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FM3a vs F6


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Alan Clayton , Feb 28, 2009; 06:00 p.m.

Donald, you say "Truth be told i don't need a 'Pro' capability camera. " In that case you really don't need an F6 or even an F5.

Will you be photographing moving objects (sports, acrobats, musicians, etc) if 'No ' then you don't need an F6..... How about landscapes and townscapes? If 'Yes ' then you don't need an F6 ........ In short, very few of us actually need an F5 or F6, though many of us have them.

Stick with the FM3a and it will stick with you. You will know when you need an F6: it's possible that right now just desire to own one. Spend your money wisely on lenses, film, filters and other things that will help you now. Pick up a "cheap as chips" F80, or a F100 if you need autofocus - then you'll have everything that you want, and a bit more than you need ... really. Good luck.

Duncan Murray , Feb 28, 2009; 06:57 p.m.

Hi Donald,

The F6 is a very nice camera and will last you at least 30 years. However, I doubt the FM3a wouldn't either. I'm sure you didn't ask, but of course, the quality of the images is nothing to do with the camera. The F6 is built in pro-style, chunky magnesium alloy clad in rubber - it certainly gives the impression of business. The AF is excellent, and a real boon for street and portrait photography.

I have a recent review if you're interested : http://www.duncandheff.com/NikonF6.html

Ideally the Nikon F6 is best paired with AF-S lenses, with the AF disabled on the shutter release - allowing you to use the camera much like a manual focus one with the option of AF when you need it. However, I haven't found a well-built, good quality AF-S wideangle lens that I want yet. The 17-35/2.8 is all of this, but heavy, and the 35/2 (which I have) is good, but feels cheap compared to the F6's standard. I await Nikon to make a nice pro AF prime lens with AF-S.

The F100 is nice, though the F6 more technologically more proficient (CLS flash system, AF system, 1005-segment meter). Both have nice shutte-releases - I think both have counterweighted mirrors and shutters which add to the overall impression of balance and precision.

The only down-side to the F6 is its weight, I find having it in a shoulder bag with two other prime lenses gives my neck a *really* bad time. However, I have quite a slight frame and is probably not a problem for most. If you sling just the camera, and another prime in a pocket, it's fine.

I would buy both if you can!

All best,


P.S. I'm sure film will be around - there's a bit of a revival at the moment, and I think processing and scanning services will improve.

Stephen Asprey , Feb 28, 2009; 06:59 p.m.

I was in your position with an FM2n and FE2. I also have a D300 for digital.
I ended up keeping the smaller bodies and buying a really good F4s for AF on film. This was a bulletproof PJ camera and here's why its so good:
1. Full backwards and forwards lens compatibility, manual and AF. (not G)
2. The best, huge, 100% uncluttered viewfinder ever designed.
3. All the adjustments and controls are by dial etc...no messy menus (like an F6).
4. Great matrix metering on old and new lenses.
5. Simple and blindingly fast AF.
6. All the functionality of an F6 and called the Rosetta Stone of cameras by those who know.
7. Fully bomb proof and sealed to the environment.
8. Cheap as chips to buy used....abt $400.
9. Uses cheap AA batteries...no crappy ni-cad and expensive recharger.

The not so good:
1. Weighs a lot

Have a look at what KR has to say (email me for details)

Roman P , Feb 28, 2009; 07:15 p.m.

Another vote for FM3a/F100 combo.

I have all 3: FM3a, F100 and F6 and use them all. But I purchased the F6 simply because I could afford this wonderful pro body. If you cannot afford F6 without trading FM3a don’t buy it.

For your purposes (landscape and portraites and candid shots…) seems to me you cannot find better camera than F100. Light, reliable, weather resistant, built to last and definitely better value for money. And keep your FM3a.

One thing that i do wonder about is, which of the two cameras should i expect to stand the test of time?

I believe both. However if you read Robert (Lai) posting he might have a point. If we take a look at mid 80’s when we had F4 and FM2 I would suggest that F4 is more prone to failure than FM2. But both those bodies were built as rock and still hundred thousands photogs are using them.

Michael Ferron , Feb 28, 2009; 07:54 p.m.

I also suggest an F100 and keeping your FM3a. Sure the F6 is a superb camera and many of us would love to have one but the F100 will do most things just a well. I just picked up a mint- F100 for a total of $250 including delivery.

steven sherwin , Feb 28, 2009; 08:06 p.m.

I also highly recommend the F100 and FM3A combination..... you should be able to pick up a very good F100 second hand (even two!) and have a great kit with the lenses you already have. The F6 with a fast 2.8 lenses is going to be very heavy and while the F6 is a great camera, the F100 has all the functions you will ever need. You can then spend the money you saved on film...

Joey Chavit , Feb 28, 2009; 10:48 p.m.

The best things I can think of in purchasing the F6 is backwards compatibility with older AI and AI-s lenses. You can even have Nikon add the prong to accept pre-AI lenses to allow for direct metering. The other is the advance lighting system with their speed lights.

Robert Lai , Feb 28, 2009; 11:08 p.m.

The prong at f/5.6 on the aperture ring is to mate with a pin on the meter heads of the Nikon F and F2 era cameras, including certain Nikkormats. On cameras beyond this, the prong does nothing. To use pre-AI lenses, you need to perform stop down metering, or have somebody grind the aperture ring to the AI setting.

Jordan G. , Feb 28, 2009; 11:58 p.m.

Be done with it and get an F6. I have it and an fm3a and if I had to, I 'd pick the F6 -- it is the better machine. Go to the nikon home page and read about the f6 development and the fm3a as well.

Joey Chavit , Mar 01, 2009; 01:45 a.m.

Hi Robert, with regards to using non-AI lenses, according to the F6 manual, the body needs to be modified by an authorized Nikon service center to perform the modification. FWIW Tom Hogan's review confirms this. The meters DP-11 and DP-12 did away with the prong attached to the meter head using instead the coupling lever/tab for the AI series lenses.

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