Modern Classic SLR Series
Nikon FM3A SLR Camera - Other Issues - Part II

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The basic concept and strengths of an SLR camera system is interchangeability . Most of the camera models that are successful commercially usually have of a vast array of system accessories and equipment that can integrate with the camera. Sections of a typical SLR camera that permit connectivity with other system components are the lens mount (interchangeable lenses), viewfinder eyepiece (diopters, viewing aids etc.), accessory shoe (mainly for flash/speedlights, coupler(s), remote control receiver etc.), PC terminal (non-dedicated flash, input jack for older film back), rear section (interchangeable film/Data Backs)and the base section (Motor Drive/Power Winder, tripod mounting aids).

Among them the lens mount is the single most important section of any SLR camera as it is like an extension of the eye that provides the accuracy and convenience of direct reflex viewing. Over the years, Nikon has produced over 200 lens types of different configurations and technical specifications; with the exception of a few lenses that carry different optic designs, virtually all those lenses can find their way directly or indirectly for use on the FM3a camera and thus, the F-mount factor alone is indeed one of the strongest reasons why a FM3a is so attractive to someone like me. Check more on | Nikkor Resources | section. The rest of other elements mentioned earlier will be discussed as when it relates in pages that follow. Frankly, despite all the excitement circled around the FM3a during its announcement and official debut, I can safely quote none of the features found in the FM3a can be considered as revolutionary when measured by modern SLR standards. However, some of these cleverly adopted technologies in the FM3a can facilitate better photography if they are used creatively.

The design of FM3a has a lot of old NIPPON KOGAKU culture. The designer has adopted a conservative approach in identifying only useful and practical features in the upgrading process from FM2n. Over the years all of FM series models have enjoyed a fine reputation of being workhorse bodies, rather than aiming to shine in features. I would imagine that in the conceptual decision making process, the hybrid shutter design of both Pentax LX and in some ways, the New Canon F-1 that havegiven Nikon F3 with some tough times in the professional camera market during the 80's. This could have inspired some minds to cleverly merge the mechanical excellence of FM2n with reliability of the applied electronics of the FE2 for the possibility of another evergreen classic design.

<<< ---- © Copyright-free images collection 2002 leofooTM.gif

Anyway, whatever it is - the Nikon FM3a is here to stay; Nikon has provided two options in either black or a very nicely finished chrome body to satisfy individual preference.

Nikkor 45mm f/2.8
Along with its launching, Nikon has also brought along a beautifully finished new companion manual focus Nikkor lens, a flat-profile Nikkor 45mm f/2.8P specifically for this camera (The lens matches the chrome bodied Nikon very well indeed). Incidentally, the manual focus 45mm lens was a rare treat for Nikon fans as it has been a long time Nikon last introduced a MF lens for their cameras, it has a all new cosmetic and supplied with an odd looking lens shade.

* Lens compatible with all exposure modes of CPU-controlled Nikon SLRs. Also available in matte black-finish.

<<<- ----- Image of Nikkor 45mm f/2.8P © Copyright 2002 Mr MC LAU.

Overall, minus the convenience of autofocusing and all the fanciful gadgets that can easily found in a typical modern Nikon AF SLR camera, using this manual focus camera can be a very distinctive, pleasant experience. This is very much due to its perfect coordination among size, shape, balancing and traditional operational controls that can only be found in a vintage SLR camera.

The mechanical shutter that permits batteryless operation in all condition certainly is another major factor to boost user's confidence in selecting this camera. The Aluminum alloy shutter curtain looks and functions similarly with the one that is used in the FM2n. Nikon doesn't buy the idea of revising a new shutter for FM3a as I think they thought probably that the speed barrier for both top shutter speed and maximum sync speed are not essentially a significant marketing factor for the FM3a but rather, reliability is. Anyway, its top shutter speed of 1/4000 sec and relatively fast 1/250 sec flash sync. have been offered in other Nikon models since early 80's. Such respectable technical specifications can still be ranked among top performers in current mechanical SLR cameras available on the market today. They are good enough to cover most photographic needs. Personally, I am quite happy with it and I don't intend to pursue further with this issue and pick on anyone..

