Nikon FM3A

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Nicole, Feb 5, 2005.

  1. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Aristotelis (Arigram) posted a thread on Gendered Cameras which sort of relates to my current situation I guess where I'm finding my Nikon F90X too big, can't get my fingers around all the buttons easily and quick enough and when I shot a wedding the other day the shutter release and rewind were so distracting that the brides mother actually commented on the noise my cameras made after the ceremony!!! She's lucky I didn't pull out the Hasselblad for the ceremony. :D

    That seals my decision for looking for a much quieter and smaller camera/system. I have mentioned the Leica M7 but budget is just not there for it, so considering I already have some nice Nikon lenses, I'm trying to gather some info on the Nikon FM3A.

    Whew... what a rant... :smile:

    If anyone has any info on the Nikon FM3A or similar cameras, I'd love to hear it.

    Kind regards, Nicole
     
  2. colrehogan

    colrehogan Member

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    I have an FM3A, but don't really know what kind of info you're looking for.
     
  3. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Thanks Diane. What do you find you use the camera for most? How does it handle? Any quirks or problems?
    Cheers
    Nicole
     
  4. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    I have an FM3A and it's a great no-nonsense camera. It has centre-weighted metering, manual (mechanical shutter) or aperature priority (electronic shutter) setting, and has only one small battery that never seems to wear out. The disadvantage as a wedding camera might be the lack of autofocus, but never having done a wedding........(when I say "done" I mean photograph of course - I have been a participant in a couple).
    One big advantage as far as I'm concerned is that it takes a lot of good (AI and AIS) lenses that can be found at a reasonable price on ebay etc. I have a 28, 50, 105, 75-150 and 43-86 zooms. The 75-150 was a fashion photographer's favourite apparently.
    It also supports TTL flash. You can buy a motor drive for it, but presumably that is rather noisy. Hand cranking and focussing might take a little while to get used to at a wedding though.
    Let me know if you have any other questions I can help you with.
     
  5. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Great to hear from you and thanks for the info. I mostly use spot metering though, didn't realise it was centre-weighted. Still sounds like a nice little camera.
     
  6. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    Well, I guess if you have time to spot meter you have time to manually focus and wind!!

    I see on another thread you were concerned about being left-eyed. I am as well, and just don't notice it as a problem. Nikon came out with a special 2.8 lens for it, a 45mm "P" I think, which makes the camera very inobtrusive. I just went for a used 50 1.8 (also available in 1.4) instead.
     
  7. fred

    fred Member

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    It's a hybrid camera.
    So you don't need, if necessary, batteries.

    It will be a camera that wil not give any problem in the next 30 years. Very solid!

    The advantage of the Leica M7 is the silent shutter.
    When you take an image with a FM3A in an museum for exemple, you have the impression that every one is regarding the photographer.

    But don't hesitate to buy a FM3A, and afterwards, when budget is not a problem anymore, give it to your daughter and offer you yourself the Leica.
    That's what I did here.

    Fred
     
  8. luvmydogs

    luvmydogs Member

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    Nicole,

    I, too, have the FM3A, and it is one of my favorite cameras. Very durable, has never failed me even in extreme weather conditions, and is basically a pleasure to use.
     
  9. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    I have FM2n and FE version of this camera... I say that cause they all are pretty similar, mine just happen to be old! :smile: I've never heard a FM3a 'go off' but I'd check that out because ever other model in that design makes lots of noise. You attach a MD12 motordrive if you want movie style noises :smile:
     
  10. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Nearly all of the noise generated by an SLR shutter is due to the reflex mirror moving during the shutter sequence. A rangefinder camera, ala Leica, does not have this mechenism, hence, no noise.

    I still have a FM2. Its compact, totally functional, all manual. I just tried it on my left eye and it feels totally comfortable.
     
  11. Julian Hart

    Julian Hart Member

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    Hi Nicole

    I have an FM3a and whilst I love it, it isn't exactly the quietest mechanical camera I have ever owned. Try and get to use a Nikon FE, FE2, FM, FM2 or FM2n for less noisy Nikon MF cameras.

    However, if you desire a quiet camera, a Leica M is the way to go. If you can't afford an M7, get an M6 and start getting some lenses. You could always upgrade the body to an M7 later.

    Julian
     
  12. gchpaco

    gchpaco Member

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    As far as I can tell, the FE, FE2, FM, FM2 and FM2n have exactly the same sound quality as the FM3a. That is to say, it's not very loud but it's of a certain pitch that is noticeable; of course all this gets much much worse with the MD-12 attached. That said I enjoy mine a great deal. Whether it's useful for being quiet in weddings is hard to say. Play with one in the store? There are some older Nikons that have cloth shutters (the F3 comes to mind) that might be quieter, or at least of a different pitch.

    As for quiet, the quietest camera I own, bar none, is my TLR, which has a very soft click noise when the shutter goes. Sometimes I miss it and I'm the one shooting. Leicas have nothing on good TLRs. You may not like the lens selection, though.
     
  13. Gregg Brekke

    Gregg Brekke Member

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    Nicole,

    After trying the Leica M6TTL and M4P for a few years I switched back to SLR with the Nikon FM3A. While I loved the Leica feel and mystique (which I totally bought into) with the truly outstanding lenses - there was something missing in my work. The FM3A may be a bit noisier, but in my experience it draws less attention than the Leica - your mileage may vary.

    It came down to the close focus capabilities of the SLR and personal taste. I find I get a larger percentage of good shots with the FM3A. I had owned an FE2 back when I was a high school photog in the 80s and still have a soft spot in my heart for the song "Kodachrome...."

    I bought the camera new from Adorama and picked up a 24/2.8, 35/2, 105/2.5 and 180/2.8 on eBay - the whole package cost less than I sold the M6TTL for. Maybe the kids will go to college after all.

