The perfect pocketable medium format camera the Voigtlander Bessa 46. When it comes down to it despite having many different cameras there are always a few that I turn to again and again and this is one of those. I love the look of it and the results it gives. I have literally walked around with it in a pants pocket and when you consider the image it records is 4cm x 6cm it’s all the more impressive. Here are some more posts about the Voigtlander Baby Bessa
Did you know that Voigtlander is the oldest name in cameras? The original optical company was founded in 1756.
These are the 12 exposures I managed to take with my Voigtlander Vito CL before the film stopped advancing. I first noticed it when I advanced the film and could hear it skipping the sprockets. I thought I was at the end of the film. How could I think that I had taken 24 shots when I only took twelve? That’s easy I was carrying a ‘litter’ of cameras and not really paying attention to which one I had used as well as the fact that I hadn’t set the counter for the Vito CL back to zero when I loaded the film. The only real loss was the potential of taking another 12 shots as I rewound the film as soon as I ran into the problem.
The Vito CL is a viewfinder camera and you focus by the scale on the front of the lens. I prefer an actual rangefinder but scale focusing works too, it just requires estimating distances accurately. I am happy with the quality of the pictures from the Lanthar 50mm f2.8 lens. The shutter button is actually a sliding switch on the face of the camera and works quite well if you grip the camera with both thumbs on the back. Holding the camera this way ends up further reducing the already low camera shake of the leaf shutter.
A couple images from the last week with my Baby Bessa.
Previously I described the Baby Bessa and it’s workings. Now for some examples. I’ve included the film edge around the image so you can get a full sense of the aspect ratio. The film used was Kodak Ektar 100. I used what could be arguably the best light meter in the world a DSLR, It’s accurate and gives immediate feedback including a histogram.
Here is a comparison crop between a 14Mpixel DSLR image and the Voigtlander unfortunately there is some motion blur in the Bessa image but as this is a typical result I have included it anyway.
Pentax K-7 32mm
This could also be titled the camera that makes you ask “Did I advance the film?” This is a medium format camera that you can actually put in a pocket, as I do. It folds so compactly and flat that it can be easy placed in cargo pants pockets or a jacket. The main drawback to the camera is that the film advance is not tied at all to the shutter, what this means is that you can easily double expose an image or forget that you have already advanced the film and leave one blank. It forms an image on the negative that is 42mmx 55mm with the 55mm comprising the vertical. So you get 16 exposures from a roll of 120 film, at least you would if you remember to advance the film at the right times. The 75mm lens provides an angle of view of about 48 degrees that would be roughly equivalent to a 50mm lens with 35mm film. The compur shutter reaches 1/300 second at it’s fastest and the cocking mechanism is at the lens. The shutter is then tripped using the lever on the right front, this requires the use of the left hand to trip the shutter which is different from what you would expect from any modern camera. And by modern I mean any camera made in the last 60 years. The film advance does move the film forward one frame and then locks, the film is then advance-able again when you slide the film counter lever to the left. The camera opens via a button on the bottom but then requires pressing against the bellows supports until they click into position. The Bellows are folded back in by pressing against the supports in the opposite direction and then gently pushing the bellows back inside.
Camera dimensions Width (128 mm),Height (89 mm), Depth at side (30 mm), Depth at lens (42 mm) Weight (515 grams)
You may have noticed that the image dimensions I provided differ from 4×6 or even the 4.5×6 that you may have found elsewhere but they are the area of the negative each frame takes up and not the actual image size.
In my next post from this camera I will provide some sample images.
I acquired a Vitomatic IIa rangefinder camera with a non working viewfinder. I found the that the problem was that a small lens used for creating the rangefinder image had come free from its holder and was loose in the mechanism. So in order to recover the lens and re-attach it it was necessary to disassemble most of the top plate. The meter had to be removed, which was easily done as one of the screws was also loose in the workings. Actually removing the viewfinder prism is a delicate operation and no force should be applied as the prism is optically cemented together. You can see in this image that the lens is missing from the frame on the left.
Once the lens was re-attached and the glue had time to set I re-assemble everything in reverse. (don’t forget the spring that tensions the rangefinder linkage)
In this image you can see the location of the screws that need to be set for adjusting the rangefinder. Loosen the set screw, set the lens on infinity and adjust the slotted screw until an item in the far distance has both images in convergence. The vertical convergence can also be adjusted with the square screw just beside the light-meter linkage. A pair of tweezers works for this or a small pair of needle nose pliers.
And now I have a working Voigtlander Vitomatic IIa, if only someone hadn’t scratched a flash setting reminder on the back of the top plate, sigh.
Update: I have taken a roll of Kodak 200 with this camera and am very happy with the exposure and the quality of the lens.