You're correct about getting good gear and maintaining it, it's the only way - as long as you find a competent tech. The J-12 35/2.8 is a clone of the prewar Zeiss Biogon, and can be very good. I'm keeping an eye open for one myself. For me one of the attractions of Soviet gear is the lenses, many are clones of classic prewar Zeiss designs, albeit recalculated for Soviet glass types and given more-or-less modern coatings. As I indicated, I'm very happy with my J-8.
Originally Posted by Lamar
Properly cleaned, lubricated with modern synthetic lubricants, and set up properly these Soviet cameras should perform as well and reliably as any camera. All you really need is an accurate shutter, accurate rangefinder, a decent lens and you're there. You can even buy a Summicron and screw it on, or any other screwmount lens - although you'll have to recalibrate the RF for non-FSU lenses if you want the Nth degree of accuracy from the RF at close focus & wide aperture. I'm sure I'll end up with at least one FSU screwmount body to compliment my Canon SIIb.