    Best of luck - the FM3A is truly a great camera. It is rugged, film is easy to load and Nikon AI/AIS lenses are excellent in real-world use.

    Regards,
    Gregg
     
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  15. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    I have an FM-2 that I purchased in 1980. This is an extremely rugged, olf-fashioned mechanical camera. My sense is that the FM-3 is simply the next generation in the design. I also have an FE-2 - same camera but with automatic exposure capability.

    This camera is not silent. I have a motor drive on my FM-2, and the noize of the motor completely masks the shutter noise. With the FE-2 there is a distinct "clunk" - not as quiet as, for example, some of the 1980's vintage Olympus models, but also not nearly as noisy as the old Mamiya-Sekor 1000DTL that I replaced when I purchased the FM-2.

    SLRs inevitably will make noise - the mechanical actions involved in flipping the mirror and moving the shutter curtains generate sound. If you want quiet, you have to go with a leaf shutter - and that essentially means a rangefinder camera. Of course, the tradeoff is that rangefinders don't provide the lens exchange flexibility of SLRs (and certainly not at the same price points.)
     
  16. colrehogan

    colrehogan Member

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    Hmm, well I can't say that I've used it as much as I thought I would, especially after getting an F5 a year later. :sad: But these days I'm not even using it as much as I used to, because I'm mostly shooting LF. I've thought about selling the FM3A, but haven't done it yet. I had originally bought it so I could have a more modern MF SLR. I once heard that it's becoming hard to find parts for MF Canons (in case my AE-1 program should conk out on me) but there are so many out there, that I don't see that as a problem for a long time. Should you be interested in an FM3A, let me know. I feel kind of guilty not using it as much as I should. I have three MF lenses to be used with it as well, that don't get used. They are 35 mm, 55 mm micro, 105 mm. I got their AF equivalents and use them with the F5/D2H and am quite happy with AF.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 6, 2005
  17. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Great to hear from you all. Thanks so much for your input.
    I've just seen the Nikon S3 2000, a rangefinder, but I don't think it uses F-mount lenses. Looks like a great little unit!!!
    I didn't realise the FM3A was that loud. When I compared it to my F90X it seemed much quieter! :smile: Diane, I might get back to you on that. Still looking.
     
  18. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    Photographers have been shooting weddings with SLR's for a long time. I can't imagine the noise would be a big issue with the vast majority of your clients. A FM3A with the lenses Diane mentioned would be a great kit. I don't have a motordrive, but I find the camera quieter than my F80.
     
  19. Julian Hart

    Julian Hart Member

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    Well thats not my experience!
    I have owned FM, FM2 and FM2n in the past and currently own an FM3a. My friend has two FE2's. The FM3a is certainly the noisiest of all of them.

    However, as has been said, it pales into insignificance if you are using the MD12.

    I'm certainly not trying to disuade you (Nicole) from an FM3a though, its a great camera.

    Julian
     
  20. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    Another issue I feel is important is the viewfinder. The FE has a rather dim and small one compared to the F90X. This is a pain when shooting under dark conditions. I have given up macro with reversed lenses with the FE because of that.
    The FE2, FM2n and FM3A should be better, I don't know since I havn't tried them.
    As to the F90X it works great with AI(S) lenses which I find easy to focus on the screen.
    Regards Søren
     
  21. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    I'm not sure that is an either or decision, I have not shot many weddings, but when I did, I always use either a Mamyia Universal or a Range Finder during the service. I have also used a RF for funerals ect. The N 90 is a great camera and in most cases works very well, but for quite I would think about a M 6, M 4, (if you are shooting indoors with a flash you may not need TLM) or even a M 3.

    Regards
     
  22. Ara Ghajanian

    Ara Ghajanian Member

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    Nicole,
    You may want to consider the Nikon F3. It's built like a tank, but it's not a large camera. I don't have big hands and I find the camera to be very ergonomic. The aperature priority mode has been indispensable for me. The camera-metered exposures are usually dead on. If you get the high eyepoint viewfinder then you should have no problem with the left eye since you can be about an inch away from the viewfinder and still see the entire frame. It also has 100% frame coverage. I believe the FM series have like 92% or something. The only disadvantage I can see for the F3 is that the flash synch is 1/60.

    I would have to say that the sound that the woman was complaining about was the motor drive. Shutters really aren't THAT loud. You could always go digital and hear no sound, but you don't want to do that.
    Ara
     
  23. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    Nicole I had a little trip out earlier (escaped) and got my hands on the FM3a, it was bootiful and had a wonderful feel to it. In fact it had much of the feel that I miss with having the F100. I think I'm in lust again and it's a good job I didn't have the cash on me or I would have an addition to my family :smile:
     
  24. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Hi everyone, what great input. Wow! OK, I'm getting confused now. Too many options, it's like a little kid in a lollyshop and not enough pennies for the one she really wants. LOL
     
  25. michaellynn9

    michaellynn9 Member

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    Hi Nicole, I have owned an FM3A for 3 years now, great little camera, it has never let me down, certainly quieter than the F100 my brother in law has.

    Mick
     
  26. AzRaeL

    AzRaeL Member

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    I hope I dont get stoned for saying this on APUG but honestly the best camera for a wedding is a dSLR *LOL* A wedding is a non repeatable event. When I take pictures I want to make sure I can preview the shots.

    If i have to use 35mm, I'd use something with a fast autofocus and automatic functions. I usually shoot in Aperature Priority. The last thing I want to do is juggle the guests, and fiddle with the camera.

    Manual is fine for artsy shots where you have all the time in the world to get your settings right. But in a high pressure event like wedding photography, you just wanna concentrate on getting it done fast.