I've been shooting 35mm pentax K cameras for the last few years or so, starting when I was given my first SLR before traveling overseas, and since then most of my shooting has been travel/street/reportage/candid, with some live music and staged promo/portraiture stuff with off camera strobes. I often find myself with 'never enough light', shooting indoors, at night, etc. My most used focal lengths are between 35-100mm, and I've bought and sold a variety of lenses, to the point where I use primes exclusively. I've used some nice lenses, from the digital DA limiteds, and when I came back to film last fall (and picked up the (in)famous Pentax LX), I even had a stint with some exotica like the 50mm f/1.2

I've recently been using an olympus XA as a daily companion, and even with the faded RF patch, diminutive size and lack of manual control, find it very appealing. The SLR with the bulky retrofocus lenses, huge pentaprism and loud Ti shutter/mirrorslap attracts attention just by pulling it out of the bag, never mind tweaking focus and tripping the shutter. The tiny XA with the leaf shutter rarely gets noticed, and seems quicker to focus in good light (super short RF base) though the tiny zuiko lens isn't that great wide open, and the 4 blade aperture makes for primitive OOF higlights/stars.


So all this has me thinking that perhaps I should consider selling my K-mount system and buy into a Voigtlander Bessa R2A and a few lenses. What's surprising/puzzling me is the price of some of the glass, and trying to discern between the 'family names' (-cron, -lux, skopar, heliar, etc). Though I shoot manual exposure 90% of the time, I'd not mind AE/EV comp,

If I want to go this route, it'll be ordering sight unseen. The idea is to combine the XA with the SLR system, and end up with a compact 2 lens system as a carry-everywhere solution. With the hotshoe I could even continue with my occasional 'studio/location' shots, though shooting this without DOF preview would be a bit odd. Don't need TTL.

If you're still reading, thanks for sifting through the rambling. I suppose I'm looking some first hand knowledge of the Bessa, and some lens recommendations for 35mm & 90mm. I don't have thousands to spend, and I'm used to paying $200 for second-hand Pentax primes. I love fast glass because it's easier to focus with an SLR, but I usually end up stopping them down a bit for sharpness/contrast. Sounds like RF lenses don't suffer as much at maximum aperture, which would be nice. Also, how do you ensure focus at f/1.4? Do the VF and RF patch show a bright image with easily discernable detail? How's the film advance lever and loading? Etc. How many of you have switched from SLR to RF? Gone back? Use both?