Helen, thanks for opening the door to my post. I've been wrestling with whether or not to post on this, but didn't want to start a new thread.
I'm getting more and more tempted to get some kind of rangefinder with either Leica screw/LSM or Leica "M" bayonet mount compatability. As I've looked around and begun my learning curve, the issues seem to shape themselves into:
LSM lenses on average tend to cost less than M mount lenses.
Non-Leicas that have the mount I want seem to be a good way to get
into the market.
Rear element clearance
Some wide angle lenses and collapsible lenses require more clearance "in the box" than some third-larty LSM- and M-mount cameras can provide.
two or one finder?
It looks like cameras contemporary to the Leica III series have two finders: one rangefinder to focus, and a separate viewfinder to frame the image. This is the arrangemeng I have on my Crown Graphic. I guess preferences on this would be a thread in itself. With two finders, you have to switch back and forth every time a subject moves and you have to re-focus. One finder with an RF is still a compromise, since you have to move the focus spot to the point of focus, then move the frame back to where you want it.
Single frame, multiple frame, or accessory viewfinder?
I get the impression that some RF cameras have a mechanism for switching the framing lines in the viewfinder between common focal lengths like 35,50,90. On older cameras, what I'm reading is that this yields a viewfinder that doesn't age quite as well, and is a bit dimmer than single frame viewfinders. If I want to frame more accurately with non-normal lenses, though, in a brighter, single-frame viewfinder, it seems that I need to use an accessory finder.
From what samples I've seen, I was starting to get the imression that older screw-mount/LSM lenses are generally less sharp than their M-mount counterparts. Just recently, though, I've seen what I thougth were some nicely sharp/contrasty images shot with Jupiter LSM lenses with a Russian (Soviet?) knock-off Leica clone. Is the issue that older lenses are just more likely to have accumulated more abuse and have the potential to be either WAY less sharp or JUST as sharp as contemporary lenses, depending on the particular lens? How about the concept of the LSM mount itself? Wouldn't screw mount provide for some minimal variance WRT exactly where the lens stops on the thread as opposed to the (seemingly) more precise M mount? Does M provide more accurate and predictable focus than LSM?
Knob, Single-throw or Multiple-throw?
Maybe it's the way I shot when I was growing up, but I just don't get a sense of closure when shooting with my Canon EOS -- No satisfying thumb throw after each shot. Myself, I just can't see shooting with a 35 that has a knob to advance the film. Ideally, I'd like a single-throw lever. I guess that limts the field quite a bit.
So, I'd be willing to get an RF with a single frame viewfinder and have the inconvenience of using an accessory finder if it was parallax corrected and the single-frame viewfinder gave me substantially brighter focusing than a multiple-frame viewfinder. Is that the case?
How about the sharpness/contrast of LSM v. M lenses?
What third-party LSM bodies are likely to give enough clearance in the box to use collapsible and ultra wide-angle lenses? How about the Canon 7 or Canon P?
Finally, I'd like to find something with both M and X synch (or at least X synch) so I can use both flashbulbs and electronic flash.
Oh -- and I couldn't care less if it has a meter. In fact, I'd be happy if it didn't. I'd rather just fly by the seat of my pants or use my hand-held spot.
(oh great... I just read Nicole McGrade's last post and now I feel guilty about being a thread hijacker. If that's an issue, I'll delete this and start a new thread if I get to it before the edit timeout.)