Saturday, March 1, 2014

Voightlander Bessamatic

Voightlander cameras are beautifully designed and constructed and their lenses have a well deserved reputation for image quality. I guess you would call this their flagship SLR from the film era, the noble Bessamatic. It's noble not only because its heavy, but its also semi-automatic and has a selenium cell that needs no battery. Mine is functioning just fine given that  it was built over fifty years ago.
This is no street shooter. At two pounds it's not the kind of camera to casually anchor around your neck for longer than an hour. The screen goes blank after you take a pic as there is no instant return of the mirror. The interchangeable lenses are self contained and don't share their components with the camera as other SLRs from this era do. It has a leaf shutter, which makes it go through some convoluted mechanical gyrations when it takes a shot. Many of these cameras today have sticky shutters because of this. They are supposedly very difficult to service . . . but it is a thing of beauty.

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