F. and S. Marriott 140 Newbegin, Hornsea, England, HU18 1PB

February 2010. Stephanie is seriously ill. Therefore, there may be considerable delay in responding to e-mails. We will try to continue to despatch orders promptly. The shop is open by appointment only. Thank-you for your continuing patience.

Voigtlander Bessa I Instructions (no pictures)

Note: Fractions are awkward and look messy (and the metric system is displacing imperial measurements even here in the U.K.) Therefore, I have changed all references to picture sizes to refer only to the metric sizes, thus avoiding the need for clumsy fractions in the text. 8 exposures on 120 film produces pictures 6 cm. x 9 cm., which is three and a quarter inches by two and a quarter inches. 16 exposures on 120 film produces pictures 4.5 cm. x 6 cm. which is two and a quarter inches by one and three-quarter inches. The original text generally refers to the imperial size first, placing the metric size in brackets.

The links in the following table are to sections of the instructions on this page. They may not work properly unless you wait for the whole page to download.

The Double Exposure Lock

The 4.5 x 6 cm. Mask

Loading and Unloading the Camera

Inserting the Film Spool

Loading the Camera

Unloading the Film

Opening and Closing the Camera Front

Setting the distance

The Snapshot Settings

Setting the Aperture

Setting the Shutter Speeds

The Self-Timer

Setting the Optical Finder

View finder "Kontur"

Close-up Work with Focar Lenses

How to Use the Focar Lenses

Using Filters

The Lens Hood

Synchronized Flash Shots

Connecting the Flash Unit to the Camera

Setting the Shutter

Aperture and Depth of Field

Film Speeds

Care of the Camera and Lens

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The Double Exposure Lock automatically locks the release after every exposure, thus indicating that film had to be advanced to the next picture.

Observe the signal window of the double exposure lock between exposures. The black arrow shows whether you are ready to shoot, or whether you have to wind the film first. When you have loaded the film and wound it to the first exposure, the arrow will point to the release: expose. When you tension and release the shutter, the arrow automatically reverses, and points to the film winder: advance the film. At the same time the release is locked. When you wind the film, the arrow turns back again, unlocking the release.

Note: the fact that the arrow turns back after a quarter turn of the film winder does not mean that the film is already in position for the next exposure. So wind on until the next number appears in the film window.

The 4.5 x 6 cm. mask

If you want to take 4.5 x 6 cm. pictures instead of the full 6 x 9 size, insert the small-picture mask which is supplied with every camera.

Before loading the film, push the top and bottom tongue of the mask behind the film aperture. Take care that the small guide-pin at the top right of the film aperture catches correctly the hole at the edge of the small-picture mask.

Closing the camera back will now automatically open the second film window 19 which otherwise remains closed (see Loading the Camera).

With 4.5 x 6 cm. shots you have to wind the film twice for each number, thus:

1st picture: No. 1 in film window 21

2nd picture: No. 1 in film window 19

3rd picture: No. 2 in film window 21

4th picture: No. 2 in film window 19

and so on.

Loading and Unloading the Camera

The Bessa I has been purposely designed to take only roll film spools having a thick core of metal or wood, and marked on the packing with B11/8 or 120. You obtain 8 exposures of 6 x 9 cm. each with these films, or, with the film mask, 16 exposures of 4.5 x 6 cm.

Important: Do not allow any strong light to fall on the film, once you have removed the protective wrapping. Always load and unload the film in the sahde, the shadow of your own body will do.

First press the two catches and pull away the back.

Inserting the Film Spool

Of the two spool chambers, the one under the film winding knob holds the empty take-up spool. If it is in the other chamber, remove it and change it over (see Unloading the Film).

In the opposite chamber put the unexposed film spool. Hold the film with the tip of the coloured backing paper pointing toward the take-up spool. Put the pin in the chamber in the aperture at the end of the spool, then push the spool in the chamber. The film is now correctly positioned. Break the paper seal on the backing paper, pull the paper over the film aperture and insert it in the wide slit of the take-up spool.

Loading the Camera: Winding the film to the first picture

Now turn the film winding knob until the two arrow heads on the backing paper come into view. Close the camera back, and make sure that both catches engage properly.

Open the film window 21 by turning the milled knob on the camera back. With the mask (see also The 4.5 x 6 cm. Mask) in position, this also opens the second film window 19. Slowly continue turning the film winder until various symbols on the backing paper pass the film window 21, followed by the figure "1" (first picture). Close the film window; open it only when winding the film from one number to the next.

Unloading the Film

Close the baseboard (see Opening and Closing the Camera Front). and continue winding the film until it is fully wound up on the take-up spool. We can observe the passing of the end of the backing paper by opening the film window in the camera back.

