Fully-Manual Camera ala Nikon FM3

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by mjames, Aug 19, 2005.

  1. mjames

    mjames Member

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    Hey guys, I'm new here - I really enjoy this website.

    I'm new to photography, and I've been doing quite a bit of research lately. I found my dream camera, the Nikon FM3A. After drooling over it for several days, I've about decided I can't afford it. I'm hoping some of you could reccommend a different one. I've looked into buying used, but I've decided that isn't the route I want to take. The main criterion is that it needs to be fully-manual, with no auto-focus or flash, etc.

    Anyone have any ideas? I would greatly appreciate it!

    Thanks,

    Mark
     
  2. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    I know that you want to avoid used, but the cameras you are looking for are almost exclusively available used at this point. I don't know of another camera, except for used, that has the features you want for less money than the FM3A. One option to consider would be to look at KEH.com at a used FM2 or FE2. The FM2 is all manual exposure and the FE2 is aperture preferred auto or manual and they are both manual focus. The FM3A is roughly a combination of these two cameras. KEH sells these cameras in excellent condition (meaning almost new) for around $300 for the body and it would include a 14 day return and 60 day warranty. KEH has a great reputation around here, you can find out more about them by doing a search of the archives.

    The only other thing I can think of is the FM10 from Nikon and it sells for about $220 with a zoom lens. It is a lot cheaper and flimsier than the FM3A and does not have the advanced features, but it is manual focus.
     
  3. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    Does it have to be Nikon? You can pick up a manual-everything Minolta set-up from www.keh.com (Minolta X700 and 50mm f/1.4) for $100 in Bargain condition (which has always been closer to mint than bargain for me), go up to ~$225 total and you can also get a wide angle and a telephoto.

    The X700 gives you the option of full auto-exposure, aperture priority, or full manual everything. Why does it have to be a new camera? Go back a generation to the manual focus cameras from any of the companies (Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Minolta) and you'll find what you are looking for.
     
  4. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    Good point, the Nikons' prices are kind of inflated. I just chose them because Mark was looking at the Nikon new, so I didn't even think to look at other brands. The X700 is a very nice camera and I always here good things about Minolta glass.
     
  5. Gerald Koch

    Gerald Koch Member

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    There is the Nikon EM with aperture priority. A nice camera which was under appreciated when it was released. There are the Minolta SRT's which take fine photos. The Pentax K-1000.
     
  6. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    Nikon FE or FE2 would fullfill what you want at a lower price.

    Also keep an eye for a Pentax K-1000, or a ME. Minolta SRT or X-G are also very good, but the lenses offer is more limited than for Nikons.
     
  7. mjames

    mjames Member

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    Thank you for your suggestions.

    I'm still debating the FM3, it's in my price range, but I don't really want to pay that much... crazy, right? I looked at some used F2s, but they didn't "click" (if that makes sense). I'm sure I'll end up going with the FM3.

    I like that it's completely manual, with no auto-options. Plus, it looks really great (in chrome). I also like the metal body - it seems like it would hold up better and feel better than a plastic one.

    Again, thanks for all your feedback, I appreciate it :smile:

    Mark
     
  8. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    Mark,

    I went through the exact same decision process when it came time to replace my tired old Pentax KX. I wanted a new, manual focus 35mm SLR. I had purchased my Pentax new some 25 years prior and also owned several used (lots really) 35mm slrs in the intervening period. I wanted new. I searched and searched. At the time, the only real choices were the Minolta X-370N and the Nikon FM3a. Sadly, the Minolta X-700 was no longer available. There were a handful of others too but I dismissed them all as either too expensive (Nikon F3, Contax RTS-III, Olympus OM-4ti, etc...) or just not to my taste (mostly plastic junk).

    I chose the FM3a and I'm very glad I did. I'm sure the F3 would have been just as pleasurable- if not more - but, it was going for around $1000 more than the FM3a at the time. I think your only choice today is the FM3a. The FM-10 may still be available new too - not sure but even if it is, it is Nikon in name only.

