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MF Nikon advice sought

Discussion in 'Film Forum' started by Druid, Jun 23, 2007.

  1. I'm quite happy with my D200 for most purposes, but I'm now feeling the urge to acquire a manual focus film camera, mainly for 'street' type B&W photography.

    I've been looking at three models. FM2n, FM3a and the F3HP (I wear glasses)

    I've handled an FM3a a while ago and think it's certainly a lot smaller than the D200, but I didn't get to do any shooting with it. I subsequently read a bunch of stuff suggesting the FM's aren't the best choice for people who wear glasses. The F3HP looks like it might be a better option on paper, but I don't really have a feel for how big it is compared to the D200 (not bothered about weight, but I'm looking for something that's a bit more compact and discreet) I'd probably pair it up with my 35/2 initially.

    I'd be grateful for any advice or guidance on Nikon cameras for this sort of usage.
  2. ffb2t


    Jan 16, 2006
    The F3 is quite quite a bit smaller than a d200 (in fact, except for the prism it is probably about the same size as a leica (a little thinner and lighter maybe) so is is pretty small. I don't have the HP version, that prism is a bit higher (the standard prism makes this pretty discreet and I don't have issues with the VF and glasses). Nice thing is that you can swap out the prism for a waist-level (I believe) if you can find one.

    Only downside to the F3 that I can think of is that it is not quiet. You know you released the shutter (both in sound and feel) but this is probably not an issue in most situations.
  3. F3 is actually very light, and not very big - great viewfinder, and also a bargain now....FM is getting a little long in the tooth, and has hard edges (not easy on the hands), same as FM3, and FM3 is outragious in price (FE2 will do same thing, half the bucks, but elderly also)....I know everybody will laugh at me on this choice, but of my 21 film bodies, my choice for unintrusive and light "street" shooting, an EM is perfect - small, lite, set aperture, zone focus, shoot from the hip, never even seen by the folks....durn things cost 50-60 bucks or so, and do the job...
  4. matthew.paul

    matthew.paul Guest

    I've got to put in another vote for the F3. It really is a pretty small camera. Not much larger than a Leica, except for the viewfinder. I wear glasses and do not have the HP viewfinder and it works out fine. The nice thing, is that you can remove the viewfinder and compose and shoot from the hip, just like a TLR camera. It also make the camera even smaller.

    However, it is a little loud with the mirror, but if you are shooting in manual mode, you can use mirror lock up, and that gets rid of a lot of the sound.

    You won't be let down by the solid, smooth operation of this camera. I still am amazed every time I advance the film!
  5. I acquired an F3 myself recently - beautiful camera, and solid, to say the least. A test roll is in right now.

    Other things no one's mentioned;
    An FG?
    Pro: Small, light, pseudo mirror lockup (the mirror raises itself prior to release if you shoot using self timer), ISO to 3200, nice LEDs in the viewfinder (great for dark/low contrast situations) fully metered manual or aperture priority auto (think an EM with more control), cheap too.
    Con: Sometimes a bit too light - not nearly as bad as the Pentax MV, but I wouldn't go much below 1/125 handheld without a winder attached for the extra heft. Aperture coupling ring doesn't move out of the way for older lenses. Top shutter speed only 1/1000s. Shutter electronic - once batteries go (they do last for ever though) you have the 1/90 manual speed and that's it.

    An FE?
    Pro: Still cheap (and cheaper than an FM), aperture coupling can be raised for shooting with older lenses, DoF preview lever, metered manual or aperture priority auto, heftier (and feels less like the mirror slap is going to make it jump from your hand) than the FG, ISO to 3200
    Con: Viewfinder uses match needle and plastic indicator for shutter speed - not as visible in low light. No psuedo mirror lockup a la the FG. Shutter electronic - once batteries go (they do last for ever though) you have the 1/90 manual speed and that's it. Top shutter only 1/1000s

    The FG and FE can be had for buttons - I'd be tempted to get one anyway, if I was in your position, to backup whatever you consider to be your "main" camera.
  6. N2000? I always had an affection for those little things with the auto film advance, auto ISO and all. Tricked out with AA batteries... nice.
  7. Thanks to everyone for the advice so far.

    I think I'm looking for something a little more austere/purist on the one hand and excellently engineered on the other. That's why I started looking at the FMs, but then began to lean towards the F3 when I saw comments from a bunch of people who wear glasses who had problems with them, and then started seeing a lot of 'best SLR ever made', 'beautifully engineered' etc comments about the F3 variants, especially once I saw the sort of prices they go for these days.

    My D200 has all the bells and whistles that I might ever feel the need for, so I was kind of looking for something simple that didn't compromise even slightly on quality, which would be good for my secondary interest in 'street', that the D200 just doesn't feel right for.
  8. Phil I it appears you've made up your mind. :biggrin: The F3HP's go cheap also - around $125-$150 for a mint one here in the US. So, you should be able to get one for 75-100 quid, no? Personally I've gone back to a rangefinder for my black and white and street stuff.
  9. Heh, well. Not really. I did look at various rangefinders, but it seems a bit silly when I've got some very nice Nikon (non-G) lenses that'd work just fine.
  10. I'm partial to the FM3a, then again that's what I have.

    I did replace the eyepiece with one that works for my (typical middle aged) vision.
  11. I did have another look at rangefinders. The Voightlander R3M + 40/1.4 looks like it might do the job and is about the same new as a used Leica M6 body.

    Still double the cost or more than the Nikon F3, FM etc. options discussed above though, although obviously you have the benefit of a warranty and of rangefinder vs manual focussing, mirror slap and a great big prism stuck on top of the thing.

    Might be worth thinking about this some more ...
  12. I myself am a regular user of an FG and now I own an F3. I found the noise comments rather funny, as the mirror slap from the FG is substantially more noticeable than anything from my F3 (both have fresh foam). The FG's mirror really slaps and jostles the camera a little, which I think harms my low-shutter-speed photos a bit, whereas the F3 is better dampened, and while still audible...is not really felt. It's quite nice compared to the FG.

    The F3 is a good deal smaller than the D200 and is not substantially bigger than the diminutive FG (better heft and a bit bigger, but subjectively only a lil bigger), the grip is more comfortable (fingers aren't cramped against the self-timer), and the replaceable VF is nice. I was debating between an FE2 and an F3, and I don't regret my decision at all. Perhaps if I needed flash more, I'd think differently, but for the stuff I do, the F3/FG combo seems to cover the bases quite nicely.
  13. I shot for many years with the F3HP camera and loved it. It is a real workhorse.
  14. Probably a silly question I know, but a comment by Thom Hogan where he's talking about the F4 vs the F3HP here made me wonder.

    Can I put an AF lens (assuming it has an aperture ring) on an F3 or do I have to use older, manual lenses?

    I'm also wondering would the F4 be a reasonable choice for my purposes, assuming the smaller MB-20 battery pack?
  15. You can use AF lenses. Go to mir.com and check out their camera reviews and listings.
  16. Yes, I did that. Very useful site, especially if you're aiming to buy a used F3 or whatever, which probably doesn't come with a manual.
  17. If you want pure mechanical simplicity have you thought of an F2, I had one from new until I traded it in for a D1H 5 years ago and nothing ever went wrong with it. However for spec wearers like you and I the viewfinder is not as good as the F3HP. Another compact option is the FM2n.
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