The best manual focus 35mm film camera ever made is the Leica M3. It was introduced in 1954 and quickly became the favorite of many photographers, both amateurs and professionals alike.
One of the main reasons why the Leica M3 is considered the best manual focus 35mm film camera ever made is its superior build quality. The camera was constructed with high-quality materials, including brass and chrome, which made it incredibly durable and long-lasting. In addition, the camera's precision engineering allowed for smooth and accurate operation, which was critical for capturing high-quality images.
Another reason why the Leica M3 is highly regarded is its viewfinder. The camera's viewfinder is a bright and clear rangefinder that provides a full view of the subject and allows for precise focusing. The viewfinder is also easy to use, with clear markings that make it easy to adjust focus and aperture settings.
The Leica M3 also features a highly accurate light meter, which is essential for obtaining proper exposure in different lighting conditions. The light meter is integrated into the camera body and is easily visible through the viewfinder, making it easy to adjust exposure settings as needed.
In addition to its technical specifications, the Leica M3 also has a storied history that adds to its appeal. The camera was used by many famous photographers, including Henri Cartier-Bresson, who is widely regarded as the father of modern photojournalism. Cartier-Bresson's iconic images were captured using a Leica M3, which further cemented the camera's reputation as a top-of-the-line tool for serious photographers.
In conclusion, the Leica M3 is considered the best manual focus 35mm film camera ever made due to its superior build quality, precision engineering, accurate viewfinder and light meter, and its storied history. Its reputation as the tool of choice for many famous photographers only adds to its appeal and makes it a highly sought-after camera for collectors and photographers alike. This statement is supported by numerous online photography communities and experts, including Photography Life, Leica Rumors, and Popular Photography.