I have an FM3a and whilst I love it, it isn't exactly the quietest mechanical camera I have ever owned. Try and get to use a Nikon FE, FE2, FM, FM2 or FM2n for less noisy Nikon MF cameras.
However, if you desire a quiet camera, a Leica M is the way to go. If you can't afford an M7, get an M6 and start getting some lenses. You could always upgrade the body to an M7 later.
As far as I can tell, the FE, FE2, FM, FM2 and FM2n have exactly the same sound quality as the FM3a. That is to say, it's not very loud but it's of a certain pitch that is noticeable; of course all this gets much much worse with the MD-12 attached. That said I enjoy mine a great deal. Whether it's useful for being quiet in weddings is hard to say. Play with one in the store? There are some older Nikons that have cloth shutters (the F3 comes to mind) that might be quieter, or at least of a different pitch.
As for quiet, the quietest camera I own, bar none, is my TLR, which has a very soft click noise when the shutter goes. Sometimes I miss it and I'm the one shooting. Leicas have nothing on good TLRs. You may not like the lens selection, though.
After trying the Leica M6TTL and M4P for a few years I switched back to SLR with the Nikon FM3A. While I loved the Leica feel and mystique (which I totally bought into) with the truly outstanding lenses - there was something missing in my work. The FM3A may be a bit noisier, but in my experience it draws less attention than the Leica - your mileage may vary.
It came down to the close focus capabilities of the SLR and personal taste. I find I get a larger percentage of good shots with the FM3A. I had owned an FE2 back when I was a high school photog in the 80s and still have a soft spot in my heart for the song "Kodachrome...."
I bought the camera new from Adorama and picked up a 24/2.8, 35/2, 105/2.5 and 180/2.8 on eBay - the whole package cost less than I sold the M6TTL for. Maybe the kids will go to college after all.
Best of luck - the FM3A is truly a great camera. It is rugged, film is easy to load and Nikon AI/AIS lenses are excellent in real-world use.
I have an FM-2 that I purchased in 1980. This is an extremely rugged, olf-fashioned mechanical camera. My sense is that the FM-3 is simply the next generation in the design. I also have an FE-2 - same camera but with automatic exposure capability.
This camera is not silent. I have a motor drive on my FM-2, and the noize of the motor completely masks the shutter noise. With the FE-2 there is a distinct "clunk" - not as quiet as, for example, some of the 1980's vintage Olympus models, but also not nearly as noisy as the old Mamiya-Sekor 1000DTL that I replaced when I purchased the FM-2.
SLRs inevitably will make noise - the mechanical actions involved in flipping the mirror and moving the shutter curtains generate sound. If you want quiet, you have to go with a leaf shutter - and that essentially means a rangefinder camera. Of course, the tradeoff is that rangefinders don't provide the lens exchange flexibility of SLRs (and certainly not at the same price points.)
Hmm, well I can't say that I've used it as much as I thought I would, especially after getting an F5 a year later. But these days I'm not even using it as much as I used to, because I'm mostly shooting LF. I've thought about selling the FM3A, but haven't done it yet. I had originally bought it so I could have a more modern MF SLR. I once heard that it's becoming hard to find parts for MF Canons (in case my AE-1 program should conk out on me) but there are so many out there, that I don't see that as a problem for a long time. Should you be interested in an FM3A, let me know. I feel kind of guilty not using it as much as I should. I have three MF lenses to be used with it as well, that don't get used. They are 35 mm, 55 mm micro, 105 mm. I got their AF equivalents and use them with the F5/D2H and am quite happy with AF.
Originally Posted by Nicole McGrade
Last edited by colrehogan; 02-06-2005 at 05:02 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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Great to hear from you all. Thanks so much for your input.
I've just seen the Nikon S3 2000, a rangefinder, but I don't think it uses F-mount lenses. Looks like a great little unit!!!
I didn't realise the FM3A was that loud. When I compared it to my F90X it seemed much quieter! Diane, I might get back to you on that. Still looking.
Photographers have been shooting weddings with SLR's for a long time. I can't imagine the noise would be a big issue with the vast majority of your clients. A FM3A with the lenses Diane mentioned would be a great kit. I don't have a motordrive, but I find the camera quieter than my F80.
If I had been present at the creation, I would have given some useful hints for the better arrangement of the Universe.
Alfonso the Wise, 1221-1284
Well thats not my experience!
Originally Posted by gchpaco
I have owned FM, FM2 and FM2n in the past and currently own an FM3a. My friend has two FE2's. The FM3a is certainly the noisiest of all of them.
However, as has been said, it pales into insignificance if you are using the MD12.
I'm certainly not trying to disuade you (Nicole) from an FM3a though, its a great camera.
Another issue I feel is important is the viewfinder. The FE has a rather dim and small one compared to the F90X. This is a pain when shooting under dark conditions. I have given up macro with reversed lenses with the FE because of that.
The FE2, FM2n and FM3A should be better, I don't know since I havn't tried them.
As to the F90X it works great with AI(S) lenses which I find easy to focus on the screen.
I'm not sure that is an either or decision, I have not shot many weddings, but when I did, I always use either a Mamyia Universal or a Range Finder during the service. I have also used a RF for funerals ect. The N 90 is a great camera and in most cases works very well, but for quite I would think about a M 6, M 4, (if you are shooting indoors with a flash you may not need TLM) or even a M 3.