Nikon FM3A

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Juraj Kovacik, Jan 19, 2004.

  1. Juraj Kovacik

    Juraj Kovacik Subscriber

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    I'm thinking about buying new Nikon FM3A with basic nikor 50/1.8. I've read some articles on the net and it looks as a perfect camera for me. any sugestion why NOT to buy this camera?

    thanks JK
     
  2. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    um, you can't focus to save yourself... you like relying on batteries... you want something big and heavy that looks "Real Pro"... You don't want to eventualy buy a 105/2.5 legend...

    no, can't help you there :smile:

    (One day I'll replace, actually add to, my aging FE with a FM3a to partner my FM2n)
     
  3. jbj

    jbj Member

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    I have no reservations with recommending this setup. When I shoot 135 I use an FM3a/ 50 1.8/ 105 2.8 setup.

    Positives:
    Match-needle metering
    1/4000 top shutter speed
    All manual
    Metal body
    Inexpensive batteries that last a LONG time
    DOF preview
    Self timer
    manually set film speed
    exposure compensation
    ad nauseum...

    The only drawbacks I have heard of:
    -People who wear glasses
    may have a hard time with the viewfinder, but I wear glasses occasionally and never have had a problem.
    -Dark viewfinder can make it harder to take shots under low light, but it does have AE lock so this is not an issue for me.
    -Slowest manually set shutter speed of 1 sec., I would prefer to have longer speeds as I don't like to use the aperture priority mode, but a cable release works fine with the second hand on my watch.
    -Aperture priority mode, to me there is no use for this.
    -A spot metering mode would be nice instead of aperture priority mode (useless). But CW metering is really easy and actually forces me to 'work' more for the shot, to move around and get close to meter etc.
    -DX film speed settting is useless.


    Hope this helps!
     
  4. pierre

    pierre Member

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    I have an FM3a. I can't think of a better choice in a 35mm SLR out of any on today's market. It's a classic in every way. I wear glasses, but I take them off to look in the viewfinder. All I had to do was to buy the proper diopter correction lens for the viewfinder (easily obtained from B&H and other places). The reward is a truly wonderful 80%+ magnification view, far better than the tiny picture you get with the high eyepoint viewfinders (which is achieved in many cameras by reducing the magnification). An FM and an FE rolled into one camera - how can you go wrong?

    BTW, I absolutely love the implementation of match needle metering in the FM3a. The meter needle combined with the blue "paddle" (the other needle, in other words) that indicates the set shutter speed is brilliant. Get an FM3a, and put some manual AI Nikkors on it. The camera plus these lenses feels so much better than all the plastic we have nowadays. And you don't even need a manual - just the aperture ring, the shutter speed dial and the focus. It's as close to heaven as photography gets.
     
  5. Juraj Kovacik

    Juraj Kovacik Subscriber

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    thanks all for your opinion. it looks I'm going to buy.

    today I have a 20 year old Practica / relativly good East Germany camera with 1.4 Carl Zeis... but leans is not absolutely fit today and mechanics of camera is in a bad state. btw it has needle exposure meter...

    Juro

    Bratislava, Slovakia
     
  6. pierre

    pierre Member

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    You should be able to get some good used Nikkor AI lenses for it. I got all of mine on ebay. Look for ones that have good glass, but aren't perfect cosmetically. Most people pass these up, and yet they are terrific lenses, before the plastic era. They are the perfect complement to an FM3a.
     
  7. nikon

    nikon Member

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    i wear glasses and don't have any problems with an fm3 and an fm2 ( go for it )
     
  8. kkranis

    kkranis Member

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    Why not try finding a minty FM2n instead. Less money for a really fantastic camera. I just upgraded from the FM to the FM2n and I do not think I need anything else for a camera body. 1/4000 top shutter speed, DOF preview and the classic center weighted Nikon metering. For the same money as a new FM3, you can get the FM2n (used but in a minty condition), a Nikkor 50mm F/1.8 and a Sigma 20mm F/1.8 (that's my bunch...)

    However, if you really need AP mode, the FM3 is the way to go.
     
  9. DrPhil

    DrPhil Member

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    I think I would still go with an fm3a over an fm2n. Here's why:

    TTL flash is really handy. I've got a SB-30 flash the size of a deck of playing cards. On a recent trip to mammoth cave I took two of these little flashes and my fm3a. What a cool setup. The flashes even work as slaves. My whole setup, fm3a, two sb-30s, and a 50mm f1.4 fit in a waist pack.

    The meter display in the fm3a is far superior. The fm2n has a simple +o- setup. The fm3a has a needle that moves across a range of shutter speeds. In AE mode, which the fm2n doesn't have, you simply match the needle to the shutter speed you want. In manual mode you simply match two needle across the shutter speed you want. From my explanation this may sound difficult; however, once you look through the viewfinder you'll realize that the whole thing is so intuitive. I would pick the fm3a just for it's improved viewfinder display.

    The fm3a also has an exposure lock beneath your right thumb. I don't think I've ever used this feature.
     
