Cosina Voigtlander BESSA-R

35mm MF film rangefinder camera



Production details:
Announced:February 2000
Imaging plane:
Maximum format:35mm full frame
Mount and Flange focal distance:Leica screw mount [28.8mm]
Imaging plane:36 × 24mm film
Speeds:1 - 1/2000 + B
Exposure metering:Through-the-lens (TTL), stop-down
Exposure modes:Manual
Rangefinder and Viewfinder:
Rangefinder:Built-in, combined with viewfinder
Viewfinder:Built-in, combined with rangefinder
Finder magnification:0.7x
Actual rangefinder base:37mm
Effective rangefinder base:25.9mm
Bright-line frames:35mm & 90mm, 50mm, 75mm
Parallax compensation:Yes
Physical characteristics:

Manufacturer description #1

Evolution of Tradition

Historically, the BESSA was once the cornerstone of precision photographic engineering. After an absence spanning several decades, the BESSA returned last year as a wide-angle scale-focusing BESSA-L camera. Now, the BESSA-R advances the revolution of traditional photographic elegance.

The Shutter

Pioneered in the BESSA-L and incorporated in the BESSA-R, this camera uses a double-bladed mechanical shutter. This metal shutter is a combination of a mechanically controlled, vertically traveling focal plane shutter, which can operate up to 1/2000 of a second, and a newly developed light-shielding shutter. The shutter will operate at all shutter speeds even with no batteries in the camera. The reliability of all these mechanisms is excellent, exposures are accurate. And, the photographer no longer has to keep a lens cap over the front of the lens, or keep the lens set at a small aperture to avoid the possibility of stray light striking and fogging the film, as was the case with the original range finders that used cloth shutter curtains.


Through the lens (TTL) center-weighted light metering measures light reflected off the shielding shutter with a photo-receptor device (silicon photocell) located at the base of the body. The front face of the light shield, which light readings are taken from, is coated 18% gray. Pressing the shutter button halfway down activates the light measuring circuit. LED lights display whether or not the correct exposure has been selected. The LED lights are positioned inside of the viewfinder. This allows the exposure accuracy to be checked without the user taking their eye away from the viewfinder, and permitting the photographer to concentrate on the subject and composition. For convenience, the light meter and LED's remain active for 12 seconds. Therefore, keeping the shutter button pressed is not required while making changes to the shutter speed and aperture.

The "BESSA-R" features simple manual lever-operated film winding and rewinding. In addition, the camera has a highly responsive photographing speed.


Unlike its predecessor, the BESSA-R has a built in viewfinder combined with a coupled rangefinder. Focusing a rangefinder-coupled lens is simple and accurate. It is achieved by turning the focus ring on the mounted lens until two over-lapping images, appearing in the center of the viewfinder, line up horizontally. Though they are not rangefinder-coupled, the wider angle Voigtländer 25mm and 15mm lenses can be used with the BESSA-R by mounting their viewfinders onto the camera's hot shoe.


The viewfinder of the BESSA-R is a bright 0.7x magnification finder that has 87% coverage of the film plane at 3 meters. There are framing brackets in the viewfinder for accurate framing at 35, 50, 75 and 90mm lenses. To select which framing brackets appear in the viewfinder, there is a switch at the top of the camera immediately left of the hot shoe. The 35mm and 90mm framing brackets appear together, while the 50mm and 75mm appear individually. Lenses of longer focal length can be used, like 100mm or 135mm but framing will be more difficult.


The BESSA-R is equipped with a highly compatible 39 mm L-screw mount system used for interchanging lenses. The ability to attach to other L-mounted lenses from Leica or classic Canon rangefinders makes it an even more versatile camera.

Light metering can be performed with most L-mount lenses, except those with an extremely short back-focus.

Manufacturer description #2

Type: 35mm camera with focal plane shutter and TTL metering system.

Shutter: Vertically moving metal focal plane shutter B, 1-1/2000 sec.

Self-Timer: Mechanical self-timer with 10 sec operating time.

Focusing: Coincidence type.

Exposure display: Over exposure warning, Good exposure warning, Under exposure warning.

