Avoiding camera shake with circa 1935 Voigtländer Bessa

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Romanko

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I have a Voigtländer Bessa produced around 1935. This model has the shutter release on the door and the finder without cover. It seems impossible for me to trigger the shutter without causing massive camera shake. I can't use a shutter release cable as the strut gets in the way. My shutter is the simplest model with two speeds: 25 and 75 plus T and B. The lens is Voigtar 1:7.7 F=10.5 cm. The body and the bellows are in a very good condition and it is a shame I can't use the camera. Any ideas?
 

ic-racer

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1935? The speeds are now about 1/8 and 1/20, no wonder you can't hand hold it 😝
 

beemermark

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Get yourself a little tripod (6" tall) or a small bean bag. Support it all on what's ever handy - a fence, a boulder, etc. 0
 

RalphLambrecht

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I have a Voigtländer Bessa produced around 1935. This model has the shutter release on the door and the finder without cover. It seems impossible for me to trigger the shutter without causing massive camera shake. I can't use a shutter release cable as the strut gets in the way. My shutter is the simplest model with two speeds: 25 and 75 plus T and B. The lens is Voigtar 1:7.7 F=10.5 cm. The body and the bellows are in a very good condition and it is a shame I can't use the camera. Any ideas?

beanbag?
 
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Romanko

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The main problem is that I have to touch the camera to actuate the shutter. Even a very steady tripod would not help here.
 

Ballinderry-Michael

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A photo showing how the strut gets in the way of the release cable would maybe help. My Bessa is admittedly a bit later than yours; but years ago I had the same shake issue and it was simply cured by using a cable. I don't really see how a reputable maker would give you that problem.

My Bessa also has a pull-out strut on the door to enable the camera to stand level on a table.
 
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Romanko

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Bessa-front-.jpg
Bessa-side-.jpg
 
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Romanko

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It is hard to see on the photos but the thread for the shutter release cable projects onto the middle of the strut. There is around 13 mm distance between the edge of the strut and the end of the cable mount.
Better shutters have the "Nipple" pointing up rather than into the strut.
 
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Don_ih

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Rotate the shutter. It will then be impossible to use the on-camera release but you'd be able to use a cable.
 

Don_ih

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That would be the most practical solution. Or sell it to camera collectors.

Well, you can't use it if you sell it. The shutter could always be restored to it's proper orientation if you did want to sell it (although there may be a retaining pin in the back of the shutter that goes into a hole - you may need to drill a new hole if you rotate it).
 
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Romanko

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I'll work on my shooting technique first. The camera shake is not too bad when you hold the camera with both hands at chest level and frame using the brilliant finder.
 

Ballinderry-Michael

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Given that Voigtländer knew what they were doing, I honestly think that the camera is not as it was originally built. My own Bessa is a later model (wartime, I think, as its components are not shown in combination in the catalogues) and the shutter configuration is at 90 degrees from the OP's. My photo proves nothing, of course; but it may be of some help. The lens is a 3.5 Skopar, by the way and the shutter is not a Compur Rapid (no 1/400").
_DSC0471.JPG
 
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Given that Voigtländer knew what they were doing, I honestly think that the camera is not as it was originally built. My own Bessa is a later model (wartime, I think, as its components are not shown in combination in the catalogues) and the shutter configuration is at 90 degrees from the OP's. My photo proves nothing, of course; but it may be of some help. The lens is a 3.5 Skopar, by the way and the shutter is not a Compur Rapid (no 1/400"). View attachment 362469

I have the same Bessa as shown in this photo. Note that on Ronamko's example, just like yours, the shutter is oriented to display the Voigtlander name to view as if the camera is sat on a surface using the kickstand, just like yours does. So I doubt that Romanko's camera has been modified or the shutter rotated. It's just that the cable socket is poorly placed.
Romanko, are you absolutely certain that you can't sneak a cable release in behind the strut? It may be awkward, but surely it must be possible, as Voigtlander intended it to be possible!
 

Dustin McAmera

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There are photos in the Camera-wiki pool at Flickr by Colonel Blink, showing Bessas with this shutter, one as the OP has it:
Code:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/thorpehamlet/11987706636/
and one with the speeds and the cable socket at the top:
Code:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/thorpehamlet/9263885232/

In both cases, as retina-restoration says, the Voigtländer name is upright, and the manual release lever is kept in the same place.