    Today we also have the Bessa-flex - an interesting camera but, for the money, I think the FM3a is still a better choice. I really wish Minolta would bring back the X-700. That was a fine camera for the money and they made some pretty decent glass too.....oh well.

    You really can't go wrong with a new FM3a. It is a great camera. You'll never regret making the purchase. I have never once had even a second of buyer's remorse. If the cost seems like a lot, keep in mind that it'll probably last 25 years...then the cost doesn't seem so daunting. Go for it!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 19, 2005
  9. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    The FM3 has aperture preferred auto exposure but it also has a system that alllows the shutter to work without batteries. It also supports TTL metering for flash. I think that's why everyone was recommending AE manual focus cameras. Nikon has all the info on their web site. The F2 is a beast, an incredible camera that is kind of old nowadays and very heavy. The FM and FE series look just like the FM3A and have metal bodies as well. The FM is manual everything and the FE has aperture preferred AE. The FM3A is a great camera and you will surely enjoy it should you go that way.

    Have fun!
     
  10. mjames

    mjames Member

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    Thanks guys... FM3a it is!
     
  11. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    Hold on a sec. Don't rule out the cheap Nikon FT2! You should be able to get one with a 50mm lens pretty cheap. Durable body, does all you want, and it is DURABLE. You can use it to open walnuts with....
     
  12. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    You could get one used much cheaper. Otherwise, I have had a 30 year love affair with the Olympus OM1.

    David.
     
  13. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    The other option is Bessaflex new for under $300 with a very lots of options for 42mm screw mount lens, many at dirt cheap prices. Stop down metering, no winder, but new.
     
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  15. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    Damn, now I want a Bessaflex. Will it never end? That is a seriously cool camera.
     
  16. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    I love the look of the Bessaflex, especially in silver, but beware that there's no flash shoe on either the black or silver cameras. If there was, I'd probably already own a silver Bessaflex. As it it, I'm considering an old Spotmatic for a cheap-lens camera.

    On the Nikon side, the FM2 has most of the features of the FM3a, and can be had for a whole lot less money. The shutter is fully manual, so the battery's only needed for the meter. The FE2 needs the battery for almost everything, limiting you to one speed (1/90th?) if your battery dies. If you go for the previous generation of Nikons (FE/FM rather than FE2/FM2), you get a slower shutter and no flash automation, but you gain the ability to use the pre-AI lenses. Pre-AI Nikon lenses tend to be very cheap. You might want to look into a used FM and some pre-AI lenses...you might be pleasantly surprised at how inexpensive a flexible setup can be. The same can be said of the old Nikkormat cameras, depending on what sort of metering options you need. All of the cameras I noted that can take the pre-AI lenses can also use the AI and AI-s lenses as well. (If flash is important to you, then the FE2 is hard to beat.)

    One other note regarding the FE2: I mentioned that the camera's virtually useless without batteries. The batteries are, however, very small and it's easy to carry a spare set with you. Plus they last a very long time. I've had an FE2 since they first hit the market, and I've never actually had the batteries die on me. I always replace them after a year regardless of what state they're in (I hate the though of batteries leaking in a camera), and I've never had a set die on me. So the battery issue isn't too important with the FE2.

    Best of luck with your decision.
     
  17. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    I remember going through this same thinking process. My old camera had died, and I put together a specification of what I wanted in a replacement, and then built a matrix comparing that specification with the specifications of available 35mm SLR's.

    I chose the Nikon FM2. Yes it was expensive, but it was worth the difference over lower priced alternatives. I just returned this morning from a trip to California in which I shot about 10 rolls of 35mm film in that camera - that brings my total through it to something well in excess of 1000 rolls. And it continues to work just as well as the day I bought it - 25 years ago.
     
