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Nikon FM3A

This is a beautiful little jewel of a mechanical camera with just the right amount of automation. The Nikon FM3A can function perfectly without batteries, mechanically timing shutter speeds right out to its maximum of 1/4000th of a second, and its all-metal body is engineered to last a lifetime.

What makes the FM3A better than the handful of other high-grade mostly-manual 35mm SLRs still in production is that it taps into the extremely popular Nikon autofocus lens system. Thus you can indulge your Luddite tendencies while still being able to purchase the most modern lens designs at mass-market prices.

The FM3A offers aperture-priority autoexposure and through-the-lens flash exposure control. Film speed can be set via the DX codes on the film canisters. That's pretty much it for automation. Controls are a very traditional "two-dial" classic manual camera setup. You turn the lens aperture ring (Dial 1) to adjust aperture. You turn the shutter speed dial (Dial 2) on the top deck to adjust shutter speed. You turn the lens focus ring to focus (this doesn't rate a dial number in the autofocus world).

The viewfinder shows you aperture, shutter speed, camera exposure recommendation, and flash ready. In metered-manual you use a classic match-needle method: one needle shows the shutter speed you've set and the other the camera's recommendation. This makes it very easy to intentionally overexpose or underexpose by a fraction of an f-stop. You don't have to think, you can just look at the relative needle positions on the analog scale.

Viewfinder coverage is 93 percent and eye relief is poor. This is a small and light body with a small and light pentaprism. With my eyeglasses on I had trouble seeing the entire frame and the aperture/shutter speed displays. If you do wear eyeglasses, before buying the FM3A, make sure to check out "high-eyepoint" Nikon bodies such as the F-3HP, the F4, the F5, the N90, and the N100.

Flash

Despite its manual look, the FM3A includes modern through-the-lens flash metering and control of Nikon flashes. The camera does not take into account focussed distance when figuring flash exposure, i.e., it does not use the Nikon "D" system incorporated into the newest AF bodies. Flash duration is determined by a sensor reading the amount of light reflected by the film during exposure. When that light has become sufficient, the flash is shut down by a pin in the hot shoe.

Sync speed is a thoroughly modern 1/250th of a second.

The slickest flash feature on the FM3A is a clever little button next to the lens mount. This reduces flash output by 1 f-stop for fill flash in sunlight.

Joys

Depth of field preview is ideally-placed to fall underneath the middle finger when your index finger is on the shutter release.

Nikon figured out how to provide maximum utility with a minimum of controls. For example, the FM3A has no on-off switch. As with earlier Nikon bodies, you pull the film advance lever out to turn on the meter and unlock the shutter release.

Warts

The mirror is a modern vibration-reduced design but it does not lock up. You might be better off with an F4 or F5 if you want to take pictures through a telescope or microscope.

Nikon does not include a strap with this camera.

The 45/2.8P lens

We tested the FM3A with the 45/2.8P lens that Nikon introduced along with this camera. This lens is designed for maximum compactness and for cosmetic appeal when mounted on a traditional-style body like the FM3A. The great things about this lens:

  • the lens cap clicks onto either the raw lens, the filter, or the included lens hood(!)
  • Nikon includes a silver-finished lens protection filter (to match your silver-finished FM3a to match your silver-finished lens cap, etc.)
  • the 45/2.8 focusses down to 1.7 feet, close enough to create a head-and-neck portrait
  • the 45/2.8P is about half the length of the Nikon 50/1.8 AF

The compactness of the lens works against usability at times. It takes an extra split second to find the focusing ring. And if you have clumsy fingers it is easy to nudge the aperture dial out of position as you're focusing.

Bottom Line

The Nikon FM3A is a great camera that you could use very happily for the rest of your life and then hand down to your children. Until that day when you turn the camera over to your kids, you can throw it into a tote bag or backpack with the 45/2.8P lens and always be ready to capture the moment.

We think that the aperture-priority autoexposure feature is essential for anyone using negative film, where fine-tuning exposure is usually a waste of time. But if you don't need it or don't want it, you can save some money by purchasing a Nikon FM2.

