FWIW, I use a FED-2, and Argus C3 with their lenses and I shoot on Kodak 400 speed c-41 film, and like the results I get. So use whatever you like, and be happy
What can I say that hasn't already been said? Probably not much. That won't stop me.
1. Lenses: If you want character, or a different look, seek out Canon and Nikkor lenses from the 50s. I own 3: Nikkor 50/1.4 & 85/2.0 and Canon 35/2.8. They are fabulous lenses considering their age and hold up well against modern counterparts. Each imparts it's own special "look." The same can be said for older Leitz lenses. My 50/2.0 Dual Range Summicron and 90/2.8 Elmarit from the 60s are near and dear to my heart. My modern lenses are from Konica. You would have to look long and hard and pay a lot more to find better.
2. Film: Arista Premium 100 & 400, a.k.a. Plus-X and Tri-X, will save you a lot of money. I have been very partial to Plus-X from my beginnings many moons ago. I haven't used the 400 yet but plan to soon.
3. Developer: I cut my teeth on Plus-X and D-76 1:1. I have since switched to Xtol 1:3. It doesn't get any better in my book.
4. Ask 100 photographers for advice on lenses, film & developers and you will get 100 squared answers. Find the combination that works for you.
The important constant: Have fun!
Deep in the darkest heart of the East Texas Rain forest. Apprentice Analog Activist.
My Photos Online
... And to paraphrase Yoda, there is no how, only do.
Medium format properly exposed usually has better tonality and sharpness. However, I have images from a 1956 cron, 40mm Rokkor, and several 1968/1970s Minolta 50 - 58mm optics which produced great skin tones. FP4, light, proper exposure, and not over-enlarging the small format negative are keys. If your looking at street photos from the 60s and 70s shot with Tri-X and enlarged to 8x12 you may not see the tonality you want. It has nothing to do with what camera or even often what lens as long as the glass is of good quality. Its about the photographer and quality of light.
What I've noticed: that each format and each technology has its own signature, and this is certainly true of rangefinders. Most of the pictures I've studied across most makes, models and films are rich in grain and, with rare exception, print natural light flat. No matter how balanced the contrast, variation of skin tone, say, is fairly even.