Quote Originally Posted by philosomatographer View Post
As generalisations, most of what you say is true. I can point out some exceptions to you (like how all current Leica wide angles are, in fact, retrofocus just like their SLR brethren... like how an Olympus OM Zuiko 21mm f/2.0 is actually smaller and a whole stop faster than the Leica M 21mm f/2.8, that composing a 21mm image through a separate viewfinder is guesswork at best, etc. Rangefinder wide angles are simplistic because the cannot be used for the interesting compositional possibilities that SLR wides can. The do not have to be designed to perform well at a focus distance of 20cm, etc) But I don't think it'd matter to you... Point is, for every problem in SLR land, a rangefinder seems to offer a solution, and for every problem in rangefinder land, SLRs seem to offer a solution. I certainly don't limit myself to just one or the other - just use both!

The all-time highest-performing 50mm is a rangefinder lens, yes (the Heliar 50mm f/3.5 by all accounts) but it's like 2% better than the OM Zuiko 50mm f/2.0 Macro, and a heck of a lot less versatile. When you're shooting teeny 35mm negatives, how much do these differences really matter? If one really cares, shoot a compact medium format camera instead. Now there rangefinders really DO make sense. An M3 actually makes so little sense these days, but it's such a nice piece of engineering, I keep on using mine...
Make note that as far as wide angle compactness and performance I was talking about KMZ Russar MR-2, thou You might never heard, seen, hold or used such lens, when screwed on camera its about 14mm or 0.55".
Leica M cameras or lenses are out of my point and totally out of my interest. They are OK made to some extend but You can not compare an almost entirely aluminum M (ok, brass covers) with Leica I or II all brass (only the shell is alu pipe).
In this regard, Zeiss cameras from 30's to late 50's beats the crap out of any Leica.
With Leicas You have painted or anodized alu parts internally while Zeiss used chromed brass or steel parts.
Heliar is good but its not even close to Elmar compactness and performance is about equal for B&W.
As far as optical performance, resolution, definition.. Leica (or any decent) RF lenses outperform medium format lenses and lets not even mention larger formats.
When You shoot 35mm negatives and more specifically high resolution films as Adox CMS 20 or Agfa Copex-Rapid, the advantage of RF is clearly seen. You have to experience it to believe it.
In larger formats You gain from the negative size not from the fact that You have optically better lens, in fact they are optically inferior in most regards.
Now, I agree that RF makes more sense in medium format, my all-time favorite camera, regardless format is Voigtländer Bessa I with Color-Skopar 1:3,5/105, Jeans jacket pocketable beast, parallax corrected, switchable frame lines for close distances.. made 1950 - Best of the Best!
Zeiss Super Ikonta 532/16 or Zeiss Ikonta M 524/16 are close second.
Leicas are last.
In large format my favorite is Sinar P but life is busy, so its once or twice a year thing, at most.