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Text and pictures Copyright 2001 Philip Greenspun.

Readers' Comments


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Dave Cattell , October 17, 2001; 07:12 P.M.

A loverly little camera which I find makes a great wilderness alternative to the whizz bang battery dependent plastic blobs of today.

A small - but significant for me - correction. It may not have mirror lock-up but it does have mirror pre-fire on the self timer. One over the F100

oriel loewenschuss , October 24, 2001; 09:03 P.M.

It seem that the all “new” Nikon FM3a reminds me very much of my old and great FA, And although Nikon has been trying to persuade me into “moving up” to the AF systems, I wood be happy to see Nikon trying harder to support it’s old customers and their equipment, by offering a wider range of accessories for old Nikon cameras, instead of releasing a “new/old” product into the market. It should be interesting to read an FM3a vs. FA review, if someone should write it.

Tim Triche , October 25, 2001; 11:44 P.M.

Someone did write that review. Ken Rockwell has both an FA-only and an FM[23][an]-versus-FE[2]-versus-FA writeup. Behold:

FM versus the world

The FA: Nikon's most advanced manual focus camera

I've been toying with the idea of an FA for my girlfriend (who likes manual focus, but I know would be happier with matrix aperture-priority). It goes without saying that I would be comforted by a light weight, fallback-to-mechanical body that can do matrix metering with any Nikon lens made since 1977... as for my FM, I'm selling it. It's just easier to take good pictures with my N80. I'd take an FA over an FM3a -- I shoot Velvia pretty much all the time, so DX isn't much of a 'killer feature' to me :-). And my little bitty Olympus XA is smaller, lighter, and more convenient than any SLR, plus it takes sharp pictures at 35/2.8 and sips batteries. Like hell am I going to bring an FM and a decent lens on a bike ride; the XA, on the other hand, fits in a pocket. Like, say, my watch pocket.

Rick Campbell , November 01, 2001; 06:02 P.M.

Philip says "What makes the FM3A better than the handful of other high-grade mostly-manual 35mm SLRs still in production is that it taps into the extremely popular Nikon autofocus lens system".

Just to clarify, the FM3A does not work any better with Nikon autofocus lenses than any other manual Nikon such as the F3 or FM2. If he meant manual 35mm SLRs made by other companies, then this statement is true. But it's equally true of the FM2 or the F3.

Peter T , November 06, 2001; 02:10 A.M.

Purchased the FM3a three weeks ago. Sold my Leica (hated the ergonomics...just didn't work for me). The money from the Leica and two lenses got me the FM3a and six used lenses from 24mm to 180 mm. All premium glass. Light. Compact. I shoot street photography and weddings documentary (PJ) style. The Nikon is quiet and unobtrusive. I'm able to blend into the background. It doesn't intimidate people. Most importantly for me is when I shoot with the Nikon I feel like I'm much more in sync with my enviornment. I don't worry about it breaking (it's a small black brick). This is my first nikon, first non auto focus slr. I have a complete Canon EOS 1n system. When I'm doing a paid job and being unobtusive isn't important I take my Canon. The Canon is fast. But when I'm moving slow, thinking and relaxing and taking pictures for the sheer joy of photography the Nikon is going to be my choice. BTW: It goes everywhere with me. The body, a 35 1.4, and some tri-x. That about says it all.

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Paul Gissing , December 09, 2001; 07:54 A.M.

I checked out the FM3A in Hong Kong a month ago (Francisco Photo Co., 18-20 Lock Road, Kowloon). Was not overly impressed and saw nothing that would persuade me to favor it over the FM2 that has been in my bag for years. In fact, it reminded me too much of the FA I used to have and didn't really like. So I don't get it ... is this an example of a Nikon great leap forward or of a corporate R&D department that is not sure of what should come next. Japan is in recession; maybe Nikon is too.

Bokeh Man , December 30, 2001; 02:26 P.M.

