I purchased a iiic from Youxin Ye for $300. He basically buys cameras that need work, fixes them (CLA, new curtains, shutter breaks, etc) and then sells them. Contact him with what you want and he'll likely be able to get for you ready to ship in a week or two.
I got mine serviced by Mark Hama in the Atlanta, GA area (you can google him). He's a retired Yashica/Kyocera repair guy but he does a lot of different cameras, especially older ones. Mine came out great.
Beware the bottom loaders aren't created equal. My M2 is a lot easier to load than my IIIf. And I HAVE the appropriate tool too. Loading that thing requires talent and practice. I think the IIIf and the Summitar are nice choices, though the Elmar 50/3.5 is tempting because it is so iconic. Also these rangefinders may be harder to focus today than they once were because of degradation of the rangefinder over time. Not sure what that would cost to fix. On the other hand finding someone to fix your Leica III is a lead pipe cinch compared to finding someone to fix your Contax IIA or IIIA. I think Henry Scherer is about the only one that can really fix those things.
The III's (IIIc, IIIf, IIIg if your wealthy) can be rewarding cameras to use, but if you really want it for taking pictures rather than experiencing 1940s technology, go with an M2 or M3. Not as pretty, but much better to use in my opinion. And you can use LTM lenses with a screwmount to M adapter. You can get Leica ones at a cost or non Leica ones cheap. You might look cooler with the IIIf though ;-)
Oh, and at the risk of being tarred and feathered, the Canon P, Canon 7, and Canon 7s are worth considering. They're screwmount and not as "Rolls Royce-ey" as the Leicas, but they're really nice user cameras. And if you go M, don't discount the Leica CL either.
I bought a 1946 IIIC from a Army General which is not used past 50 years !!! Listen the advises and buy from repair persons.
I used 2 IIIF and Summitar is an Rolls Royce. Try to buy SUM family , they are more elegant.
Thanks for all the wonderful advice. Just to clear things up:
My RF experience:
I started with a Konica Auto S2, then moved on to Canon LTM (P, IIVSB), and then now I'm a Leica M person.
My lust for glass:
I don't have Leica lenses, but there is this mystique to them. I don't want to get in a war on which is better and whether they are worth the cost or not. I do like my Japanese lenses (well, some of them) but I just want to atleast try some Leica lenses. Mostly interested in LTM Summitars and Summicrons and the M rigid/dr 50mm Summicrons. I lust not for a Noctilux, Summilux, or anything ASPH. An Elmar, maybe, but way in the future because it seems less useful for me as I shoot mostly in the f2-f4 range.
What I'm looking for:
A more compact system to compliment my M. I'm not looking for a rapid shooter, as I'm more of a slow/deliberate one. Even if I could afford it, I wouldn't pursue a IIIg or Rigid Summicron LTM even if they were at the same price as the IIIc's and collapsible summicron's. I want something compact and Leica seems to be the most complete package.
What I'm dismissing:
Canon bottom loaders: The combined RF/VF is neat but I found myself using high magnfication to focus then switchign to low magnification to compose. For a VF this size, I think that Leica's system is most complete.
Retina IIIc: I have one and I'm content with it, but although I'm not looking for shooting speed, the ergonomcis are a bit slow and quirky.
Japanese FL RF's: I don't like the build mostly. I hated the lens on my XA but I do have an Epic, but that's because I found it for $7.
Rollei 35: Still a good choice, but I felt that an LTM is more suitable for me because I shoot at f2-f4 frequently.
Well, I emailed youxin and he gave me a very good price: $600 for a 'tar and IIIc. A III, I wouldn't mind as I don't plan on using this camera for rapid shooting but I'll shop around and look into it more.
$600 is probably fair. Unless you know the person you're purchasing from its just kind of difficult to trust that everything about a 50+year old camera will be in good shooting condition. That's why I suggested Youxin Yi when purchasing the camera, it just takes the worry about possibly needing a CLA out of the purchase--you'll pay the same for a freshly CLAd camera from him as you would for one that likely needs a CLA from a private seller. As for the lens, it's easier to trust the descriptions of private sellers. As long as it doesn't have fungus, separation or extensive haze you'll be ok. A Summitar in good shooting condition will probably sell for anywhere from $225-$350.
Of course you could find a Contax IIa or IIIa with a Sonnar, easier to load focus and shoot for less than a IIIf....
I have two Sonnars and not at the level of worst Leica lens.
Nice try Mustafa.
Originally Posted by Mustafa Umut Sarac
Yes , keeping the man with his Leica becomes harder and harder. I have Sonnar clone at my Nikon and Rollei 35S with Sonnar 40 and no , they are not matching with Leicas.