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stability of Nikons FMbs etc



If you are looking for status, quality, versatility and usability in an slr camera, then the name is NIKON


> Agreed! But how does Nikon stand against Leica in SLR cameras? Aren't the german cameras what Nikon used to be before they switched their philosophy to general public taste? I still miss a proper replacement for the F3, that is, a rugged camera with a minimum of electronic aides in the light metering area and TTL flash capability. I've an F100 but it still has way too much electronics most people for sure don't use at all...


>How about the FM3A? I know it is more a replacemant for the FM2 and misses a lot of the stability of the F3, but is has the basic features you are asking for. > The market wanted AF so Nikon created the F4 as a replacement. And now the F5 came for


>Sorry for the interruption (cats wanted to play with the keyboard). What I wanted to say is that with all those electronic ghizmos they have to come up, because "the market" wants them they forget that there are still some weirdos who prefer a nice mechanical camera. > I still wonder how they could shoot pics with something "primitive" like a Rolleiflex decades ago.

I love my FM2 and never would give it away, while I wouldn't care to trade in my F90x for a D100 or Fuji S2. The F90 is for snapshots, the FM2 for photography.



Claus, You name it: The FM3A lacks the "stability" of the F3... In this point the F100 is more the sort of body I like to have in my hands. A kind of an F3 with incorporated motor drive and TTL flash capability would suit my taste perfectly. Best regards Carlos


I've been using F3HP's for 20 years and have put more than 10,000 = rolls of film through one without failure--I used an F2AS and a Leica M2 = before that. The F3HP is by far the best of the bunch. It's build is = equal to the Leica plus it offers stepless shutter speeds which comes in = handy if you're shooting transparencies. Available light rarely matches = full stops. The mechanical F3HP is still manufactured and is available = new from Adorama Camera and B&H Video in the US.

type your text here!


The F3HP is not longer produced, but there're a couple..or at least one that have them in stock ( including all the accessories ).
You can find it also on some auctions places on the Internet and in KEH ,in pristine conditions ( and I mean as out of the box )for less than 700.00.



The F3HP IS still in production. I bought a new one last week from = Adorama Camera complete with waranty, etc. It's listed on the nikonusa = website and, according to the sales dept. at Nikon, they have no plans = to discontinue it.

type your text here!


Well-Known Member
F3HP available

Yes, B & H Nikon F3HP USA warranty $1,429.00.

Nikon Catalog Volume 9 only list an FM3A as an entry level manual camera.




I've been doing 35mm photography for my own pleasure for 30 years, and I used other cameras before that. My current thinking is this:

35mm cameras are for speed and convenience. If that's so, I want the most speed and convenience I can get. Within what I can afford, that means an F80 with its fairly fast autofocus, its matrix meter and its wonderful flash system. If I'm in the mood to fiddle with an all-mechanical, all metal camera, I will just use my old Yashica-Mat or Rolleiflex TLRs rather than use 35mm, since I can get photos with richer B&W or colour in medium format. These old guys don't even have a lightmeter.


Dear nikon users,

As indicated by Tom and Gilbert, the F3 is certainly still on Nikon's list and is also available brand new here in the UK. Regarding the e-mail about the FM3A being an entry level camera, I really doubt the wisdom of such a statement. I just replaced one of my venerable old FE's with an FM3A and it is a fantastic bit of (tough metal) camera. I do agree that it lacks the mirror lock-up and other facilities of the F3, but it's not that far behind and truly a great camera to use. What about the FM2n then? That must really be a camera for babies! But, just ask all those FM2n owners out there. My wife has one and loves it. Real photography (and understanding of photographic principles) is possible with these beauties and they are able to stand up to tough conditions in the field, unlike a lot of these plastic fantastic jobs, including all that digital gear that costs as much as a car (and digital is still not as good as film, just faster output of the images).

There is a Nikon subculture that still uses F3's, FM2n's, FM3A's, etc. and MF lenses for a number of good reasons, and Nikon are to be commended for at least allowing us to have reverse lens compatibility with the older bodies. Well, except for these ridiculous G type things. It does not bother me if they want to produce a series of low cost G type plastic jobs for the masses, but production of optical gems like the AF 70-200 and 200-400 zooms in G format is not a good move, in my humble opinion. OK enough ranting on my part. The fact that Nikon can still deliver the goods with lenses like the aforementioned and other superb optics (e.g., 28mm f2.0 and f2.8 wide angles, 35mm f1.4, 55mm f2.8 micro, AF 60mm f2.8 micro, AF 85mm f1.4, AF 180mm f2.8, AF 17-35mm f2.8) and cameras like the F80, F100, F5, etc. proves that they are still in the game.

