Sometime around 2003, I started getting into Large & Medium format equipment. At this point my humble old Nikon FE started being used less & less. If I was going out to shoot something that where I was going to use a tri-pod, and spend a fair amount of effort working on the composition, I had either a 4x5 or 6x6 attached to it. This left the the SLR with the task of being my portable, spontaneous, people shooting camera. But, after seeing children jump and asking me if my camera was broken due to the loud SLR snap, I needed something else. I soon discovered the wonderful world of rangefinder cameras..
Being the cheap SOB (sorry mom!) that I can be, I never wanted to spend more then $200 at time, so I just shuffled around with various inexpensive rangefinders in multiple formats. Did this for years, and never found a happy balance between image quality & convenience. I've read about the Leica camera and lenses for years, and how they were superb, but the sticker price always turned me away. Then one day not to long beofre the writing of this, I noticed a coworker had an eBay results page up on his monitor for Leica M3s. I asked him if he was looking to buy one, and he told me that he wasn't buying one, but selling one rather. This was my ticket to finally get my hands on one of these mythical cameras and see what they could do. I let him know that I've always wanted to try one, and he agreed to let me use it.
I made one print from the first roll that I shot, and knew that I had found what I was looking for in terms of quality vs convenience. I was prepared to spend a much larger chunk of change on it than I ever had on any piece of photographic gear, but since I was still a cheap SOB at heart, I kept an eye on the auctions. Not long after I seen the sorry looking M3 pictured to the right staring me down, with a very low current bid price, and only a few hours remaining. Seeing it reminded me of seeing a scrappy orphaned puppy that needed a loving home, so I threw a pot-shot bid on it, and it stuck. I now own a Leica body, for the oh so tasty 'less then $400' price range. Couple it with an inexpensive CLA & repair, and it is ready to worked hard for the second forty-six years of it's life.