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
The 4.5 x 6 cm.
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
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.
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
(see picture above).
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 (see
picture above), 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.
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
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.
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 (see picture above). 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
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 (see picture above),
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
Note: This is the only proper way of closing
the camera; never try to push the struts inwards.
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
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
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
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
In good light these settings are very useful for
sports photography where the subject distance may change
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
To set the aperture, move the aperture lever (see
arrow in picture above) until it is next to the index
line corresponding to the required f/number.
This camera is fitted with the PRONTOR-S or the
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 (see picture above).
With the PRONTOR-S the delayed action lever must be
pulled up as far as it will go (see arrow at right in
picture above) and the self-timer is ready for action.
With the PRONTOR-SV the synchronizing lever must be put
to the red dot X (see picture above) 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
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
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
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).
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.
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
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.
How to Use the
- 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
- 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
- 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
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
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
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
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 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
The lens hood is also useful in bad weather, as it
protects the lens against drops of water that might fall
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
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
All makes of flash units - flash guns for bulbs as
well as electronic flash equipment - can be used with 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 (see picture,
Synchronized Flash Shots). 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.
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
- 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 (see lower of the two illustrations above). 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 (see
upper of the two illustrations above). Then pull the
delayed action release up as usual. For possible exposure
times, see Suitable Shutter Speeds table below.
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
For exposures with a pre-set firing delay
Here the flash circuit is closed a short time
before the shutter blades begin to open.
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
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. (see illustrations for The
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) The table
above gives a rough comparison of the more usual
(the rest of this section has been omitted as it no
Care of the Camera
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.
Top of Page