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:
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:
- M-mount body, with the body "throat" enlarged so there are fewer
M-mount lens restrictions. M-mount lenses which cannot be mounted
are: Hologon 15/8.0, Super Angulon 21/4.0 and 21/3.4, first generation
Elmarit 28/2.8 and Summicon-DR 50/2.0. In addition to these, the T
specs show that standard (non-ASPH) Summilux 35/1.4 won't mount, and
the R2 specs imply that the T has problems with some 35/2.0 Summicrons
- Top cover, bottom cover and rear door are molded magnesium alloy to
increase strength with minimum weight penalty. Body itself uses a
die-cast aluminum shell (as does R and T) Body weight over R
increases 30g to 425g; length and width specs are the same but height
is listed as 3mm higher.
- Film advance crank is ratcheted (R is not, T is).
- Film rewind crank is smoother; implied smoother than R & T.
- Body fits trigger winder (as does T).
- Body covering is more "rubberized" for better grip.
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):
- M lens mount - the first Bessa to do so
- 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
- 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
- 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!
- The rangefinder minimum focus distance is 0.9m, which is 20cm shorter than
that of most Leica lenses
- The 3-LED red-green-red lightmeter display appears at the back of the top
plate, next to the rangefinder eye-peice
- 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
- 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
- Film advance lever is now ratcheted and apparently doesn't stick out
anymore when you come to the end of a roll of film
- 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
- 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
- Street price - $US 400 - 450. (Roughly the same price as for the
screw-mount Bessa L.)
- 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
- For more details and photos, see the page created by Stephen Gandy at:
… and also the official Cosina Bessa T page (in Japanese):