  10. Juraj Kovacik

    Juraj Kovacik Subscriber

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    I think I can live without AP mode. But, before I ordered FM3 I had read some articles on the net about FM2 and FM3 and there was something what move me to the more expensive solution - if I good remember, FM2 has different, not needle, exposure meter and I found some complains about it... Meanwhile, I wanted a new camera - it would be for long time use, I hope next 40 years at least :smile:. They are selling new FM2 in Bratislava shops for something about 2/3 price of new FM3. I've decided and now I'm in waiting mode. I will be share my experience. And thanks for your opinion.

    JK
     
  11. pierre

    pierre Member

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    I would like to dispel some statements suggesting that the FM3a has a dark viewfinder. This couldn't be further from the truth. It actually has a wonderful viewfinder. As with any SLR, its brightness depends on how fast the lens is that you put on it. But it's very bright, and very focussable - totally unlike the sad excuses for ground glass that's found in autofocus SLRs. It's not a high eye-point viewfinder, but on the other hand, unlike those, it has a very high magnification factor. Some might say that's better - I would. It's a direct descendant of the legendary F, and it even looks like it - except that it doesn't have interchangeable prisms (interchangeable focus screens though). It's the only classic 35mm SLR you can buy new off the shelf today, and it's wonderfully metal, mechanical and manual (with added aperture priority for when you need it). It's hard not to fall in love with it.
     
  12. DrPhil

    DrPhil Member

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    I agree with Pierre. I wear glasses and have not had a single problem with the viewfinder.
     
  13. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    Buy the FM3a and be done with it. It has been my experience with buying 35mm slrs on Ebay or telling others what to buy, that the chances of getting a camera that craps out after about 50-100 rolls of film are pretty good.
     
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  15. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    about the viewfinder display... I have a FE which has a FM3a like shutter/exposure display (actually, the FM3a has a FE like display!) and a FM2n with the led 0 - + display. In different situations, either can be better (or worse!) The LED display is great for dark environments, but can be hard to see if the suns coming over your shoulder and getting past your eye/head into the viewfinder. The FE tells you the shutter speed selected (both in manual and auto modes) and the exposure needle shows over/under exposure to a finer degree than the LED system (+/- 1/2 stop I think). The needle can be very hard to see in dim lighting. Overall, I prefer the FE style one, but I've had that camera for 20+ years and the FM2n for only 3 or so, so I might be biased :smile:
     
  16. Juraj Kovacik

    Juraj Kovacik Subscriber

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    I have got it! After a bit too long waitning - manual lenses are probably non standart in tudays market and so I had to wait for delivery from Dutch to Prague to Bratislava.

    Looks great, viewfinder is absolutly amazing, needle meter intuitive, and yes, in dark it is confusing... AE button is well placed. It is smaller than old Praktika, but fit perfect. Shooter is fantastic.

    Uff... it looks to be too good to be true. I'm happy like a little boy... Thanks all again for your opinions
     
  17. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    That should be a great camera for you.

    Happy Shooting!
     
  18. Juraj Kovacik

    Juraj Kovacik Subscriber

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    thanks, Neal
     
  19. kivis

    kivis Subscriber

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    I have had 2 FM3A's and while they are simply wonderful cameras, I sold them once I discovered the Nikon FE. Pros: cheap, cheap, cheap. Results are the same and the whole business of going manual if the batteries goes is really bunk. First off I carry an extra battery in my wallet and second they last forever. Am I missing something? I paid $75 for my FE and spend the rest on glass.
     
  20. gupa

    gupa Member

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    I don't think you are missing anything, except possibly the dates on all the previous post's.
     
  21. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    There are only 2 things on FM3A that are missing from being best camera ever: viewfinder is not 100% and you can not use nonAi lenses. Beside that it is perfect in every way. Only slr on the planet that has aperture priority and all manual speeds available when battery dies.
     
  22. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

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    Did you get the chrome or black version?
     
  23. Svi

    Svi Member

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    What I like in the needle display of the meter is that when I am in manual mode I instantly see how far away is my choice from what the automation suggests. With a +- display of FM2 you know that you are above/below more than one stop, but how much more than one stop is not immediately visible.
    But the +- LEDs are probably more durable than a needle mechanism.
     
  24. fstop

    fstop Member

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    plenty missing
    eye peice shutter
    shutter priority
    matrix meter mode
    program mode
    mirror lock up
    memo back
     
  25. Aja B

    Aja B Member

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    Yeah, what the heck was Nikon thinking when designing the FM3a, omitting autofocus, spot metering, 1/8000th shutter speed, bracketing, auto film loading/advance/rewind, 5 frames per second, interchangeable prisms, 100% finder, etc? If they built such an animal they should have given it a simple name, like F4 or F5.:laugh:
     
  26. fstop

    fstop Member

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    Those feature were available on two very good manual cameras FA and F3 previously and could have been incorporated quite easily.The FM3a is still a good camera, if they didn't add aperture priority and the FE type of meter display it would have flopped like a dead mackeral.