Having both the FM2 & the FM3a I would like to say that apart from the obvious updating (TTL flash control & auto exposure) the FM2 metering only shows +, 0, or - the FM3a on the other hand, (with it's dual neadle meter), when used in manual mode it is possible to see the change that the meter recommends without having to move the shutter or aperture controls! Oh yeah and the film window is a blessing!

Ron Stecher , January 31, 2002; 12:55 P.M.

The FM3A is not the FA equivalent, but rather a remake of the FE-2. As a matter of fact, outside of the honeycomb shutter of the FE-2 I don't see any difference between them.

Snap.... and Wind , February 11, 2002; 01:31 A.M.

Well as I see it this camera is best described as a new born of the FM2n and FE2 (read the idea elsewhere). Its really the best way to see it. Its quite clever because this camera has a back up of electronics when its needed. Say when you want to achieve 8 seconds in low light or blurr effect, this camera can do it (BUT needle only indicates down to 2 seconds...slightly irratating). Its going to last longer than corroded wiring most likly because its soley machanical (i.e. it turns into its mother, the Fm2n, when the electronics die) i personally would choose this camera in a long run as a body i can rely upon in Ify weather situations. Its got the primitive mechanics, and the convenient automation when needed. Thats what i am personally looking for.

Jerry Crum , March 04, 2002; 10:46 A.M.

When I first saw the specs on the FM-3a, I thought back to the Pentax LX, which also had electronically controlled speeds in aperture preferred and mechanical in the manual exposure mode. I have been an FE-2 shooter for many years. Natually I see the FM-3a as misnamed (should have been an FE-3m) from my perspective. But look at it this way: If you're a veteran FE-2 user, you just got flash exposure compensation, a better placed exposure hold button, much quieter operation, and a full range of mechanical speeds to use when your batteries die. If you're an FM-2n user, you just got yourself TTL flash with fill compensation, quieter operation, a whole new mode with extended shutter speeds), and a much more user friendly set of finder readouts. (I hate those diodes and the shutter speed at the opposite side of the screen) Seems like both camps win here. But for me it's more than that.

I can replace my aged FE-2 with a brand new one that isn't plagued with crumbling foam, thousands of shots on the wind and shutter mechanism. They haven't made the FE-2 since 1987, and Nikon no longer services them since the parts ran out a while back. So all us FE-2 users can get a new replacement. Thanks, Nikon!

That and a noticeably quieter operation. Mirror slap is much better damped. First time I tried the mirror pre-flip on the self timer trick, I wasn't looking through the finder, and could not tell if the mirror went up or not on the shutter push---it's that quiet.

For what it's worth, I have seen some conjecture as to whether the meter pattern is really the same as the FE-2/FM-2. Several have said it seems to meter better. Compared to my FE-2, the meter calibration is the same, and the pattern is the same as close as I can measure it. Both meter patterns are heavily center weighted, but there is a substantial area of sensitivity at the bottom of the screen between the 12 mm circle and the bottom edge. Not as sensitive as the center, of course, but much more so than the areas above and to the sides of the 12 mm circle.

Jerry Crum , March 07, 2002; 08:37 P.M.

This is a short follow up to my previous posting. I did a more thorough comparison of the FE-2 and the FM-3a as regards the viewscreen and noise levels.

My FE-2 is relatively late production, and I can see no difference in the viewscreens. Brightness, color (tint, some reports said the older cameras were yellower looking), or contrast. Tried this with a 50 f/1.4 AF and a 75-150 f/3.5 E lens. Results were the same with both.

Subjective noise for mirror slap and shutter release are very similar. My first impression was the FM-3a was quieter, but side by side, they sound about equally loud. The foam cushions on my FE-2 are still in good shape, so maybe that's a factor in other's comparison's. There is a little difference in the character of the sound, either. The FM-3a is definitely not noticeably more stealthy than the FE-2. There were others present when I made this comparison, and they concurred.

My apologies to anyone who was mislead by my earlier comments. Still a darn nice camera, but in those two areas it's not different than it's older siblings.

