I will look into the Contax T2-3. Otherwise, it looks like I am on a wild goose chase. I was hoping that, maybe, I had overlooked something that fit my guidelines. Your suggestions say it's probably not going to happen. Thanks to all for your input.
Just my few pennyworth from my own experience, also mirroring many of the comments already made ;)
I know you've discounted the Rollei 35, but they (the original style versions) should be 'future-proof'; solid, operable entirely mechanically, it's your choice whether you use the internal match-needle exposure meter, an external meter, or sunny-whatever. No built-in rangefinder, but the depth-of-field should be enough for estimation unles you're into macro work. I reckon I would get used to the fiddly-ness of mine if I used it a lot, but I'm more into MF these days ;) .
Interested to learn about the Petri Color 35 - looks nice!
I like the XA series (although the XA1 to me is like a worthy, re-usable, disposable camera if you see what I mean). For me it was a trade-off between my fumbling fingers knocking the focus lever when opening the XA clamshell, and remembering to alter if necessary the default zone focus setting of the XA2 or XA4 after opening. As has been mentioned earlier in the thread, the backlight compensation gives you some manual control. I ended up with the XA4 as I like a 28mm lens - I like to do townscape/landscape - and the depth of field is accommodating anyway.
+1 to Minox electrical problems-never again!
I once had an Olympus 35RC; it's of an older generation, noticeably bigger than the above, and still has 'electrics'.
[ Representing the 'cheapo' fixed focus, 1 aperture and 1 shutter speed class, I have a Vivitar PN2011; totally mechanical, 28mm lens not having the performance of the Olympus Zuiko. I also have an Olympus Trip 505 with 28mm glass triplet and built-in flash; the motorised film drive is noisy.]
In summary, the original poster is enquiring about the sort of 35mm camera that would also appeal most to me; unfortunately, by the time they became that small, the manufacturers mostly only offered automation of one sort or another :( .
Great post. Your path and mine seem similar. I had a Rollei/Tessar and the images were superb. Just a bit too unconventional in use, for me. I may have to stick with the XA, and even tho the meter is a bit wonky the exposures are correct.
Good luck on finding a Contax T Gerry, aperture priority will do the trick for you. I had one for a couple of years. Amazing IQ and I could slip it into a trouser pocket!
I'd go for the Olympus 35RC. It has a meter for auto exposure, but doesn't depend on it and can be used fully manually. The lens is very sharp and has bags of contrast. The Petri Color 35 is an interesting camera but winding out the lens to take a shot can get tedious. I have a couple of Retinas which are very compact when folded, though a bit weighty.
I'll join Steve. The 35RC is what I'd suggest. Also in the viewfinder you'll see both the shutter speed and aperture setting. If you want one which is a bit more automatic...please take a look at the Vivitar 35ES. I have both of these. The 35ES was made I think by Cosina and is a variant of the Minolta 7sii (which is often crazy expensive). The 35ES has a faster lens and a bright viewfinder. One thing you need to keep in mind with the XA is that it is only sort of focusable. That is to say the range of focus is short when compared to others. One small rangefinder I took terrific pictures with was a GAF Memo 35EE. It is either a brother or sister to the Konica C35, and can be bought usually for $15 or less. Spend a bit of time replacing the light seals (they're the exact same design as the C35) and that camera will take amazingly sharp pictures. Good luck. If you are interested, I have a 35ES for sale here and it is working fine.
+1 Leica IIIf. Lens is magnificent.
Originally Posted by SkipA
Another vote for the Rollei 35.
If you can stretch your pocket a little then a minolta Hi-Matic 7SII might be fine. You get a compact RF camera with full manual aperture and shutter speed control as well as a fast and sharp lens.