A video review?!
Yeah, I thought why not. I'm testing out a Panasonic Lumix GH2, and I figured I'd make a short little video where I talked about the Voigtlander Bessa R2a and see how that goes. Sorry about it being a little rambling; it's not like I made a script or anything.
Anyway, should you not feel like watching an echo-y and poorly planned video narrated by a total goober, you can just read the following few paragraphs where I elaborate on this camera.
I do actually really like the R2a, even though it's not a Leica. It's compact, relatively well made, easy to operate, fairly unobtrusive, and reasonably inexpensive. I think, instead of wasting a bunch of time shooting with pocket rangefinders of the 1960s and '70s, people would be much better served if they'd just spend a little extra and pick up one of these cameras and get the real rangefinder experience from the get-go. No it's not a Leica, and that's obvious the first time you pick one up, but the rangefinder is so many times better than even a good pocket rangefinder like a Canonet QL17 or Electro 35, and so close to an actual Leica M that it makes the shooting experience so much more worthwhile. In fact, knowing what I know now, if I had it to do over again, I would probably have bought this camera first instead of an M2 and saved my pennies down the line for an M6 or MP or the like. Don't get me wrong, I love my M2, but the R2a has it where it counts and is honestly a better day-to-day camera.
All that being said, I don't really shoot the R2a much, partially because most of my shooting is done with my M8 (I just prefer working digitally), and when I do want to shoot film I want that connection with the older ways of doing things and I prefer to use my M2. I do, however, keep the R2a as a good backup, and it's easier for me to switch from shooting the M8 to shooting the R2a largely because of the built in light meter...the viewfinder also doesn't scratch my glasses like the one on the M2. You know, if Voigtlander would see fit to produce a digital version of the R2a for a lot less than an M8 or M9, I think I could be compelled to buy it (but no, I'm not interested in the old RD-1).
Oh, and one other thing, why did I get the R2a and not the R2m or R3a or R4a? Because for one, I don't find any extra comfort in having a mechanical only camera like some of the people that choose the "m" models claim to have. And I also use a 35mm lens as often as I use a 50mm lens and the R3 cameras don't have 35mm framelines, and the R4 models have too small of a 50mm frameline area. Also, I don't think any of the other models came in gray paint, and I just like the way it looks.
So yeah, if you're looking for a nice film rangefinder, I would most certainly recommend the Bessas, and I honestly would say, don't bother spending the money on the actual Leica bodies, spend it on your lenses instead. And don't even begin to consider getting the Leica CL thinking it'll be the real deal; the Bessa is easily the better camera. I'd also guess that a Zeiss Ikon would be a nice option as well, but I've never handled one. And in closing, I'll reiterate what I said at the beginning, before you go spending hundreds of dollars collecting all the best '60s and '70s pocket rangefinders and shooting a bunch of film trying to figure out which is best, why don't you consider just buying a Bessa and just get to shooting.