Open the back. Grip the film firmly to prevent it from unwinding, pull up the winding knob and lock it by a quarter turn. Remove the film spool and immediately seal it with the attached gummed label. It is a good idea to put the empty spool in the take-up spool chamber at once. Simply handle the camera as previously described, but in reversed order, taking care to insert the spool with its slotted end facing the winding knob.

Opening and Closing the Camera Front

To open tha camera front, press the button to the right of the film winding knob. Pull down the baseboard by its corners with two fingers, until both struts are firmly click into place. The lens panel is now in position for picture taking.

To close the camera, slightly lift both struts by the red marks (in the direction of the arrows) and fold the baseboard up against the camera body until it catches.

Note: This is the only proper way of closing the camera; never try to push the struts inwards.

Setting the Distance

You can guess the subject distance, or, better still, measure it with the aid of a supplementary rangefinder. This will fit into the accessory shoe on top of the camera.

To set the distance, turn the lens mount until the required distance figure is opposite the arrow head on the front cover of the shutter. The aperture numbers to the left and right of the arrow head show the depth of field available (see Aperture and Depth of Field).

The focusing scale also carries [an inverted triangle] (corresponding to about 11 feet or 3.3 metres) and O (corresponding to about 33 feet or 10 metres). These are the snapshot settings (see The Snapshot Settings).

The Snapshot Settings

Candid snapshots, for instance of children at play, often give surprisingly attractive and live pictures. Instead of focusing on exact distances, set the scale to the near point (11 feet) to get everything sharp from 8 to 16 feet (2.5 to 5 m.); or to the far-point O (33 feet) for subjects from 16 feet (5 m.) to infinity.

Stop down to at least f/11 to ensure adequate depth of field.

In good light these settings are very useful for sports photography where the subject distance may change very quickly.

Setting the Aperture

The aperture (stop) of the iris diaphragm regulates the amount of light which reaches the film. It controls both the exposure time required and the depth of field (see Aperture and Depth of Field).

The aperture itself decreases as the aperture number or f/number increases and vice versa. Thus every aperture number requires twice or half the exposure of the preceding or following number respectively. For example, if the correct exposure at f/5.6 is one fiftieth of a second, we shall need one twenty-fifth of a second at f/8.

To set the aperture, move the aperture lever until it is next to the index line corresponding to the required f/number.

Setting the Shutter Speeds

This camera is fitted with the PRONTOR-S or the PRONTOR-SV shutter.

To set the speeds, turn the speed ring until the mark on the ring is opposite the selected exposure time. The figure "1" stands for 1 second, all other numbers signify fractions of a second.Possible speeds: 1 second, half, third, 10th, 25th, 50th, 100th and 250th second.

The "B" setting is for time exposures. On releasing at this setting, the shutter will stay open as long as the release is kept depressed.

To tension the shutter - necessary even at the B setting - pull the tensioning lever upwards as far as it will go.

The Self Timer

With the PRONTOR-S the delayed action lever must be pulled up as far as it will go and the self-timer is ready for action. With the PRONTOR-SV the synchronizing lever must be put to the red dot X before the delayed action lever is pulled up as above.

After pressing the shutter release you have about 10 seconds to get to your place in front of the camera before the shutter goes off by itself. Note: The self-timer cannot be used with the shutter set to "B".

Setting the Optical Finder

The optical finder can be adjusted for either of the two negative sizes of 6 x 9 cm. and 4.5 x 6 cm., as well as for near and distant subjects, to compensate parallax.

To change the setting, turn the small milled wheel at the right of the finder eyepiece until the indicator-window shows the required figures, viz:

infinity and 6 x 9 is for 6 x 9 cm. pictures of subjects between about 2.5 m. (8 feet) and infinity

6 x 9 and 1m/3ft is for 6 x 9 cm. pictures of subjects between about 1.4 to 2.5 m. (four and a half feet to 8 feet)

infinity and 4 x 6 is for 4.5 x 6 cm. pictures of subjects between about 2.5 m. (8 feet) and infinity

4 x 6 and 1m/3ft is for 4.5 x 6 cm. pictures of subjects between about 1.4 to 2.5 m. (four and a half feet to 8 feet)

But set the finder to the 4.5 x 6 size only when the mask is in position inside the camera (see The 4.5 x 6 cm. Mask).

View Finder "Kontur"

The Voigtlander 6 x 9 cm./4.5 x 6 cm. KONTUR finder is extremely useful when following fast moving subjects (e.g. sports). It is ideal for people who wear spectacles. Order No. 335/82.

