Voigtlander Bessa R3A Review - Girl with camera B&W

Voigtlander Bessa R3A Review + (Nokton 40mm f1.4)

Voigtlander Bessa R3A Review  – Photo with Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm f1.4 lens

My new camera has arrived! A nearly new Voigtlander Bessa R3A rangerfinder 35mm film camera, together with the amazing Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 lens.  This little 40mm manual focus lens that single handedly taught me photography (when using it on my Lumix G1) and later was the reason I became “MrLeica” (The Voigtlander 40mm was also the reason I bought my first digital Leica camera!)

See here for examples of me using the lens on my old Panasonic Lumix G1 in 2010 – https://mrleica.com/voigtlander-40mm/

YouTube: Voigtlander Bessa R3A vs Leica M6

YouTube: Voigtlander Bessa R3A – Film Loading

Voigtlander Bessa R3A Portraits

My latest purchase has arrived. The Voigtlander Bessa R3A 35mm rangefinder film camera with it’s Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm f1.4 lens.

First thoughts:

Voigtlander Bessa R3A – It is tiny compared to Mamiya RZ67 ProII! Very solid and feels well made. Simple layout/controls with a modern looking LCD viewfinder that I was not expecting. I am more accustom to focusing through lens cameras than rangefinders so I was a little worried whether I would be able to do my shallow DOF model photography at f1.4 accurately. For those that have not tried a rangefinder camera the main differences are you cannot see the DOF you are shooting and if your subject is off centre you have to focus in the centre square first by overlaying the two images and then recompose and try not to move the camera plane of focus.

Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm f1.4 lens – I’ve used a copy of this lens in the past on a Panasonic Lumix G1 when I first started out with my photography. (See post and examples here). I was gutted when I could not bring it with me to Nikon. I had great memories of using this lens so was super excited when it came as standard on the Bessa. As my last post suggests it was literally like being reunited with an old friend. The lens is compact, oozes quality and good workmanship and looks great. I knew this lens gave a unique look to photographs particularly due to the ‘lively’ bokeh so I was very keen to get it back.

Here are some samples of photos scanned so far from the first roll of 35mm Kodak T-Max 100 film put through the camera self developed in a brew of Xtol and Rodinal. I used it on two model photography shoots to give the models something different and hopefully special for their model portfolios.

Models; Harriett (in hat) & Emily.

Voigtlander Classic 40mm F1.4
Voigtlander 40mm f1.4

Photos taken in France; Matilda; Paulina
Voigtlander Bessa R3A Portrait
Rangefinder Film Portrait

Voigtlander Bessa R3A - Model Photography

Voigtlander Bessa R3A Portrait

Models; Josie, Emily

Voigtlander 40mm f1.4 Portrait

Voigtlander Bessa R3A Portrait

I will add to the post as I scan more images so feel free to check back in a week or two.

In addition to model photography I plan to use it for wedding photography. I literally cannot wait for my next couples big day who have opted for a full day of black and white wedding photography. This and in particular black and white film photography is my big passion so I will be in my element. 🙂

Getting Creative with the Voigtlander Bessa R3A!

Film photography sample using Voigtlander Bessa R3A 35mm rangefinder & Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm f1.4 lens. (Self developed Kodak T-Max 100 film).

Voigtlander Bessa R3A 35mm Colour Film Photography

I shot a few rolls of Fuji C200 cheap 35mm colour film on my Voigtlander Bessa R3A rangefinder over the summer. Here is the first sample taking with my Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 lens (the lens that comes with the Bessa R3A as standard)(Great lens!).

I saw the afternoon sun spilling into our french cottage through the open front door so I had to get a photo.

I will add more samples to this post as I scan the negatives.

Bessa R3A + VC Nokton 40mm f1.4

Bessa R3A + VC Nokton 40mm f1.4

Taken using some cheap 35mm Fuji 200 film I acquired.

You may also like… What Gear I Use for Portraits!
  • See full details of my portrait photography lighting kit – HERE
  • See full details of my portrait photography equipment kit – HERE

9 thoughts on “Voigtlander Bessa R3A Review + (Nokton 40mm f1.4)”

  1. Pingback: Voigtlander Bessa R3A | Matthew Osborne Photography

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    1. OR … you can get a Canon 7 or P for about a hundred bucks. Sometimes you can find 7s with working meters (like mine), or else get a nice Sekonic Studio Master and wear it around your neck. When I bought my 7 I glossed over the whole “there’s no accessory shoe” thing and will probably get a P. Metal shutter means no worries about pin holes. Pretty sure the range finder base is longer than the R3, too. Frame lines for 35, 50, 90. But … R3 gives you modern, accurate metering in the camera.

  4. These are gorgeous. Had to sell my M6 to go digital (disabled, fixed income, blah blah) but DO have a nice Canon 7 … was torn between the “vintage” look of the Canon 35mm 2.8 and the lure of modern, multi-coated (important for night photography) Voightlander. You make a powerful argument for the latter.

    (Ever used the Canon LTM stuff? It’s like the 50s version of the Mamiya 7 glass; sharp, but low contrast, and great for digitizing. Should actually shoot some night stuff with it, just to make sure it has flare as bad as I think it will) William Eggleston is a huge fan of the Canon stuff – showed me at half a dozen suitcases filled with IIs, IIIs, VITs, etc. That and Crown reel to reel tape decks seem to be his pet obsessions)

  5. I was able to find a fully serviced Besa R3a from the Voigtlander/Cosina dealer in the USA. I added the Voightlander 40 f1.4 MC. Amazing combination. Regards Leica I own a M4-P, M6 and M7. I’m not going to try and compare, as only the R3a vs the M7 would be closely equal in features. I enjoy picking up my R3a and using it on auto. The results bear out the quality of the metering system.

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