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Voigtländer Bessa with 105mm f3.5 Heliar lens and Compur-Rapid shutter

Post-war model without the hinged yellow filter and lens-mounted 'brilliant' viewfinder.

(temporary photos of identical camera borrowed from Jurken Kreckel's ebay sale (CLA'd: winning bid £347))

the five-element f3.5 Heliar lens

actual 1946 list price not yet known, but the catalogue shows that the price in 1939 it was £23 7s 6d with the Heliar lens

with the 3 element Helomar lens £18 7s 6d  ~  with the 4 element Skopar lens £20 17s 6d

 A 1939/1946 RPI price comparison suggests the Heliar version cost £41 12s in 1946.


Bessa E 1939 price compared to 2009 RPI relative to 2009 average earnings
Heliar £23 7s 6d £1070 £4100
Skopar £20 17s 6d £959 £3660
Helomar £18 7s 6d £867 £3310


The pay of a craftsman in 1939 was £4 1s 3d a week, a labourer £3 1s 8d.

At a time when there was no credit as we know it and you had to literally have the money to buy something, this was a seriously expensive camera.

So the Heliar version cost almost six weeks of a craftsman's wages. Whereas today £4100 is almost 9 weeks average earnings.

Price comparison today might be with a Canon 1D Mk4 with 24-105mm zoom £4296.




From the 1939 Catalogue:                                                       

"This is the modern 3¼" x 2¼" camera of perfection. Compared with the Bessa it is still quicker, still more reliable, still more handsome! You need merely examine and handle it to realise its many advantages.

Rangefinding and focussing are one and the same thing in the Rangefinder Bessa, since the rangefinder is coupled to the lens. In a fraction of a second the two partial pictures in the rangefinder are merged into one - and at the same moment the camera is focussed to utmost sharpness. If at any time you want to make a snapshot unobserved, you can even focus with the camera closed, and snap the unsuspecting victim quite unexpectedly.

The Rangefinder Bessa does cost considerably more than the Bessa, it is true, but if you can afford it it's a splendid feeling to own such a camera."

Editors note: 'considerably more' is true indeed. The cheapest version cost twice as much as the best specified Bessa!

                               ............. but, 60 years on, it is still a splendid feeling to own such a camera!



Photographs taken with this camera on Fuji Provia 100F film:


Haweswater from the summit of Harter Fell The Langdale Pikes from Allen Crags   the top of Grains Gill with view down Borrowdale to Derwent Water and Skiddaw
Red Beck, Ennerdale Water Blencathra from Bowscale Fell track to Great Mell Fell


The Langdale Pikes from Allen Crags  
Wastwater and Wasdale Head view south from Sail to High Stile  Loweswater and Mellbreak


The Langdale Pikes from Allen Crags  
Skiddaw and Blencathra from Rowling End Keskadale and Newlands Hause from Rowling End

this on Fuji Superia 100 negative film:

  The Langdale Pikes from Allen Crags  
  on the Whittlesey bird reserve  



Gare de Montparnasse, Paris by Dave Bias thumbnail: Gare de Montparnasse by Dave Bias using his certo6 restored Bessa Rangefinder


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this page launched 6th Jul 2007 :  last modified 20th Jan 2014 at 17:48