J Herman , March 28, 2002; 11:04 A.M.

I must say this is a very sweet camera: Compact in the hand but very firm with it's weight. I've had this since November and have had no problems (import). Nikon has improved upon the FM2n with TTL flash and aperture priority. It is important to note that in aperture priority the shutter is electronically timed, while in manual mode all shutter speed are available as the shutter is mechanically timed. Therefore Ron Schecter is completely incorrect by stating that the FM3a is a remake of the FE2. (The FE2 is electronically controlled, you'll only obtain full manual at one shutter speed - 250). The match needle metering system is what I am accustomed to, I don't see any need for anything more elaborate. There is no doubt that this camera will be a classic.

Mike Watkins , April 10, 2002; 12:44 P.M.

After reading the FM3a reviews and comments and owning an F90x and FM2n I can honestly say that the FM3a seems an ideal compromise between size and automation. The one thing that annoys me everytime I take out the FM2n is the lack of ttl flash. If I'm going to need flash when I'm out and about, I invariably take the F90x and tend to lament not taking the lovely handling FM2. I own the 45mm 2.8P lens and even with that on the F90 it weighs too much and is cumbersome if you have to carry it and a couple of lenses for any distance if you're not on a dedicated photo trip. I do prefer the high eyepoint viewfinder on the F90 though, and I never worry about getting the F90 wet in bad weather like I do with the FM2. How about an updated FM3 with high eyepoint finder and some weatherproofing.

Manh Le , April 25, 2002; 12:00 P.M.

Mike,

I think the beauty of FM3A is in its current form factor and weight. Should Nikon add more stuff to the FM3A then it would become another F3, or close to it.

Just a thought.

Ben Roubin , May 05, 2002; 05:30 P.M.

The fm3a is a dandy little camera except for one little thing: the very delicate and overly jumpy needle. Isn't an intervalometer(?) one of the first things to go on a camera? I don't see long term (20+ years, minimum) reliability on this model.

Leroy Skalstad , July 01, 2002; 08:01 P.M.

the solid feel and build quality of the FM3a seems to instill additional confidence in my work and that equates to more joy in the creative process. Thanks Nikon,

james dale , July 04, 2002; 08:58 P.M.

The FM3A is the same as the FE2. At least operation wise. just carry a spare LR44 battery with the FE2. I almost bought it , but back off after finding it is much simiiar to the FE2. The FM3A use mechanical time shutter like the FM2. which is not accurate as the electronic time shutter FE2. further more the FE2 is more handsome than the FM3A. who knows, Nikon might come up with another model call the FM4A .which incorparate Matrix metering and spot metering. It is easy for them to up grade the electronic in the FM3A.

Juan Antonio Flores , July 05, 2002; 08:05 P.M.

Thank's Nikon!!!!. I really love my FE2, but its getting old...So I was testing all (ALL) the new cameras, but I really hate the AF system and the "matrix" stuff( I know what I want...). So the FM2n was not what I needed because of lack of TTL flash. Then, WOW! the FM3a. Reliable mechanical shutter with no battery and accurate shutter with battery and TTL flash, and also DX? and I can use my MD12!!!! Thanks again for thinking in "photosaurious" like me. It also helps that mechanical cameras are easier to fix than AF (at least in Mèxico) and cheaper. And yes, I hope my grandson/granddaughter can enjoy this camera...

Yota Yoshimitsu , August 02, 2002; 10:17 P.M.

I would have to agree with Manh Le's comments. Sure, you could add an eyepiece with long eye relief, 100% field of view and fancier electronics, interchangeable pentaprisms etc., but that would really defeat the purpose of the FM/FE series design, which emphasises compactness and simplicity. I recently read a FM3a review in a Japanese magazine, and the authors actually asked Nikon why they didn't add these extra features. Nikon's main reply was that adding these features would add too much bulk to the camera (eg. a high eyepoint eyepiece a la F3HP would mean a much larger pentaprism). So yes, they do know that folks want the fancier features, but they haven't put them in for a very good reason.

