer effective baselength, and they’re actually built to last. Maybe not as good a build quality as Leica, but they’re solid all-metal workhorses that I feel much more comfortable trusting.

    1. Thanks Joe and I appreciate you commenting. Yes for those wanting a solid LTM camera that is not a Leica then Canon is a great choice. I sold my Model 7 and kept the Bessa R as for my the plastic camera ticks the lightweight box for me then I use a Leica for something more solid. I do have 1 more old Canon RF that I need to use, review and wil probably keep. Im just waiting on lockdown before I can get out and test more cameras. I’m certainly not anti-Canon and I love their LTM lenses. Big fan! 🙂 Thanks

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