I have had this camera for 7 years, which is longer than I’ve had any other film camera, partly because it’s great, and partly because it still works. bought it with the Voigtlander 25mm Snapshot Skopar, and later on added the 35m Color Skopar. The design of the Bessa L is odd in that there’s no focussing device, no rangefinder or TTL view, so you have to guess the distance and use a separate viewfinder for each lens. For the 25mm I bought the Voigtlander finder, which was quite expensive, but the 35mm lens is paired with a Helios finder that cost a lot less and was easily available to buy. The Voiglander one has better build quality but the Helios is also good for the price, with framing brightlines and a clear overall view.
It’s all refreshingly basic and manual. It has a battery-powered light meter but you have to set the shutter speed, aperture and focus. The lenses are ltm mount with no pins and they simply screw on. The camera and lenses are much smaller than an SLR setup, so it doesn’t take up too much space in my backpack which is required for water, various clothing layers and the all important lunch-related foodstuffs and other snacks.
I chose XP2 for my walk in the Dark Peak, in Derbyshire, England. I like XP2 because it’s a fast film but with fine grain, and it’s so easy to get processed because
you can throw it in with your colour films. I’ve heard people say XP2 is ‘a bit grey’ but I find it gives good contrast, sharpness and tonality. I asked the lab to not adjust the contrast of the images, as I generally prefer a naturalistic look and there was going to be a lot of contrast in the images already.
It was a hot sunny day with a just few small fluffy clouds. This kind of harsh light is not favourable for colour images but I feel black and white captures the ambience well without the distraction of the washed-out colours.
These images were all captured around Grinah Stones and Bleaklow Stones; an area of moorland with squelchy peat bogs and characterful gritstone tors, a place I love to go for long walks in, and where even at weekends it can be mostly just you and the landscape.
The sunlight brings out face-like patterns in the pockmarked rocks of Grinah Stones.
This weathered rock is at Bleaklow Stones, and is nicknamed The Anvil. Although it looks more like its nickname from a different angle, I wanted to use the big shadow to create some contrast in the image.
It was summertime and it had not rained for a long time so peat bogs were quite dry. This one had grasses and bilberry growing on top. The rolling hills of Bleaklow are in the distance.
These paths on the moors are usually boggy in the wetter seasons, and will swallow your boots if you’re not careful! Not today though; it was dry and crispy with cracks like crazy paving.
I would heartily recommend the Voigtlander Bessa L to anyone who wants a good quality camera and lenses, that isn’t too heavy. It’s a bit quirky and you need to be able to judge distances but if you stick with wide-angle lenses it isn’t critical to get it spot-on.
Thanks for reading my first post! You can find some more of my photos here: My Flickr photos
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