Chris's camera pages

Voigtlander Bessamatic

Manufactured around 1959 this 35mm SLR camera is normally fitted with a 50mm f/2.8 Color-Skopar lens in a Synchro-Compur reflex shutter. The exposure meter is coupled to the shutter speed/ aperture settings.

Like the Kodak Retina Reflex S, III and IV cameras, the Bessamatic uses the Deckel shutter and lens mount system, but the keying is slightly different. It is possible with minimal work to alter a Voigtlander lens to fit a Kodak camera and vice-versa.

Interestingly, the Voigtlander lenses have a rangefinder coupling cam in the rear of the lens body, although Voigtlander never marketed a 35mm rangefinder camera compatible with the Bessamatic lenses.

The Bessamatic is a well-made and robust camera, and is probably more reliable than the Retina Reflex models overall, but does have its own weaknesses.

There are few, if any adjustments available to allow for wear and tear, and so with age, components in the shutter-cocking and the film advance mechanisms will eventually be outside the tollerances required for the shutter release to work correctly, leaving the camera prone to jamming.

Voigtlander Bessamatic

This camera is shown with the standard lens, a Color-Skopar X 50mm f/2.8. I also have a Skoparex 35mm f/3.4 wide-angle lens, and a Super Dynarex 135mm f/4 telephoto for it.

Voigtlander Zoomar

This is a Bessamatic fitted with the uncommon Zoomar 36-80mm f/2.8 zoom lens. It makes the camera a monster to handle, and weighs in at 1.4 kilo.

First part of the Voigtlander instruction manual on Mike Butkus' excellent website.

Second part of the Voigtlander instruction manual.

And finally, here is a link to a copy of the Voigtlander Zoomar instruction manual.

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