Spotmatic to FM2n dilemma

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Michel Hardy-Vallée, Sep 18, 2007.

  1. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    I've been using my spottie for a while at work to cover our events and take formal portraits for our members' profiles. I use it of course for my own personal work, and also at non-work related events. Last night I was taking pictures at a political event, and my big flash got me access to the front stage to take pictures of the elected people (yay!).

    At some point, I was changing lenses, and my 28mm Takumar just dropped to the floor, and that was it. The focus ring is now jammed forever, and I don't think there's a point in repairing it. I was sad to see the 28mm go, but then I haven't depended upon it. Later on I met an old acquaintance who was turning his vest for the political party involved, and he was wondering if I was freelancing. No, I wasn't, but then I thought: why not? I already have a job, and don't have problem to find it, but I like doing the occasional photo job. If the pics sell, great; if not, whatever.

    That's when I suddenly realized that my equipment was perhaps slightly out of the loop should I need parts, repairs, or a new lens quick. I also realized that I use my 50mm f1.4 most of the time, a 35mm some time to take group pictures, and a 135mm periodically for taking portraits. The last one annoys me because it's always a little too long. A few other of my M42 lenses are not used very often either.

    So here's what I was starting to consider: sell progressively or at once my Pentax stuff, including what I'm not using often and a few other bits, to limit myself to a Nikon FM2n, with a 35/50/105 setup from KEH. I would gain:

    * Bayonet mount, slightly faster lenses (35 and 105)
    * 1/250 flash sync => ability to do fill flash
    * Reliability, ease of repair, available parts
    * Motor drive option
    * Less gear on my shelf

    I'm not entirely decided, but given that all my Pentax lenses are SMC Takumars with caps, cases, and hoods all in good condition, I was thinking that I have a chance at selling them reasonably (on APUG of course!).

    Any thoughts? Suggestions?
     
  2. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Why not get a F4s? The MF lenses will work fully. If you need/want autofocus,ttl flash or any of the other F4s features you can get them. Prices for F4s aren't exactly high.

    If you don't need speed then the 35mm-70mm F/2.8 would be a good option to. Even if you need the speed of the 50mm the zoom could be used when you can manage with the F/2.8
     
  3. zenrhino

    zenrhino Member

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    Im using a setup like Nick recommends, only with an n90s (though if I were doing production work, I'd definitely go to a pro body) with autofocus lenses. I dont use autofocus, but it's nice to have if I need it. Are the AF lenses as silky smooth in focusing? No, but I can wheel right around and use the lenses on my d1g1t@l if I need.
     
  4. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    I agree with Nick's suggestion of ttl flash, I don't know if the FM2n supports it or not. IMO bayonet mount lenses are much easer to handle than the Pentax screw mount lenses.
    I also agree with Nick about considering a zoom instead of the 50, unless you need the speed. I have a 35 - 105 which is what is on the camera most of the time. My 50 is probably the least used of my lenses. The 35-105 is slower than the 35-70 (f3.5), but either would be very useful, especially for events where you might not have a lot of flexibility for moving around.
    Besides, if you're using flash, then you might not need the speed.
    my $0.02
     
  5. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    For all of the reasons you are intrested in a new system I recommend a N 90 or N 80 which can be used with auto focus as well as manual focus lens. Built in winder.
     
  6. bob100684

    bob100684 Member

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    Almost 100% sure the FM2n doesn't do ttl flash, but I'm also almost 100% sure the FE2 which is a very similar camera does. It definitly shares the 1/250th sync speed.
     
  7. jbj

    jbj Member

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    Or FM3a which has TTL-flash capabilities and completely manual with aperture priority mode and a few other hybrid functions of the FE2
     
  8. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    Go for it. I love my Nikon FM2. Small and lightweight.

    I gave up my Spotmatic II to make the Nikon switch three decades ago and never looked back.

    Yes TTL is nice, but you can live without it, especially if you only use flash from time to time.
     
  9. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Truth is that if you're really planning to do this occasionally for money, then the answer lies not in a film capture, but rather (dare I say it here) with electronic capture. It need not be a super high end DSLR to make images good enough for moderate enlargements and for print and/or electronic media publication.

