Any news on the Voigtlander Bessa III?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Erik Ehrling, Dec 31, 2008.

  1. Erik Ehrling

    Erik Ehrling Member

    Jan 19, 2008
    Alingsås, Sw

    Has anyone heard anything about the Voigtlander Bessa III lately? (The Voiglander website has said "You will get information as soon as possible" for quite some time now)

    Erik Ehrling (Sweden)
  2. jun

    jun Member

    Sep 15, 2007
    Med. Format RF
    Info from FILM & IMAGE magazine, from FujiFilm for GF670

    Dear Erik Ehrling,

    I thought there was some long thread about this camera, but it seems to be inactive now and since you started a new thread, I will post it here.

    I have a FujiFilm “Film Lovers” magazine (issued quarterly) called “FILM & IMAGE” which is a very thin magazine (approx. 20 pages) and cost you about 15 USD annually.
    This magazine is available only in Japan and of course it is written in Japanese only.
    On the latest Volume (No. 14 Winter, issued December 2008) of the FILM & IMAGE magazine, there are some articles for the GF670 camera, which is equivalent of Bessa III.
    I think you could rely on the information on this particular magazine than any of the rumor floating around the net for this camera, since this magazine is issued by Professional Photo Division of FujiFilm.

    New information that I found out from this magazine for this camera:
    (1) Lens … every one knows it is 6 elements in 4 groups, but the type of the lens is now revealed as “Gauss type”. It is not Orthometer type seen in such example as 80mm F4 lens for Mamiya 7.
    (2) The bright line frame in the finder will automatically change when one change the format (6 x 7 and 6 x 6).
    (3) The weight of this camera will be less than 1 Kg (good, not heavy like Makina 67/670 that I sold).
    (4) The date of availability of this camera is supposed to be revealed in the next volume of FILM & IMAGE magazine (that is somewhere around March / April 2009).
    This is inline what I see in Ringfoto web site for Bessa III (they say Spring 2009).
    (5) Price…To Be Determined

    My comments:
    I think the biggest problem of this camera will be the pricing of this camera.
    Most people normally seems to have the mentality that folding camera of this kind is a cheep thing.
    I don’t think like most people thinks.
    At least in Japan, somewhere around late 1950, everyone liked TLR than folding camera even both cannot interchange the lens.
    Most people are attracted by the fact the you can see the image on the ground glass and the fact that box type TLR camera that has no bellows looks more advanced than the folding camera that having a bellows and links which resulted to looked old, despite it was difficult to build those folders within an acceptable tolerance.
    This has substantially kept the sales and the price of the folders low and such maker like Konishiroku (Konica), and Mamiya has to give up making these cameras quickly.

    Moreover, now we are having more fundamental problems making new Film cameras in Japan even with 35mm type (not to mention mid format film cameras regardless of any type!!!).
    See the link below (CIPA statistics):

    Now you can see that Film Cameras Total Production for January 2008 is mere 1580 unit officially.
    This is about 0.03% of the all electronic capture cameras.
    And from Feb 2008, there is NO statistics given for Film camera production!!!
    The reason for NO statistics from Feb. 2008 for film cameras is that the number of the production of film cameras are getting so small, to obtain accurate and reliable data … major Japanese newspaper says.
    I don’t know for mid format and large format cameras, but I think that CIPA quit to show the statistics for MF and LF somewhere around two years ago (same reason), and should less than 1/10 of the 35mm, so about less than about 100 unit per month for MF (a knowledgeable person told me some number near that about a year ago).

    Now with these hard facts, how one can establish a price for film cameras, especially debatable camera type like mid format self erecting folder??? … Very Hard.

    I have read an article in the famous Japanese monthly photo magazine for the Photokina report, which states that the estimated price will around 300,000 Yen (3000 USD, if 1 USD = 100 Yen) but this is not a official release from Fuji so who knows at this point?
    If this camera is priced about 1500 USD (about 150,000 Yen) I think this camera is a steal!
    Fuji might use an “open price” strategy that getting popular these days in Japan (even the Nikon D3X is open price in Japan) to avoid some problems when the price of the camera must be lowed to sell it in appropriate quantity.

    Now, new Rolleiflex 2.8 FX TLR cost 409,500 Yen (incl. sales tax 5%, suggested retail price 546,000 Yen incl. tax) at Fujiya Camera Nakano, Tokyo.
    You can understand that 300,000 Yen suggested retail price for Fuji is not unrealistic compared to Rolleiflex 2.8 FX that can’t change lenses.
    Oh, you can say it is made in Germany so it is expensive, but the most difficult mechanism, the shutter is made in Japan by Copal, not Prontor made in Germany (not like Hasselblad).
    The biggest point is that Fuji and the new Cosina Voigtlaender don’t have name value compared to Rollei.
    Better reliability with Rollei?
    Well for TLR it should be because of long proven mechanism, but the fact that the previously mentioned Fujiya Camera Tokyo which is the shop that has long experience buying and selling used cameras from new types to classical types, and have very strong influence setting the price for used cameras in Japan, completely banned buying used Rollei SLR cameras because of the reliability issues, I can’t say that camera from famous and well known camera maker is always reliable.
    From my experience, machines like cameras will never tell you a lie when you extensively use it.

