Rollei 35 RF vs. Voigtlander Bessa R2a / R2m

Started Aug 22, 2014 | Questions
Ty Madey New Member • Posts: 13
Rollei 35 RF vs. Voigtlander Bessa R2a / R2m

Hi, I am a college student about to start an introduction to (black and white) photography this coming fall semester. I have been doing photography for about 3 years now. While I am definitely still an amateur and have a lot to learn, I do get very into the technical side of things and I spend most of my free time researching the field to learn more! Anyway, I thought this class would be a great opportunity to get into something that I've had my eye on for a while now: Rangefinder photography.

I currently have a Fujifilm X-Pro1 and have used both full frame and crop body Nikon DSLRs in the past too (I like changing my gear around to keep fresh). I definitely enjoy the xp1 a great deal but after playing around with an Epson R-D1 for a bit, I got the taste for real rangefinder photography.

So my conundrum is based on what gear to get. I definitely have a tendency to think too much about these things, but I have narrowed my choices down a great deal from the research I have done on my own. Here is where I currently sit: For the camera, I think it has to be between the Rollei 35 RF and the Voigtlander Bessa R2A (the ability to do aperture priority would make me consider it over the R2M unless I found a way better deal on the latter).

I am in the weird thought camp that would rather a 40mm lens as my standard over a 35mm or 50mm. So the Voigtlander Bessa R3A/M would be the solution if there wasn't one glaring issue with that camera: I wear thick glasses. I have come across the opinion way too frequently to believe it that the 40mm frame-lines are very hard to see with glasses. Even if I was able to see the edges, I would likely miss out on the other part of the experience that is getting to see outside the frame-lines for composure.

So, I stumbled upon the Rollei 35 RF and have heard it is the best Bessa for eyeglass wearers. The issue is there seems to be a fairly big lack of reading I can do on this camera. I am interested in how it would compare to the Bessa R2M. I am also interested if anyone has any experience with the 40mm f/2.8 Sonnar lens that can be found with it and how that lens stacks against the 40mm Voigtlander Nokton 1.4 lens.

In short, the Rollei seems like a really great solution for me to be able to enjoyably use a 40mm lens. The issue I just have is lack of knowledge about it and also the fact that it is so dang gawdy looking.

My final question is based on the R2A/M. Since I am considering just going with the 35mm Nokton 1.4 and that camera, I wonder how the 35mm frame lines would be for my thick glasses? If they are similarly difficult to see compared to the 40mm framelines on the R3M/A, then I can just forget about that option completely and go with the Rollei.

Thanks for being patient with such a long post; this community is very great and supportive of newcomers, and I really appreciate any answers! Especially considering I have a potential deal waiting for a Rollei 35 RF.

Many thanks,
Ty

ANSWER:
This question has not been answered yet.
Epson R-D1 Fujifilm X-Pro1 Voigtlander 35mm F1.4 Nokton Voigtlander 40mm F1.4 Nokton Classic
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AlbertTheLazy
AlbertTheLazy Veteran Member • Posts: 8,683
Re: Rollei 35 RF vs. Voigtlander Bessa R2a / R2m
2

DPR is not really the best place to ask questions about film cameras, although there are people here with some (considerable in some cases) film experience.

If you haven't found it already I'd suggest looking at this forum:

http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=664

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FrancoD Forum Pro • Posts: 21,083
Re: Rollei 35 RF vs. Voigtlander Bessa R2a / R2m

Well I think that you already sorted yourself out.
The Rollei is the Bessa with a slight cosmetic change and 40mm frame .
(both obviously made by Cosina)
So if the 40mm is the lens you like you don't get that frame with the Bessa branded ones.

OP Ty Madey New Member • Posts: 13
Re: Rollei 35 RF vs. Voigtlander Bessa R2a / R2m

Well I think that you already sorted yourself out.
The Rollei is the Bessa with a slight cosmetic change and 40mm frame .
(both obviously made by Cosina)
So if the 40mm is the lens you like you don't get that frame with the Bessa branded ones.

Thanks, I am definitely leaning towards it. I mostly asked the question because I found very little about the camera on the internet. So I was planning getting the Rollei unless opinions tell me it is a bad investment.

Artichoke
Artichoke Forum Pro • Posts: 12,670
the CV 40 Nokton is a honey

Ty Madey wrote:

snip

So my conundrum is based on what gear to get. I definitely have a tendency to think too much about these things, but I have narrowed my choices down a great deal from the research I have done on my own. Here is where I currently sit: For the camera, I think it has to be between the Rollei 35 RF and the Voigtlander Bessa R2A (the ability to do aperture priority would make me consider it over the R2M unless I found a way better deal on the latter).

I am in the weird thought camp that would rather a 40mm lens as my standard over a 35mm or 50mm. So the Voigtlander Bessa R3A/M would be the solution if there wasn't one glaring issue with that camera: I wear thick glasses. I have come across the opinion way too frequently to believe it that the 40mm frame-lines are very hard to see with glasses. Even if I was able to see the edges, I would likely miss out on the other part of the experience that is getting to see outside the frame-lines for composure.