To use it, keep both eyes open while sighting the subject. The eye looking past the finder will see the subject and its surroundings in their natural size and brightness, while the eye looking into the finder will see a frame outlining the field of view. The dot within the frame marks the centre of the field, and a dotted line indicates the parallax correction for close-ups from 3.3 to 6.6 feet.

The finder fits into the accessory shoe; push it forward as far as it will go.

Note! Do not allow any direct sunlight to reach the eye piece of the Kontur finder.

Close-Up Work with Focar Lenses

Do not miss this highly interesting field of photography which, unfortunately, so many amateurs neglect. Largescale pictures of flowers, butterflies, and other small animals, small "objets d'art", etc. may yield effects of extraordinary beauty. With the help of Voigtlander Focar lenses you can, moreover, make excellent copies of pages of books, stamps, or small pictures. Care, however, is recommended in portraiture, as perspective may easily appear distorted in this case.

The Focar lenses shorten the focal length of the camera lens and thus allow the camera to approach the subject much closer, giving a larger image.

Voigtlander Focar lenses in push-on mounts are supplied for two different distance ranges:

F1 for subject distances from 2' 7" to 1' 6"

F2 for subject distances from 1'5" to 1'

Suitable size: 37 mm. diameter.

The Focusing Table has been captured as an image - see Instructions with Pictures

How to Use the Focar Lenses:

  • Mount the camera on a tripod and approach the subject until its image in the finder has the size you want. Then push a Focar F1 or F2 lens - whichever covers that subject distance - over the camera lens mount.
  • Measure the distance accurately from the front surface of the Focar lens to the centre of the subject, and set the distance on the lens mount of the camera according to the table above.
  • At full aperture (f/3.5 or f/4.5) the image may be slightly unsharp, particularly towards the corners. However, the definition improves at f/5.6, and reaches its normal standard at f/11.
  • The Focar lenses do not affect the exposure time. Longer exposures are, of course, required when stopping down.
  • Owing to parallax, the image on the negative is no longer exactly the same as the view in the finder, but is displaced towards the lens axis. The displacement amounts to about one-tenth of the image height with the Focar F1, or about one fifth with the Focar F2.

Using Filters

Your Voigtlander lens will satisfy your most exacting demands as far as definition is concerned, but you can greatly enhance the mood of your pictures or obtain special effects with Voigtlander filters. With a few exceptions, therefore, use a filter for all outdoor exposures wherever possible. The sky in particular, with or without clouds is rendered more natural, and will look more beautiful.

Do without filters only when you need very short esposure times in poor light, such as sports shots in dull weather, or fog and mist subjects and the like.

Voigtlander filters are made of spectroscopically tested glass with all surfaces polished absolutely parallel. They thus fully preserve the outstanding definition of the Voigtlander anastigmat lenses. These mass-dyed filter glasses are guaranteed fast to light and heat.

All filters are available in a push-on mount (37 mm. diameter for the BESSA I), and can be used in combination with a Voigtlander Focar lens, or the lens hood, or both.

Voigtlander Yellow Filter G 1

The pale yellow G 1 filter is recommended for all subjects where only a slight filter effect is desired, or where the greater exposure increase of the medium yellow G 2 filter is not practicable. The filter factor is 1.5 to 2 times.

Voigtlander Yellow Filter G 2

This is an all-round filter for outdoor shots. It strongly shows up white clouds against a blue sky, and increases the luminosity of fair hair, ripening wheat, or spring or autumn foliage. It is indispensable for snow scenes. The filter factor is 2 to 3 times.

Voigtlander Orange Filter Or

This is an effect filter. It strongly subdues the blue of the sky, and lightens yellowish and reddish tones. It penetrates the atmospheric haze of distant views, and largely suppresses skin blemishes in outdoor portraits. The filter factor is 5 to 6 times.

Voigtlander Green Filter Gr

for better reproduction of green in landscapes. When using certain panchromatic films, highly sensitive to red, the action of green is promoted by subdueing the red. Consequently too pale lips and too dark eyes are avoided in portraits in artificial light. The filter factor is 3 to 4 times.

Voigtlander UV Filter

This filter cuts out ultra-violet radiation, which, particularly in high altitudes, may otherwise cause unsharpness. It still preserves the delicate atmospheric perspective in black-and-white shots. With colour pictures it reduces the unpleasant blue cast of distant views, and gives a more natural colour balance. Black and white films need no extra exposure; with colour films the factor is 1.5 times.

The Lens Hood

The brilliant outlines and intriguing shadow patterns of against-the-light shots provide some of the most attractive pictorial subjects. Here the lens hood is an important accessory, for it shields the lens from disturbing direct and side light. Preferably take such subjects with the light coming at an angle from behind.

