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Voigtlander is one of the oldest camera maker in the world, started in 1756.  Although the company have changed hands many times, it can at least boast of a near-continuous tradition of optical production, if not excellence.  In the 1930s, the company made a whole series of medium format folders, under the Bessa line.  These were almost all scale-focusing cameras, and range from 6×4.5 to 6×9.

In this post I want to talk about the Bessa 66.  This is a square format 6cm-by-6cm negative camera, with a 75mm f/3.5 lens (about wide/normal for a medium format). The remarkable thing about the camera is its size – with a film area around 4.3 times that of a typical 35mm frame, it is smaller in size than a Leica M2, one of the smallest 35mm cameras around!

Size comparison of a Bessa 66 (left) and a Leica M2. The former has a film area almost 4.5 times that of the latter!

Despite its diminutive size the camera performs pretty well.  My copy is missing the flip-on yellow filter which can help with contrast, but is in otherwise great shape.  Film counting is by means of the backing paper on the film roll (most medium format 120 film rolls have frame numbers printed) viewed through a red window viewer that can be opened and closed with a rotating dial.  Film advance is by means of a turning key on the left side of the camera.  There’s also a little ‘foot’ that can be swung out to allow the camera to stand on its own.  Nothing much to say about the camera other than the fact that it is tiny!  I’ve included some shots of and from the camera to the slide show below.

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