The hybrid shutter used in the FM3a will control the shutter speeds steplessly when operated in AUTO mode but the mechanical focal-plane shutter will still provide the full range of shutter speeds, as indicated on the shutter speed ring even if the battery is completely depleted or absent . In such case, the only compromise is the lack of any metering guide inside the viewfinder while the shutter remains operational. Although I live in the tropic , I heard about many instances of how button cell(s) perform miserably in extreme cold climate. In this respect, Nikon has designed the FM3a camera to accept 3 types of power cells. You can select a more stable power option such as cold-resistance 3-V lithium battery (CR-1/3N type); It also accepts commercially easily available 1.55 V silver batteries (2 x SR44 type), or two 1.5 V alkaline batteries (LR44 type)). On top of these, you can also make use of an optional accessory Nikon Anti-Cold Battery Pack DB-2 as precautionary measure should such need arises to shoot in the cold. To monitor and check the power status, Nikon is content to retain the old FE2 means of using the 'activeness' of meter needle inside the viewfinder to indicate status of battery level. When battery is weak, the needle will just drop and stay idle when finger is lifted away from the meter-on shutter release button. It is hard to always pay attention to this and I cannot entirely agree the current way is an ideal solution. Frankly, the old Nikon FE which has a small battery check button at its back is more practical but somehow, Nikon has removed this feature when the FE2 was introduced.

Further, the FM3a shares the MD-12. However, for more than 20 years, the time proven MD-12 motor unit is equally reputable as a reliable workhorse automatic film advance device specifically designed for the entire line of FM/FE/FA bodies. I thought the time may be right to call for an upgrade to this 3.2 fps (frames per second bursting rate in 'C' mode) motor drive. I would love to see something like the long discontinued Nikon MD-15'unique feature of enabling camera to draw its power when a winder is once attached to the camera. Wouldn't it be nice if the motor drive can also provide automatic film rewinding, huh? Since FM3a remains essentially a mechanical SLR, Nikon probably feels that there is no such immediate needs. MD-15 which was originally designed specifically for the Nikon FA has been long discontinued and it makes no commercial sense for Nikon to reintroduce/revise such a combination. Unfortunately, you need not have to wait for such possibilities as the base section of the FM3a reveals highly unlikely such lovely features will be included even if there is a MD-13 planned for the future.

Nikon FA (far left) has extra electrical contacts(covered and hidden) to mate with the companion motor drive MD-15 to power the camera; compared this with typical 4 electrical points found on Nikon FM2n and FM3a (center)

<<<<< -----T o realize possibility of drawing power from MD to power the camera would need Nikon FA's design (see image at top left). If power film rewind is desired, the base section will have different configurations such as the base plate of the Nikon F3. The FM3a does not has such provisions for both features. So, don't wait.

Just for the record, with the FM3a camera, the meter-on will stay active for approx. 16 sec. once the film advance lever is pull to standoff position and light touch on the shutter release button; with the MD's shutter release button, it will remain on for longer timing of approx. 66 sec. With no battery(ies) installed, neither the MD's shutter release button nor the shutter release on the body will activate the metering on the camera (but the camera will still fire-on normally at any preset shutter speed(s), including when working in a self timer operation). Well, other than providing a firmer grip, the MD-12 motor drive is an important accessory for the FM3a - not just providing automatic film advancing for rapid shooting sequences, but the standalone remote control accessories in the Nikon 35mm photographic system are also making use of the motor drive as the medium to operate.

Important: Nikon MD-15 is NOT usable with the FM3a. Popular third party Power Winder for Nikon FM2n such as Soligor Winder is NOT usable either. I don't own any MD-11 and I am not sure whether the older MD-11will still work with this camera. * Alternate 3rd party products: Y.I.C Power Winder

| Previous | NEXT | Self Timer operation and its other function, Depth of Field preview and ways to control Depth of Field with your camera and lenses

| BACK | to Main Index Page of Nikon FM3A

Other Issues relate to Nikon FM3A - Index Page |
| Instruction Manual for Nikon FM3A |
| Technical Specification | Main Reference Map |

Standard production Nikon FM Series models:- Nikon FM | Nikon FM2 | Nikon FM2n | Nikon FM10 | Nikon FM3a |
Known variants:- Nikon FM Gold | Nikon FM2/T | Nikon FM2N Tropical Set | Nikon FM2/T Limited Edition | Nikon FM2N LAPITA | Nion FM2n Millennium 2000

| Message Board | for your favourite Nikon FM Series SLR models
| Message Board | for your Nikon Optics in a shared environment
| Message Board | Specifically for Dispose or Looking for Nikon/Nikkor Photographic Equipment

| Back | Main Index Page of Nikon FM series Bodies

Shared Resources: MD-11 | MD-12 | Focusing Screens | Titanium Shutter | older dedicated Flash Units for FM series -SB-16 | SB-15 | SB-10 or other Options | Databack | Nikkor lens mount (related info)

