I was one of those people and I sure 'got it', almost fell off my chair looking at my first roll of film from an M6 28mm elmarit-M...
Have to totally agree and have only had a 56 M3 with 50mm Summicron for about 16 years. The negs print more like 120's with tonality & sharpness. Comparative Pentax images are crisper, more micro-contrast and appear slightly grainier despite being exposed & developed at the same time in the same multi tank.
The only other camera system I've experience which produced similar quality results on 35mm was an Exacta VX100 system. Can't take credit for the images I just did all the processing.
I have both Leicas and an Xpan, the Xpan produces very sharp negs, comparable to Leica at 36x24 and everso slightly softer at the ends of panoramic for the 45mm and as sharp at the ends (no point doing corners here) with the 90mm. Slightly OT, I have been using the CV 35mm f2.5 M mount a lot recently, better than my 50 'cron (rigid 1st type) for sharpness.
Leica Ms do very well at candid 35mm portraits due to the relatively small size and quiet shutter. (Leaf shutters are even more quiet, but the Ms are pretty silent for focal plane shutters.) That's one reason street photographers like them so much. The big advantage I'd see for your style of work, Nicole, is that Leica lenses perform very well wide open.
[COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]
Ralph & Helen, it's so great to hear from you. The M6 would be great although I do like to shoot sometimes on Aperture Priority, which is where the M7 comes in. But, I guess the Nikon FM3A would also do good job and be cheaper as I can use my existing Nikon lenses. I do have an issue though with being 'left-eyed' so that the lever knocks me in the head. Just a minor handicap. It's always nice to read these threads. Jim, I'm sooo sorry for the hijack. I'll call it off here. I can't wait to see more of your posts.