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.
Last edited by JimCee; 08-19-2013 at 03:43 PM. Click to view previous post history.