I bought a Bessa R2(or3?) some years ago. It.s a nice little thing but far far from a Leica. Mine needed serious adjustment (range finder) after 18 months. I sold it and bought the M3 , never regretted that
An M2 would be your best choice. You could even put a screw mount to M mount adapeter on your screw mount lens.
My M2 is one great machine. Hope you can purchase one.
I am still looking, and I think a camera will turn up sooner or later. I'm looking for a beat up camera. My cameras tend to get scratches, and I dont't want to destroy something nice.
I was lucky, I bought a very nice condition 1969 M4 for 500 Euros ($650) from ebay (German seller), not mint but in very nice Exc+ condition, I have checked the shutter and the speeds are accurate and the first 2 films through it showed nice spacing, rangefinder seems to be reasonably accurate with my lenses and the exposures were as would be expected.
My intention was to buy at that sort of figure and allow for a CLA, at the moment I am just happy to be using the camera and will arrange for a CLA later.
Thanks again for your help last month. I have not found the Leica I am looking for yet here in Stockholm. I'm considering an M2, -3 or -4, it should be in perfect working condition, but looks do not matter. Better some scratches, I guess, so I won't ruin it.
Now, it seems that I am going to London the second week in January. Do anyone of you know a good shop in London?
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http://www.mwclassic.com/ for example. Is that a reputable seller?
Red Dot Cameras are probably the best for second hand equipment in London
Don't get a camera that is too beat up. While Leicas can take a lot of abuse, one that has been obviously mistreated could require a total overhaul.
There are enough Leicas out there that you shouldn't have to buy someone's piece of crap.
I'm not a fan of photographers who toss their cameras about. Cameras are still precision equipment, and there'ss only so much that they can take before they break down.
The M2 is a nice toy and you can get
a fast rewind crank (for Leica MP or 3rd party)
quick load spool (Leica or 3rd party)
grip if you have large hands (ditto)
a M4-2 is cheaper but ugly sister or even M4-P
I've used J12 (FSU) in a LTM adapter but a Cosina Voightlander 35mm f/2.5 in LTM (or M) is not much more and fast handling.
If you are in London our street markets are made for 400 ISO at /125 /5.6 and 2m prefocus. If someone complains mimic the chef from the Muppets.
Or a Canon P or Canon 7 cheaper still but still fast handling and quicker reloading.
There is certainly a bunch of Leica koolaid floating around in this thread.
For the record, in my experience Leica cameras are certainly wonderful pieces of equipment, but they will also require regular service and adjustment. Don't forget, the M2, M3 and M4 cameras were all built at least 30 years ago, some of them as long ago as 50 or more years. They are very old.
The Voigtlander Cosina cameras are much, much newer. They have meters. Film is loaded in a more normal manner. They are very reliable and they cost far less. Are they as smooth in operation as a Leica? No. Does that make them less reliable? Who knows! They have not been around that long. Will they need adjustment at some point? Sure, most cameras do. Especially rangefinders. Nobody makes a rangefinder that will not eventually go out of adjustment, not even the sainted Leica. (See below.) Will they need repair more often? Who knows. There is anecdotal stories of Voigtlander Cosina (VC) camera needing repair in 12 to 18 months. I can tell you the same stories about Leicas. In fact, if you were to go on my experience I have never had to send a single one of my three VC cameras in for service, while having to have several Leicas repaired in the same time period. Does that mean anything important? Of course not. Your own experiences will almost certainly be completely different than my own.
Leica makes great cameras and I love working with them.
Voigtlander Cosina makes great cameras and I love working with them as well.
If you find a good Leica, buy it. You will probably enjoy it. If you find a good Bessa R2 or R3 that you like, buy it. You will enjoy it as well.
And if you are interested, Zeiss Ikon also made a terrific, modern M-mount rangefinder that is a wonderful camera.
EDIT - The rangefinder in the Contax II is the only rangefinder built that I am aware of that will probably last for a very long time without adjustment. But by this time the glue holding the prisms together is about ready to start to deteriorate and fail, if it hasn't already. When that happens the secondary image disappears.