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Which manual camera would you recommend?

Discussion in 'Film Forum' started by Gray Fox, Aug 6, 2007.

  1. Gray Fox

    Gray Fox

    Jan 12, 2007
    London Ontario
    Coming from the dark ages of 8 x 10 and 5 x 7 sheet film, I discovered 35mm and Nikon late in the game. My F5 has been the go to body for about a decade, with an F4 for marine and other "nasty" environments. I use mostly pro grade AF prime lenses and one zoom, the AF 80-200 F2.8

    Somehow I feel the need for an old fashion manual camera that does not need batteries. My wife can hold my hand, my camera does not need to! :) 

    What Nikon body would best suit this objective? Any suggests would be greatly appreciated. All of my lenses can be manually focused, and have aperture rings. Are there any bodies I should absolutely avoid for lens incompatibility or any other reason?

    Thank you for any suggestions.
  2. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    Any of the early F's will give you the 'bare metal' experience. The FM3a is possibly the most prized of the manual cameras, and the FG seems to be the smallest, and least expensive.
  3. I would suggest the original FM.
    A fully manual SLR. It has a battery that only powers the light meter. Everything works great without it.
    When I went digital I sold my F4s and my F80 - but I hung on to my old FM. An outstanding, very solidly built Nikon.
  4. Gray Fox

    Gray Fox

    Jan 12, 2007
    London Ontario
    Great, thank you. I will search these out.
  5. Julien


    Jul 28, 2006
    Paris, France
    I've just bought an FM2 and a nice 50mm 1.4 AI-S from a fellow café member and I immediately fell in love with it , even before having developed my 2 first rolls with it. :wink:
  6. agw0


    Oct 28, 2006
    Munich, Germany
    If you want a purely mechanical body, then the FM2 is the best choice, imho. Or, if that is too small for you, an F2 (preferably F2AS). Notice, however, that they will need a battery for the meter, too. If you don't mind such a minuscule :wink: amount of battery usage, then an F3 (preferably F3HP) will be an excellent choice, too. All three use button-type batteries, and need a change only once in a long while. A 3V lithium button will last an F3 for years (if it can still be found - last I had to I only found the alcalines).

    I prefer the 80/20 weighted center weighted meter of the F3 to the 60/40 weighted one of the other bodies, as it more resembles a spot meter.
  7. Gray Fox

    Gray Fox

    Jan 12, 2007
    London Ontario
    As long as the camera will work without batteries, having a battery operated meter is fine with me. When I was taking photographs every day, I went for years without any meter, relying on experience with known reliable film, such as Tri-X.
  8. gavin


    Oct 21, 2006
    Let me chime in with another vote for the FM2. It's an amazing little camera, built like a tank and with such a nice feel you won't want to stop using it.

    I never used an FM3 though...
  9. califlefty


    Apr 7, 2006
  10. I'll also recommend the FM2. I have one as the ultimate back-up. If that one fails me, it was worth shooting that day.

    God Bless,
  11. Gray Fox

    Gray Fox

    Jan 12, 2007
    London Ontario
    A quick follow up.

    I asked for suggestions in obtaining a fully manual Nikon and received some great suggestions. Yesterday I found an FM3A in great condition, along with a Nikon 50mm F1.4 manual lens purchased for much less than I would have paid for the body alone.

    Thanks for your recommendations.

    The digital types may become hyper because of anouncements for future offerings. We film types have great equipment available that is proven and at very affordable prices.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 8, 2007
  12. gugs


    Feb 24, 2006
    this one is my ultimate backup (I was lucky to find a very cheap almost unused copy) - the good old FM

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  13. The F3 will only work at 60th sec without a battery. The normal shutter release cannot be used.
  14. F2(A) is a beautiful piece of work. I really enjoyed mine and will again when I sort my poor DP-11 finder out.
  15. Gray Fox

    Gray Fox

    Jan 12, 2007
    London Ontario
    Yes you are right but this was too good to pass up. I still need a fully manual camera. That FM looks great.

    There is no doubt about it, another body or two will be in my equipment list sooner rather than later.

  16. just can't beat the butter smooth action of an F2.....a real gem
  17. Gray Fox

    Gray Fox

    Jan 12, 2007
    London Ontario
    I loaded a roll of Fujicolor Pro 400 (36) in the FM3A and just wanderer about the city this morning, then stopped in a local pro lab for processing. Having used AF bodies for a long time I occasionally forgot to set something. But the overall result is.....this is a great camera.

    There is a problem. With all of the great suggestions now I would like one of each of the top Nikon manual focus cameras. Would this be called body lust?

    Please don't tell my wife!
  18. i personally would go for rangefinder :biggrin:
  19. i second that! as an owner myself, the nikon s2 is a fine piece of machinery. purely mechanic, no batteries whatsoever. no meter, so you can train your eye like i have been doing for the last two years. there's no better meter than your own trained eye! you will find you are very much "in" the moment when you snap the shutter... and it's a real treat to be shooting on what people like henri cartier-bresson and edward weston *only* shot on.. (maybe not a nikon s2, but a rangefinder and a 50 attached, nonetheless).
  20. My choice of a manual SLR without metering is the Nikon F. If I need TTL metering, I grab my Nikkormat FTn.

    The Nikkormat FT3 would be your best candidate. It uses silver-oxide batteries, uses the 'AI' metering system, and the very best part is it still uses needle metering. The metering in the FM was the worst offender with the exception of the F3. The FM2 was an improvement when the red diodes took on the "+,o,-" shapes.

    The beauty of the needle metering in the FT3, is that with a bit of practice, you instantly know what your current exposure settings are. And do not have to come back to "o", and then go plus or minus as you desire. You can look at the needle and know that you are immediately one stop over to compensate for backlighting and etc.

    Plus the Nikkormats are built like bricks, weigh about the same also, but that makes them virtually indestructible.

    Just my 2¢,
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