I didn't elaborate fully but it isn't necessarily the glass, noise, weight, etc. but the low-light shooting capabilities. I shoot my Retina's down to 1/8s when I have to. I also prefer the focusing mechanism, and seeing outside the frame.
While I have a Leica, I find that there are a number of RFs that can come close to the quality if there is no need for interchangable lenses as a requirement or if so, then look for the CL, the Minilta CLE or even the Barnack LTM that all have Leica quality but not the M body pricing for a good one. If really on a budget and want almost (within a degree or so) then look for a Minox 35mm other than the ML (that has shutter problems). They bought their glass from Leica and were great at ginding the lenses. When Minox went up for sale, Leica bought the company to get their lens grinding ability for small glass associated with digital lenses that Leica had not in-house experience with at the time. I used a ML along with my Leica and the differences were so small that other than I got the Leica at a bargain rate and my ML was experiencing the shutter problem (sadly), I could have just used the ML rather than getting the Leica. I still miss the Minox and have thought of getting another but, different model on the used market. Compared to the more well known Olympus XA series the Minox was clearly the better, I had a XA along with the ML and about 6-months after getting it gave it away as it just did not measure up. I also, really liked the Rollei 35mm made in Germany even though the control layout was funky. The lens is almost as good as the Minox but it is more reliable than the ML in spades and I could have also as easily lived with it. It is another today, I'd want if not having the Leica.
RF is easier to me for available darkness phuzzygraphy. As with your Retina, quieter, and depending on lens, ability to see out side the picture area. 35 & 50's tend to be the more popular focal lengths.
If you do get a modern RF, keep the OM and compare shooting with both bodies and same focal length lens.
If you buy used RF and buy it right, you can sell it on at no loss if it doesn't fit. The SLR has lost so much value already, you're effectively giving it away.
I use a M6 most of the time for 35mm, but still have my decades old Pentax stuff for macro shots, or telephoto shots that I can not due with the Leica. Keep the Olympus and, let your budget decide for you if you want a Leica.
Different horses for different courses. Keep and use both, each to its area of strength.
I use both Nikon S2, and F2's.
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I remember reading this same debate..... in Modern Photography about 40 years ago.
Thanks a lot, many great advice. I didn't mean to turn this into a RF vs SLR thread, I know that they each share their own pros/cons but I was just curiuos to know you RF shooters shelved your SLR's. I didn't tell my whole story...
So I started shooting ~ 1 year a go with a Konica Auto S2. I loved it but it broke, but I wanted an "upgrade" and I felt that german glass/cameras were overpriced and too expensive, so I went with Canon P + 50mm f1.4 lens. The build was great, the viewfinder clear, but the patch was faded. I returned it.
Since then I've iterated across a few cameras but all have left me dissapointed.
Canon 7: Patch was "alright" but the camera felt clumsy so I sold it.
Canon L3: I liked it a lot but the camera had mechanical problems so I returned it.
Canon IID2: Decent camera, the patch is very contrasty so it is the only LTM that I kept.
Retina IIIc: Very easy for me to focus but the camera has slow ergonomics (great folder)
Retina IIIS: Better viewfinder for sure but the ergonomics were only slightly improved.
Olympus XA: Way too small/fiddly
So I thought of going OM since it had RF-like characteristics but the truth is, it isn't a RF. I still reach for my Retina IIc or Canon IID2. I like focusing with them, but the viewfinders are squinty/dim. I could try Leica CL/CLE, Hexar RF, Bessa R's, but I feel that for the price they command, I might as well go M2/M3. They also have shortcommings (low viewfinder magnification, EBL, batteries, etc.).
I also accrued some other cameras that I don't use/like so I'm wanting to really slim down my collection and keep things simple. My favorite camera by far is my Rolleiflex 3.5T and my favorite focal length is standard so I was thinking of just sticking with a Rollei 3.5E or 3.5T and a Leica M3 with a 50mm lens. However the one camera system that I'm reluctant to give up is the OM system because of it's jewel-like beauty and versatility. I think I'll keep it for when I want to go wider/longer, macro, etc.
Get an M4 and be done with it.
Stop worrying about grain, resolution, sharpness, and everything else that doesn't have a damn thing to do with substance.
Okay, a new variable in the discussion; just keep the Rolleiflex. You'll play a lot of games before getting anything near the quality potential of it. I have a 3.5T and it can go head to head with my Leica.
As for the Leica M series vs the CL, a M body that is in about the same shape as a CL is more expensive and the 40mm Summicron-C that was for the CL is a bargain as far as Leiica glass goes and is considered by many owners as one of the better Leica lenses. I concur. I prefer the CL to the M bodies as it is smaller, close to the Barnack LTM and the meter in it is superior to the M6 though like many cameras of its age, it may need some work. I had mine redone about 1990 and the cost was not as much as some think when saying it is an expensive proposition and the meter has been working perfectly since and is dead on accurate. It is a spot meter so unique as most in-camera meters are averaging meters.
I use RF and SLR. Whenever the flexibility and special abilities of my SLR are not required, I prefer to shoot with a rangefinder. When I am not sure what I'll be up against, I take the SLR.
A Certified Dinosaur
Nikons F, F2, D700, Leica M3, & Kiev 4a