Sad news from Stephen Gandy's CameraQuest website via The Online Photographer that Voigtlander - or, at least, the company Cosina formed to continue the name of the famous German marque - has decided to call it a day.
The company has announced that it's ceasing production of its line of film cameras and a variety of related accessories. As Mike Johnston at TOP says, "The move leaves Leica as the sole surviving manufacturer of film rangefinder cameras."
I suppose it's fitting that the company that started the 35mm camera movement should be the one to carry the torch - but for how long, who can say?
Cosina produced several fine cameras and lenses under the Voigtlander name such as its range of Leica screw and bayonet mount bodies that gave the rangefinder market a significant blood transfusion, helping to forge a love of rangefinders amongst enthusiasts that has almost become a movement.
What would the Rangefinder Forum be without the participation of people who, for whatever reason, didn't have a Leica but who bought into the spirit of rangefinders with, for example, a Voigtlander R3M?
The company was the only camera maker ever to have all four major 35mm rangefinder mounts - Leica screw and bayonet and Nikon and Contax rangefinder - in production at the same time.
Cosina also produced some superb Voigtlander lenses at prices just a fraction of those bearing the Leica name. I'm not sure if any of them actually bettered the performance of the German competition but they came so close in many cases that, to all intents and purposes, the differences were irrelevant. Unless, that is, you're a Leicaphile.
For 99.9% of the rangefinder totting public, a Voigtlander and lens produced results more or less indistinguishable from Leica's best but, crucially, were within their financial grasp.
Mr Gandy revealed on the Rangefinder Forum that Voigtlander cameras are being discontinued due to declining sales. He believes the popularity of mirrorless, rangefinder-like digital cameras are to blame for the situation.
Mr Gandy added, "The last R3Ms and R4Ms have yet to be produced - Voigtlander will probably fill all existing orders by the end of 2015. Many dealers still have new Voigtlander 35mm Bessa stock on hand - get them while you can!
"For those unaware of it, the R4A / R4M cameras are truly unique wideangle rangefinders, with built in framelines for 21mm lenses! Even Leica never did that. Likewise the R3A / R3M cameras have lifesize 1:1 viewfinders. Again, Leica never did that."
However, Leica is, against all the odds, still producing rangefinder film cameras and no one else has managed to do that.