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CameraQuest's Voigtlander Cosina Bessa Chart I

Voigtlander Bessa L, Bessa R, Bessa T and Bessa R2

(Discontinued 35mm Bessas)

NEW Voigtlander Lens Chart!      Bessa R2M,R2A,R3M,R3A,R4M,R4A Chart

Complete Price List    Order Here

  Bessa L   Bessa T   Bessa R  Bessa R2
Lens Mount Leica Screw Leica M, or Screw Mount if adapter left On Camera  Leica Screw Leica M, or Screw Mount if adapter left On Camera 
Models Bessa L, Heliar 100th Anniversary Set with 15 Heliar, Cosina SW-107 Bessa T,  101 Heliar Anniversary Set with 50/3.5 Heliar   Bessa R Bessa R2
Finishes Black or Silver, limited edition  Gray and Olive announced 8/02 Black or Silver,  Painted Gray, Black, Navy Blue, and Olive for 101 Heliar Anniversary Sets ONLY  Black, Silver, limited edition Navy Blue and Olive announced 8/02 Black Paint or Olive Paint, splatter paint finish
Body Casting Interior Aluminum Body Casting which exterior parts attach to
Size These  Bessas are the same length and width, varying  only slightly by the height.   For all practical purposes, the R2 is the same size as the Leica M6TTL or Leica M7.
Weight  320g (w/o viewfinder)  385g (w/o viewfinder)  395g 425 g
Top Deck Fittings Plastic Rewind Lever Base, Shutter Speed Dial  Standard T has Plastic Rewind Lever Base, ASA Dial,  and Shutter Speed Dial, 101 sets are Metal  Metal Rewind Lever, Plastic Frame Selector Dial and Shutter Speed Dial Larger than R Metal Rewind Lever, Metal  Frame Selector Dial and Shutter Speed Dial 
Viewfinder  NONE, Use Accessory Finders Very Bright Combined Rangefinder / Viewfinder with 35, 50, 75, 90 Parallax Corrected Brightline Frames 
 Accessory Viewfinders  Cosina currently makes the widest range of Accessory viewfinders EVER made at one time by ANY rangefinder manufacturer: 12mm, 15mm, 21mm, 25mm, 28mm, 35mm, 40mm, 50mm, 75mm, 90mm, AND the unique low angle finder with viewing attachments for the 12, 15, 21, and 25.  The double accessory shoe for use of a viewfinder with the bubble level finder are also unique accessories.   Accessory viewfinders from a wide variety of other manufacturers can also be used.
Rangefinder NONE. The L is a scale focus camera designed for wide angle lenses, not a rangefinder With a larger than life 1.5x magnification, the T has a Rangefinder  EBL of approximately 53.7,  or more than the Leica M .72 finder.   In other words, the T is currently the only Bessa able to accurately focus the likes of the 50/1, 75/1.4, or 135/3.5 The Bessa R and R2 have a superb bright  Combined VF/ RF with a .68 finder magnification, with an Effective Base Length of 25.16 -- adequate for the 50/1.5 and 90/3.5, but not the likes of the 50/1, 75/1.4, 85/2, 90/2, or 135/3.5 wide open and close up.  While Leica sells an expensive $225 1.25x viewfinder magnifier, the Bessas  so far have no similar factory made product.  It is possible to adapter SLR viewfinder magnifiers intended for other cameras.
Rangefinder Close Focus NA .9 m .9 m
Rangefinder Patch NONE Round RF Image with Coincident Focusing Very Bright Rectangular Patch offering both Split Image and  Coincident Focusing
Diopter Adjustment NONE Built In +2 to - 2 Diopter Adjustment Add On Diopter Lenses from Nikon FM-10  -- a Cosina made camera
Exterior Body Covers  Plastic Composite Top Cover, Bottom Cover, and plastic Back Door Metal Magnesium splatter paint finish, heavy rubberized gripping material. The R2's metal covers will probably result in a   more rugged camera than its plastic composite brothers, though at a higher price
Advance Lever 135 Degree Single Stroke Aprox 145 Degree Ratcheted Advance 135 Degree Single Stroke Aprox 145 Degree Ratcheted Advance
Trigger Winder NO  YES, up to 3 FPS possible with practice NO   YES, up to 3 FPS possible with practice
