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FM3a .. The best "MF" Nikon for travel with print film?

Laika

Perth, AU
652 posts

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Laika Basic Member
Sat 29-Dec-01 11:50 PM

I’d just thought I’d make some comments on the FM3a after using it for a couple of months travelling.

I’ve just moved to the UK on a years working holiday and bought a black FM3a just before leaving Australia as a mechanical backup/second body to go with my F3. Since I started using it my F3 has seen little use, I find the FM3a suits my shooting needs/style better and after looking over the spec’s of the other Nikon manual focus capable bodies it might be Nikons best yet for my needs.

Firstly I shoot mostly print film hand held with available light … Mostly Fuji 400 & 800 Superia, Fuji NPH & NPZ and Ilford XP2. Here are some of the things that have made the FM3a really shine for me.

The exposure display in the finder… I have been shooting in full manual mode and love being able to scan a scene quickly to see the full exposure range without having to do anything more than make sure the meter is active … some people I’ve heard comment that the FM2n is better in low light with its LED setup but I disagree, I use the exposure lock button then move the meter area of the finder towards a light source if I cant see to meter the shadows, Its very quick as my thumb basically rests on the lock button anyway.

The self-timer/MLU function… For what I’ve been using it for I find it better than a true MLU function. If I’m in a situation where the shutter speed falls below the lens focal length rule (like in a gallery or buildings at night etc) I set the self timer to its minimum time (3 sec?) compose and press the shutter and wait … This way I have eliminated the mirror slap and the action for pressing the shutter from the blur potential. I don’t feel I could maintain the composition (hand held) if I had to manually lock up the mirror as on my F3. Add some breathing control I’ve learned for years of shooting pistols and any available rest for the camera or my body and I’ve been getting some surprisingly good results.

Auto setting … While I haven’t been using it much at all its handy to be able to give the camera to my girlfriend without going over the joys of using a full manual camera with her

Full range of shutter speeds without batteries…. Something else I haven’t had a need for “yet” but is nice to have. I feel with a little bit of bracketing I could get reasonable shots (on print film) with no meter.

Lack of a motor drive…. A bonus IMO, I like to keep a low profile and nothing stands out like a Nikon motor drive in a quiet gallery

The option for TTL flash with fill flash compensation, fast sync and a standard ISO shoe if I buy a flash at some point. (I’d like to for off camera macro work)



And a couple of general comments that all the current non pro AF bodies fall flat on ..IMO

The ability to function with AI’d, AI, AIS lenses. IMO good used AI lenses offer incredible value for money and give most people the ability to get some fast glass it they want to.

Being able to fit a spare set of batteries in your wallet that are good for 100+ rolls of film.


I think Nikons latest MF (maybe there last?) SLR is a winner and has some worthwhile improvements over the FM2n…

Laika

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Reply message Great insight.I'm enjoying mine too!
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     Reply message Oh yes!
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