    OK, I felt compelled to point that out, and it's out of the way.

    I own both an FM2n and an N90s. Here's a quick rundown. I have only a passing familiarity with the other cameras previously mentioned, so I'll confine my comments to these two cameras.

    The FM2n does not support TTL flash. It will mount any AI or AIS lens, but not unmodified older non-AI lenses. Likewise it will mount and meter with any autofocus lens with an AI mount. Lenses without an aperture ring are not suitable for use with this camera. A non-dedicated automatic thyristor controlled flash like the Vivtar 285 or 283 works well for fill flash. Plenty of power, and inexpensive even new. Flash sync is up to 1/250 sec. Don't be shy of the "E Series" lenses. The 50mm f/1.8 and 100 mm f/2.8 are astonishingly good and very inexpensive on the used market. I am not so convinced about the E series wide angle lenses, but the 35mm f/2, 28mm f/2.8 and 24mm f/2.8 AI or AIS lenses are very good. The 105 f/2.5 AI lens is legendary. I have an older version of this lens and it is very, very good. I do find it to be a bit long for portraits though, and prefer the 85mm f/2 (another outstanding performer) for that application. It's a solid, if a bit noisy, little machine that will take a lot of abuse and will serve you well. No batteries, except to power the meter, required .

    The N90s will support TTL flash in any mode if used with auto focus lenses and a Nikon dedicated flash unit from any manufacturer who makes one. With manual focus lenses, flash functions are pretty much the same as you'd get with the FM2n with one exception. Flash units that support rear curtain sync can be used in that fashion even with manual focus lenses. Metering with auto focus lenses is center weighted average, spot, or matrix. Of course, full program auto exposure is also supported with these lenses. With manual focus lenses, metering is limited to spot and center weighted average. Auto exposure is limited to aperture priority. There is a handy little electronic focus indicator built into the viewfinder. Flash sync is, once again, up to 1 /250 sec. Needs 4 AA batteries to run. Alkaline cells can last an impressively long time if you don't use auto focus lenses.

    For a more complete rundown of Nikon camera bodies and their capabilities, start here: http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/companies/nikon/htmls/models/index.htm
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 18, 2007
  10. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Thanks for all the answers everyone. I am of course absolutely in love with the FM3a, but until used bodies fall below 400$ I can't even consider them.

    I know that anybody being serious about freelance will end up with a digicam of some sort, and that's something I might consider should I get some spare cash. Having a common system between film and digi would be beneficial, and that's why I have Nikon in mind. For some reason, I just don't click with the Canon gestalt, so that's that.

    For now, I'm trying to capitalize on the value-added aesthetics of film. Real press work couldn't give a rat's ass, but small, lower-pressure assignments (band photos, performance, etc) sure benefit from it.

    I also thought about the MF v. AF question, and think that in the end if I really need AF, then it's going to be in a situation I would need digi as well. I like simple mechanical cameras because they help me keep my stress level low. I know I waste a few seconds here and there because of manual settings, but again, the stakes are not that high.

    A zoom is indeed a good idea. I like primes because of the image quality, but putting a few bucks on a decent, relatively modern zoom can save the day every once in a while.

    Well, I guess I have to start making a price list...
     
  11. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    I suggested the F4 because it's a great MF body. The ability to stick AF lenses on it is just a bonus.
     
  12. Richard Kelham

    Richard Kelham Member

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    The F3 is better – if you don't want the bonus.

    In tricky lighting situations such as you might encounter photographing bands etc AF can be a real pain, hunting back and forth trying to lock on – manual is probably faster.

    Go with your instincts. If you're wrong you can always sell it again and recoup your outlay.



    Richard
     
  13. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Why is the F3 better?
     
  14. spotmaticfanatic

    spotmaticfanatic Member

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    I've done little in the way of freelance work thus far, but I'll ask it: why do you think it's necessary to switch to digital work? Perhaps if you were working regularly as a photographer or as a photojournalist, it would make sense, but I'm not convinced that at the very least for the occassional freelancer that film is a bad option. Those SMC Takumar lenses are pretty snappy lenses - I would hazard a guess that they're probably better than lower end DSLR equipment. I'd suggest that you round out your lens set with an 85mm for portraits (a beautiful lens, and they can be had for as little as $150), and a new 28mm. If you start working regularly, digital may make sense, but film with the right lenses is just as high, or even higher quality than digital (keep in mind that digital has a worse dynamic range), and a fraction of the cost.
     
