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How-to's Camera Reviews

FAQ - What Camera to Buy?

J. Ramon Palacios (jrp)

Keywords: nikon, camera, bodies, faq, film

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35mm Single Lens Reflex

The 35mm film format is the most popular and the 35mm Single Lens Reflex is not just "an extension of your eye", but the most versatile camera as proven daily by both amateur and professional photographers, from the weekend snapshooter to the working pro, from the novice to the seasoned veteran.

Nikon F

 The Nikon F, introduced in 1959, revolutionizing the world of 35mm photography.
There are a considerable number of reasons for this preference for the 35mm SLR: 
  • Still convenient to carry and use 
  • Wide choice of bodies and interchangeable lenses, both prime (fixed focal length) and zoom (variable focal length), from the fish-eye and ultra wide angles to the 2000mm catadioptric (mirror) super telephoto 
  • Ample selection and availability from over 120 different 35mm films, whether for color prints, color slides, black & white, most very well suited for publishing and/or big enlargements; or for special purpose 
  • Highly advanced features in the high end models; plus, 
  • Relatively moderately priced, with the exception of the flagships 
  • You can have them manual, auto, or both 
  • With or without a motor
  • High top shutter speeds and so on. 
For any kind of photography, a great world!



See it at B&H Photo and Video
Chedk out current prices at B & H
Nikon FM10
Nikon FM2N
The Nikon FM10 is the fully manual camera serving as an affordable entry level into the world of 35mm SLR. Introduced in 1998, you do select shutter speed (from 1 to 1/2000 sec.) and aperture on your own, although the center weighted light meter guides you.  It has no motor, so you manually advance the film and rewind. You focus also manually and preview depth-of-field. Intended for students or beginners with an interest to understand the basics of light and exposure. Simple, easy to use, it takes all AI and AF Nikkor lenses.
The FM2N came into the market in 1983 and is still favored by many pros. It has a die cast all metal body. Center weighted TTL metering (60/40 balance). Top shutter speed 1/4000 sec. All mechanical; flash sync of 1/250 sec. Aluminum alloy shutter curtains for stable, dependable performance. Depth-of-field preview button. It uses the MD-12 Motor Drive, and has a nice MF-16 Data Back. No TTL flash. This is an outstanding upgrade of the old reliable FM2, long time favorite of the manual camera fans.


Check current prices at B&H Photo and Video

Nikon F3HP
 Nikon FM3a
The manual focus Nikon F3HPis the ultimate 35mm SLR camera for those who want the full control feeling in a pro body. Durable aluminum die cast construction, Center Weighted metering (80/20 balance) and TTL flash control. The F3HP comes with the now standard DE-3 high-eyepoint viewfinder system with virtual 100% coverage for full WYSIWYG; LCD exposure information readout in viewfinder. Top shutter speed 1/2000 sec. and flash sync up to 1/80 sec. Ultra strong, ultra thin, dual titanium shutter curtains for extended usage. It has a backup mechanical shutter release in case the batteries go dead on you. Aperture Priority auto exposure mode and fully manual exposure. Exposure memory lock button for off center compositions. Exposure compensation dial. Multiple exposure lever. Mirror lockup lever. Depth-of-field preview button. Self timer with LED indicator. High speed MD-4 Motor Drive available. Interchangeable viewfinders, focusing screens, battery packs, power sources and camera backs, including the 250 exposure MF-4 Multi-Control Back. Nikon F lens mount means, for the F3HP, it can use all AI-S lenses, AF Nikkor lenses, AI and even non-AI lenses. A rugged camera, both fun and very effective; like all pro models, built for a lifetime.   The latest of the manual cameras, it incorporates the best features of the venerable FM2 and the FE2 cameras.
Built in the tradition of those cameras, it has an rugged copper, silumin aluminum alloy construction chassis and metal outer body construction. It incorporates an improved light meter -with a double set of silicon photo diodes-  in the classical, well proven and reliable 60/40 Center Weighted formula of the FM2 and FE2.   The viewfinder is of the eye-level pentaprism type, with 93% of picture field coverage. Top shutter speed of 1/4000 sec. Flash TTL sync of 1/250 with hot shoe (no need for the AS-17 flash adapter like in the F3) and X-syc contact. Aperture Priority auto exposure mode and fully manual exposure. Depth of field preview button. Self timer. AE auto exposure lock for recomposition. It takes the time proven MD-12 motor drive and the MF-16 data back. It can use all of the Nikon lenses (AI, AI-S, AF, AF-D, AF-S and P) with the exception of the non-AI or pre-AI and the IX lenses for the SLR APS Pronea cameras. If you have wanted the F3 but have been weary of its age and weight, this is the camera; very light at 20 oz. (without batteries, or course). Very nice camera to have, promising the traditional reliability of the FM2/FE2 models.



These are just some of the conveniences of an auto focus 35mm SLR camera: 

  • They speed up your shooting; great for unexpected and action photos 
  • There is now a wide choice of interchangeable AF lenses, both prime and zoom 
  • They are now relatively moderately priced, with the exception of the flagships 
  • You can shoot fully auto, semi auto (aperture priority, shutter priority) or manual 
  • Most now have an integrated motor for film winding and rewinding 
  • Most have a very reliable exposure meter and typically more than one mode 
  • So you can concentrate on framing and composition; and off to enjoy.



The newest Nikon SLR, the N/F75, comes in all black or black & silver versions. Perfect for those looking for an affordable, easy-to-use and convenient SLR camera. A step above the F55 and F65. Light and small, nevertheless contains most of the latest technology. Filled with many auto features that can be overridden for creative photography. All settings can be viewed at a glance on its big high-visibility LCD. Auto, Vari-program, P, S, A, M. It boasts a built-in auto pop-up Speedlight with 3D Multi-Sensor Balanced Fill-Flash capability for more naturally balanced lighting in your picture. Easy operation using dedicated dials and selectors, new viewfinder display system, and a range of automatic features. Five-Area Dynamic Autofocus System with three Dynamic AF modes New 25-segment 3D Matrix Metering. With Nikon AF system compatibility.

See it at B&H Photo and Video

35mm film SLR Recommendation:
  • If you are really serious about photography, you are on the right track with a 35mm Single Lens Reflex, like the manual ones shown above 
  • Or an auto focus 35mm SLR that you can also operate in manual mode
  • Maybe even a high end 35mm SLR, the best possible tool for the task 
  • If you don't have the budget, look into good choices for used 35mm SLRs
  • Now, if you want superior negatives quality at all times, or are considering becoming a pro and/or have no serious budget constraints, go for the ...... Medium Format; just remember it is the bulkier and heavier of the still "portable" cameras. 
(3 Votes )
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Originally written on May 21, 2002

Last updated on December 19, 2017

J. Ramon Palacios J. Ramon Palacios (jrp)

JRP is one of the co-founders, has in-depth knowledge in various areas. Awarded for his contributions for the Resources

San Pedro Garza Garcia, Mexico
Admin, 42189 posts


Larry Jones (Larry443) on May 4, 2014

Outstanding! Thanks so much for the overview and the recommendations. I enjoyed reading about each class or group you presented. I especially liked your closing comment as that's what it's all about for me. Thanks again! Larry

Zita Kemeny (zkemeny) on March 5, 2013

Very good points which we may check when we want to buy a new camera. Thanks.