Daniel Bayer , August 03, 2002; 02:28 A.M.

I have had my FM3A for a day now, have wanted it badly since it came out. It is my first grab with either the 17-35 2.8 or 85 1.4 on it.

This camera has been designed and produced almost specificaly for the rough and remote photojournalist. The likes of Gordon Wiltse, Galen Rowell and my friend Ace Kvale and myself have practically requested this model for mountaineering and long term expedition photography. It's a no-brainer for ultra long time exposures too.

The Nikon FM3A is a brilliant new camera, quite the security blanket too.

UPDATE: 02/09/09

My FM3A is now brassed and dented. It had been the most reliable, incredible camera I have ever owned. It now shoots primarily Kodachrome for when my Leica M's might bet beat up a bit.

Some of you are funny, you think it is *just* an FE2 or FM2 remake. No, no it is not. It is a brand new camera from the ground up, it is in my mind, the best camera Nikon has ever made. It is full auto in A mode with perfect TTL flash even with modern DSLR flashes like the SB800.

The shutter is what the Leica M7 should have been..I don't know how they did it, but they did and I will never part with mine.

Ron Stecher , January 09, 2003; 07:33 P.M.

Can anyone tell meif the FM3A is made in Japan or is it made elsewhere? Just curious.

Serdar Ugurlu , January 18, 2003; 06:26 A.M.

Well Indeed the FM3A is a great camera, i am into this manual camera stuff since I switches from a digital point and shoot one and a half years ago.

BUT There is a better one out there which was, and still is underestimated since the time it was released.

It is the Nikon FA

Nikons first multimode multizone meter using Camera. A solid piece of metal using the Nikon FE2 Body. It is filled with still state of the art electronics and has unsurpassed longtime exposure abilities.

Until now it has never let me down and it gave me great exposures all along even though mine was bought used and was built in 1986.

It features a lot of useful things such as the so called "Dynamic Cyberride" Cirquit.

For example when you choose the Shutter Priority Mode and have chosen a exposure time of 1/250s and the scene isnt appropriate to shoot in this time the cam will switch to Aperture Priority in a blink of a second and will expose for 1/125s for example. Not neccessary to say that this override will be shown in the viewfinder to inform you that this jewel of a camera has found out that the longer exposuretime will give you the right exposure.

The FM3A is not able to do so due to the fact that it has only Aperture Priority but also other modern Designs such as the Nikon F100 or Minolta Dynax 7/9 and so on will just tell you that it is impossible to shoot with the chosen Exposure time.

In my eyes the Nikon FA is the best manual focus camera built ever, it is even better than the Olympus OM4.

Just my two Cents

Wiley Rittenhouse , April 06, 2003; 08:54 A.M.

For aspiring film astrophotographers: This camera would be a good choice (but probably not the ultimate one) for use on a telescope in long-exposure astrophotography. The suggestion that an F4 or F5 would be a better choice is false. The single most important feature in a camera for astrophotography is the presence of a mechanical bulb setting. I'm fairly sure that the F4 and F5 are still electronic. The other reason is weight. Most telescopes need to be carefully balanced for tracking accuracy, and the FM3A is nice and light, whereas the F4 and F5 are not. The meter is not needed at all, and would generally provide no useful information anyway, since the light levels in astrophotography are so low. With regard to the lack of mirror lock-up, this is no problem if you use a tried-and-true method sometimes referred to as a "hat trick": Assuming you are shooting in a totally dark setting, with no stray light sources, you can place a black card in front of the scope while the shutter is opened and remove it once the scope/camera has settled down. This is not of particular importance for deep-sky work, since the exposures are so long, but is useful for planetary work when eyepiece projection is used (in that case, you can use the card as the shutter - exposures are ~1 sec.). My personal choice: The F2 - because it has all of the above features (although the FM3A is lighter), has mirror lock-up if I decide to use it, and has interchangeable viewfinders, so I can use a DW-2. This is nice if you shoot through a Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope pointed near zenith (straight up). In any case, the bare minimum requirement for film astrophotography is a working mechanical bulb setting and a light-tight body. Everything else is convenience.

gabriele lopez , April 18, 2003; 04:27 A.M.

