Another couple of RF advantages are noise (or lack thereof) and the ability to see through the 'finder as the exposure is made. The key area that these advantages apply to is that of candid street photography.
Also rangefinders tend to be fitted with prime lenses, which have clarity and contrast in spades.
An SLR can wear either primes or zooms. Whilst you don't get to see through the finder as the exposure is made, you do get to see through the lens the rest of the time. This does away with any parallax error and also helps with the positioning of grad filters (which may be of interest if you're doing landscapes).
For what you want, I would personally go the SLR route. Others may feel differently. If you are set on a manual focus Nikon then I would also consider the secondhand market. Ffordes do decent kit, are honest about the condition, offer a warranty and a moneyback guarantee if you're not happy... ...and there isn't much difference (other than cost) between an FM3a and an FM2n.
Other makes are also worth a look. Canon MF bodies are good and fairly bulletproof and their prime MF lenses (speaking as a devout Nikon-worshipper) are just plain lovely. They also have the advantage of being dirt cheap (don't you just love the digital revolution?!)
I also wouldn't discount AF bodies. The Dynax 5 might not have been for you. Try an F80. I love the ergonomics of mine, and it'll let me do my own thing when I want to or operate as a sophisticated film-in-brain-out PAS if the need arises.
One final thought - don't get too hung up on kit. I've taken some of my best shots (okay, not exactly an exacting standard in present company! ;) ) with a forty year-old Pentax S1a and a selection of equally old M42 screw-mount third-party lenses. One APUG subscriber of my acquaintance favours Holga plastic-lensed "toy" cameras, and produces stunning work with them.
The most critical factor in photography is generally found standing about a foot behind the camera. Pretty much all else is secondary. There have been a couple of absolutely excellent articles in Lenswork on the subject, which I'd highly recommend.
I hope the above ramblings have been of some use. They're free and I assure you worth every penny! :) At the end of the day though, what works for one person may very well not suit another. I hope that whatever you finally choose will prove to suit your way of working.
All the best,
Thats exactly the type of information I am looking for. Cheers.
Based on your profile, you are already shooting 35mm. Is the equipment you are now using not meeting your needs for landscape & people pictures? If you are still frustrated with your camera’s metering system, turn it off and use the Sunny 16 exposure guide instead.
Replacing your current 35mm equipment with different 35mm equipment may or may not solve your problem. For example, if you are dissatisfied with the detail captured in 16x20 inch prints, a larger format camera may solve your problem better than a different 35mm camera.
Most of the suggestions you've had so far are well thought out. I have a few additional comments.
The Bessa rangefinder bodies use a metal focal plane shutter designed originally for SLR cameras. It's not quite light-proof enough for use without a mirror in front of it, so Bessa uses a secondary shutter to help keep out stray light. A metal shutter is louder than a cloth focal plane shutter, and the secondary Bessa metal shutter adds a little more noise. So the Bessa shutter is a bit noisier than a cloth focal plane shutter, definitely louder than a leaf shutter, but not in the same league as an SLR. I use several Bessas, as well as several SLR models and other rangefinders with leaf and cloth shutters. The Bessa shutters are not as loud in comparison to other cameras as Allan (kaiyen) implies.
Rangefinders also have the advantage of a very short lag time between pressing the shutter button and the frame being exposed. You don't have to wait for mirror travel, and for fleeting people shots, this can be a definite advantage. SLR mirrors and their noise preceding the exposure can also allow enough time to trigger a reaction in the subject that you might not want.
Allan (kaiyen) is right about handholding rangefinders as well. I have a shot with a Bessa T and 21mm Voigtlander-Cosina lens made at 1/4 second handheld, and you can count the threads in my son's t-shirt from 4 to 5 feet away. (I have an SLR that can approach that, but it has a rarely-implemented cam-driven mirror design that doesn't slap, and a heavy brass chassis with good inertia.)
The view finders in rangefinders can be excellent. You are looking much more directly at the subject than with an SLR and you can see the surroundings outside the frame as well. I love the 1:1 finder in the Bessa R3 (others do not) for the fact that I can leave both eyes open and see the framelines floating in the world in front of me. Rangefinder focusing with a quality camera like the Bessa and other brands is also very snappy and fast.
As FrankB mentions, one big advantage of rangefinders for people photography is the fact that you still see the subject at the instant of exposure. The shutter lag and disappearing image in an SLR may leave you wondering whether or not you caught that fleeting expression (until you see processed film). With a rangefinder, you have a much better idea of exactly what you got at the instant of exposure.
For macro and telephoto use, I would still use SLRs.
As others have said, after taking into account the physical limitations of the hardware, it's what's a few inches behind the film that really counts.
tis all grist to the mill. Cheers. M