Sometime around 2003, I started getting into Large & Medium format equipment. At this point, my humble old Nikon FE began to get used less & less. If I was going out to shoot something that where I was going to use a tripod and spend a fair amount of effort working on the composition, I had either a 4x5 or 6x6 attached to it. This left the Nikon 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 than $200 at a time, so I just shuffled around with various inexpensive rangefinders in multiple formats. I 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 too long before 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 instead. Here 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 concerning quality vs. convenience. I was prepared to spend a much more significant 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 at the beginning of this page 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 than $400' price range. Couple it with an inexpensive CLA & repair, and it is ready to work hard for the second forty-six years of its life.
M3 and Me in 2018
All the text on this page up until this point was written back around 2008 when I got the Leica M3. Since then, it served me faithfully in some random street photography, and again in my early days of shooting the Duluth Music Scene.
However, in recent years I tend not to shoot much, if any 35mm film anymore as I prefer at least using 6x6cm negatives for my casual film snapshots, and my Fuji mirrorless cameras for anything else that I want or need a fast turn around time on.
I did make a video on how to load the Leica M3 if you need to know how to do that. The video also satires some of the more nuanced attitudes that people tend to have about owning and using Leica cameras.