I got the R3M and it's working out well for me so far. I haven't used rangefinders nearly as much as 35mm SLRs but got a Konica some years ago at a camera swap. I also got a vintage Voigtlander not too long ago but both of those are limited of course by not having interchangeable lenses.
I'd gotten a digital (yeah, I know) Ricoh GXR and they came out with a unit that takes Leica M lenses, so for me it's been a good way to get into having lenses (Voigtlander) that will work with the digital camera and a mechanical film rangefinder. To me it's a nice camera (and I love the 1:1 viewfinder, a bit of selling point for me) but I've never even used a Leica to compare. (If I did, maybe the Bessa would pale by comparison, but it was a practical option).
At this point for me, a Leica wouldn't be the most realistic choice but that might be something I'd end up wanting eventually. I guess it depends on how much you'd use a rangefinder (or any camera for that matter) to determine what price range is affordable or what camera would be worth more of an investment.
I've got two M2's, a CL, an M8, and a NEX-7 and use Leica M lenses on all of them. The M2's are really God's gift to photography, they're great cameras. The CL is really tiny and still very high quality. The M8's a great camera if you can stand the APS-C format. Great IR photography ironically. The NEX-7 is in many ways, the CL mk II. Not a rangefinder, exactly, but so like a modern version of the CL. The experience is very much like a film rangefinder (almost more like the M2 than the CL) and the magnification and focus peaking helps me focus almost better at age 55 than I can do with my M2.
Hope your Bessa works out for you. I jumped straight from Minolta AF SLRs to M2s without anything in-between, but I started with a Konica I and maybe that gave me the bug for a rangefinder experience.
I've been doing even more reading online and have found some people to have rangefinder alignment issues with even new Bessas. Has anyone else had issues with their R2M/R3M/R4M? Realistically I think I am leaning towards the Ikon at this point with the M6 being the close runner up.
It looks like the M6 and Ikon will be the same price, but there is one thing that really appeals to me about the Ikon; the 1/2000 shutter speed. I think that would be a really useful thing since I find myself sometimes wanting to isolate a subject with a shallow DOF even in brighter areas. So like Pioneer said on the previous page, a slow film in combination with a fast shutter speed would allow this.
The other nice thing about the Ikon is that it would be a newer camera. Although, I guess I don't really care how old a camera is as long as it works flawlessly and I could pick one up in mint condition though. The Ikon is the more expensive choice of the two.
Reasons for going with the Leica at this point is the proven durability of the camera. I have not seen too many long term reviews for the Ikon so I am unsure as to what to think of it in terms of years and years of use. On the other hand it seems as though there are tons of people who have Leicas that are decades old.
My earlier mentioned new R3A, was from when it first came out, was off slightly vertically on the RF patch. Still worked fine just irritating and added more to my suspicions of only moderate quality workmanship.
I've been contemplating this so much that the other day I actually had a dream about using a Bessa hahaha. Like I said I'm leaning toward the Leica or Zeiss. The Leica seems like the more appealing option right now because of the resale value, cheaper price, and the fact that I never really use aperture-priority because I like manually selecting my values. Paired with the M6 would probably be a Zeiss 50mm f/2 and/or something from the CV lineup.
I guess the next question is how much can I expect to pay for an M6 in good condition? I know earlier in the thread I put the price at 1200-1500 but was wondering what a more accurate price would be.
Looking at KEH it seems generally you can get an EX condition M6 for $1,250 or so. You can get a LN- for about $1,600. My experience with KEH is that anything EX+ or better is perfect - YMMV.
In terms of the Zeiss ZM lenses at KEH or on an auction site, LN new ones in perfect condition can be had for 65% or so of the price new.
My experience with KEH is that none of the equipment I have bought there has needed a CLA.
I was going to share the above too. KEH will be about 10-20% higher than what you might find privately or on eBay but I think the premium is worth it for the return privledge and the warranty plus their reputation of being very conservative in their condition classifications. In my experience of shopping and owning a few Leica bodies the cheaper ones are cheap for a reason and you pay for it in the end, not just in the difference in price but the frustration that comes along with that.
Originally Posted by mhanc
There are other issues you haven't mentioned. The Zeiss has a funky shutter speed display in the viewfinder - it's on the right side and hard to see if you wear glasses. Both the ZI and the Bessa have brighter viewfinders than the Leica, unless you're looking at an MP or a newer M7. Still, the M6 is a wonderful camera and being manual, like the 3M Bessa, will work without a battery. The Leicas are also reparable by reputable independent shops - DAG, etc. I'm not sure that's the case with either the Bessa or the ZI. BTW, I have used all three; I like the viewfinders on the R2 Bessa and ZI better, and only the Leicas have had to be repaired - mostly due to being dropped. I shoot the M6s much more often. Go figure.
That is very interesting what you said about the viewfinders. How much better do you think the Zeiss and Bessa ones are compared to the Leica? This is the first time I have heard this since everyone seems to rave about the M6s viewfinder.
Also, I wanted to reinforce how important build quality is. I was shooting my Mamiya RZ67 yesterday and ran into some issues. Yeah, they're well built cameras but I think I just have a finicky one haha. Man does it suck to run into problems with a camera in the middle of shooting. I almost raised the camera above my head before smashing it into the ground and then taking the sharp pieces of metal and plastic and pressing them into my eyes.
The Voigtlander Bessa R2A is an awesome rangefinder. Their price is slowly creeping upward. Buy one or two now while they are still reasonable.
Be sure to put a bottom on it.
Or better yet, this bottom.
Aids the handling and solid feel considerably. Careful with the winder not to hit rewind pin on base of winder before roll is finished - otherwise film advance problems.
If you do buy, buy from Camera Quest Stephen Gandy. He offers good service, but he will NOT service if you don't buy from him. Camera quest also on Ebay.