Voigtländer Bessa 6x9

Voigtländer Bessa

The Voigtländer Bessa 6x9 is a classic folding camera produced by the German manufacturer Voigtländer. It was introduced in the early 1930s and was part of the Bessa series

I bought my Voigtländer Bessa 6x9 2 years ago mainly for a still life subject. I was unsure if the bellows were still light tight as they tend to crack in the corner fold, letting in small pinholes of light which could ruin the photograph.

From my research, I can date this camera somewhere between 1937 - 1941. The camera is a manual focus lens, so you have to give a rough guess on the focus.

Earlier this morning, I decided that the only way to fully test the bellows was to load a roll of 120 film and make some exposures and then develop it.

Not wanting to waste a fresh roll of film, I loaded an old roll of Ilford FP4 which had an expiry date of December 1990, grabbed my light meter and made my way upto my local country park to expose 8 frames of 6x9.

Focusing this camera is well non-existant so I mostly set the focus to infinity and stopped it down to at least f/11.

I knew the lens was uncoated so I tried to make sure that I was not exposing to the bright light, the last frame however did pick up quite a bit of flare as the sun was just creeping into the lens.


Although the primary reason for using 34-year-old film was to just test the bellows of the camera for leaks, there was still a part of me that was curious to see if I could actually make a photograph with it.

Not knowing the history of the film, how it had been stored and its age, I had to accept that the film may have an increased level of fog to it.

Armed with this information, I decided to develop it Kodak HC-110 as I recall reading that this is a low fog developer so it may help to reduce it.

Using my normal routine of inverting 5 seconds every minute, I developed it for a total time of 8 minutes at 20 degrees centigrade.

A few examples from testing the Voigtländer Bessa

Clicking on an image will open it in a larger view

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