Exposure Metering System: Center-weighted average metering. By pressing Shutter Release Button.

Exposure Coupling Range: EV1-19 (ISO 100, F1.4, 1sec.-F16, 1/2000sec.).

Flash Terminal: X synchro contact synchronized at 1/125 sec or lower speed.

Film Advance: By single-lever action with 135 deg. throw and 30 deg. stand-off.

Film Rewind: By film rewind button and film rewind crank.

Frame Counter: Additive type with autoreset by opening the back cover.

Film Speed Range: ISO 25-3200 by 1/3 steps.

Power Source: Two 1.5V Alkaline batteries (LR44) or Silver batteries (SR44).


This is a compact and lightweight rangefinder camera with TTL exposure metering function.

Quick and accurate focusing is possible; turn the focusing ring until the doubled images seen at the finder's center change to the single image.

Similar cameras (50)

35mm full frame • Manual focus • Film • Rangefinder • Leica screw mount mount

Model Shutter Metering Modes Year
Canon 7 M, 1/1000 Window M 1961
Canon 7s M, 1/1000 Window M 1965
Canon II-A M, 1/1000 -- M 1952
Canon II-AF M, 1/500 -- M 1953
Canon II-AX M, 1/500 -- M 1953
Canon II-B M, 1/500 -- M 1949
Canon II-C M, 1/500 -- M 1950
Canon II-D M, 1/500 -- M 1952
Canon II-D1 M, 1/500 -- M 1952
Canon II-D2 M, 1/500 -- M 1955
Canon II-F M, 1/500 -- M 1953
Canon II-F2 M, 1/500 -- M 1955
Canon II-S M, 1/500 -- M 1954
Canon II-S2 M, 1/500 -- M 1955
Canon III M, 1/1000 -- M 1951
Canon III-A M, 1/1000 -- M 1951
Canon IV M, 1/1000 -- M 1951
Canon IV-F (IV-S) M, 1/1000 -- M 1952
Canon IV-SB M, 1/1000 -- M 1952
Canon IV-SB2 M, 1/500 -- M 1954
Canon L1 M, 1/1000 -- M 1957
Canon L2 M, 1/500 -- M 1957
Canon L3 M, 1/500 -- M 1957
Canon P M, 1/1000 -- M 1959
Canon VI-L M, 1/1000 -- M 1958
Canon VI-T M, 1/1000 -- M 1958
Canon VL M, 1/1000 -- M 1958
Canon VL2 M, 1/500 -- M 1958
Canon VT M, 1/1000 -- M 1956
Canon VT de luxe M, 1/1000 -- M 1957
Leica II (Model D) M, 1/500 -- M 1932
Leica IIc M, 1/500 -- M 1948
Leica IIf M, 1/500 -- M 1951
Leica III (Model F) M, 1/500 -- M 1933
Leica IIIa (Model G) M, 1/1000 -- M 1935
Leica IIIb (Model G) M, 1/1000 -- M 1938
Leica IIIc M, 1/1000 -- M 1940
Leica IIId M, 1/1000 -- M 1939
Leica IIIf M, 1/1000 -- M 1950
Leica IIIg M, 1/1000 -- M 1957
Minolta-35 Model A M, 1/500 -- M 1947
Minolta-35 Model B M, 1/500 -- M 1947
Minolta-35 Model C M, 1/500 -- M 1948
Minolta-35 Model D M, 1/500 -- M 1949
Minolta-35 Model E M, 1/500 -- M 1951
Minolta-35 Model F M, 1/500 -- M 1952
Minolta-35 Model II M, 1/500 -- M 1953
Minolta-35 Model IIB M, 1/500 -- M 1958
Yashica YE M, 1/500 -- M 1959
Yashica YF M, 1/1000 -- M 1959
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35mm full frame

43.27 24 36
  • Dimensions: 36 × 24mm
  • Aspect ratio: 3:2
  • Diagonal: 43.27mm
  • Area: 864mm2

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Image stabilizer

A technology used for reducing or even eliminating the effects of camera shake. Gyro sensors inside the lens detect camera shake and pass the data to a microcomputer. Then an image stabilization group of elements controlled by the microcomputer moves inside the lens and compensates camera shake in order to keep the image static on the imaging sensor or film.

