1936 Voigtlander 6x9 Bessa Rangefinder, Freshly Serviced, CLA'd.
Cleaned, Lubricated & Adjusted. Ready for immediate use!
This is a freshly serviced prewar Bessa Rangefinder camera produced in Germany. It’s a lovely camera that easily slips into a jacket pocket or a back pack and folds out to produce beautiful 6x9 exposures on normal 120 roll film. When it comes to photography, bigger is better and with this camera you can create a negative that is about 6 times larger than the average 35mm snap shot. So whether you’re interested in large prints, fine grain, rich tonal gradations or lovely colors, this camera will do all of that and may just become your favorite photographic companion.
The lens serial number indicates it was produced in 1936 in a time and a place when the world looked very different than it does today. It uses normal 120 film and features a coupled rangefinder which makes focusing quick and easy.
This camera’s built in rangefinder never leaves you guessing about the distance or the focus. Just point the camera at your subject, turn the knob and the rangefinder enables you to set the focus quickly and easily. The rangefinder works smoothly, accurately and is easy to use. The camera also has an additional advantage that it can close focus down to one meter. The ability to get in close with its 105mm lens is of course convenient for tighter portrait work. The reason the Bessa can get this close is because its lens and shutter move together as a unit when focusing. Another nice feature is that if desired, you can also pre-focus the camera without opening it by simply using the distance scale located around the focus knob.
Because of its fine ergonomics and its excellent performance, war correspondents on many sides of the conflict used the Bessa Rangefinder during WWII. These brave photographers often reached for the Bessa when they needed to produce a higher quality shot than a Contax or Leica could produce on the grainy films of the era. As a result many Bessas were used intensively and many cameras were worn out, damaged or destroyed during the hostilities.
Now-a-days the Bessa is considered one of the most enjoyable vintage rangefinder cameras you can buy. It has a nice balance. It folds open and closed quickly and easily. It also features a shutter release lever which folds automatically out from the lens door. This shutter release is very smooth and requires very little pressure. This smoothness really adds to the joy of shooting and helps reduce camera shake at slow shutter speeds. I’m also fond of the black lacquer finish and the rangefinder’s art-deco streamline modern design. In short, the Bessa is an excellent 6x9 medium format camera for a photographer with historical interest who wants to work with a classic camera regularly. It’s also capable of producing 6x4.5 exposures, if you have a suitable reduction mask in your collection. Mask not included.
This camera is in excellent condition and it’s ready for immediate use. It’s been carefully cleaned, lubricated and adjusted. The rangefinder is easy to see, easy to use and works well. The bellows are supple and light tight. The top of the line Compur-Rapid shutter works very well and all speeds (T,B & 1 sec- 1/400th) are appropriate. The slow speeds buzz along smoothly and the fast speeds are clean and snappy.
The lens is a sharp f3.5/105mm Helomar lens. It’s based on the classic Cooke triplet and has three lens elements in three groups. This design is well known for its lovely rendering and bokeh. It produced photos with a very attractive, rounded look and is very popular in Europe. The lens is exceptionally clean and clear and looks virtually new. There are no scratches, no cleaning marks and it’s capable of producing beautiful photos with modern color and B&W film.
I’ve included a photo of a vase of flowers taken with an identical camera with the same lens. The scan should give you some idea of what this camera can do. The actual photo is of course much larger and has wonderful subtle tonal ranges and beautiful colors.
All in all, a wonderful classic camera. Load it with your favorite film and keep it handy for that perfect shot you’ve been looking for. You know the one... the one with the perfect Ansel Adams light breaking through the dark storm clouds that leaves you wishing you had a classic camera with you.