A manual-focus rangefinder camera crafted by one of the oldest brand names in photography: the Voigtländer Bessa-R4M

Rangefinder cameras are aptly named: they focus using a dual-image rangefinding device.  Most varieties of rangefinder show two images of the same subject, one of which moves when a calibrated wheel is turned. When two superimposed images line up, your image is in perfect focus, and the distance can be read off the wheel.

While rangefinder cameras are no longer the dominant force they were from the ’30s through to the ’60s, they still continue to thrive in their own niche for film fanatics, gearheads, serious shooters, and photojournalists.

Rangefinder shooters will love that Voigtländer’s Bessa-R4M Wide Angle 35mm has built-in parallax-projected frame lines for 21, 25, 28, 35, and 50mm lenses. This feature offers tremendous convenience — ditch the accessory viewfinders and simply frame and focus directly from the built-in one. The mechanical shutter release makes it possible to use the camera even without batteries (albeit, sacrificing metering) and its widest frame line, at 21mm, is designed with lush landscapes and sweeping vistas in mind.

Aside from the wide-angle viewfinder, all other features of the R4M are identical to those of the Bessa-R3A — including a bright viewfinder and quiet shutter. It has a simple LED metering display along the bottom of the viewfinder that displays exposure information in .5 exposure values, glowing red for under- or overexposure, and green for correct exposure.

The Bessa-R4M’s rewind crank features a double joint for extra compacting, and a locking switch below to prevent accidental opening. A manual viewfinder distance-adjustment switch sits next to the non-dedicated hot shoe, while the camera’s power button is a simple switch wrapped around the shutter release. Rubber wraps around the midsection of the camera allow for added grip, and a subtle thumb grip is located on the film door, while the elegant chrome lettering of ‘Voigtländer’ adorns the top plate.

It uses a bayonet Leica M-type lens mount that accepts all 39mm screw-mount lenses (with the appropriate adapter) from the manufacturer, Canon, and Leica, as well as M-type bayonet lenses from Leica, Minolta, and Konica.

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