I'm about to sell my fm2 and get a new black fm3a....i just like the fact that Nikon choosed to continue producing a similar camer in this age, where all is followed by automation and computer-based processes....the day i want to shhot quietly and thinking on the subject,keeping high quality standards and i don't want to switch on a computer, film cameras, expecially one like this one, are the best choices in my opinion...

Good job!

Bruce Rubenstein - NYC , May 25, 2003; 10:20 P.M.

After trying several MF Nikon bodies, I found that I like the FE2 the best. I have now finally bought a FM3a because: 1 - Nikon should be encouraged to keep making these cameras. 2 - A new camera just feels a little different. The FM3a also adds a couple of usefull features to the FE2. What I have found out, and not mentioned in most places, is that there are a number of subtle and not so suble differences between the cameras. Many of the parts may be interchangeable, but are not the same. Good differences are things like larger shutter speed numbers in the viewfinder (fewer shutter speeds shown). Same thing for the shutter speed dial. The shutter speed dial is also much stiffer to turn (stronger dedents). The aperture numbers, in the view finder are much smaller. The lens mount uses 5 screws, but is made of chrome plated brass instead of stainless steel. The self timer has a lighter spring, and I find myself turning the lever by accident while gripping the body. The film speed/exposure compensation dial is plastic instead of zinc. It is also the last of the reasonably priced, pretty much built like they used to be, MF cameras and a wonderful on at that.

Li Fan , November 05, 2003; 10:23 P.M.

I owned a Nikon FE-2 Body for couple month, then I sold it and switched to more realiable FM3a, most function is all the same, plus the fully mechanical shutter release, 100% satisfaction! An example picture from FM3a http://people.unt.edu/~lf0031/unt_082.jpg

Naseraldeen Asadallah , November 23, 2003; 08:01 P.M.

NIkon FM3A gave me some good results ; shots that I would never thought I would get with this classic looking Camera. It is a wonder.Yet, comments on how the film should be loaded in to the camera and what to do to avoid getting blank films should be added for New users like yours truley.

Andrew F. , February 13, 2004; 01:50 A.M.

I bought my FM3a to replace an FM2n that I gave away. As an F3 owner, I didn't think I needed the automation on my compact body, but now that I have it, I'm spoiled. While I love the high eyepoint and 100% viewfinder of the F3 (mine is the HP model), there is just something about the FM and FE series cameras that just makes photography fun again.

Now to find a way to justify the cost of the P lens. I have the 50mm series E which is just as light and almost as small, but I just keep looking for used P lenses. In chrome, of course, to match my FM3a.

kwan cheung , April 28, 2004; 11:06 A.M.

I am echoing with those who posted of their satisfaction of FA. I have been a FA owner for a long period of time. I used to have a FE-2 before FA. The history is I had been using a F2A with a bunch of prime lenses, until one day I bought a zoom lens with variable aperture. Clearly, an automatic body would be much more handy -- having the body to take care of the variable aparture problem. At that time, I bought a brand new FE-2. Like it. My brother grabbed my FE-2.

A few years later, I bought a good condition FA body. I have been using this FA to this day, never having a single problem. I later added a MF-12 and a MD-15 which also powers the camera when attached.

The 5-segment matrix metering is really good on negatives and slides. I believe the newer 8 or 10-segment matrix metering may be even better (though read it on photo.net that the 8=segment matrix on 8008(s) is lousy, but I do not have any experience of that).

The common complain of FA is lack of exposure lock. In that case, there is no choice except using manual focusing. I use this mode from time to time when I need to exercise exposure lock, or using the TTL flash but not being locked to 1/250 sec exposure time.

