Through new to old Leeds – Voigtlander Bessa L + Color Skopar 35mm, Agfa APX 400 S, D-76

I’ve been having a love affair with Olympus OMs, SLRs of course, recently but picking up the rangefinder Voigtlander Bessa L and T reminded me just how easily they sit in the hand, how smart they are and how easy to carry all day in one hand with just a wrist strap for security. The camera is turned on by pulling out the wind-on lever, then leaving the thumb there the forefinger rests perfectly on the release button. The indicator of the TTL exposure system , two red LEDs on either side of a green ‘correct’, is visible without taking the eye from the accessory viewfinder or when ‘shooting from the hip’. I love them!


Through new to old Leeds – 1

I like Leeds as much as I could like any city; it’s vibrant, exciting and has some great, surprising architecture, both old and new. It also has a great market and, I think principally because of the patronage of the doldrums-despatching Leeds Afro-Caribbean community, some superb fish stalls. I bought some catfish, about which I’ll say more in due course on my other blog – grumpytyke.

Through new to old Leeds - 2

Through new to old Leeds – 2

My Bessa L had best part of 36 exposures of outdated Agfa APX 400S in it, abandoned some time ago as developed in Kodak Tmax it was a disappointment, so much so that I haven’t used the developer since. The film expired in January 2005 so I shouldn’t expect too much from it I suppose, though my experience more generally has been that B&W film survives pretty well for many years past the expiry date.

Through new to old Leeds - 3

Through new to old Leeds – 3. Is the horse’s head through the roof?

The shots are taken in a new development behind the main Marks & Spencer department store. I really liked the contrast of the stark modern architecture and the old church through the glass roof. There’s another interesting M&S stall where it all began as the ‘penny bazaar’ in Kirkgate Market.

The old APX 400S, developed in D-76 at 20deg C according to the ‘Massive Development Chart‘ is a bit grainy, low contrast and quite a bit of fog. So I’ve done a bit of adjustment with Curves in Photoshop.

You can pick up a Bessa L pretty cheaply now – it has neither viewfinder nor rangefinder (the T has a very good rangefinder) and an LTM 39mm ‘Leica’ mount; the vertical FP shutter gives a top speed of 1/2000th. The Voigtlander lenses are not so cheap but a lot less than Leitz and very good indeed, and you have to add a viewfinder, preferably one of their superbly bright ones. So it should make a great street-photography camera.  I use two Voigtlander lenses on the L and the T, a 35mm f/2.5 Color Skopar (screw mount) and a 90mm f/3.5 Apo Lanthar (screw mount), each with its respective viewfinder, and a Russian Jupiter 50mm f/2 (screw mount) which I use with the very unusual Voigtlander Kontur viewfinder. The T has an ‘M’ mount so I have an adapter to use the screw-in lenses.

If you don’t know the Voigtlander Bessa L, there’s more on the excellent Cameraquest site.