And no I do not subsribe to the prestige idea, although some clearly do. That's OK. What does it for me is that I owned 2 camera bodies and a couple of lenses for over 20 years without any failure. And these were used in the field in highly variable weather conditions. I learned the technical aspects and art of photography with this equipment. Unfortunately, many newcomers or those folks that are simply awed by technology will not have that same experience. Mind you, I own an AF body and several lenses myself, but there is a greater learning curve that folks have to endure in order to come to grips with them. Finally, digital is here to stay and will only get better. That's a fact. I only hope that the MF cameras and lenses will survive the onslaught. Anyway, thanks for your time and all the comments posted so far.

All the best.


Active Member
"There is a Nikon subculture that still uses F3's, FM2n's, FM3A's, etc. and MF lenses for a number of good reasons,..."

Don't forget that there are still Nikon F and Nikon F2 users who are in that subculture.


Well-Known Member
<FM3A being an entry level camera, I really doubt the wisdom of such a statement.>

"Designed for those just starting out in photography who favor total manual control of the process, the FM3A is..."

If that still insults you let Nikon know.

FM3A Chrome list at $820.00 and black $845.00.




I quote myself:
"The F3HP is not longer produced.."

Tom, you're wrong, the F3HP is not longer manufactured. Gilbert, you are right, the F3HP is still AVAILABLE.

Note that I said : is not longer PRODUCED.

I just get off the phone with Customer Service Rep. Paul from Nikon USA. According to his words, the camera is not longer made but is still on the Nikon USA website due to its availabilty.

Regarding the level or capacity of the FM3A, it is a die-hard camera as it is/was the FM2n. I personally own those two last bastions in the mechanical-metalic and manual realm of photography.

About the implication, e-mail or whatever it was, I believe that the press release made on 2/5/01 when the FM3A was released said it all:
Nikon FM3A(TM) Manual Focus SLR Camera Offers Full Manual Control Plus Aperture Priority Electronic Shutter

Speed Control for the Photographer who Prefers Personal Choice

MELVILLE, N.Y., Feb. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Nikon, the leader in precision
optics, 35mm and digital imaging technology, today introduced the FM3A(TM), a
manual-focus, 35mm SLR camera featuring a special hybrid shutter control
system enabling full mechanical exposure control range plus electronic shutter
speed control. Previously, photographers that preferred fully mechanical
manual shutter operation could not have the benefits of automation in their
camera. The FM3A now offers both.
Complementing the new FM3A is a new AI-S Nikkor(R) 45mm f/2.8P manual
focus lens and the ultra compact AF Zoom-Nikkor 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G lens.
Additionally, the FM3A offers photographers access to Nikon's Total Imaging
System of world-class SLR interchangeable lenses, Speedlights and System
This Nikon series began with the classic Nikon FM2(TM), which nearly two
decades ago, was the first model to incorporate the then world's fastest
shutter speed at 1/4000 second.
The FM3A inherits many of the FM2's features, including a durable die-cast
metal body construction; Center-Weighted TTL (Through-the-Lens) full-aperture
exposure metering with exposure compensation of -2 to +2 EV; and a top shutter
speed of 1/4000 second, plus bulb.
New also is the FM3A camera's TTL flash control with a maximum sync speed
of 1/250 second, DX-coded film speed settings and new bright view focusing
screens. Using the optional MD-12 Motor Drive, film advance at 3.2 frames per
second is possible.
"Nikon has a longstanding history of advancing 35mm SLR photography, and
the FM3A represents just one of those innovations. The camera will appeal to
traditionalists, photography students and those who are just beginning to
experience photography," said Richard LoPinto, vice president, SLR Camera
Systems, Nikon Inc. "What is unique about the FM3A is that it offers
traditionalists freedom from electronic dependence without sacrificing auto
exposure capability and at the same time, through its manual performance
affords students the opportunity to develop an awareness of the basic
principles of camera operation," he added.
The electronic stepless shutter enables precise exposure control with the
benefits of automatic performance. With manual operation, action often
happens too fast for the photographer to respond. Automatic aperture control
lends the ability to respond more quickly, when the photographer cannot do it
manually; all without giving up what traditional photographers enjoy...full
mechanical manual control.

