visual spectrum: Voigtländer Bessa-T
The Voigtländer Bessa-T is one of the earlier models in Cosina’s revivalist lineup of handsomely designed rangefinder cameras. Produced soon after the Bessa-L and the Bessa-R, the T sported a slightly stronger retro-classic aesthetic than the other two models in addition to being the first of the modern Voigtländers to use the Leica M mount system. I use my Bessa-T exclusively with a Cosina Voigtländer 50mm Nokton lens, which is a crisp lens with brilliant color and lovely depth-of-field effects. The Bessa-T is a bit slower to use than other rangefinder cameras because image composition is divided into two stages — focusing is managed via the porthole-shaped diopter window, while framing requires you to move your eye upward to the viewfinder mounted at the top of the camera. What this means in practice, at least for me, is that there’s an extra layer of anticipation that I need to keep in place when I use this camera. I’m always pulling focus long before I actually plan on opening the shutter so that when the right moment does come it won’t be lost to a panic of clumsy fingers and an eye transfixed to the diopter window. This makes the camera feel a let less spontaneous to use than, say, a LOMO LC-A (a camera that was originally based on a Cosina product), but on the other hand the extra care taken in thinking through the image seems to make itself felt in terms of the amount of successful frames that I’m able to get out of a single roll of film.
Below is a gallery of some of my favorite photographs taken with this camera. And if you like those, you can watch a slideshow and see a lot more like them.
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Tags: 50mm, Bessa-T, camera, Cosina, diopter, M mount, Nokton, photography, rangefinder, Voigtländer