If it was my camera and I meant to keep it, I'd be tempted to drill a hole in the strut to pass a cable through!
 

loccdor

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I use the Voigtlander Bessa without a cable release. It has the trigger on the door. It does require a different technique, I find it helps to use my ring finger to actuate it. I don't think it's a problem with inaccurate shutter speeds as someone suggested, unless you are getting overexposed shots too. It's just a camera that requires a different hand holding technique. It is also a camera more susceptible to wind shake, as I learned when I tried to take sharp landscapes at 1/150 from the side of a moving ferry in around 30 knots wind, they were not even close to being usable.

But, when my elbow was braced against objects with no wind I have gotten sharp shots from it at 1/25. And using its stand to rest it on, for example, a stone wall, you can make good long exposures in T mode without a cable release.
 

Don_ih

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It's also noteworthy that the normal prints made at the time of the camera's production would have been contact prints and the shake wouldn't matter as much.
 

loccdor

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It's also noteworthy that the normal prints made at the time of the camera's production would have been contact prints and the shake wouldn't matter as much.

True, and I had missed that he has the model that only goes up to 1/75. That does make the situation harder. I think most people would want at least 1/150 for handhold use with this camera.
 

Donald Qualls

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I'm with @loccdor -- I have a Rollfilmkamera, which was the 1927 model that evolved into the Bessa. I've done hand held exposures down to 1/25 without problems, and have never used the bright finder (it's so small I can't make out anything in it); instead, I use the wire frame finder (rectangular eye frame at the film plane, folds down flat, and wire frame on the front standard that folds to surround the lens board for stowage). Yes, that's an eye level finder.

One thing I learned is to use a "squeeze" action to press the shutter release. Instead of just pushing, squeeze between finger and thumb (one behind or under the bed). Now, I'll admit, the dial-set Compur 200 I have on mine has a very "light trigger" but it also has fairly long travel to fire the shutter; without the squeeze action I'd be pushing the framing out of position even if I didn't introduce shake.
 

Dustin McAmera

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There's a fundamental difference between the Compur and the everset shutter on the OP's camera. When you start to press the release on an everset shutter, it resists you (because your pressure is pushing the shutter mech up the hill, cocking the shutter), then it suddenly gives way and releases, and that's when the camera shakes. I have a grudge against all everset shutters for that. I have got better than I used to be at using them, with practice.
 
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Romanko

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I honestly think that the camera is not as it was originally built
I saw several examples of this lens and shutter on Bessa and have no doubt that the camera is original.

The angled cable release is a great idea but I am afraid it would not fit. I thought I could use a very short (10 cm) cable release and try installing it semi-permanently by removing the shutter, attaching the cable and re-installing the shutter back into the camera.
I'd be tempted to drill a hole in the strut to pass a cable through!
Maybe, but If I were to modify the camera I'd rather upgrade the lens/shutter assembly.
One thing I learned is to use a "squeeze" action to press the shutter release.
It certainly works for the vertical orientation. I'm still to figure out how to best release the shutter for landscape shots.
I have a Rollfilmkamera, which was the 1927 model that evolved into the Bessa.
I also have one in 116 format. I only shot a few frames on an expired film but I like this camera.

When you start to press the release on an everset shutter, it resists you (because your pressure is pushing the shutter mech up the hill, cocking the shutter), then it suddenly gives way and releases, and that's when the camera shakes.
And this is the root cause of all problems! I shoot most of my folders hand-held. My most-used Franka Rolfix and Agfa Compur have shutter releases on the top plate of the cameras. For Cocarettes and Icarettes I use a shutter release cable though I only shot test rolls in these cameras.

I think that if you are to use a tripod you might as well use a bigger and more capable camera. That said, my ability as a photographer is still lagging behind that of my German folders. Except, probably, this Bessa. I might actually keep it, clean the lens and figure out how to use it.
 
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Romanko

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I find it helps to use my ring finger to actuate it
Thank you for the tip. I tried it (without film) and it seems to be the best technique so far.

I tried to take sharp landscapes at 1/150 from the side of a moving ferry in around 30 knots wind, they were not even close to being usable.
To me that sounds impossible.
 
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Romanko

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There was a roll of partially exposed Kodak Verichrome Pan film in this camera. I developed it and here is the best out of three images:

frame2.jpeg

The focus is slightly off, somewhere past the main subject. There is no evidence of camera shake in this or other two images. All three are taken in portrait orientation.
 
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