FM3A Offers Hybrid Shutter Speed Control System
The FM3A is ideal for photographers seeking the quality and innovation of
Nikon 35mm cameras with the freedom of personal control. The FM3A camera's
hybrid shutter control system enables full mechanical shutter range plus
electronic shutter speed range of operation. For mechanical operation the
shutter's control does not require battery power, allowing users to shoot in
all types of conditions, including extremely cold weather, without having to
worry about battery failure. Using batteries, photographers can take
advantage of the camera's built-in exposure meter. The battery power check is
displayed for 16 seconds with the meter-on timer.
Under battery power the FM3A offers Aperture-Priority Auto Exposure. With
Aperture-Priority Auto Exposure control, the user chooses the desired
aperture, while the FM3A automatically selects the appropriate shutter speed.
This mode is ideal for many picture taking conditions, such as when action
is happening too fast for the photographer to respond with manual operation,
for shooting under conditions that may require exposure compensation, such as
close-ups with extension tubes or Micro Nikkor optics, and when subjects are
quickly moving from bright to dark areas. Additionally, during candid
photography, changes in scene brightness are common, and automatic adjustment
to exposure can be a true benefit. The FM3A's 60/40 center-weighted meter, an
original Nikon innovation, handles a wide range of lighting with ease. In the
hands of an experienced photographer, photographic excellence is achievable.
The FM3A's top shutter speed of 1/4000 second provides opportunities for
critical action-stopping photos. It also expands exposure control, which is
particularly useful when shooting with high-speed film. Shutter speed can be
manually selected from one second to 1/4000 second. In A mode
(Aperture-Priority Auto Exposure), shutter speed is controlled from eight
seconds to 1/4000 second.
The FM3A's fast TTL flash sync, with fill-flash capability, provides a
broad range of control options for shooting in virtually all ambient light
conditions. When used with Nikon TTL Speedlights, such as the new SB-50DX(TM)
or SB-28, the FM3A's TTL sensor monitors both ambient and flash illumination.
When the total light accumulated is right for the correct exposure, the
flash automatically turns off. For fill effects, the FM3A includes a special
button, which when pressed will automatically reduce the flash output by
approximately one (1) f/stop. The result is a pleasing fill light that is
very effective for backlighted subjects, and when ambient lighting is causing
harsh shadows on the subject. This feature affords control that has not been
available for those who prefer to use mechanical manual cameras.
The FM3A is designed for ruggedness and durability with a die-cast camera
body made of copper silumin aluminum, a metal alloy that significantly reduces
the effects of extreme temperature and humidity. While remarkably light, the
alloy is rigid and resistant to metal fatigue and corrosion. With this solid
construction, the FM3A is designed to perform superbly in a wide variety of
challenging conditions.
The Nikon FM3A 35mm SLR camera will be available in black or silver
beginning in the Spring of 2001 at a suggested retail price of $820 for the
silver model and $845 for the black model.

About Nikon
Nikon Inc., the world leader in precision optics, 35mm and digital imaging
technology, is recognized for setting new standards in product design and
performance in consumer and professional photographic equipment. Nikon Inc.
distributes the Nikon Total Imaging System of consumer and professional 35mm
film and digital SLR cameras, Nikkor optics, Speedlights and System
Accessories; Advanced Photo System cameras; 35mm compact cameras; Coolpix(R)
compact digital cameras; Coolscan(R) digital film scanners; Nikonos(R)
underwater photographic systems; and Nikon sports and recreational optics.
The company plays an active role in supporting aspiring and advanced
photographers through a variety of organizations, educational programs, events
and workshops. For product information, contact Nikon at (800) NIKON-US or
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most comprehensive photo learning and sharing communities.

