The Camera Site

Voigtländer Company, Germany

Voigtländer Bessa

Voigtländer Bessa I

The first Voigtländer Bessa was introduced in 1929 and after that there has been a bunch of cameras under the name Voigtländer Bessa. Even after the bankruptcy of the Voigtländer Company (1973) the name Bessa has remained. Voigtländer company was founded in 1756 in Vienna, Austria but was later emigrated to Braunschweig, Germany.

The world's first computed photographic lens was designed by Voigtländer in 1840 and the first 35mm lens was introduced in 1959 also by Voigtländer.

Together with other German photo manufacturers Voigtländer company went to crisis in the early sixties. A fusion with the Zeiss Ikon AG and a later took over by Rollei couldn't save the company. In 1999 Cosina in Japan started a production of 35mm cameras with Bessa marking. A relatively affordable but a high quality Bessa L rangefinder is the continuation of the old Voigtländer Bessa name. It is not a misinterpretation to say, that Cosina is today (2006) one of the most experienced manufacturers of rangefinder cameras an lenses.
The original Voigtländer Bessa 1929 is a classic folding medium format camera. In 1935 came a completely new Bessa out on the market. The camera was a complete redesigned and was sold in many combinations of optics and closure. My version is an "economy version" with a simplier lens (Anastigmat Voigtar 1:6,3 f/10,5cm) and shutter combination and less chrom and glitter. A common feature on the most folding cameras those days was the small leg, flipping out from the front and creating an usable mini tripod.

Unfortunately it´s far away from the mint condition. The waist level finder is missing, it is a little bit rusty and and it has clear marks of use. The shutter is simple enough to work after at least sixty years of hard life. It is most probably made before the war because the lens has no coating thus this is not an absolutely certain criteria.

"If you look here you’ll see that yours is the 1935 version with open frame viewfinder, and that the later 1937 version has lenses in the frame". (Thank You Malcolm)

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©2006 Reijo Lauro