Questions About the Nikon FM3a

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by FilmOnly, Jun 26, 2012.

  1. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    I am considering an FM3a purchase. Is the shutter in the 3a any different than that which is in the FE2 or FM2n? I had read somewhere that the top speed on the FM2n was closer to 1/2750, rather than 1/4000. I welcome any comments on the shutter.

    Does the MD-11 work on the 3a? I prefer the ruggedness of the MD-11 over the MD-12. I once cracked the top of the an MD-12 grip with what I thought was a more or less slight knock. I once had an FE2, and I am still considering getting one back, as the FM3a is about double the price. My main motivation here is to obtain the 1/4000 top speed, as my F3 tops out at 1/2000. The 1/4000 would be useful for blurring the background on bright days.
     
  2. Nick Merritt

    Nick Merritt Member

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    The FM3a has mechanical backup for all shutter speeds. I don't know about the top shutter speed of the FM2n as compared with the FM3a (though the FM3a also has a top speed of 1/4000) -- but generally speaking, electronic shutters are more accurate than mechanical. (If you use the FM3a without batteries, the shutter speed might be more like the FM2n -- but this is pure speculation on my part.)

    The FM3a takes either motor drive, I understand.
     
  3. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    Thanks, Nick.
     
  4. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    The MD-11 will work, but if you leave it turned on, you will kill the battery in the camera in a hurry, from what I understand. Forgetful me prefers the MD-12. :smile:
     
  5. Nick Merritt

    Nick Merritt Member

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    I had an FM3a but never used it -- not because I didn't like it, but because I had an FE2 and FM2n already, and realized I was happy enough with those two.
     
  6. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    the fm3a always has electronic shutter if in auto mode and always mechanical when in manual mode even if the battery is good. The top shutter speed of any camera is always a little iffy and tends to be slower than indicated.
     
  7. CGW

    CGW Member

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    My main motivation here is to obtain the 1/4000 top speed, as my F3 tops out at 1/2000. The 1/4000 would be useful for blurring the background on bright days.

    The late AF bodies like the N90s/F90x and F100 are great for this. Both are bargains now.
     
  8. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

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    The N/F90x had the great feature, with the SB-26 flash, of high speed flash synch. You have to use the flash on manual, but you can sync at any speed...quite brilliant, really.
     
  9. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    Excellent commentary, thanks.

    I have given much thought to the N90s--a very good choice, indeed. I have opted for the FE2, as the FM3a comes at too much of a premium, and I prefer the FE2's 0.86x magnification finder to the 0.78x of the N90s. It is a difficult choice, though, as all of these cameras are fine tools for the photographer.

    In comparison to the FE, the FE2's finder is a half-stop brighter, right?
     
  10. Nick Merritt

    Nick Merritt Member

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    I'll take your word for it -- I've never noticed that or read anything to that effect. The FE finder is plenty bright for me, though in low light it can be hard to see the shutter speed readout (same is true for the FE2).
     
  11. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

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    Attached is an excerpt from the March 2002 Pop Photo review of the FM3A showing that the FM3A's shutter speeds are accurate to within 1/4 stop deviation (over or under) from the marked manually set speeds.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    Very interesting--thanks, Les!

    I wonder if the same can be applied to the FE2?...especially since the FE2's shutter is electronic.
     
  13. Ricardo Miranda

    Ricardo Miranda Member

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    There's a reason for that: the exit pupil of an F90X is larger than the FM/FE variants. In fact, the size of the eyepiece screw in a F801 or F90 series is identical to a F4.
    The larger eyepiece doesn't need a higher magnification. But it is a question of taste or just been used to one size!:smile:
     
  14. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    I just found this interesting quote from the ever-useful mir.com Web site.

    "In manual mode, the speed selector is not a variable resistor as with the FE, which only offers a top electronically timed shutter speed of 1/1000 sec. and a sync speed of 1/125 sec. The professional Nikon during that era was the Nikon F3, which only possessed a top shutter speed of 1/2000 sec. - a full stop lower than the FE2. Thus, this has made the FE2 one of the most accurate timed Nikon ever during that time."
     
  15. aspro

    aspro Member

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    The fe2, fm2n finders are indeed brighter than the FE/FM. The great thing about the FE2 is you get the brightness of the FM3 finder and the ruggedness of the FM2. You can also use the split focussing screen without it going all dark.
    I have an FM2n and sold it and bought an FE2. On A...aperture auto it just selects shutter speeds in a stepless way. and for long exposures at night you can just set the aperture and it will just clock away quietly giving you a perfect exposure.
     
  16. LJSLATER

    LJSLATER Member

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    Is this due to the finder or the focusing screen? Supposedly the screens got brighter with each generation, with the FM3A being the brightest. I use an E3 screen in my FM2N so I can't comment on the split-prism blackout, but it does seem a little brighter than the stock K2 screen. Nikon even recommends exposure compensation when using FM3A screens in the older cameras, and casual testing on my part indicated a small change in metering values (maybe a 1/3 stop difference).

    Screens made for the FM3A can still be found new and they fit all the FE/FM models.
     
  17. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    Great input here...

    In addition to the FE2 on the way, I also picked up the B2 screen. I have heard about the FM3a screens not blacking out. This is wonderful. I think I also have a K2 screen sitting in a box somewhere.

    In any case, I use a screen like the B2 in my F3P. It is great because there is no blacking out with lenses beyond 2.8, but I do sometimes miss the split-prism. Any comments on using the B2 in the FE2?
     
  18. freecom2

    freecom2 Member

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    My FE2 came with a B2 screen - lovely screen, things "snap" into focus and easy to focus even in low light. I switched mine to a K2 because I'm very used to using a split image, but I've kept the B2 just in case I want to change back to an uncluttered view.
     
  19. LJSLATER

    LJSLATER Member

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    The B2, E2, and K2 were all made specifically for the FE2 and FM2(N) so you won't need to worry about exposure compensation at all.

    I gave up micro and split-prisms years ago for a number of reasons, mostly because I find them distracting. I admit I was worried at first about focusing accurately, but I've done tests on myself using my 50mm f/1.2 and I can focus perfectly using just the ground glass. I do have 20/20 vision, though. I should also mention that my subject matter does not move so focusing accurately and quickly is a non-issue for me.
     
  20. FA-user

    FA-user Member

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    the FM3a uses the K3 screen as default. It can be used in the FM2, FE2 of FA with no compensation. I installed one in my FA and love it!