Nikon F3HP or FM3a?
Yea, I know these articles are all over the interwebs, but I wanted to ask some specific questions between the two that I was having a hard time finding. Maybe those of you who own / have used both can chime in.
I am replacing my FM. The shutter is firing when I advance the film and I can't seem to fix it (and the cost of repair would likely be the value of the camera).
I pondered an F5 for a while, but I think I like the simplicity of older manual focus cameras and (less/no) dependence on batteries. I'm down to the F3HP or FM3a.
My specific concerns are:
-Battery life on the F3, how many rolls can you get out of it?
-Viewfinder, the FM's finder position always felt a little crunched to me, so the HP will definitely be better, but what of the subjective experience of actually looking through the prism? I also prefer the LEDs (shoot with dark backgrounds a lot), but I'm not married to it.
-Cost - why is the FM3a twice as much as an F3? With an F3, I'd be able to get a 50/1.2, with the FM3, I'd need to settle for a 1.4.
-Mirror slap, my FM has a pretty noisy and ugly slap. How do these stack up?
-Does one feel like a more solid camera than the other? Ergonomic concerns?
If anyone else has any subjective comparisons you'd like to share, I'm all ears. It will be used as an all-around camera, including something to stick by my side on my long bicycle tours and hiking trips.
As far as battery life for the F3 I can only say - A lot.
All the battery has to do is to fire the shutter and do the metering. The FM3a is a much newer camera than the F3 hence the price. I suspect Nikon are running out of spares for the F3 by now (electronic ones) and the FM3a will be a better proposition spares wise. Having said that there are a mountain of little used F3's out there which have only had light amateur use and I would go for the F3 HP every time were I in the market for a manual body. The only drawback that I can think of with the F3 and the Fm3a is the choice of flash unit. I don't know of any independent flash units that fit onto the F3's shoe, except possibly Metz so you are limited to a couple or possibly 3 Nikon ones if you want TTL flash.
The sound of the mirror on the last F3 I used was not bad. Not as quiet as say the shutter on my F100 but quieter than the early FM and Nikkormats.
The F3HP is really inexpensive, now, and a very fine camera. I think if you look around carefully you can get one very reasonably.
So reasonable that one could supplement the F3HP with a nice FM3a.........maybe.
FM3a will drop in price in the coming years. F3HP us a fantastic camera especially bang for buck right now.
The FM3a had a much shorter production run, which means there are far fewer of them on the second-hand market. It also has a hybrid shutter not found in any other camera, which provides both aperture-priority, electronically-controlled AE and a full range of mechanically-governed speeds for manual use.
Originally Posted by mfratt
Thanks everyone. Flash isn't really a concern for me; I work with natural lighting 99% of the time. The dependence on electronics kind of scares me... I don't intend to be using either camera in a monsoon, but it is bound to get a little wet from time to time. I'd definitely get a nice one, probably not used by a pro (EX+ on KEH is about $250 for the F3).
Having both would be really nice, but I doubt the cost would be justified. Once I'm able to afford the equipment I need to get, I would be packing either an F3 and an FM or a D700 and an F3/FM3a. In either case, I do like having a mechanical camera to fall back on. The only electronic manual focus SLR I've used was a Canon AE-1, with which I was thoroughly unimpressed. Perhaps my experience was just tainted?
Overall, I am inclined towards the F3, if for nothing other than cost (and my real lust for the 50/1.2, which the cost difference of the bodies would enable me to afford). But I just can't peel my heart away from mechanical cameras. Hence my dilemma.
If you want a mechanical Camera get a Nikon F2 which is considered by many to be the pinnacle of Nikon's mechanical cameras and can be found for 250$ on Keh. I personaly prefer the pure F thoug.
Originally Posted by mfratt
The only advantage the F3 has over the FM3 is the viewfinder other than that the FM3a beats the F3 in most things it's lighter, has a faster synch speed, works at all speed without battery and the electronics are newer. Electronics age especially LCD screens.
I was going to recommend an F2 as well. Ever since I got my F2 my F3HP has mostly sat around...the me the F2 is the Leica of the classic Nikon manual focus line.
Originally Posted by MDR
I've been using the same F-3 since it was new in 1981 or 82, and it has never let me down except for the one time I didn't have a spare battery with me... and the times I fail to bring enough film. Like someone else said, the battery life is quite long.
I have 3 F3HP and a couple of FM3a's; but for absolute reliability I prefer the Nikon F and F2