I have used film cameras for most of my life. Starting with a Kodak Brownie and ending up with Nikon SLRs. A while after I was using digital cameras I purchased a Voigtländer Bessa R3A made by Cosina in Japan. This eventually grew into a collection of three camera bodies and seven lenses. I was totally committed to using these great little rangefinders and excellent lenses. The results I was getting with film seemed to be better than the output of my digital gear, at least in terms of dynamic range. I was scanning the negatives first with a Canon FS4000US film scanner and then later with a Nikon Coolscan V. I was in love with film photography and my Voigtländer rangefinder cameras. For those who have not used a 35mm rangefinder camera, there is a certain romance, a connection with famous photographers and a feeling of exclusiveness when shooting with one of these beauties. The king of rangefinders is the Leica. The Leica rangefinder is a piece of art you can take photographs with. If you own a Leica you have the crème de la crème of cameras. Everything about them exudes quality and craftsmanship. This does demand something from the photographer – a significant amount of cash.
This is where the Cosina made Voigtländer comes in. For a much smaller amount of hard earned dollars one can experience the joy of rangefinder photography. These are not the same German built beauties that bear the Leica brand. The Voigtländer is a blue collar camera and a great of bang for the buck. They are the children of a camera loving gentleman who happens to run Cosina. I was able to accumulate my modest rangefinder gear for less than the price of a current Leica rangefinder body.
This now brings me to the point of the story. With my entry into the world of micro four thirds photography my beloved Bessa rangefinders were taken out into the daylight less and less. It came to mind recently that they had not been used in two years. I did a lot of rationalization and finally last week made the decision to sell or trade my rangefinders. They served me faithfully once more and delivered enough cash value to purchase a couple of new lenses for my newer cameras. Lenses that I would not have been able to afford otherwise. Today when I was using one of my new lenses I was thinking of my Bessas.