Nikon FM3A 35mm SLR Camera Specifications

Type of camera
35mm single-lens reflex with electronically and mechanically controlled
focal-plane shutter

Applicable film
35mm film in a cartridge

Frame size
24mm x 36mm

Lens mount
Nikon F mount

Vertical-travel, metal focal-plane shutter

Shutter-speed settings
* A (aperture-priority auto): 8 to 1/4000 sec., electronic stepless
control (indications are 1 to 1/4000)
* Manual: Bulb, 1 to 1/4000 sec., mechanical control

Eye-level pentaprism

14mm (at -1.0m(-1))

Focusing screen
K3 type (splitprism-image microprism type, Clear Matte Screen II)
standard, B3 type and E3 type optional

Viewfinder frame coverage
Approx. 93% (objective screen)

Viewfinder magnification
Approx. 0.80x with 50mm lens set to infinity

Viewfinder information
Shutter speed, exposure meter indication, shutter indication, direct
aperture value, exposure compensation mark, ready light

Reflex mirror
Quick-return type

Exposure meter sync
Ai type (automatic compensation at full-aperture f-stop)

Metering system
TTL center-weighted, full-aperture exposure metering system, approx. 60%
of the meter's sensitivity concentrated on a 12mm diameter circle.

Metering range
EV 1 to EV 20 at ISO100 (with a 50mm f/1.4 lens)

Film-sensitivity settings
DX system or manual. With DX: ISO 25 to 5000 Manual: ISO 12 to 6400

Exposure compensation
Exposure compensated to +2 EV in units of 1/3 EV (compensation to the
+ side not possible with ISO 12, and that to the - side not possible with
ISO 6400)

Auto Exposure Lock
Enabled by pressing the AE-L lock button

Film advance
Lever provided, 30-degree standoff angle and 135-degree winding angle,
automatic film advance enabled with MD-12 Motor Drive (sold separately)

Frame counter
Additive type (S, 1 to 36), automatic reset

Film rewinding
Film reset button and rewind crank provided

Mechanically controlled, countdown time of approx. 4 to 10 seconds,
cancellation possible

Lens aperture
Instant-return system, with aperture lever

Multiple exposure
Activated with multiple exposure lever

Sync contact
X-contact only; synchronized with the flash at a low speed of less than
1/250 sec.

Flash control
* TTL flash: Enabled by using SB-27, SB-26, etc. in combination
* TTL flash compensation: Compensation to -1 EV activated with the TTL
flash compensation button on the camera
* Film speed synchronization in TTL flash: ISO 12 to 1000

Sync terminal
JIS sync terminal provided as standard, with lock screws

Accessory shoe
Hot-shoe contact (sync contact, ready-light contact, monitor contact,
stop-signal contact for TTL flash) with a lock hole to prevent accidental

Ready light
Lights when the flash is fully charged with SB-27, SB-26, etc.; blinks for
full-output warning or shutter-speed settings from 1/500 to 1/4000 sec.

Camera back
Detachable hinged back; MF-16 Data Back can be attached in place.

Camera-back opening
Achieved with the film-rewind lever

Power source
One 3V lithium battery (CR-1/3N type), two 1.55V silver-oxide batteries
(SR44 type), or two 1.5V alkaline batteries (LR44 type)

Meter-on timer
To turn the camera on when the shutter-release button is pressed lightly,
turning it off 16 seconds after your finger leaves the button. With the MD-12
Motor Drive, the camera is turned on when the shutter release button of the
MD-12 is pressed lightly, and it turns off approx. 66 seconds after your
finger leaves the button.

Battery power check
Displayed for 16 seconds with the meter-on timer. The exposure meter does
not work if the batteries are exhausted.

Number of film rolls that can be shot
When repeating the procedure of holding the shutter-release button in the
lightly pressed position for 10 seconds, pressing it all the way, and waiting
until the timer activates, with 36-frame film rolls, a shutter speed of 1/250
second in Aperture-Priority Auto mode:

At normal temperature At low temperature
(20 degrees C) (-10 degrees C)

One 3V lithium battery approx. 110 rolls approx. 60 rolls
Two 1.55V silver-oxide approx. 120 rolls approx. 65 rolls
Two 1.5V alkaline approx. 50 rolls approx. 10 rolls

Optional exclusive or common accessories
* MD-12 Motor Drive
* SB-27 Speedlight and equivalents
* MF-16 Data Back
* CF-27S / CF-28S / CF-29S Camera Case
* AR-3 Cable release

Tripod socket
1/4 (ISO 1222)

Dimensions (W x H x D)
Approx. 142.5 x 90 x 58mm (camera body only)

Approx. 570g (camera body only, including battery)

All specifications apply when fresh batteries are used at normal
temperature (20 degrees C). Specifications and designs are subject to change
without any notice or obligation on the part of the manufacturer.