I can recommend FA to those who like non-AF Nikon bodies. By the way, the nikon FA is able to run quite a long time on fresh batteries. If attached to MD-15, battery is not an issue as the camera draws power from the winder. However, if indeed the feature of able to run the camera without battery is a must, then FM3a is the logical choice. Otherwise, I will say FA is a better choice given its metering, which I believe is more useful.

R Cheng , November 17, 2004; 09:48 P.M.

I have used F601 for almost 10 years and found it very useful. But I just bought the FM3A as I am interested in mechanical body and it can operate even without batteries. It can also operate in extreme temp. That sounds nice to me. Besides its antique look is attractive. After I bought it, I found there are too much plastic parts that makes me query whether it will last for 10 or 20 years without service. Besides, my impression is it is very delicate and the metal is thin. When I turn the ISO ring and the +/- compensation ring, it is very fragile. Especially when I open the film chamber by pulling the rewind knob, I start worrying. The metal is thin and that's why it is not heavy. Furthermore, it is the first time I play with a manual camera. The shutter and the mirror rebound is so noisy and makes me anoxious. I wonder whether that shaky movement will blur the image when I take photos in slow shutter. But it may be my over worrying. The machine is so delicate and precious. In fact I have not yet taken a photo using this machine after I bought it last week. I definitely will try it very soon.

Johannes Bohnacker , June 11, 2005; 04:30 P.M.

I bought a used, defective FM3a some months ago, but was able to restore it to very good technical and visual condition. I just took some slides with it and it is exactly the kind of camera that I'd never want to miss for conscious photography. Something which no other DSLR manufacturer currently has in its portfolio and a main reason for me to probably stay with Nikon.

The only function I miss is spot metering, but for tasks that require it I can use my F-801s (N8008s), which has an accurate spot meter.

I'm bothered somehow that the surface coatings might not be as durable as on my old Minolta XD5 (also a fantastic camera btw., a shame Minolta gave up that line), and expect some brassing to appear on the FM3a's surface more sooner than later. Does Nikon advertently use the second-best coatings, to let their cameras develop a "professional look" quickly?

Btw. the FM3a is a joy to use not only for nature and stilllife, but for portraits as well due to its extremely short viewfinder blackout time and pleasant handling.

I have no problems using the FM3a viewfinder with eyeglasses at all, can easily view the complete frame with aperture readout/LED indicators. That said, I personally like rectangular viewfinder oculars better than Nikon's round ones (which also applies to my F-801s).

James Symington , September 16, 2005; 09:00 A.M.

This is a great camera which I am very happy with. My only criticism is why don't Nikon include a strap with this camera? It seems rather mean somehow and it's not like most people don't use them either. Odd.

WJ Lee , March 11, 2006; 04:22 P.M.

It's a beautiful camera but I just can't understand why nikon didn't add a Spot and Matrix metering to it? If not matrix then at least a spot metering. It would really have been perfect and the best manual camera ever made. For that reason used F4 is better choice, with similar layout and with both spot and matrix metering. But then F4 is a lot heavier, which is the major drawback. There were Rumours floating about FM3D, I wonder whether that is still going on...

By the way 45mm 2.8P introduced with FM3A really is something special. Ken Rockwell seem to dismiss it without even having used it which baffles me to no end!!! Ever wondered what that 3D feel which the Zeiss lens users were talking about? Get this lens and you'll find out. But beware the focusing has to be absolutely dead on, it will really test your manual focusing skills. The sharpest normal nikkor, if not the sharpest of all nikkors. Contrary to Ken Rockwell I'd say if you want to create art get this. You get what you pay for. (Watch out at focusing at infinity do not just set it at infinity you probably want slightly less than that, besides there is no such thing as an object which is at infinite distance)

Fernando McSoto , March 15, 2006; 10:47 A.M.

I have an FM3a since 2001 and I still use it. In fact I learnt photography with that camera. The prism is really the limit of what you can use with glasses. I now tend to use the F3HP or F100 more often and the FM3a is always with me as the perfect back up to the other two. The viewfinder for me with my glases is just fine, not great but just fine. I do not miss anything with this camera and it is a pleasure to use, not even matrix or spot metering. For me photography with a manual camera like this is what photography is really about. When backpacking really light I always carry the FM3a and the 45/2.8P lens.