  18. gchpaco

    gchpaco Member

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    I have an X-700, although I mostly shoot Nikon nowadays. It's a nice camera but note that the manual exposure mode is hard to use because the body won't tell you what shutter speed you have set. But other than that, it's a very good camera.
     
  19. mjames

    mjames Member

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    Hey guys... thanks for all of your responses.

    What do you think of the Nikon FM10?
     
  20. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    It is not made by Nikon (Cosina? Someone else will know for sure) and it is a whole lot less robust than the FM3A. It is basically for beginners who want to learn on a manual focus camera. It comes with the lens which is basically a manual focus version of one of the cheapie plastic zoom kit lenses for consumer cameras. Also, if it matters to you, there is no motor for it.

    On the plus side, it will do what you need, it will take great Nikon glass and if you want to upgrade someday, you will be able to take your lenses with you to a higher end body.
     
  21. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    Considering the small difference in price between the FM10 and the FM3a and the big difference in quality and durability, I would definitely go for the FM3a.

    As a lover of manual/mechanical cameras, I was seriously considering the FM3a as a replacement for my three aging F2 bodies (I have been using one since 1971). However, I changed my mind when I discovered that film bodies have dropped so low in price that I could purchase a used F4 body in excellent condition for a little over $300 compared to the price of $500 for a new FM3a,

    I don’t know if the automatic/electronic F4 will last me 30 plus years like my manual/mechanical F2 but I am willing to bet that the FM3a will last you that long.
     
  22. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    Yup...Cosina. Cosina actually provides that same body for a bunch of manufacturers. Check out the catalogs or web sites of the big retailers...each camera manufacturer has a "bottom-end" manual camera, and they're almost all the same Cosina body with different lens mounts and a few minor cosmetic differences. Cosina even sells the same body under their own name (with, I believe, a Pentax K-mount).

    I think it was these bodies and the kit lenses that come with the bodies more than anything else that allowed Cosina to stay in business long enough to bring out the higher quality cameras they're now making (the Voigtlander Bessa series, the Bessamatic, and now the Zeiss-Ikon). Unfortunately, everyone I know who's purchased one of these low-end bodies has had problems with it before the camera was 2 years old...one hopes that Cosina will bring some of their newer engineering expertise to bear on these bodies some day.

    For today, though, I'd avoid the FM10 in favor of almost any other Nikon body...even a well used Nikon FG is likely to be a better choice.
     
  23. André E.C.

    André E.C. Member

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  24. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Thanks for the plug Andre'. I'll give myself another one - mjames, the FM2 I'm offering would give a lot more for the money than a new FM3 unless you're getting a real low-ball deal. As I remember, Nikon stopped producing the FM2 and didn't have an all-manual camera for a while. The FM3 was its replacement but the reviews I read didn't believe it was quite as good in ruggedness and operation as the FM2 had been.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to buy.
     
  25. Uncle Bill

    Uncle Bill Subscriber

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    If you go new the Nikon FM3 is it. Used manual SLR's, I would look at the Nikkormat FTN, the Nikon F and the Pentax Spotmatic which is the real bargin.

    Bill
     
  26. fparnold

    fparnold Member

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    Politely, I'd warn that the Nikon F and Nikkormat meters, if they aren't working, are essentially unrepairable. Therefore, factor in a hand-held meter to your price.

    The spotmatics are interesting from a body standpoint, but the price of lenses, at least at KEH, is very similar to and sometimes higher than the price of equivalent Nikon glass. The only exception is the 17mm fisheye from Pentax is about a hundred dollars cheaper than the 16mm from Nikon, at the cost of an f-stop.

    Personally (literally: Personally) I would recommend a used FM2 or F3. A late model F2A, which meters with AI lenses is a good choice. I've become rather attached to the 100% finders on my F and F2A. If you aren't wedded to Nikon, then a Canon FD system, built around an A1 or F1 would be a good choice as well.