The Voigtlander R4M and R4A are production 35mm rangefinder cameras that are made with built in parallax projected framelines for 21, 25, 28, 35, and 50mm lenses. A tremendous feature for rangefinder lovers who have been longing for a Rangefinder with built in 21 and 25 framelines. This opens up a new world of convenient possibilities for the RF user, just frame and focus directly from the built-in viewfinder and you wont have to carry and keep track of 21 and 25 accessory viewfinders.
The R4M is above all else small, and light, really an unobtrusive cameras that is ideal for handheld lowlight conditions, and was designed specifically for the wide-angle shooter. It features a mechanical shutter that works without batteries (without metering, when used without batteries).
It has a simple LED metering display along the bottom of the viewfinder, that displayes exposure information in .5 EV values. The metering display is the same as the R3M. It has an exceptionally bright viewfinder, as well as a quiet shutter. The R4M is offered only in classic black paint finish, like the R2M or R3M.
Reviewed by 1 customers
I'll start off witht the warts: It's a budget rangefinder when compared to pricier options like the Zeiss Ikon or any Leica M. This price point is apparent in many ways, such as the manual frameline selector, the somewhat thin or unsubstantial feel of controls, the "iffy" film transport I mentioned. For instance, a common trait to Bessas is the fact that the advance always leaves a frame edge aligned with the center of a sprocket hole. I've used three of them and they all do it. Once you cut your film, you're guaranteed to have ragged edges where the holes are cut, and this makes archiving a pain; the film snags in the neg holder. This flaw needs to be fixed. Also, don't crank the winder too fast or the Bessa will jump sprocket holes and overprint frames slightly. The advance itself is about the roughest I've used for a metal film body, and I've used a lot. A second Bessa was smoother, but Voightlander (Cosina) seems to accept a little bit more specification deviation than I'd like to see in any camera above, say...half a grand. On the same topic, there isn't any provision to lock the shutter button. Once you advance it, anything pressing the button WILL fire the shutter. So, don't wind to the next frame unless you mean to shoot something shortly thereafter. The focus baselength on the R4 series is also very short, so you need to stick with what the camera was designed for: very wide to moderate wide to nearly standard lenses. It isn't designed for large aperture bokeh-monster lenses, are anything even moderately telephoto. The baselength just isn't long enough, with the wide angle viewfinder, to ensure critical focus for what I mentioned above. But it is simply great at the things it was designed to do: enable 35mm film users to have a small, discreet Leica M-mount rangefinder, with a built-in wide-angle biased viewfinder & built-in framelines down to 21mm focal length, without the need for pesky accessory finders. That is a very bold thing and I'm glad Cosina brought this feature set to market. There simply isn't any competition for the Bessa R4 series, and certainly no other new-in-box rangefinder can touch any of the Bessa series admirable price point. If I had to do it all again, I'd get the R4A instead. It sounded romantic to have a fully manual shutter that uses no power, to envision onesself lurking about during events or street shooting, relying on no electronic gadgetry like the "old" days, but truth be told I would prefer the added utility of an aperture-prority mode as offered by the R4A, and you'll be using the metering system anyway. The battery draw via the electric shutter is negligible, unless you shoot the bulb setting like a maniac. In short, for 35mm M-mount film rangefinder users seeking a wide-angle body, NOTHING in the market today can touch the R4 for features, let alone price.