I have FM2N, F3HP, F2A & F2AS. Had FE2 and sold it. No experience with FM3A, but, unless it's build quality differs greatly from FE2/FM2N, there is no contest in build quality compared to the pro bodies. Just my opinion. If I could have only one, it would be one of the F2's.
Based on your criteria, I think I'd recommend an FM2n over an FM3a.
Originally Posted by mfratt
One of the many accessories for the F3 includes the AS-17. This adapter gives the F3 a standard show with TTL.
Originally Posted by BMbikerider
if you are a fan of the "zone system" as far as it is feasible in 35 mm, the FE, FE-2 or FM-3a are in my opinion the better choice. You should shoot in manual mode and you see the time the camera would choice in automatic mode by the pointer and the time you have set manually by the green bar. You can easily shift the aperture and see the difference towards over- or under-exposure in the viewfinder. The over/under correction of the F-3 is locked, takes time and you don't see in the viewfinder that you have set a correction.
Alright, given the choices and what I expect the OP to be using it for, I recommend the F3HP. 100% viewfinder, aperture-priority, pro level camera without any nonsense.
I just got an F3 that's been through hell and back and it runs beautifully
Soft shutter release, the non HP is not bad with glasses, but the HP is even better
Smooooooooth film wind
Electronics on it should not be a concern
EDIT: I know someone above mentioned the Zone system and the FE2 and FM3A. Note that the meter on the F3 is 80/20 center weight over the traditional 60/40. This makes it a quasi spot meter
80/20 doesn't even make it remotely a spot meter a spot meter is 1° max 3° and doesn't take in account 20% outside information. If someone wants to do the Zone System he/she should invest in a good spot meter even in camera spot meters are not real spot meters.
The glass thing is a good point though if the OP wears glasses the F3HP would be the best choice even better than the F and F2.
A true zone system procedure and 35mm rolls of film makes no sense since the development of each frame of exposure of film is a huge part of the zone system process.
Originally Posted by MDR
The OP mentioned they simply wanted to replace their FM. I highly doubt they're interested in getting all Ansel Adams with a Nikon F of any variation. Therefore I don't even know why we're even talking about the zone system.
I've owned a Nikon F3HP since 1983. Since I don't own, nor expect to own a Nikon FM3a I can't really provide a comparison. In regard to some of your other questions, as others have done, I think you should lay any concerns about the battery life of a F3 to rest. That was, way back in 1980, a real concern that was expressed by photographers who had cut their teeth with the original Nikon F or F2 cameras. As Shutterbug magazine said some time ago in a classic camera review of the F3 that concern seems quaint in the current era ( link: http://www.shutterbug.com/content/sa...-35mm-slr-saga ).
The batteries for the camera body only of a Nikon F3 (if you're not using the MD-4 motordrive) are dinky watch type batteries that last for a long time. It's very, very easy to carry a few spare batteries in a kit for insurance. Many users consider the F3 to be the best manual focus SLR ever made. That's just a statement of fact, it's not an argument. The camera was the result of 30 years experience that Nikon had in making 35mm cameras and the experience shows. The camera was proven time and again as a reliable and rugged professional tool, well worthy of the mantle from prior Nikon F series cameras.
On an aside, if you really want a compact package to carry on a bike ride try to obtain one of the 50mm f/1.8 lens that were made from 1980-82 and originally sold only in the Japanese market. This lens is referred to as the "AI Nikkor 50mm f/1.8S" lens in most sources (link: http://imaging.nikon.com/history/nikkor/2/index.htm ). It's only 36.5mm from the lens flange and is a very nice lens (link: http://www.destoutz.ch/lens_50mm_f1.8_2257006.html ) These lens show up on eBay with some frequency, although the lens was produced for only a short period.
Finally, IMHO, the Nikon F3HP is the best looking 35mm SLR ever made.