The Fellsphoto Vintage 6x9 Gallery

1939 Voigtländer Bessa

with f4.5 Skopar lens and Compur-Rapid shutter

(1935 model: for more about the date of this version of the Bessa see end of page)


         1939 Voigtlander Bessa with f4.5 Skopar lens

the lens serial number 2401478 dates this camera to October 1939 production


1939 Voigtlander Bessa with f4.5 Skopar lens in landscape position

New model with spring-open viewfinder and trigger release in the folding bed launched 1935.

Price £9/17/6 in 1939  (2009 equivalent: £454 using RPI; £1730 compared to average earnings)

(Price comparisons from 2010 figures not yet available.)


close-up 1937 Voigtlander Bessa f4.5 Skopar lens

lens serial number 2401478 dates this camera to October 1939 production

the month calculated by dividing the year's production by 12 and assuming that monthly production was constant

if that was so, then, war having been declared Sept 3rd, this camera would have originally been in German ownership

confirmed by it having metric focussing scale. Perhaps another camera 'liberated' by the allies?


Photographs taken with this camera:

fen sunset with outline of enlargement detail                  fen sunset enlargement detail 

the Skopar lenses capabilities:  this enlargement detail (30" print) defines individual branches and reveals an open barn in the hazy distance


click on pictures to view enlargements ~ click again to get back


collie Gael sitting by fen drain in evening light reeds in a fen drain February sunset through trees on a Fen bridleway 
evening light, Gael by a fen drain reeds in a fen drain February sunset


  trees on a Fen bridleway sepia toned  
  trees on the bridleway  



Illustrations from the Voigtländer 1939 Catalogue 

from 1939 catalogue: art-work diagram of Bessa camera


from 1939 catalogue: description and diagram of Skopar lens



Bessa with Voigtar lens - front view                    Bessa with Voigtar lens - side view

above is a more affordable example fitted with the 3-element Voigtar lens s//n 2055249 (May 1937) and Voigtländer shutter speeded to 1/150th sec.

The 'Voigtländer' shutter is, in fact, a re-badged Prontor shutter.


At smaller apertures lens performance of the Voigtar can be expected to be the same as the Skopar.
Technically: the extra fourth element of the Skopar sharpens up the edges and corners at wide apertures.

diagram of cross-section of Voigtlander Skopar lens

The Skopar is Voigtländer's "Tessar" type lens. The Zeiss 'Tessar', conceived in 1902, was named from the Greek word τέσσερα (téssera, four) to indicate a four-element design.

Other Tessar-type lenses include the Schneider Xenar, Agfa Solinar, Rodenstock Ysar, Enna's Ennit & Kodak Ektar.


About the date of this model:

Both and this French collector describe this model as 1937.

However, several of these cameras, like the example below, have been seen for sale on ebay with 1935 lens serial numbers.

detail of 1935 Voigtar lens on 1937 version Bessa

s/n 1096478 is 1935.

The conclusion is obvious: this model must have been launched in 1935. If the frame finder version is also 1935 that would explain why they're relatively uncommon. It was replaced in the same year as its launch.


associated Bessa links:

all about Voigtländer Camerapedia

low spec Bessa on Shutterbug

Bessas in the collection

Bessa specifications in Camera Classics collection

                 rotating red arrow link back to Voigtlander Collectiontri-colour collie Gael link back to Voigtlander Collectionto Voigtländer cameras