SOURCE Nikon Inc."

And write my name in the Nikon subculture..why sub?
Oh! Pierre:

" I will just use my old Yashica-Mat or Rolleiflex TLRs rather than use 35mm, since I can get photos with richer B&W or colour in medium format."

True but limited. Any telephoto lens for them, fish-eye, 20 or 24 mm, just as ex&les..? Nope, you are stuck with the fixed focus in most of the cases, therefore limiting your choice of subjets.
For us, regulars folks, an 8"x10" print will do for any portfolio, decorating your house or selling them.....and there is not notable difference between an 8"x10" print from a good 35 mm lens and film, and a medium format camera.
So twinkling with all metal, manual 35 mm is not that bad and can be as rewarding as using any good old TLR.


Well-Known Member
Back to the topic.

When I went on my own after being a staff photographer, Nikon was my choice for a 35mm SLR. Why?

First and foremost - utter reliability - and I think that is the prime reason for most working photographers. While it is depressing for an enthusiast to discover a shutter problem when the roll comes back blank, it is a total disaster for a shooter whose living depends upon his camera.

For this reason alone most of us buy the top of the line body. I might add that a picture shot with my F3 looks no different than if I shot it with the cheapest Nikon body on the market - as long as the lens is the same.

Why Nikon F and not Pentax, Canon, or Minolta's top of the line? Reputation founded upon the experience of our colleagues. Attend anything from a political convention to a NASCAR superspeedway race and you will find nearly all those covering with film equipped with these cameras. If the shooter is holding a Canon, it is probably digital.

The second reason is that there is such a rich assortment of lenses and accessories. The camera is truly part of a system, and thus can be configured and fine tuned for nearly any purpose that requires 35mm.

Finally, for the working photographer, there is Nikon - the company. If one is covering a major event, the company is there to lend equipment and fix your camera on the spot if there is a problem. Between events, one can borrow any piece of Nikon equipment for the price of shipping.

For the enthusiast, the choice is less clear. Few people shoot enough that the robustness of the F cameras warrant the price. Since the quality of the shot depends upon the quality of the lens and not the body, other brands can be quite competitive.

While it is nice to be able to choose one's lenses from such an array, few enthusiasts even think about the special purpose optics that may give a working photographer an edge in getting jobs. My 28mm PC-Nikkor paid for itself on the first day, for ex&le, and brought in a LOT of architectural shoots.

It is very important to handle the cameras before buying. Some simply do no feel right in the hands and to the eye. A comfortable camera does not fight you, resulting in better pictures. The most comfortable camera may or may not be a Nikon.

While working on staff, I was equipped with Nikon equipment, so I was familiar with it. This was another factor for me personally. However, I really have no brand loyalty. I also have Linhof, Bronica, Plaubel Makina and other cameras.

At this point if I were buying a digital SLR for work, it would be the Canon 1Ds at the moment, but I would certainly wait to see what Nikon does with the D2X that should be announced within the next month and a half.

Since I am now shooting mostly for my own pleasure, I have chosen the Nikon CP5000 based purely on its range of features - specially the magnificent WC-E68 19mm equivalent lens. After using this camera, I may never shoot with an SLR again. I have used this camera and lens on a number of architectural shoots, and it is awesome. Ex&les:
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My first digital was the classic Nikon CP990 and my Nikon F3 has not taken a shot since I bought it some three and a half year ago. I shot some medium format as recently as mid-summer, but that may well be the last. I have begun to sell my film cameras.



Someone above mentioned the inflexibility of TLRs vs 35mm, in response to my statement about using old TLRs when I want to go all mechanical. Very true, but that's why I also have and use my Nikon F80. I choose the tools that will do the job, whatever it is. As I stated, for what 35mm is particularly good at, I feel I may as well have all the modern bells & whistles on it, so I can take even more advantage of it. Why did I choose Nikon as my 35mm? Feel and ergonomics, really, compared to the other offerings at the same price point. Also, I felt, a more straightforward, easily available selection of lenses at reasonable prices that offer top optical quality (prime lenses in my case).