This Voigtlander Bessa rangefinder accompanied me on a recent business trip to Sri Lanka, and although I didn’t have much opportunity to use it there I did get to take a few frames (on an overcast day..) which is better than nothing, and then took a few more back in Japan.
These old cameras are handy for travel due to their compact size- when folded and stowed away they are slimmer than your average 35mm slr. Of course without automatic winding stops you have to watch the number in the window for each frame, and when framing be careful not to crop things out of the top when in close range due to parallax (like I almost did in the portrait of the three friends in below), but this is all part of the experience. A speed camera it is not.
These two friendly guys were enjoying the afternoon in this narrow alley in Slave Island with their beautiful cat. They jokingly offered to give me the cat to take back with me to Japan (the cat went along with it for the sake of the joke, but wasn’t that keen on it I don’t think).
I did ruin a frame due to the bag of lychees I was carrying in my left hand contacting the shutter tensioner while taking one exposure thus slowing it from 1/100th to probably around 1/15th and causing the camera to shake slightly. This is something I like to do with my thumb on my Superb as well. It generally takes one frame of doing this I’ve found and then I am ok for the rest of the time using the camera:-) Then I forget again when it is put away for a few months..
Doh! Darned lychees. They were delicious though (and cost only about ¥100 for 20pcs).
The Voigtlander Bessa RF was made from 1936-1951 I understand (according to Camerapedia). They were fitted with Skopar, Heliar, Heliomar, Helomar, and Color-Heliar lenses. I like the 5 element Heliar 3.5/10.5cm, but I have heard good things about any of them. It does get soft in the extremeties below f8, and swirly opened all the way up. This can look pretty cool for portraits etc if that is what you are going for. It has a yellow filter attached which conveniently flips up and down. I don’t have a lens shade for it yet so have to watch the flare though haven’t noticed anything too shocking yet.
This high contrast photo of an old Japanese farm building would have benefitted from the zone system (and a tripod) in order to get more detail in the shadows and some more depth of field, although I like all the shapes, textures and shadows as it is. Probably around 1.5 more stops exposure and then n-1 development? Next time..
Film was Arista Edu 100 (Foma 100) shot at ei200 just to get a little more speed for better handheld use. Development was HC-110 E 8 minutes/20C (recommended was 6 min at 20c at box speed).
This camera also is able to shoot square format which would give 12 frames instead of 8, and centralise the image to the area where the lens performs best.