The Voigtländer Bessa RF is a 120 film folding camera, 6x9 and 6x4.5 format, built between 1936 and 1951
by Voigtländer& Sohn AG, Braunschweig, Germany. It features a
coupled rangefinder and a separate viewfinder. The camera was available
with 3 different 3.5/105mm lenses, a Helomar, a Skopar and a Heliar. In
1950 Voigtländer launched the successor, the Bessa II with a coupled
view/rangefinder. This one is still sought after and quite expensive,
so the RF is a good alternative.
camera shown is a Voigtländer Bessa RF
with the most wanted Heliar and it does not have the hinged cloud
filter from the early ones. It's a small 6x9 folder. For a top range
only weighs 680 g.
Size (mm): 160 x 96 x 44 Weight: 680 g Lens: Heliar 3.5/105, closest focus 1 m Shutter: Compur Rapid, B T 1 - 1/400, F 3.5 - 22 Finder: seperate rangefinder and viewfinder, rangefinder with magnification Film advance: via red window
Here are some photos of the camera. There is a short introduction to the use of it and how it feels at the bottom of the page.
front closed. Top: viewfinder and rangefinder windows, release lever retracted in camera bed, stand and tripod socket.
from the back. Top: viewfinder and rangefinder eyepieces. Red windows in the middle and selector for 9/4.5 format.
from above. Selector for viewfinder format, focussimg knob with depth-of-the-field scale..
Seen from the bottom. Tripod socket. Opening button, and film advance.
front open. Folds sideways.
Left of the lens:
shutter cocking lever. Speed setting. Silver tab under the lens: bed release for re-folding.
Unfolded, seen from the top.
Unfolded, seen from the bottom. On the lens barrel: shutter cocking lever and cable release socket.
side, camera open. On the lens barrel, from top: shutter cocking lever, self timer, aperture
scale and speed scale.
Camera on its stand in portrait mode.
Camera back open.
The spools sit in hinged cradles.
Original leather case.
a Voigtländer Bessa RF is easy, it's just like
other folding cameras. Loading film is fine, both spools sit in hinged cradles, no fiddling with pegs. Open
camera back, retract the film advance knob, swing the cradle out and
take-up spool into
place. Same procedure for the film spool. Insert the film paper
into the take-up spool and advance it using the advance knob until
well engaged. Close the camera back. Advance
the film via the advance knob
until the red window shows "1".
the camera. Cock
the shutter, set speed and aperture. Set focus by turning the knob on the camera top, the rangefinder is an easy one. Focussing moves the bed. Look through the viewfinder, frame and press the
shutter release lever on the bed. That's it. To
close the camera, there is a silver tab under the lens, press it, it will fold easily whatever
distance is set. Turn the film advance knob until the next number
shown in the red window.
The Voigtländer Bessa RF is a nice top range 6x9 camera, easy to use, with an extremely good lens and an advanced shutter. It
lacks automatic film advance. It's a very nice camera, there are few
6x9 rangefinders. It's lightweight. A good choice if you don't want to
spend the price of a Bessa II.