The Voigtländer Has Landed.

Voigtländer Bessa III, top view

Started in 1756 as an optics manufacturer, the German company Voigtländer didn’t even make its first metal camera until nearly a huindred years later, in 1849. Their devices quickly acquired a global reputation for astoundingly sharp images, though, courtesy of the firm’s revolutionary Petzval lenses.

Over the decades, Voigtländer created a number of technically innovative products, like their 1965 Vitrona, the first 35mm compact camera with a built-in electronic flash. The post-World War II mega-dominance of the photography biz by Japanese camera manufacturers, however, ultimately led to their demise and to Cosina’s 1999 acquisition of the Voigtländer name.

Voigtländer Bessa III

In the nearly ten years since, though, Cosina’s produced several solid-body, Leica screw mount film cameras under Voigtländer’s famed marque. Now, it looks like they’re truly feeling their royal oats, having recently announced the upcoming 2009 release of the Voigtländer Bessa III, above and right.

BessamanA 120/220 folding rangefinder that alternates as you wish between 6×6 cm and 6×7 cm formats, it revives the legendary Bessa name, unused on a rangefinder since the Voigtländer Bessa I, right, and II in the 1950s, a half-century ago. Though they share the large negative, the new camera ups the ante with jollies the old camera couldn’t have forseen, like automatic parallax compensation, aperture-priority automatic exposure, and integral LED metering.

If you’re like most people, however, in 2008, the notion of spending what will probably be at least a couple of thousand dollars (no price has been announced yet) on a camera—with a bellows!—that shoots film, not to mention an odd kind of film the drug stores don’t even process, probably strikes you as a bit precious. To which I say, that just leaves more for the rest of us.



#1 Phyllis Alesia on 11.24.08 at 5:09 pm

Oh, wow … I’m already in love with it. I’ve been feeling nostalgia for film and even considering taking a few classes to re-learn how to develop, dodge, burn, etc …

#2 Amir Bey on 11.25.08 at 8:31 am

Hey Alex,
What do you think of this?

#3 Chris on 10.25.09 at 10:58 pm

Actually, the Bessa name is found on their Leica M-mount line of rangefinders.

Still, this camera looks awesome.

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