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  1. #1

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    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.
    ~ Michelle

  2. #2

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    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.
    Last edited by BMbikerider; 08-18-2013 at 05:28 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  3. #3
    Paul Goutiere's Avatar
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    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.

  4. #4
    Richard Sintchak (rich815)'s Avatar
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    FM3a will drop in price in the coming years. F3HP us a fantastic camera especially bang for buck right now.
    -----------------------

    "Well, my photos are actually much better than they look..."

    Richard S.
    Albany, CA (San Francisco bay area)

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  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by mfratt View Post
    -Cost - why is the FM3a twice as much as an F3?
    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.

  6. #6

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    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.
    ~ Michelle

  7. #7
    MDR
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    Quote Originally Posted by mfratt View Post
    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.

    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.

  8. #8
    Richard Sintchak (rich815)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MDR View Post
    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 though.
    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.
    -----------------------

    "Well, my photos are actually much better than they look..."

    Richard S.
    Albany, CA (San Francisco bay area)

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  9. #9

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    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.

  10. #10
    Pumalite's Avatar
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    I have 3 F3HP and a couple of FM3a's; but for absolute reliability I prefer the Nikon F and F2
    " A loving and caring heart is the beginning of all knowledge " ~ Thomas Carlyle ~

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