By the way put your 45/2.8P in a F5, F100 or more modern camera and you will be surprise. You can use all programmed modes and metering modes with it.

F Stop , June 24, 2006; 02:59 A.M.

This is , hands down, the best 35mm camera i've ever owned. it's simple and elegant. i recommend it to any serious film photographers

Andre Olson , June 25, 2007; 01:12 A.M.

The FM3A is an excellent camera. I bought one (brand-new, hard to find) just a couple of months ago, and I am very pleased with it. Actually, it was the first "serious" camera I bought -- and I just did not want it to be a digital one. Too bad those very fine 35mm, manual cameras are now being dismissed by this new generation of digital (i.e. Photoshop) photographers. In my humble opinion, cameras like the FM3A embody the very essence of photography. It is a pity it has been discontinued.

Long live film!

Larry Miller , September 10, 2007; 02:44 P.M.

Well I don't have an FM3A as of yet. I do have an FE2 that is in like new shape. Somebody took very, very good care of this one before me. I've been toying with the idea of obtaining either a new FM3A or just keeping my FE2. I don't shoot flash so the FM3A doesn't appeal to me there. The FM3A working without battery power is a plus. To find a new one will be about $700-900. How many 3V batteries can you buy to keep the FE2 always running for $700-900?

Gene Aker , October 08, 2007; 09:12 P.M.

I've used the 3a since 2001--along with many othe Nikons. What a great travel camera. I've taken it to Europe every year. Just the 3A with a 35mm f2 Nikkor--and a bunch of HP5. What a wonderful, small, nearly invisible camera. A little jewel. Perfect metering---when you want it. No worry about finding a fresh battery or recharging. It is indeed a travel shooter's camera.

Akiva Shapero , January 18, 2009; 08:01 A.M.

Sold off my D300 and have decided to go back to film for the "feel". I am waiting on a FM3a as we speak. Any suggestions for a no brainer flash?

Christoph Sensen , February 11, 2009; 07:14 P.M.

I use the Nikon SB-800 in TTL mode. It works well.

Christoph

Akiva Shapero , June 09, 2009; 12:49 A.M.

I got the Nikon SB-30. It has TTL, does the job beautifully. Decided to mate the FM3a with a Voigtlander 40mm/f2 pancake. really pleased.

Jose Adolfo Segura , February 03, 2011; 05:57 P.M.

In October 2009 almost of my cameras was stolen (Nikon's, Olympus, bronica, etc...and a lot of lens) Curiously the only one i was missing and done me sad was the FM3A ...

Today I receipt another one that I bought in Eb**, as new, is as  I  got back my little bijoux and I'm very happy. I think I'll take a pancake 45/2,8 as lot of people recommended and enjoy on my travels...

Ofey Kalakar , March 28, 2011; 05:42 P.M.

A joy to use on walkabouts. Always inspirational.

Jaime Ramirez , May 30, 2011; 10:17 P.M.

I love my FM3A!  It goes with me wherever I go.  It's metering is always spot on for me.  I am selling my Nikon D90 along with some DX lenses and sticking to this wonderful camera.  I only have two lenses; Nikon 50mm f/1.4D and Nikon 85mm f/1.8D. 

Don Bright , January 31, 2012; 12:46 A.M.

The FM3a is known not to have a mirror lockup. I saw in the review this was considered a wart, I simply use the self timer lever to preload the mirror so that the shutter can fire without mirror influence. Just lift the timer lever 1/4 the way so not to wait so long. I love the FM3a. This camera is staying with me. I opted for the Voigtlander 40mm f2 Ultron for general use, and glad I did. The Nikkor 45mm P, is OK, but it doesn't have the ergonomics for my hands. FM3a, Voigtlander 40mm f2 Ultron. Great combo! 


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