In love with Nikon FM3a, but too expensive.

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by RequiemX, Oct 3, 2004.

  1. RequiemX

    RequiemX TPF Noob!

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    It finally happened. I dropped my trusty Konica AR T2 for the bazillionth time, ripping the lense mount right off. It happened while shooting the first roll of my college photography class, too. So now I need a new camera, and I'm not sure what to do.

    I'm quite smitten with the FM3a because it uses Nikon lenses, it's built well, and has a mechanical 1/4000 shutter so I can increase my DOF. It's also a manual camera, so I can easily change the settings, yet it has a nice aperture-priority mode so it's really a semi-automatic.

    Thing is, it's $500 and doesn't even come with a lense.

    So what body should I look into? I guess my needs (or wants) are:

    1) Solid build, preferably metal.
    2) Good selection of lenses (one of the things I hated about my T2)
    3) 1/2000 or preferably higher shutter speeds
    4) Ease of use manually, without navigating menus. (Cameras should have dials/knobs/switches, not menus. Call me old-fashioned.)
    5) Somewhat-automatic control, including aperture-priority.

    I'm hoping those with experience outside my $40 pawn shop world might have some advice.

    Thanks!
    Noah
     
  2. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I've been wanting a Nikon FE2 for a little while now. Have you considered a used FE2? Any camera shows/camera swap meets in your area?
     
  3. RequiemX

    RequiemX TPF Noob!

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    The FE2 does look nice and it's cheaper than the FM3a.

    I went over to a friend's house last night and fell in love with the Minolta Maxxum 7, though. Wow.

    Thinking about it more, I think I'm going to look closer at the Minolta Maxxums instead of some older cameras.

    Anybody here use the 5, 70, or 7?

    The 7 is pricey, but it's really delicious. The 5 looks good, though I haven't handled it in real life and it lacks the cool manual-focus-after-auto-focus feature.

    I like how easy it is to use the Maxxum 7 in manual mode compared to the other modern bodies I've seen.

    Any advice?

    Thanks,
    Noah
     
  4. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    My advice....

    Focus on the glass.... not the body....
     
  5. RequiemX

    RequiemX TPF Noob!

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    Always a good point.

    The problem for me is that glass is just glass unless I can make it work for me. I can't stand AF Nikons and I feel inflexible with Canons. I thought my solution was to go manual until I held the 7. I think I'm more confused than when I started.
     
  6. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    I think you are splitting hairs. AF is AF, and works just about the same on a Canon, a Nikon, a Pentax, or a Minolta. Besides, AF makes you weak :wink: , and fails you in important situations. Current model 35mm AF SLRs in the under $1000 price range are all incredibly similar.

    All brands have more lenses and accessories than any photog could ever use. If you think you're going to need some obscure lens or accessory then you probably should go with Canon or Nikon.

    Nikon lenses are nice, and the FM3a is a beauty. I just bought a FM2n, and I love it. It was used and cost $200 with a lens. But it doesn't have the aperture priority mode.

    Speaking of aperture, DOF is controlled by aperture not shutter speed. The usefulness of very high shutter speeds is questionable. Almost everything moving can be frozen sharply with a shutter speed of 1/1000. But maybe you do lots of sports or action photography.

    I'd say your critera points towards a manual focus 35mm SLR camera from the 1980's. The Nikon FE, Canon AE-something, Minolta X-700, etc... You should be able to find a nice, clean one with a lens for under $250, maybe even under $100. They are all full metal build, most have control dials, and pretty high shutter speeds. If you didn't mind full manual control, I'd say the Nikon FM2n is a wonderful choice.
     
  7. RequiemX

    RequiemX TPF Noob!

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    On my Konica, I was limited by my DOF choices because it only went to 1/1000. By having a 1/4000 shutter I can go two stops lower, if I'm doing the calculations right in my head. So faster shutter speeds allow greater depth of field, in a round about way.

    I found a great deal on a new Maxxum 5 and I'm going to be picking up some nice Minolta primes from KEH.com when I get paid today. photozone.de helped me come to that conclusion. Very nice user review database of lenses. I'm really only going to need a 50, 28, and ~100 prime. Looks like the Minolta 35-105 zoom is pretty good, too. Might get that as well.

    Thanks for all the advice, even though I know it doesn't sound like I was listening. If this doesn't work for me, I'll just eBay it and get a Nikon manual. I have a feeling that this will be a nice change for me, though. And I hope to stay around and learn some more here.

    Thanks!
    Noah
     
  8. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    I maybe misunderstanding your wording, but from your initial post you seem to want to increase your DOF: make more of the image come into focus. This would be achieved by closing down the aperture, going to a higher f/#, and decreasing the amount of exposure. To compensate for this you would go to a slower shutter speed.

    If I am misunderstanding you, and what you want is a small DOF (aperture wide open, smaller f/#), then I'd recommend thinking about using a slower ISO. With the aperture 2 stops wider you could switch from ISO 400 to ISO 100, and still be firing at 1/1000th.
     
  9. RequiemX

    RequiemX TPF Noob!

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    I love ISO 100 film. I used some ISO 64 a few years back which was pretty great, but hard to use inside w/o massive lights. I've had similar, but less problems with 100.

    And yeah, rereading, I am saying one thing and meaning another. Time for the edit button.
     
  10. Tok

    Tok TPF Noob!

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    It's my primary body. Like other said u can get an older Nikon manual, or maybe even the FM3a, used. Will make u relatively spend less and get what u want. Always true about paying more attention on lenses selection instead, as others have said.

    For me the reason why I like the FM3A is the built, though it's expensive and I've had to convince myself to believe in the "spend more and save in the long run" thinking to makes me feel better at the beginning. :D But seriously, I like this cam cuz it's something that once I bought it I know I will love it for so many years to come and I won't have to look back. In short it's worth it.

    While u wanna get a Nikon FM body, u may also consider this: One of the hidden gems in Nikon's manual lenses is the 75-150mm f3.5 Series E, u can get it used in a nice condition cheap today. Nice lens with a constant f3.5 aperture, small, light and solid. With the FM3a or other FM Nikon they work together like a dream.
     

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