The technology allows to increase the shutter speed by several stops and shoot handheld in such lighting conditions and at such focal lengths where without image stabilizer you have to use tripod, decrease the shutter speed and/or increase the ISO setting which can lead to blurry and noisy images.

Original name

Lens name as indicated on the lens barrel (usually on the front ring). With lenses from film era, may vary slightly from batch to batch.


Format refers to the shape and size of film or image sensor.

35mm is the common name of the 36x24mm film format or image sensor format. It has an aspect ratio of 3:2, and a diagonal measurement of approximately 43mm. The name originates with the total width of the 135 film which was the primary medium of the format prior to the invention of the full frame digital SLR. Historically the 35mm format was sometimes called small format to distinguish it from the medium and large formats.

APS-C is an image sensor format approximately equivalent in size to the film negatives of 25.1x16.7mm with an aspect ratio of 3:2.

Medium format is a film format or image sensor format larger than 36x24mm (35mm) but smaller than 4x5in (large format).

Angle of view

Angle of view describes the angular extent of a given scene that is imaged by a camera. It is used interchangeably with the more general term field of view.

As the focal length changes, the angle of view also changes. The shorter the focal length (eg 18mm), the wider the angle of view. Conversely, the longer the focal length (eg 55mm), the smaller the angle of view.

A camera's angle of view depends not only on the lens, but also on the sensor. Imaging sensors are sometimes smaller than 35mm film frame, and this causes the lens to have a narrower angle of view than with 35mm film, by a certain factor for each sensor (called the crop factor).

This website does not use the angles of view provided by lens manufacturers, but calculates them automatically by the following formula: 114.6 * arctan (21.622 / CF * FL),


CF – crop-factor of a sensor,
FL – focal length of a lens.


A lens mount is an interface — mechanical and often also electrical — between a camera body and a lens.

A lens mount may be a screw-threaded type, a bayonet-type, or a breech-lock type. Modern camera lens mounts are of the bayonet type, because the bayonet mechanism precisely aligns mechanical and electrical features between lens and body, unlike screw-threaded mounts.

Lens mounts of competing manufacturers (Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony etc.) are always incompatible. In addition to the mechanical and electrical interface variations, the flange focal distance can also be different.

The flange focal distance (FFD) is the distance from the mechanical rear end surface of the lens mount to the focal plane.

Lens construction

Lens construction – a specific arrangement of elements and groups that make up the optical design, including type and size of elements, type of used materials etc.

Element - an individual piece of glass which makes up one component of a photographic lens. Photographic lenses are nearly always built up of multiple such elements.

Group – a cemented together pieces of glass which form a single unit or an individual piece of glass. The advantage is that there is no glass-air surfaces between cemented together pieces of glass, which reduces reflections.

Focal length

The focal length is the factor that determines the size of the image reproduced on the focal plane, picture angle which covers the area of the subject to be photographed, depth of field, etc.


The largest opening or stop at which a lens can be used is referred to as the speed of the lens. The larger the maximum aperture is, the faster the lens is considered to be. Lenses that offer a large maximum aperture are commonly referred to as fast lenses, and lenses with smaller maximum aperture are regarded as slow.

In low-light situations, having a wider maximum aperture means that you can shoot at a faster shutter speed or work at a lower ISO, or both.

Closest focusing distance

The minimum distance from the focal plane (film or sensor) to the subject where the lens is still able to focus.

Closest working distance

The distance from the front edge of the lens to the subject at the maximum magnification.

Magnification ratio

Determines how large the subject will appear in the final image. For example, a magnification ratio of 1:1 means that the image of the subject formed on the film or sensor will be the same size as the subject in real life. For this reason, a 1:1 ratio is often called "life-size".

Manual focus override in autofocus mode

Allows to perform final focusing manually after the camera has locked the focus automatically. Note that you don't have to switch camera and/or lens to manual focus mode.

