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FM3a out of production


Well-Known Member
Has been for quite a long time - January 2006. Only the high end F6 and the Cosina CT-1 branded as Nikon FM10, remain. The FM10 is a quarter century-old design and if I remember correctly, has also carried the Rollei, Olympus, Ricoh, Yashica, and Canon logos at times over the past couple of decades. It is very much an entry level camera, while the F6 is top of the line. Lines of film cameras have shrunk comparably with other brands as well. Much of Cosina's product line is sold under well known brand names.


New Member
Thank you Larry. I would never buy an AF SLR camera. I cannot stand autofocus, it is distracting, power consuminng, useless.

Currenlty I am using my FM3a and I am looking for a digital with manual focus and manual controls.



Use a D2 (H, Hs, X or Xs) body hat will fitt most of your MF lenses (not all). The pro-bodies have a non auto focus switch that enables you to focus and manually choose your diafragm (lense itself) and also supports the lightmeteringssystem (spot metering) Regards, Charley Smink


Well-Known Member

Any new feature is distracting until you practice with it to the point that you become fluent with it. Fear of autofocus is keeping you from an extremely useful tool. If you are afraid of autofocus, there probably is no camera left on the market that will not scare you. However the reward is well worth the effort. I have a Nikon D200 and it took a lot of study and practice to find its limits. The reward is great images that would otherwise be impossible. It can be fully manual or fully automatic, with many combinations in between.

Power consumption is not an issue. The battery in my D200 can go for several days of heavy shooting without needing a recharge. It recharges in a little over two hours. I always carry a second battery, but have never needed to use it if the one in the camera is fully charged at the beginning of the shoot. There is also a vertical grip available that will hold both batteries and even AA cells if you need. With every power feature in use - including focus assist light, speedlight and VR, the camera will get at least 340 shots on a fully charged battery - roughly equivalent to 14 rolls of film. For shooting JPEGs without VR and flash, but shooting on continuous high-speed (five shots per second), it will shoot up to 1800 shots on a fully charged battery - equivalent to 75 rolls of 24 exposure films. Simply no concern in real-world shooting. Many people don't even shoot 75 rolls in a month! Keep at least one battery charged and forget about power consumption.

The D200 allows full manual, shutter or aperture priority, as well as a couple of flavours or programmed automation. As per manual focusing, it will take any AI or AI-S lens with full colour matrix metering, which is very accurate. I use a whole arsenal of manual lenses which focus as easily on the D200 as they do on the F3. There is even an electronic rangefinder which can confirm that you are truly in focus. In fact, the manual lenses - from 24mm to 600mm - actually work much better on the D200 than they do on the F3. Any of the automatic lenses go into manual focus mode the moment you touch the focus collar. If you want to squander the great technology, the D200 can be every bit as manual as the original Nikon-F.

Doing so, you would lose so much however. The D200 has a nine-stop auto-bracket range, which is superb for HDR (high dynamic range) photography, which I am pausing from to write this message. I just did one that had a three million to one contrast ratio. When mapped down to a 48-bit image from the 96-bit HDR, there are no blocked highlights and superb shadow detail.

The manual lenses have two big virtues. They are top quality Nikkors, and capable of great sharpness when shooting landscapes or other contemplative photographs. The 50mm MicroNikkor is particularly impressive with the fine D200 sensor. The 24mm and the 35mm are both f-2.0 and the 105mm is f-1.8, making these lenses also highly useful for available darkness shooting. Even when it is too dark to visually focus them, the electronic rangefinder is there to confirm focus. This shot was done just before midnight in a friend's yard using the f-2.0 35mm lens. It is a nine stop bracket combined into an HDR image mapped down to 24-bit for use on the net.

As you can see, there is great shadow detail and even the bare bulbs have full colour and detail. Though it was completely night, there is even detail in the dark sky. With the 35mm f-2.0 I was able to get the whole range of exposures by using ISO1600.
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One can let the exposure index float, so if you set your exposure for full sunlight, if the subject runs into shadow, your aperture and shutter speed do not change. This is great for shooting sports, where part of the playing field is in the shadow of the stadium. The camera meter offers spot, centre weighted or allows you to select an area on the viewing screen. The same indicators can be used for selective focus as well.

I can set the camera onto an interval timer, allowing me to shoot a series of shots over time, and then combine them into a single shot representing all the activity during that time. Shooting at five frames per second, I captured the flight of a crow across the little park across from me.


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Using predictive focus when a friend requested pictures of him riding his new sport motorcycle, I was able to do a series of him riding rapidly toward me, with the camera predicting where he would be in the next exposure, keeping every shot sharply focused. I was shooting three frames a second, and got 10 shots in the sequence. Were I shooting with one of my manual lenses, he would have had to make several passes, and I would have been lucky to get two sharp shots per pass.

Going from an entry-level camera with 30 or 40 year old technology to a contemporary camera would be challenging. These cameras have a quite steep learning curve. Luckily there is no cost of film or processing while you are learning it. Feedback is immediate, where film took days to see results and by then you might have forgotten what you were trying to learn. I am close to 4,000 shots with mine and the bulk of those were exposed while configuring the camera to the way I work and finding where its limits lie. Every feature can be customized, and in many cases, the only way to find out the results is to try it. Now I have an enormously sophisticated camera configured as if it were specifically built for my photography.

As well as my bunch of manual lenses, I also have two zoom lenses, giving me a highly flexible pair of optic-types to choose from. I use the zooms in far different ways than the manuals. The super-wide zoom is the equivalent of am 18-36mm lens and the super-zoom is the equivalent of a 27-300mm lens. With just two lenses I have the ultimate in coverage. Doing travel or just walk-around shooting, these are a dream to work with. The super-zoom has VR - vibraton-reduction built in and it is wonderful. The minimum shutter speed for hand holding is 1/focal-length. Thus at the extreme 300mm the lowest shutter speed I should use is 1/300th of a second. This shot was taken at 1/4 of a second. I leaned my elbows on a desk, but no tripod or monpod was used. The light on the left came from a computer monitor and the light from the right reflected off a projection screen. The room was otherwise dark. You will notice how extremely sharp it is in spite of the extraordinary shutter speed.

With all the automation and advanced technology, can it be fooled? Of course it can, if it is a fool using it. The camera only works well if the photographer is supplying the brains. One must understand how the automation works, to avoid problems. I have an explanation on my web site at
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I will be truthful with you - going from an old simplistic entry-level camera to a contemporary camera, such as the D200, certainly is daunting. The reward is that once you have learned to control the camera, your own imagination is the greatest limitation. It can take you places that you simply would not think possible with your camera. It is vastly superior to any of my many film cameras with one exception. While the grain is far less than with a 35mm camera at the same ISO setting, it can not quite match a medium format camera. The Nikon D3 that will be shipping in a few days will surpass medium format cameras. I have seen shots from a pre-release D3, and even at ISO6400, there is little or no discernible noise(grain). Even shots at ISO25,600 would be entirely adequate for newspaper reproduction.


New Member
Thank you very much Larry. It is nice to see that you use so much time to write an answer to me and to the readers!