Was the Nikon FM3A a professional camera or a consumer model?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Vsanzbajo, Aug 8, 2011.

  1. Vsanzbajo

    Vsanzbajo Member

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    I heard 2 people arguing about this subject at the camera store. I thought it was a pro model, but what is your opinion. I did not say anything because I was not sure.
    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. agfarapid

    agfarapid Member

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    It probably falls into that in between class known as "pro sumer". It is certainly professional grade in construction and build quality. It takes the MD12 motor drive which was pretty fast for that time period as well as the full range of Nikor lenses. The Nikon FM10, for example, would definitely fall into the consumer category. It shipped with the series "E" 35-70 mid range zoom and it's build quality, while not the most robust, was certainly adequate for it's market--the occasional shooter.
     
  3. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    Yea Id say prosumer too. the nikon F5/6 was the pro model at that time this was out. The F3 probably would be the last pro manual focus body.
     
  4. AezranHakim

    AezranHakim Member

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    the FM3a is a really really good camera :smile:
     
  5. eSPhotos

    eSPhotos Member

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    It wasn't meant to be a pro camera.
    I don't think many pros would prefer MF camera for his/her work in the 21st centry.
    It is a good camera nontheless.
     
  6. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    If a "Pro" camera is defined as having the highest possible durability, reliability and being able to take the most advanced accessories, then no, it wasn't.

    The FM3a probably has a shutter life of "only" about 100,000 actuations compared to about 250,000 for the "F" models. This can be important if you shoot several rolls of film a day, day in and day out.

    Its absolute reliability was probably lower than the "F" models. Having to re-stage a wedding to recover lost shots probably wouldn't help a photographer's career.

    It wouldn't take "state of the art" accessories such as 5-6 FPS motors and 250 exposure backs, which, *if* you need them, then you really need them.

    So not "pro", but still a very, very nice camera.

    P.S. My favorite cameras and the ones I consider best also aren't "pro" cameras by the above definition.
     
  7. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    The FM series were often used by professionals because they were smaller and lighter than the F series, they'd now be termed Prosumer I guess.

    Where 35mm was the only format used then the F series was the better choice, but many professionlas shot mainly RF and LF with only a small amount of 35mm, and the FM's were ideal, specialist Nikon lenses were (still are) easy to hire if needed. FM's were alo used as back up cameras becuase of there much lower cost new.

    Ian
     
  8. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

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    A pro decides what is a pro tool for the job. Steve McCurry used an FM2 for the Afghan Girl photo for National Geographics and he's as pro as a photographer gets thereby making the FM2 a pro tool. The FM3A is a continuation of the FM2 and would therefore also be a pro camera.:whistling:
     
  9. CGW

    CGW Restricted Access

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    Agree. N90s/F90x was used professionally by many during the mid/late 90s as a lightweight(and faster)alternative to the ponderous F4.
     
  10. erikg

    erikg Member

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    It's a pro tool if a pro uses it? I don't think that's a good test. FM3A is a really nice camera and certainly very capable, but in terms of pro features and pro-level construction it fell short of the top of the Nikon line when it was released. Doesn't mean a lot in practical terms for most shooters.
     
  11. CGW

    CGW Restricted Access

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    Who cares? The FM2N saw lots of action as a bomb-proof, battery-independent back-up camera to the F3 system in the 80s. It delivered the goods. All the fuss about
    "pro features and pro-level construction" meant more to house-bound amateurs than it did to pros who used, say, an FM2n as a dependable mechanical back-up camera.
    It's a bit of a conceit.
     
  12. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    I don't want to say which is pro and which is not. Only that the FM3a, introduced around 2000, with the MD-12 it's very slow for its time. The F5 can do 8fps, The F100 5fps. Even the N80 is capable of about the same framing rate as the FM3a.
     