So, I stumbled upon the Rollei 35 RF and have heard it is the best Bessa for eyeglass wearers. The issue is there seems to be a fairly big lack of reading I can do on this camera. I am interested in how it would compare to the Bessa R2M. I am also interested if anyone has any experience with the 40mm f/2.8 Sonnar lens that can be found with it and how that lens stacks against the 40mm Voigtlander Nokton 1.4 lens.

In short, the Rollei seems like a really great solution for me to be able to enjoyably use a 40mm lens. The issue I just have is lack of knowledge about it and also the fact that it is so dang gawdy looking.

don't know what you mean by gawdy, but with the optional fenestrated metal hood, my 40 Nokton remains a favorite of mine on the M9

don't know how well this performs on other bodies, but it really is stellar from my experience

light, small & fast

40 mm is a perfect FL for walking about photography

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Phil1 Senior Member • Posts: 2,406
Re: Rollei 35 RF vs. Bessa R2a / R2m OR Leica CL of Minolta CLE 40mm

The classic 40 mm lenses are the 40mm Leica Sumicron for the Leica CL camera or the even better (so some say) Minolta 40 mm for their wonderful CLE cameras (basically a much improved version of the Leica CL. I had both & only sold them with great reluctance because of the advantages of digital. If you are working with film at least give them a look. They were the pinnacle of compact rangefinders (apart from the Leica M series of course but these are bigger and heavier. The Minlta CLE was truly a fantastic camera to work with and cost somewhere in the region of £1600 when it was introduced: Ca. £7000 at today’s prices (it seems a bit too much but you get the idea - it was top quality! An M3 in decent condition would be about the same price now I guess.

Most of the current fab voigtlander lense fit the CL & CLE. I had the 15mm and the 90mm (with 'M adapters): both really good lenses. The cameras can be found on eBay but I'd prefer a good and knowledgeable dealer who would give a guarantee as they are getting on now. Watch out for the CL meter cell which often fails with age. I had to have mine replaced. The CLE doesn’t have this problem as far as I know. The Rollei and Bessa are newer but buy from a dealer if you can as before

I had glasses but not very thick ones and I had no trouble but you'd need to check.

For more info see the very detailed reviews on the Cameraquest web site and Ken Rockwell's website (just Google these names).

Happy hunting! I'd love to know how you get on!

Phil

yardcoyote Forum Pro • Posts: 16,583
Re: Rollei 35 RF vs. Voigtlander Bessa R2a / R2m

I don't have anything to add to the actual discussion-- if I ever want to go back to film, I still have all my Pentax gear. I  just want to growl at you mildly for introducing me to the existence of the Epson R-D1. I could have gone along quite happily without knowing that there is yet another true rangefinder digital body out there that I can't afford.

There have been ongoing rumors that Voigtlander is going to build a digital Bessa, and it can't happen fast enough for me.

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steephill Veteran Member • Posts: 9,861
OP long gone

Why breathe life back into a redundant thread about film cameras?

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Artichoke
Artichoke Forum Pro • Posts: 12,670
because film rocks
1

steephill wrote:

Why breathe life back into a redundant thread about film cameras?

just got me a Graflex

there's some serious resolution in the files it produces, if I can only figure out how to get this big boy to work

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FrancoD Forum Pro • Posts: 21,083
Re: because film rocks

Artichoke wrote:

steephill wrote:

Why breathe life back into a redundant thread about film cameras?

just got me a Graflex

there's some serious resolution in the files it produces, if I can only figure out how to get this big boy to work

I had one of those, did not seem to be  particularly good to me

bosjohn21
bosjohn21 Forum Pro • Posts: 23,117
Re: Rollei 35 RF vs. Voigtlander Bessa R2a / R2m
1

if you have the money I would suggest you check out a used M 4-2 or M2 leica. you wont get a meter but you will get a much better finder, if you find and M six leica you will have a meter but the finder in the M2 is better.  before buying one make sure the rangefider secondary image is bright and clear.  Shooting without a meter is really not at all difficult if your shooting black and white and the much better quality fit finish and design are the paradigm for the ultimate rang finder camera in the M series.  And you can use the cosina lens on the Leica/

there is really not enough difference between the thirty five and the forty to matter but if you insist on a 40 mm i would get the m adapter for the fifty mm frame line and use that. The earlier Ms such as the M2 have the fifty mm frame line showing more image then the newer ones as in the M6. Which leads us to what will save your ass. All range finder cameras with frame lines are in the position of having the frame line accurate at only one focusing distance because the lens barrel moves closer to or further away from the film plan thus changing sightly the angle and hens the coverage/

for practical purposes the your image on the film for the vast majority of shots the fifty mm lens frame will be close enough to forty to not matter. with  a bit of trial and error you will get it there. But frankly I would advise the thirty five mm lens as they are far more available and fit the frame line and you can always crop a tad off to get to your ideal but when your need that extra little bit more its not there and there is nothing what ever you can do/

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Phil1 Senior Member • Posts: 2,406
Re: OP long gone

Thanks - didn't notice the date!

Phil

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