Accessory Grips Side Grip, Vertical Grip, or Ball Grip fit all Bessas
Shutter Metal Vertically Traveling Mechanical  Modified Copal shutter, 1/2000th to 1, plus B, X Sync at 1/125 and slower.  There are two sets of shutter blades.  The outer blades form  a light tight shield for the  inner set of  shutter blades.   The shutter works WITHOUT  batteries.   
Shutter Lock  YES, Pull out advance lever to unlock shutter  NONE
Shutter Advance Indicator  NONE   Meter will NOT Turn ON UNLESS Shutter is Advanced NONE  Meter will NOT Turn ON UNLESS Shutter is Advanced
MiniSoftRelease All thsee Bessas  use the same MiniSoftRelease shutter button for easier and smoother shots.
Cable Release  Standard Mechanical Cable Release Screws into Shutter Button.  Longer than 1 second exposures can be done using a locking cable release.
Shutter Noise  These 4 Bessas have the same mechanical shutter.  For all practical purposes, the 4 Bessa shutters sound more or less the same, but slightly different.  To my ears anyway, the T and R are very slightly quieter than the L, probably because of larger bodies which can dampen the sound more.  The R2 is very slightly louder than the L, with more of a "metallic" sound due to the metal exterior covers.  Leica users are prone to complain about the "LOUD" Bessa shutter, without bothering to mention that shutter noise is relative.  Sure, the Bessas are noticeably louder than a Leica M, but then again, Leica M's are noticeably louder than most leaf shutter rangefinders.  I have never heard anyone complain about the "LOUD" shutter in a Nikon FM or FM2, yet I find them a  lot louder than the any of the Bessa shutters.  Real world, the important thing is whether you get the picture  or not -- and you won't get the picture even with a $3500 Leica M7 if you can't afford the camera!
Meter   Centerweighted  Silicon Cell in BOTTOM of Lens Chamber reading reflected light off 1st Shutter Curtain Centerweighted  Silicon Cell in TOP of Lens Chamber reading reflected light off 1st Shutter Curtain  Centerweighted  Silicon Cell in BOTTOM of Lens Chamber reading reflected light off 1st Shutter Curtain Centerweighted  Silicon Cell in TOP of Lens Chamber reading reflected light off 1st Shutter Curtain
Meter ON Pull out Advance Lever, Depress Shutter Release Advance Shutter, Depress Shutter Release  Depress Shutter Release Advance Film, Depress Shutter Release
Meter OFF Meter on as long as the shutter button is depressed Turns off automatically 12 Seconds after Shutter Button is Released Turns off automatically 12 Seconds after Shutter Button is Released OR when Shutter is fired
Meter Display 3 LEDS, two Red Arrows on either side point to Green Circle in Center 3 LEDS, two Red Arrows on either side point to Green Circle in Center 3 Red LEDs in lower portion of viewfinder, 2 arrows on either side, with a round circle in the middle. "+" on right side, "-" on left side, correspond to shutter dial direction 3 Red LEDs in lower portion of viewfinder, 2 arrows on either side, with a round circle in the middle. "+" on right side, "-" on left side, correspond to shutter dial direction
Meter EV Range  ISO 100, EV 1 -19, f/ 1.4 at 1 Second to f/16 at 1/2000th 
Meter Range Limits IF the center LED will NOT light, and only the outer LEDs light up, you are beyond  the Meter Limits
Meter Film Speeds  25-1600 in 1/3 stops  25-3200 in 1/3 stops
Set Film Speed Rotate Film Speed Dial around Rewind Knob to  Index Mark on Body  Raise Shutter Speed dial, rotate until correct film speed appears in ISO window  
Meter Batteries Two easy to find Silver 1.5 Volt SR44 Batteries or Alkaline LR44 Batteries
Battery Cap Black Plastic Cap holds batteries, does not fit other Bessas