    I think that the fact that the article of this camera appeared on the FujiFilm official magazine means that they will really going to make this camera available.
    FujiFim and Cosina are really going to take risks and prepared to take that risk…it is very risky business to introduce “completely” new film camera made in Japan especially with a MF folder!
    It seems to be a Russian Roulette to me.
    Well Fuji is a big company and Cosina is a relatively small company that can turn around quite quickly and making other products rather than camera / camera lens so this miracle could happen.
    The above is evident from what happened to Bronica and Mamiya.

    Will I buy this GF670?
    I don’t know, at least I can say is that I never rush because I have an old but great folder camera.
    At least at this point, the only thing that I clearly say is that the Fuji GF670 / Bessa III is not as elegant looking compared to late version of Bessa II (real Voigtlaender).
    Bessa II late model is made with pressed high quality steel and surface finished with super quality hard chrome plating (die cast for some part of the camera like the lid and the hinge) not those soft metal like brass or magnesium commonly seen in most metal cameras, which blows away any competition in finish and shaping.
    Of course it will be easer to use GF670 than Bessa II without any doubt, don’t need to peep into ruby window, have nice finder, and don’t need tweaking required for a classic camera to be a user camera.
    But for me, most important criteria for the compact film camera to “take around” are the performance of the lens and the form factor and big film area.
    This is why I have spent my hard earned cash to more than 50 years old camera…must be compact and have large film area with outstanding optics…no other choices at that time.
    Bessa II that am using have a lens that has three colored rings on the lens barrel.
    It is a superlative lens that have very high contrast (even at max aperture) and jaw-dropping out focus image rendering capability, so called Bokeh-Aji in proper Japanese (much better Bokeh than Color-Heliar to my eyes).
    I do have a Mamiya 7II with 80mm F4 lens and 127mm F3.5 K/L for RB67SD which both are terrific but the Bessa II that I am using is far more terrific than those.

    Of course I will not recommend this Bessa II to anybody unless you are really appreciate and love the image coming out from this camera and the special lens.

    If you just want a range finder mid format, go for Maniya 7II, folder type camera is only for those who wants “thin” camera and “big film” size, sacrificing lens interchangeability and who can put up for other restrictions like price per function.

    If you are really going to purchase the new Bessa III camera, I will suggest you to get the correct information for this camera (not always all the info in the net is correct), and check whether you can have a great sales after service before you buy it in your location.

    These cameras typically require more care when handling than box type cameras.

    The GS645 folding camera that Fuji made in the past (25 yeas ago?) had serious problems with bellows leak, since they used vinyl bellows that does not have good durability (they made this camera for about two years only).
    I wish that they would use more durable bellows for the GF670.
    Cosina is a very good company but they have to earn some bread to stay on business with there camera sold within reasonable price, so their camera sometimes seems to be not adjusted precisely enough to satisfy some critical user, where in the adjustment which is insignificant to the actual camera performance…you know, if you don’t know go figure what I am saying referring to some of the Range Finder related camera sites.

    I have bought the most rare Bessa II because I have fond a shop that can do real maintenance to the camera, if not I didn’t buy it.

    If I plan to buy the GF670, I will go to FujiFilm Square at Roppongi Tokyo first, and actually touch it and evaluate it by my hands first and then gather correct and precise information from a reliable source and then make a decision.
    If I am going to really buy, I will choose a shop that I can strongly make a claim if something happens to the camera, not the shop that offer the best price.
    Unlike Nikon or Canon, Fuji’s service center for film cameras in Japan are limited, and closed in Sundays.

    Thank you and Happy New Year!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 1, 2009
  3. hal9000

    hal9000 Member

    Sep 17, 2005
    Berlin, Germ
    Medium Format
    Dear Jun,
    Thanks so very much for providing all of this information! I am looking forward to the seeing what Fuji does in the Spring ...

    Best regards and Happy New Year to you too!
  4. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

    Jan 17, 2004
    South Bend,
    Multi Format
    Jun, I'm glad that someone is actually using the Bessa II with Apo-Lanthar, instead of putting it on a shelf. I thought that it was strictly a collector's camera.
  5. OP
    Erik Ehrling

    Erik Ehrling Member

    Jan 19, 2008
    Alingsås, Sw
    Thanks a lot for your very extensive answer. The good news is that it seems that this is really going to happen. The bad news is that it is probably going to be much more expensive than I thought. I still find the idea of a folder with aperture priority very appealing, though.

    Best regards,
    Erik Ehrling (Sweden)
  6. jp80874

    jp80874 Member

    Jul 28, 2004
    Bath, OH 442
    ULarge Format
    Could you discuss the advantages or disadvantages of this. The Mamiya 7 lenses are very well regarded on APUG. How will a Gauss type lens compare?

    Thank you,
    John Powers
  7. B&Jdude

    B&Jdude Member

    Apr 17, 2008
    Clinton, AR
    4x5 Format
    Chazzy: It's hard to imagine that anyone with a camera that has an Apo-Lanthar would have on a shelf rather than using it to take pictures . . . the very idea is scary!

    No doubt they would buy a GF670 and put it on the shelf . . . still in the box with the shrink wrap intact.