  13. budrichard

    budrichard Member

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    The difference between Pro and Amateur cameras often comes down to shutter mean actuations to failure design and resistance to handling, temp extremes or other factors.
    The FM3A is not a Pro designed camera as also evidenced by its use of the MD-12 Motor which had its start with the original Nikon FM, I believe.
    Now its a fine Motor but certainly not designed for very heavy use. I have 3 and two have experienced various problems over the years. I also have an FM3A, a fine camera but I purchased it for the hybrid shutter, which I thought was clever engineering and a logical progression to my Nikon FM2.-Dick
     
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  15. Pumalite

    Pumalite Subscriber

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    You have to have a Nikon F or F2 fall down a mountain; and then keep taking pictures to know the difference
     
  16. CGW

    CGW Restricted Access

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    After the fall, I doubt you'd be in a fit state to know. Silly.
     
  17. Pumalite

    Pumalite Subscriber

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    Not silly. Facts.
     
  18. CGW

    CGW Restricted Access

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    Really useful. Will keep it in mind next time I want to fling my old F off a mountain...
     
  19. Uncle Bill

    Uncle Bill Subscriber

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    The FM3a is a really nice camera (would love to get one myself at some point) that falls into the Prosumer category. Truthfully I think Nikon aimed this camera at advanced amateurs who love manual focus cameras, if Pro used this as a back up body, so much the better.
     
  20. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    My first 35mm SLR, a Miranda Sensorex, had all the “professional” features I needed. However, due to it breaking three times within two years, I formed my current opinion as to the difference between an amateur and a professional camera.

    To me, the main difference is that the professional camera is built for heavy usage. It is built to withstand multiple exposures on a daily basis. It is built to perform flawlessly even though it may be banged around. Another difference is that the professional camera is usually part of a system that allows the user to reconfigure the camera, e.g. change the lens, viewfinder, view screen, and power source in order to meet the specific requirements of the assignment. A professional camera also tends to be expensive but is well worth it to those who make their living taking photos.

    I have never owned or used the Nikon FM3a. I have owned and used the Nikon F, F2, F3, and F4. However, when I needed another body, I considered buying a new FM3a because based on its specifications and user feedback, I determined that the FM3a was very reliable, accepted high-quality optics, and could withstand environmental extremes. Therefore, I classified the FM3a as a professional camera.

    By the way, the only reason I did not buy one was because I discovered that the digital revolution had caused used film camera prices to drop to such a low level that I could buy another F4 for less than a new FM3a.
     
  21. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    My FM really did take a tumble down a mountain in an unpadded rucksack pocket.
    It still has a small piece of Cordura embedded in a dent on the prism.
    (It goes without saying that it kept working).

    That said, I find the attachment to the term "Pro" a bit silly.
    I also rather have cameras which work wonderfully at taking pictures rather than substituting hammers...
     
  22. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    Definitely not a pro camera.

    I was repairing Nikons when the FMxx were popular. Since our clientele was 90% pro, I never saw one that I recall.

    - Leigh
     
  23. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

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    Reliability is definitely the first requirement . . . :whistling:
     
  24. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    A "Professional" camera is/was one that the manufacturers and distributors would:
    1) "accessorize" with professionally oriented features and accessories;
    2) market to professional photographers; and
    3) support with enhanced repair and accessory resources.

    This means that there are a wide variety of types of "professional" cameras. For example, a photojournalist requires one type (a Nikon F2?), whereas someone doing high volumes of photo-micrography might choose an Olympus OM body.

    Was an FM3A a body that Nikon would support in the same way they would support an F5?
     
  25. Pumalite

    Pumalite Subscriber

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    It's funny that when the F3 was on sale; nobody wanted to buy it,Everybody stuck to his Niko F, F2, F2AS,Nikkormats, but would not buy the F3.Nikon had to raise the price of the F2 AND lower the price os the F3 for that to happen.
     
  26. CGW

    CGW Restricted Access

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    Funny but the F3 had a much longer production run than the F2. Price wasn't the only reason.