The Voigtländer Bessa R3A was my main camera for about a year. I eventually sold and bought a Bessa R4M, which I sold as well after another year of use. I won’t compare the two at this time because they are meant for two completely different uses - as similar as they may seem aesthetically. In short though the Bessa R3 is best used with a 50mm lens and the Bessa R4 is best used with a 21mm lens. In the last sentence I’ve omitted the “A” or “M” from the model name because they are interchangeable. There is a Bessa R3A and R3M, and Bessa R4A and R4M, the “A” and “M” refer to the internal mechanics of the cameras and wether they are Automatic or Manual.
So here I shot with a Voigtländer 40mm f1.4 Nokton (multicoated version) . It’s the widest focal length shown by the Bessa R3’s 1:1 magnification viewfinder, as well as my favorite focal length to shoot. If you are unfamiliar with what a 1:1 viewfinder magnification is, it means that the view through the viewfinder is neither smaller nor larger than reality. As you look through and compose your images the scene scale is true-to-life, and you can even shoot with both eyes open. The combined view of the frame lines from one eye and your natural environment from the other eye give a sort of HUD (heads up display) for you vision, once you get familiar with it it’s very cool and you feel a bit like a photo-robocop.
The Voigtländer 40mm f1.4 Nokton as well as the slightly different Voigtländer 35mm f1.4 are often compared to Leica lenses for their specs, native m-mount, stellar optics, and build quality. Many still prefer a Leica lens over a Voigtländer lens but as the Voigtländer's are 1/10th to 1/4th of the cost of a similarly spec'd Leica, they opt for the great value of the Voigtländer.
The Voigtländer 40mm f1.4 Nokton is probably my favorite Leica-M mount lens and I would recommend it to anyone with exploring the possibility of adding it to their gearset. The biggest appeal to me is the wonderful combination of a large aperture lens is a small size. Rarely to you find another lens this small with an aperture this large, and at this price point I don't think you can. Putting some high speed film inside a camera with a large aperture lens, your options for sharp handheld photos at dusk and night are vast. I have have faced plenty of occasions where I could not take a camera out at night because I knew the film and the lens were not capable. It's great to have the 40mm Nokton and know you're ready for most any situation.
Camera: Voigtländer Bessa R3A Leica M-mount Rangefinder
Location: New York, New York
Lens: Voigtländer 40mm f1.4 Nokton Multicoated Version