The lens hood is also useful in bad weather, as it protects the lens against drops of water that might fall on it.

The metal lens hood, 37 mm. in diameter for the BESSA I, will fit directly on the camera lens, as well as on top of any Voigtlander filter or Focar lens already n position.

Synchronized Flash Shots

The PRONTOR-S, as well as the PRONTOR-SV shutter make synchronized flash exposures of moving subjects possible. The flash can be used either by itself, or combined with daylight or any other light. It is particularly useful for lighting up shadow areas in against-the-light shots.

All makes of flash units - flash guns for bulbs as well as electronic flash equipment - can be used with the shutter.

Connecting the Flash Unit to the Camera:

Mount the camera in the connecting bracket of the flash unit by means of a tripod screw. The flash unit should be to the left of the BESSA, so that it does not interfere with the operation of the release. Some light-weight flash guns will even clip directly into the accessory shoe on top of the camera.

Then wire up the flash unit to the camera shutter be means of the flash cable, pushing the plug at the end of the cable over the socket on the shutter.

The outer pole of the flash contact is earthed to the shutter. To avoid wiring up the leads the wrong way round, get an expert to connect the cable to the flash gun the first time.

Setting the Shutter

Flash bulbs and electronic flash tubes vary in their firing delay times, and are classified accordingly in the table on page 29. To ensure that the peak brightness of either type of flash coincides with the maximum opening of the shutter - i.e. to synchronize the shutter accurately with the flash - there are two kinds of synchronization, labelled "X" and "M".

  • The PRONTOR-S shutter incorporates only the "X" type of synchronization. It is suitable for synchronized flash shots (with or without the self-timer) at the shutter speeds listed under "Red dot X" in the table. The shutter needs no special adjustment.
  • With the PRONTOR-SV the synchronizing lever must be set either to the red dot X or the yellow dot M, in accordance with the type of flash at hand. When setting to M it is necessary to pull up the delayed action relese before each exposure as far as it will go. In this particular case the delayed action release is not used as a self timer.

For flash exposures with self timer, the synchronizing lever must be set to the red dot X on principle. Then pull the delayed action release up as usual. For possible exposure times, see Suitable Shutter Speeds table which is captured as an image and available in the instructions with pictures.

"X" Setting:

For exposures without any firing delay.

Releasing the shutter after tensioning automatically closes the flash circuit at the instant when the shutter blades have just reached their maximum opening.

"M" Setting

For exposures with a pre-set firing delay

Here the flash circuit is closed a short time before the shutter blades begin to open.

Load Capacity

The flash contact will carry the firing current of all types of electronic flash tubes. With flash bulbs it will carry a temporary load of 10 amps or 24 volts, thus allowing simultaneous firing of several bulbs connected in parallel. The longest permissable exposure time in this case is one tenth of a second.

Caution: The flash control must never be used to fire bulbs from 110 or 220 volt electric mains.

Aperture and Depth of Field

The depth of field in a picture is the part of the view which is still reproduced sharply in front of, and behind, the focused distance.

The depth of field is, however, not fixed. It becomes greater the more you stop down the lens and decreases the larger the lens aperture is used. So remeber:

Large apertures (e.g. f/3.5 or f/4.5) yield little depth of field

Small apertures (e.g. f/16) yield great depth of field

You can very easily determine the depth of field. After setting the lens to the right distance, look at the front cover of the shutter. This carries two similar set sof aperture numbers to the left and right of the focusing mark while the focusing scale is immediately above. The depth of field at any aperture always extends from the distance above the left hand aperture number to the distance above the corresponding right hand aperture number.

Film Speeds

Film sensitivities or speeds are determined by the makers in various ways and often measured by different systems (note: this is not the case now, when there are two main systems in use, ASA and DIN) A table which gives a rough comparison of the more usual systems has been captured as an image and is available in the instructions with pictures.

(the rest of this section has been omitted as it no longer applies)

Care of the Camera and Lens

Successful results and long life of the camera largely depend on correct handling and proper care. So:

  • Please treat the camera gently. Never use force; if anything seems to jam, better re-read the relevent sections of this booklet.
  • Before loading a film, always remove any dust inside the camera
  • Avoid leaving the shutter tensioned for days on end, particularly when set to the top speed.
  • At the seaside carry the camera in its closed ever-ready case to protect it against wind-blown sand. Open the case only when actually taking pictures.
  • Never touch the lens surface with your fingers; finger marks will spoil the definition
  • All surfaces, including the outer ones, of the lens carry an anti-reflective coating. To clean the lens, use a soft sable brush or a soft piece of clean linen. Grease spots may be removed by careful dabbing with a piece of cotton wool moistened in alcohol.

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