  15. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Woh, wait a minute buddy. I said that digital is unavoidable if you're doing gun for hire type of jobs, but I didn't say that I was moving digital, so don't annoy me with the whole d v. a debate. Nor did I say that digital was the only game in town.

    As for Takumar lenses, don't worry, I know how good they are. But have you ever had that sinking feeling when focussing them sometimes unscrews them as well? And I've never seen a 85mm for 150$, never.
     
  16. Trond

    Trond Subscriber

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    If I were you, I would just stick with the Spotmatic, and just get a replacement lens. Spotmatics and M42 lenses are plentyful on the used market and usually don't cost much either. It's quite cheap to get a Spotmatic serviced as well.

    A Spotmatic has drawbacks, as you know, such as dim a viewfinder, slow flash sync speed, etc, but the cameras are very well built and reliable (apart from the light meter). Most of the lenses are quite good too. For a 35mm I would suggest the 2.0, an extremely nice lens. A fast short tele lens is more difficult to find, but you do have the Jupiter-9 lenses, which can be good. I own a Fujinon-T 105mm 2.8. A good and compact lens, and I didn't pay much for it.

    Trond
     
  17. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    I would say Nikon FM, the original one, does the same job as the Spotmatic does, and it's a good camera (my all-time favorite) to have if you get into Nikon. You can use the same flash unit you've been using on a FM.

    But if you want more capability than that, then your choices will be FM2 (of various kinds), F90, F100, and F4, F5, etc. I would avoid F3 because the accessories including the special hotshoe are hard to find.
     
  18. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Probably for the same reason you like the F4 so much.

    Keeping in mind that opinions are like other parts of the anatomy.
    Personal preference
     
  19. ehparis

    ehparis Member

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    The F3 outsold the F4 and was discontinued after the F4 was gone. Someone apparently thought the F4 was not a "replacement" for an F3.

    A "good condition" user F3 goes for $200-$225, a really nice one (cosmetically) for $300. They also use auto lenses. They're built like tanks. What exactly is wrong with an auto flash like the Vivitar 283?

    Get an F3HP and some good MF lenses.
     
  20. laverdure

    laverdure Member

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    I'm with Trond. M42 cameras are cheap. I'd buy a few more bodies- carry two and you've got another lens handy faster than you would with a bayonet, plus different film if you like. Spotmatics are about the most reliable cameras there are- pretty easy to repair (and cheap to break while learning to repair)- and parts... well, you've got those extra three or four bodies cluttering up your shelves...

    The 35/2 and an 85/fast aren't all that expensive. A little cheaper than Nikon equivalents actually, I think. I saw on ebay a motor drive for a spotmatic once. I believe it was only compatible with a small number of bodies though. Late SP F perhaps? I think it went for ~US$200.

    And frankly, Nikons may be better pro cameras, but old Pentaxs are much prettier. :tongue:
     
  21. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Which is part of my reasoning for the F4 over the F3.

    The F4 isn't any more money and can be cheaper. Better metering. Uses common AA batteries. The F3 used button batteries? The F4 adds a modern still supported flash attachment. TTL flash.
     
  22. eddym

    eddym Member

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    I have to cast a vote for the FE2. Great camera, simple to use, rugged. With the SB16B you get TTL auto flash, which is very accurate, in my experience.
     
  23. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    Maybe one should add...... And newer, up to at least the SB28 (I would expect youll get TTL with the SB800 too).
    The FE2 is a great little camera but I like the diode in the FM range better than the needle in the FE's.
    Kind Regards
    Søren
     
  24. eddym

    eddym Member

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    I didn't mean to restrict the flash choices to the SB16; indeed, my SB800 does work in TTL with my FE2. Should have said that.

    And I like the match needle meter better than the diodes. It's more... ANALOG!! :wink:
     
  25. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Well, having rented an FM2n for the weekend, I'm now biting the bullet. See the classifieds for my massive M42 sale!