Nikon FM3A vs FE2

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by RattyMouse, Jul 14, 2013.

  1. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Member

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    Reading about these cameras, I am finding it hard knowing what the difference is between them. Can anyone summarize this? The FM3A is priced much higher than the FE2, but I am not sure why. Anyone have experience with both these models by chance?
     
  2. Ricardo Miranda

    Ricardo Miranda Member

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    They are very similar. The advantage of the FM3A is that, in Manual, all speeds are manually controlled like in a FM2n, not needing a battery. The FM3A adds to the TTL flash control of the FE2 a small button to enable fill-in flash. Add in a few cosmetic changes and that's about it.
    So, if you don't mind relying on 2 silver oxide batteries on the FE2, they're about the same in function.
     
  3. John_Nikon_F

    John_Nikon_F Member

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    There's also the brighter focusing screens (the B3, E3, and K3 - all of which will work in the FE2 just fine). But, for the price difference, I'd go with the FE2, source a third generation screen, and some extra CR 1/3N batteries.

    -J
     
  4. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Member

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    If money isn't an factor, get the FM3a with the pancake lens. Modern & manual, nice to handle.
    But other Nikon cameras are fine as well. I recently bought a nice Nikon F3 for $28. Technically perfect. It only needs a new skin.
    See: (there was a url link here which no longer exists)
    A real nice camera to use!!
    I also have a Nikon EL2 I use for about 26 years now. Also recommended.
    So take your pick...
     
  5. Oren Grad

    Oren Grad Member

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    The main distinction of the FM3A is its hybrid shutter, which supports aperture-priority AE while still working on all speeds without a battery in manual mode. Few other aperture-priority AE cameras even approached this - the exceptions that come to mind are the Pentax LX, which has instantaneous mechanical speeds from 1/75 - 1/2000, Pentax ES/ES II (1/60 - 1/1000) and Canon New F-1 (1/90 - 1/2000). In general, aperture-priority AE cameras have electronic shutters with at most one or two instantaneous speeds - typically around 1/60-1/125 - available if the battery dies.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 14, 2013
  6. Lamar

    Lamar Member

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    When I was looking to purchase one of these two I opted for the far cheaper FE2. I've been very happy with it. The only thing I see I really giving up to the FM3a was the fill flash button, the DX ISO/film window, and the ability to shoot without batteries. The batteries last forever in these things anyway so I have never had an issue with low batteries causing me to miss any shots. Regardless, S76/LR44s can be found cheap at any Walmart or Target and I always carry a few extra with me. To get -1 flash for fill I just adjust ISO or EXP comp to give me - 1 stop and shoot manual and overexpose 1 stop. For the price of one FM3a you can get an FE2 and an FM and most likely have money left over. I own and shoot them both. Great little cameras.
     
  7. OP
    OP
    RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Member

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    Thanks everyone! I know nothing about how to use flash on these cameras so it seems that an FM3A would be a waste on me. Glad to hear that the cheaper option will work for me.
     
  8. jpa

    jpa Member

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    I agree with the majority here, and would get the FE2 if money is at all an issue. Having said that, the FM3a is my favorite camera, and I never intend to part with it.
     
  9. Kiron Kid

    Kiron Kid Member

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    My FE-2 has never missed a beat. One small lithium battery lasts a long time in them.
     
  10. wyofilm

    wyofilm Subscriber

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    I have several FE2's and FM3a's. I have enjoyed using them both. However, I have had to send two of my three FE2's in for repair - glitchy film advance. They now work great. I have two FM3a's that work perfectly well; I have another bad ebay purchase that has a problem with a jumpy light meter. You might consider adding $150 to the price of the FE2 for service since the FE2 is likely 20 years older than the FM3a. The Fm3a is a 21st century camera! The FM3a is my favorite 35mm camera.
     