Manual focus override in autofocus mode

Allows to perform final focusing manually after the camera has locked the focus automatically. Note that you don't have to switch camera and/or lens to manual focus mode.

Electronic manual focus override is performed in the following way: half-press the shutter button, wait until the camera has finished the autofocusing and then focus manually without releasing the shutter button using the focusing ring.

Manual diaphragm

The diaphragm must be stopped down manually by rotating the detent aperture ring.

Preset diaphragm

The lens has two rings, one is for pre-setting, while the other is for normal diaphragm adjustment. The first ring must be set at the desired aperture, the second ring then should be fully opened for focusing, and turned back for stop down to the pre-set value.

Semi-automatic diaphragm

The lens features spring mechanism in the diaphragm, triggered by the shutter release, which stops down the diaphragm to the pre-set value. The spring needs to be reset manually after each exposure to re-open diaphragm to its maximum value.

Automatic diaphragm

The camera automatically closes the diaphragm down during the shutter operation. On completion of the exposure, the diaphragm re-opens to its maximum value.

Fixed diaphragm

The aperture setting is fixed at F/ on this lens, and cannot be adjusted.

Number of blades

As a general rule, the more blades that are used to create the aperture opening in the lens, the rounder the out-of-focus highlights will be.

Some lenses are designed with curved diaphragm blades, so the roundness of the aperture comes not from the number of blades, but from their shape. However, the fewer blades the diaphragm has, the more difficult it is to form a circle, regardless of rounded edges.

At maximum aperture, the opening will be circular regardless of the number of blades.


Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

Maximum diameter x Length

Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

For lenses with collapsible design, the length is indicated for the working (retracted) state.

Weather sealing

A rubber material which is inserted in between each externally exposed part (manual focus and zoom rings, buttons, switch panels etc.) to ensure it is properly sealed against dust and moisture.

Lenses that accept front mounted filters typically do not have gaskets behind the filter mount. It is recommended to use a filter for complete weather resistance when desired.

Fluorine coating

Helps keep lenses clean by reducing the possibility of dust and dirt adhering to the lens and by facilitating cleaning should the need arise. Applied to the outer surface of the front and/or rear lens elements over multi-coatings.


Lens filters are accessories that can protect lenses from dirt and damage, enhance colors, minimize glare and reflections, and add creative effects to images.

Lens hood

A lens hood or lens shade is a device used on the end of a lens to block the sun or other light source in order to prevent glare and lens flare. Flare occurs when stray light strikes the front element of a lens and then bounces around within the lens. This stray light often comes from very bright light sources, such as the sun, bright studio lights, or a bright white background.

The geometry of the lens hood can vary from a plain cylindrical or conical section to a more complex shape, sometimes called a petal, tulip, or flower hood. This allows the lens hood to block stray light with the higher portions of the lens hood, while allowing more light into the corners of the image through the lowered portions of the hood.

Lens hoods are more prominent in long focus lenses because they have a smaller viewing angle than that of wide-angle lenses. For wide angle lenses, the length of the hood cannot be as long as those for telephoto lenses, as a longer hood would enter the wider field of view of the lens.

Lens hoods are often designed to fit onto the matching lens facing either forward, for normal use, or backwards, so that the hood may be stored with the lens without occupying much additional space. In addition, lens hoods can offer some degree of physical protection for the lens due to the hood extending farther than the lens itself.


Teleconverters increase the effective focal length of lenses. They also usually maintain the closest focusing distance of lenses, thus increasing the magnification significantly. A lens combined with a teleconverter is normally smaller, lighter and cheaper than a "direct" telephoto lens of the same focal length and speed.

Teleconverters are a convenient way of enhancing telephoto capability, but it comes at a cost − reduced maximum aperture. Also, since teleconverters magnify every detail in the image, they logically also magnify residual aberrations of the lens.

Lens caps

Scratched lens surfaces can spoil the definition and contrast of even the finest lenses. Lens covers are the best and most inexpensive protection available against dust, moisture and abrasion. Safeguard lens elements - both front and rear - whenever the lens is not in use.