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Voigtlander Bessa R2A / R3A / R2/ R2S / R2C / T Rangefinder Metering Patterns

In 2001 the Voigtlander Bessa T in 2001 introduced the SAME TTL "centerweighted" metering system that followed in tens of thousands Bessa R2, R2C, R2S, R2A, and R3A cameras.    While different model  Bessas may differ in meter circuitry and meter readouts, they are all  variations of the same meter with the same meter pattern and meter sensitivity.  Voigtlander photographers grew to enjoy and depend on the accuracy of their Bessa's single silicon meter design.  While a simple meter design compared to many of today's computer evaluative meters, the fact remains that the Bessa meter does the job well, and that is all you really need in a meter.

After conferring with Cosina's Research and Development department, it turns out the Bessa T, R2, R2C, R2S, R2A and R3A meter design is actually bottom weighted and to the left, due to design and practical picture taking considerations.

This meter design came as a departure from the earlier Leica screw mount Bessa R due to the extra space taken up by the Leica M mount.  Leaving the meter cell in the bottom of the light chamber would have moved it closer to the shutter, resulting in more of a spot meter effect,  which is  viewed by Cosina as giving less accurate results overall to the majority of shooters compared to an averaging meter design.   Cosina's solution was to move the meter cell from the bottom of the light chamber to the top right of the light chamber, aiming  the meter cell downward towards the light chamber's left hand corner.   

VCBTD2.jpg (1181086 bytes)The Cosina's Bessa T, R2, R2S, R2C, R3A and R2A meter cell is located at the  top right of the light chamber (shown here looking thru the open shutter from the back of the Bessa T), aimed downward and across the film path from the top right of the light chamber.  As the lens focuses the image upside down within the light chamber, this translates to a bottom weighted meter biased to the left of center when the camera is held horizontally, much like the rule of thirds  Bottom weighting helps overcome horizontal metering being too effected by the sky. 



Why did Cosina decide upon this design?

For Horizontals, the greatest meter sensitivity is roughly at the lower left intersection of the rule of thirds.  For outdoor shots, this translates to more metering of the ground and less metering of the sky.

For Verticals, the greatest meter sensitivity is at the lower right rule of thirds, providing you are holding the camera with the advance lever in the upward vertical position.  For outdoor shots, this translates to more metering of the ground and less metering of the sky.

Cosina's Version of Centerweighted Metering

Now the Bessa T, R2, R2S, R2C, R3A, and R2A bottom left meter sensitivity is documented, you can either ignore it (as shooters did before it became known) --  trusting it will all average out in the long run -- or use that knowledge to better evaluate your meter readings.   With the aperture priority R2A / R3A you can use the meter AE lock for that purpose.  The manual match LED exposure T, R2, R2S, R2C automatically give you the option of metering on whatever you like and then adjusting the framing. 

This same bottom weighted and to the left metering pattern has been used successfully since 2001 in tens of thousands of cameras with great results for happy Bessa owners.   Before people get upset about not having Cosina's version of centerweighted metering explained in the instruction booklet,  please realize that camera manufacturers simply don't reveal every detail of their designs in their specs.  With hindsight I wish the detailed metering pattern had been made public by Cosina when the T was introduced in 2001.   However real world, all I need is a meter which gives excellent results overall, which is exactly what this meter design does.  

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Revised: August 11, 2005 Copyright  2005  Stephen Gandy. All rights reserved.    This means you may NOT copy and re-use the text or the pictures in ANY other internet or printed publication of ANY kind.  Information in this document is subject to change without notice.  Other products and companies referred to herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or mark holders.