  11. wyofilm

    wyofilm Subscriber

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    I should also add that the foam is/was falling apart on all three copies of my FE2's, but not on any of my FM3a's. Again, this is due to the fact that the FM3a is a fairly new camera. Nikon stopped making them in 2009, I think. When you add in the cost of CLA, you can still buy a cheaper FE2, but the price difference becomes less.
     
  12. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    The FM3a was the last of the true F series. Very solid mechanical camera that will operate without a battery, except for light meter function. But even it had too many bells n whistles for me, and I sold mine. I prefer the FM2n.
     
  13. Huss

    Huss Member

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    The FE2 has the far cooler original Nikon font on the prism. The FM3A adopted the digi cam era font. Just doesn't look right, like a 70 year old in a bikini.
     
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  15. avb

    avb Subscriber

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    Hey! That's the 1988 Nikon F4 italicized font - still film era.
    But yes, I agree - the FM3A should have had non-italicized font to match the AI-S lenses.
     
  16. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

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    The FM3A has the shutter speed range of the FM2 and lacks the slower speeds available on the FE2.
    [​IMG]

    The FE2 meter is disabled until the film counter gets to position 1. This is also true for the F3, FA and FG. Nikon corrected this overreach in the FM3A and the meter is fully functional as it should regardless of film counter.
     
  17. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    So the F6 isn't the true F series and the FM3a is? To me the FM, FE series including the FM3a is the new Nikkormat. They are good, just like the Nikkormat was, but not Nikon F series cameras.
     
  18. Huss

    Huss Member

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    My Nikkormats feel as well built/solid as my F/F2 cameras. The FM/FE series (while great cameras) are not built anywhere near as well as their contemporary F series cameras. Does it matter in use? Not to me, or to others that value a lighter weight camera.
     
  19. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    As a person who did a fair amount of low light photography in the bush, I can certainly applaud the ability of my cameras, "F3 and FE2" to be quick as anything when re-loaded with fresh film to get to the starting gate.

    Nothing worse than having everything sitting on ½ a second exposure and you change a roll of film then have to wait for three ½ a second exposures and wind on actions to be done before you get to where you can start. With very little light and viewfinders that are relatively dark and gloomy, changing film in low light is mostly done without changing anything on the camera.

    If you are using a slow shutter speed setting, that feature is a great thing to have; in my humble opinion, that is.

    Always pros and cons, eh? :smile:

    Mick.
     
  20. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

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    Hey I also do photography in practically no light and that's why I have learned to be able to load my cameras in absolute darkness. Helps me squeeze a couple more frames in there too like when I shot my last rolls of Kodachrome. but I can understand that inconvenience this may be . . . for some . . . :whistling:
     
  21. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Heck. I know some Himalayan climbers who sure learned the hard way that less is more when it comes to reliability. An F6 might be a great camera for some applications; but if I want heavier, I've already got plenty of MF gear. And I never want bells n' whistles - defeats the elegant concept of Manual.
     
  22. kivis

    kivis Subscriber

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    I have had both. And both are awesome. Of course the FM3a is the alpha dog. That being said, I have 2 Nikon FE's (circa 1980). Read Ken Rockwell's review, he is spot on.
    http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/fe.htm
     
  23. Kiron Kid

    Kiron Kid Member

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    Back in my mountain climbing days, a Nikon FM with a lithium battery, never failed me.
     
  24. Kiron Kid

    Kiron Kid Member

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    I really like both cameras.

    KK
     
  25. Theo Sulphate

    Theo Sulphate Subscriber

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    In 1988, unboxing my new F3/T and following the instructions step-by-step, I thought my meter was broken when the shutter speed kept showing the same value, regardless of where I pointed the camera. Only later in the manual did they mention the frame-1 kludge.

    Nikon gave us a parental hand-holding "solution" to a non-existent problem. Rather than leave the camera in aperture-priority mode and get long exposures ,the shutter speed should be set manually. Then there's no need for the frame-1 "solution".
     
  26. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

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    I read somewhere that users putting in a new roll while in aperture priority with a lenscap on will get stuck advancing the roll waiting for the long exposure to end . . . :tongue:
     
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