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Leica M3 vs. Voigtlander Bessa R3A


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Roger Hicks , Nov 24, 2005; 10:02 a.m.

Dear Daniel,

Having used the 50/1.5 Nokton with most Bessas (R, R2, R3A, T) I'd back the M3 hands down: I have really not been very happy with my own focus accuracy with the Nokton at full bore on the R3A, whereas I had no problems with even a 50/1 Noctilux on M-series (MP and M4-P). Both the actual base length and the effective base length of Ms are significantly greater and I've certainly found it easier. Others may disagree.

Actually I'd go for an M2 but that's another argument.


Roger (www.rogerandfrances.com)

J.Martin -- , Nov 24, 2005; 10:08 a.m.

Just a brief comment or 2 on the OM-1 suggestion. If you do go that route, I would go for a 50mm rather than the 35mm F2, which is my least favourite Zuiko. I find it (relatively) oversized, and not as good as some of the more recent 50 1.8 lenses. As far as battery goes, I have not had my camera adjusted to take the no longer available non-Mercuries, and use it these days without a battery, depending on a handheld meter. The battery is only for the meter; the camera operates fine without one.

Al Kaplan - Miami, FL , Nov 24, 2005; 10:21 a.m.

I wouldn't worry about the price of used M3 bodies going down. Over the years they've gone up and down depending on market demand but the overall trend is up. I picked up a nice double-stroke M3 for $100 - back about 1969 - and used the hell out of it for years, seling it in beat-to-crap (but working just fine) condition for over $400 a year or so ago when I got a great deal on a bunch of Leica stuff at an estate sale that included a nice single stroke M3. I doubt the Bessa will last that long or become collectible. Long term you'd be kissing your money bye-bye.

Volker Hett , Nov 24, 2005; 10:44 a.m.

While the M3 is built to last and the Bessa probably not so, you have to factor in that the M3 is allready a couple of decades old and we only guess if they can stand another 40 years :-)

So beside the nearly uninvitable CLA you may need some hard to get and pricey spare parts. The rangefinder assembly is one of those.

So this beeing said, I'd buy the M3 because the Bessa is plain ugly in my eyes :-) I'm still undecided, at my local camera shop they have a completly rebuilt M2 with selftimer and button rewind. It has been converted to the quickload system of the M2-r and comes with a one year waranty at 1100 Euro.

George Shihanian , Nov 24, 2005; 11:08 a.m.


As far as "kissing your money goodbye", how many things do you buy in life and consider an investment? Your car? Your refigerator? Your TV? Of course not. You buy them because you need them, and you accept the fact that after using them for a set number of years you buy another one when that one wears out. If we were to watch every dollar closely, then we'd all be using $50 used cameras, because we wouldn't want to throw our money away. Who's to say that that $900 M3 Daniel may buy won't be worth $5 20 years from now when you can't find film anymore? (Not saying that's going to happen, just one scenario to consider). No camera that's to be used and not 'collected', film or digital is an investment. I can reasonably expect that R3A to last me at least 5 years. Can a used M3, purchased for double that, last me 10 years without having to put money into it? Maybe, maybe not.

Al Kaplan - Miami, FL , Nov 24, 2005; 11:59 a.m.

George, it's really little different that buying and selling stocks or real estate. You make a decision based on past history, the current market, and where you think things are headed. And things change. Thirty to forty years ago dealers couldn't give away those "cheap Japanese Leica copies" that came with Nikkor lenses. When they broke they got trashed. Now Niccas are sought after by collectors, and an investment in $10 clean Nicca bodies back in the 1960's would have given you a better return than buying Leica IIIA bodies over the years. It might happen with Bessa bodies. I love my Bessa L, but it doesn't compare in workmanship or "feel" to my old M bodies.

Gary Williams , Nov 24, 2005; 12:25 p.m.

Roger Hicks , nov 24, 2005; 10:02 a.m. "...Both the actual base length and the effective base length of Ms are significantly greater and I've certainly found it easier. Others may disagree. Actually I'd go for an M2 but that's another argument."

Roger, as someone who's on the fence bewteen an R3A, M2 and M3, let's hear your reason for preferring an M2!

George Shihanian , Nov 24, 2005; 12:50 p.m.

Al, I still respectfully argue that I don't look at a camera purchase the same way I look at my stock picks. I consider it a hobby, a pleasure, the money spent is disposable, not something to consider as an investment, no gain is expected from the purchase. If I fret over what my camera will be worth in say 10 years, the hobby will stop being fun. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Roger Hicks , Nov 24, 2005; 02:10 p.m.

Dear Gary,

Why the M2? Simply that it has a 35mm frame. Sorry it's nothing more interesting. The M3 is smoother and better made (at least, that's true of all the ones I've had in the last 30+ years), and has a self-resetting frame counter (though you still need to pull the load spool even if you have the fast-loading spool installed) but as 35mm is my standard lens it still has to be M2.


Roger (www.rogerandfrances.com)

Al Kaplan - Miami, FL , Nov 24, 2005; 02:19 p.m.

George, Daniel is the one who brought up the subject of investment value in his original question about which camera to get. I was just trying to give him my take on that aspect of his question.

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