 Chrome Battery Cap interchangeable on these cameras. A 25 cent piece works well to open or close the compartment.  The cap must be tightened completely to complete battery circuit.

Battery Check Batteries OK if One LED lights, make sure bottom battery compartment is fully closed
Self Timer  YES, mechanical self timer released by shutter button. ST opens up the outer shutter before inner shutter, so this feature may be useful on a tripod,  microscope, or any application when the barest minimum of shutter vibration is necessary NONE YES, mechanical self timer released by shutter button. ST opens up the outer shutter before inner shutter, so this feature may be useful on a tripod, microscope, or any application when the barest minimum of shutter vibration is necessary NONE
Flash Hot SHOE NO Hot Shoe, use side mounted PC Flash Connection YES, plastic composite top plate YES, with a stronger METAL top plate,  the odds are that the R2 will be able to take more flash use without strain to the body
PC Connection Standard PC Connection On Rewind End of  Camera
Flash Circuit Flash Works WITHOUT Batteries, UNLIKE Leica M6 TTL and M7
Flash Units Voigtlander makes no Bessa  electronic flash units.  You are free to choose practically any flash, because the Bessas have no dedicated flash features or TTL flash . If you already have a dedicated flash for another camera, that flash may work if it offers auto operation with an on the flash sensor.  Alternatively, if the Bessa is your 1st camera but you plan to add a certain SLR system in the future, choosing a flash from that future system may prove a wise choice.  Personally I prefer flashes which offer bounce flash, a wide selection of f/stops, and optional  manual operation, powered by easy to find AA batteries. 
Rewind Film Push in Rewind Button on bottom of camera, rotate rewind lever
 Rewind Lever  Smallest of  the 4 Bessas  Larger, more comfortable Rewind Lever than L Larger folding Rewind Lever than T Largest Rewind Lever and knob
Open Film Back Raise Rewind Lever
Multiple Exposure No Provision for Intentional Double Exposures 
Film  Plate All 4 Cameras use the same Film Pressure Plate
Back Door   Metal Back Door of the R2 is noticeably more rigid than the plastic back doors of the other Bessas
Back Door Covering Smoothest and least Gripping Covering of the 4 Bessas  Textured and more Gripping  Back Door Rubber Covering  Back Door 2/3 Metal Finish, 1/3 Most Gripping Rubber Covering
Strap Lugs  Strap Lugs on all 4 cameras are identically placed on the bodies. If you wish your camera to hang differently with a particular lens, you can modify the geometry of the strap by using the strap lug on the Side Grip, or the Trigger Winder for the T or R2.
Built in Back Door Palm Grip Smallest Palm Grip of the 4 Bessas, molded into the back door Larger than L Palm Grip  molded into the back door  Larger than L Palm Grip  molded into the back door    Largest and most Comfortable Palm Grip of the 4 Bessas, molded into the back door
Baseplate All 4 Bessas have small "Feet" to elevate the baseplate off the surface it is sitting on, to help prevent baseplate scratches.  Sadly, the much more expensive Leica M's do not have this feature.
Tripod Socket Standard 1/4" Tripod Socket on Baseplate 
 Visoflex:  turn your Bessa into an SLR using classic Leica Visoflex  lenses mounted on the  classic Leica Visoflex mirror housings -- it's awkward, BUT if you want to do it... The Screw Mount Visoflex II works  BEAUTIFULLY on the Bessa L, with either the smokestack finder or the 90 degree finder. Just add the MiniSoftRelease, and the regular Viso arm makes easy contact with the shutter release.  The LED readout is very easy to use.  Attached to Visoflex and a 90 finder, the L's  meter readout is easier to read than the T,  because the L's LEDs are  the left of the 90 finder. The  M Mount Visoflex II or III works  BEAUTIFULLY on the Bessa T, with either the vertical smokestack finder or the 90 degree finder. Just add the MiniSoftRelease, and the regular Viso arm makes easy contact with the shutter release.   The LED readout is easy to read, but slightly hidden by the 90 eyelevel finder.  One Viso II owner reported being unable to mount his 90 finder, due to too tight a fit. Made over decades, there may be variations in Visoflex housings and the 90 finders.

The Visoflex II or III will mount on the Bessa R or R2, BUT not nearly as conveniently  as on the Bessa L or T.  The eyelevel finder is not usable, only the vertical smokestack finder. Metering is more cumbersome,  since you have to check the camera  finder for the exposure reading, and then use the Visoflex finder  for framing. Add the MiniSoftRelease to make up the space between the shutter button and the Visoflex arm.

 
Vertical Strap  To hang your camera vertically instead of horizontally,  use the Vertical Strap Lugs on the accessory Side Grip on any of the Bessas,  or the Trigger Winder for the T or R2.
Camera Cases Cosina makes 3 different Black Bessa cases.  The bottom of the case for each is identical, and interchangeable on all 4 cameras.  The L case will also fit the T.  The Bessa R and R2 use the same case, one with  35 mm lenses and shorter, another with 50 mm lenses and shorter.  No case is made for any Bessa WITH the trigger winder attached.
Cosina Voigtlander Lenses Rangefinder Newbies may have difficulty appreciating that since 1999  Cosina's Voigtlander lens lineup has grown from zero to become the largest new 35mm rangefinder lens lineup NOW in production.  The 12/5.6 is noteworthy as  the widest rectilinear wide angle EVER made by any 35mm camera maker in the history of photography. The 28/1.9 is the fastest 28 ever made for any 35mm rangefinder camera.  The 35/1.2 is the fastest production 35mm  lens ever made for any 35mm camera.  The Voigtlander lens lineup is even more versatile because the Leica Screw Mount lenses can fit on any standard Leica Screw Mount Camera (hundreds to choose from), as well as any Leica M mount camera with the  addition of a standard screw mount to bayonet mount adapter.
Bessa L   Bessa T   Bessa R  Bessa R2

Note: The Bessa R2S and R2C cameras are versions of the Bessa R2, produced in classic Nikon Rangefinder and Zeiss Contax Rangefinder mounts, with viewfinder framelines of 35/50/85.  Both are discontinued but still available. Likewise the Rollie RF was a slightly modified version of the Bessa R2, and is also discontinued.

Note: The Voigtlander Bessa L was also produced as the Cosina SW-107 for some markets,  before Cosina licensed  the use of the trademarked Voigtlander world wide.   Later as the new Voigtlander line became a success, the Cosina SW-107  was discontinued and the Voigtlander Bessa L sold in all markets.  Cosina brand 15/4.5 and  25/4 Leica screw mount lenses were also produced, identical to their Voigtlander brethren in all ways except the name.   The Bessa T, R and R2 were not produced with Cosina nameplates.  


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Revised: November 22, 2015 Copyright  2002-2013  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.