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Voigtländer Bessa R2 & T notes

Early versions of the Cosina Voigtländer Bessa cameras were Leica Thread Mount (LTM) only - of limited use to M photographers.

However in May 2001 Cosina started shipping the first M-lensmount version of their popular Bessar rangefinder camera, the Bessa T. Although everyone initially got excited, the lack of any viewfinder (the camera just had a rangefinder) again made the camera a bit of a dead-duck for real-world, practical photographers.

In February 2002, Cosina finally woke up and released there was a market for an inexpensive, m-mount, all-metal-bodied viewfinder and rangefinder equipped camera. Welcome the Bessa R2.

For more info, see the following URLs:

cosina.co.jp/bessa-r2/
cosina.co.jp/bessa-r2/r2-black.html
asahi-net.or.jp/~sg7s-srmc/sccop1.html

In late Feb 2002, Paul C. Brodek <pcb@ skyweb.net> noted the following:

[…] A quick scan of the Bessa R2 info & specs shows the following changes over the Bessa R & T:

All finder- and meter-related specs appear to be the same as for the R. The T meter specs show upper ISO limit as 1600; R & R2 go to 3200.

It looks to me like a handy blend of the R & T. List price for black R2 body is 78,000yen (US$586) and 85,000yen (US$639) for the olive body. R list price is 68,000yen (US$511), so the R2 lists for 15% more than the R. At B&H prices, currently $440 for the R, once initial demand spikes smooth out the R2 might sell for just over $500.

As for the earlier "odd-ball" Bessa T, the following is a list of its features (in a nutshell):

  1. M lens mount - the first Bessa to do so
     
  2. There is no built-in viewfinder, only a rangefinder - so you will have to use a separate accessory shoe VF if you want to frame your compositions
     
  3. The rangefinder has a 1.5x magnification and has an effective baselength of 58mm - this is the same as the old III Leica LTMs and is only 1mm less than that of current M6 0.85 TTLs
     
  4. Tom Abrahamsson reports that the hoods on some larger M lenses can block the rangefinder window, so he strongly recommends you try before you buy!
     
  5. The rangefinder minimum focus distance is 0.9m, which is 20cm shorter than that of most Leica lenses
     
  6. The 3-LED red-green-red lightmeter display appears at the back of the top plate, next to the rangefinder eye-peice
     
  7. The body construction, shutter and wind mechanism are pretty much identical to the screw-mount Bessa L, although there are reports that the top plate of the camera is more solid because it appears to be made from a cast alloy rather than the polycarbonate used on the Bessa L & R
     
  8. The shutter is the same as that used on the older Bessas - which is noted as being louder than the Leica M shutter due to the Bessa's metal double-curtain design
     
  9. Film advance lever is now ratcheted and apparently doesn't stick out anymore when you come to the end of a roll of film
     
  10. Stephen Gandy reports that you can easily use it with your Visoflex III, provided you add an Abrahamsson softie to fill the gap between the shutter release and the Viso arm. What this means is that you can now do your Visoflex telephoto and close-up work with full-on TTL metering with a LED meter display on the top plate where it is easy to see
     
  11. Cosina have also released a Bessa T "rapid winder" - a hand driven crank similar to the the Abrahamsson Rapidwinder. The major difference being that the Cosina model can be mounted or removed without fogging the film
     
  12. Street price - $US 400 - 450. (Roughly the same price as for the screw-mount Bessa L.)
     
  13. In Oct 2001 Cosina released the collectors Bessa T "101 Heliar Edition" - available in navy blue, olive, grey or gloss black with a collapsible 50mm ƒ3.5 lens. Expect to pay in the vicinity of $US 850 for the combo - see also Stepehn Gandy's page on this camera with close-up views at cameraquest.com/voig101.htm
     
  14. For more details and photos, see the page created by Stephen Gandy at:
     
    cameraquest.com/VCBessaT.htm
     
    … and also the official Cosina Bessa T page (in Japanese):
     
    cosina.co.jp/bessa-t/index.html

A note about possible broken links

This FAQ has over 900 external links. Over time it is inevitable some of them will break. If you are bothered by this, see this detailed topic elsewhere in the FAQ.

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