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Nikon FM3A. Is it the best SLR?

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I still think some of the sexiest cameras were produced in the 70’s and 80’s. Just look at the design of the day from Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Olympus, Chinon… the list goes on, all these brands were making cameras of similar fashion and personally I think they were of the best designs a camera could have. In fact, they are bringing that look back today with new digital mirrorless cameras. Must have had something sexy about it, right?

And I am no stranger to these beauties. I have a few and love shooting them. They are old and probably need a service but I am used to them and their flaws and manage to shoot them fine.

Sadly, a system I have never owned is the Nikon F series. I did have the chance to buy a Nikon FE a while back which I featured on the channel but I have many film SLR’s and I decided to let someone else snap it up for the bargain price of just £80 at auction. I was a bit gutted as it went to a trader who probably sold it on for much more!

I always knew the Nikon FM2 and FE2 are much loved and when this Nikon FM3A landed on my lap I couldn’t let it go. The reviews online make this camera out to be some sort of God amongst Film SLR’s… and I must say, being lucky enough to own one, I now can see what all the fuss is about.

There are many reviews online that are pretty much all on the same words but in a nutshell Nikon stopped the FM production and started focusing more on the new cameras that was taking shape at the time. The Jelly Moulds I call them.

Some years later photographers must have been screaming out for a new FM3 from Nikon because in 2001 Nikon got a team together to work on a new classic look film camera that was to impress those desperate for the series to continue. What they did was nothing short of amazing. They put all their knowledge from the cameras they were building at the time and stuffed it into what they called the FM3A. A kind of goodbye to that classic look camera that had already impressed so many.

This camera, unlike any other, was a hybrid electrical and mechanical. Electrical meaning it was an Aperture Priority Camera but with a kick! It could also work without batteries mechanically across all speeds! From 1s to 1/4000s and bulb mode also. This was fantastic. If you was out on the field and ran out of batteries you could still shoot the camera, all be it, without a light meter.

I was vlogging once with the Olympus OM20 and the batteries died! Game over until I could find a shop open on a Sunday that sold batteries.

The only questions I have about the Nikon FM3A is…

Why was there not a 100% viewfinder. It is 93%. I guess it has something to do with the size of the camera and not being possible.

Why did the camera not have speeds from 8 seconds like the FE2?

And why on earth did they not give a button to lock the cameras electrics and shutter? The advance lever has to be slightly open to shoot and it digs you in the forehead when taking pictures in portrait mode or if you are a left eye shooter.

There must be a reason but Nikon did put an exposure lock button in the right place so all is forgiven!

Anyway. Here is a link to my video on the camera and also the photographs I took on my first three shoots.

Woodland Kodak TMAX 400 and 510 PYRO. Micro Nikkor 55mm f2.8 & Nikon 28mm F2.8

Farm (ORWO UN54 and RODINAL) Zeiss Milvus 50mm F1.4 & Nikon 28mm F2.8

Night Shoot. Kodak TMAX 400, 510 PYRO, Zeiss Milvus 50mm F1.4

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