While digital cameras continue their unstoppable march of conquest, there is growing interest in one segment of the film-camera market: Rangefinder cameras. The “fine-art” segment of photography seems to recognize the unique qualities of film, and especially the “seeing”advantages of a rangefinder camera (rather than looking through the lens, you see your subject through a crystal-clear separate viewfinder). While Leica has long dominated this segment, a new contender has been on the market for close to 1o years, and is producing some outstanding cameras at a fraction of Leica prices. The venerable Voigtlander name is now being made in Japan by Cosinsa. The cameras are great value-for-money, and all their lenses are fully Leica compatible. Stephen Gandy at Camera Quest is one of the North American importers and the cameras can be seen here. I particularly like the new R4M and R4A series that does everything a Leica MP or M7 does for about a quarter of the price.
I own an earlier Voiglander Bessa L and really like it. On closer inspection you can see that most of what looks like metal is actually “chromed” plastic…but the camera performs beautifully (although with a considerably noisier shutter than the Leica), and is ideal for extreme wide-angle lenses where you would have to use an external viewfinder anyway (since the Bessa L has no built-in viewfinder anyway).