Others:- Nikon AF-TTL Speedlights | SB-20 (1986) | SB-22 (1987) | SB-23 | SB-24 (1988) | SB-25 (1991/2) | SB-26 (1994) | SB-27(1997) | SB-28 (1997) | Nikon SB-29(s) (2000) | Nikon SB-30 (2003) | Nikon SB-600 (2004) | Nikon SB-800 (2003) Nikon AF-TTL Speedlight DX-Series: Nikon SB-28DX (1999) | SB-50DX (2001) | SB-80DX (2002) (updated)

Nikon BC-flash Series | Original Nikon Speedlight
SB-2 | SB-3 | SB-4 | SB-5 | SB-6 | SB-7E | SB-8E | SB-9 | SB-E | SB-10
| SB-12 | SB-14 | SB-140 UV-IR| SB-15 | SB16A | SB-17 | SB-18, SB-19 | SB-21A (SB-29) Macro flash | Flash Accesories | SF-1 Pilot Lamp

Instruction Manual: Nikon FM (HTML | PDF) | Nikon FM-10 (HTML) | Nikon FM2n's User's Manual available only in HTML format (6 parts) | Nikon FM3A (HTML)
Nikon FM, FM-10, FM2, FM2n and FM3A
Main Reference Map: (HTML)
Nikon FM, FM2, FM-10, FM2n (Applicable to FM2T, FM2 "Year of the Dog"; Millennium 2000") and FM3A

weblibrary.gif   Nikon F | Nikon F2 | Nikon F3 | Nikon F4 | Nikon F5 | Nikon F6 | Nikkormat / Nikomat | Nikon FM | Nikon FE/ FA | Nikon EM/FG/FG20 | Nikon Digital SLRs | Nikon - Other models

Nikon Auto Focus Nikkor lenses:- Main Index Page
Nikon Manual Focus Nikkor lenses:- Fisheye-Nikkor Lenses - Circular | Full Frame | Ultrawides Lenses - 13mm15mm18mm20mm | Wideangle Lenses - 24mm28mm35mm | Standard Lenses - 45mm 50mm 58mm | Telephoto Lenses - 85mm105mm135mm180mm & 200mm | Super-Telephoto Lenses - 300mm 400mm 500mm 600mm 800mm 1200mm |

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Index Page
  Special Application lenses:
Micro-Nikkor Lenses - 50mm~55mm -60mm 85mm -105mm 200mm Micro-Zoom 70-180mm
Perspective Control (PC) - 28mm 35mm PC-Micro 85mm
Dedicated Lenses for Nikon F3AF: AF 80mm f/2.8 | AF 200mm f/3.5 EDIF
Depth of Field Control (DC): 105mm 135mm
Medical Nikkor: 120mm 200mm
Reflex-Nikkor Lenses - 500mm 1000mm 2000mm
Others: Noct Nikkor | OP-Nikkor | UV Nikkor 55mm 105mm | Focusing Units | Bellows-Nikkor 105mm 135mm
Nikon Series E Lenses: 28mm35mm50mm100mm135mm | E-Series Zoom lenses: 36~72mm75~150mm70~210mm

MF Zoom-Nikkor Lenses: 25~50mm | 28~45mm | 28~50mm | 28~85mm | 35~70mm | 36~72mm E | 35~85mm | 35~105mm | 35~135mm | 35~200mm | 43~86mm | 50~135mm | 50~300mm | 70~210mm E | 75~150mm E | 80~200mm | 85~250mm | 100~300mm | 180~600mm | 200~400mm | 200~600mm | 360~1200mm | 1200~1700mm

Tele-Converters: TC-1 | TC-2 | TC-200 | TC-201 | TC-300 | TC-301 | TC-14 | TC-14A | TC-14B | TC-14C | TC-14E | TC-16 | TC-16A | TC-20E

Recommended links to understand more technical details related to the Nikkor F-mount and production Serial Number: by: my friend, Rick Oleson by: Hansen, Lars Holst

W A R N I N G: The New G-SERIES Nikkor lenses have no aperture ring on the lens, they CANNOT ADJUST APERTURES with any of these manual focus Nikon FE series SLR camera models; please ignore some portion of the content contained herein this site where it relates.

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| Back | Main Index Page of Pictorial History of Nikon SLRs

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Credit: To all the good people who has contributed their own experience, resources or those who are kind enough granting us permission to use their images appeared in this site. Mr. MCLau®, who has helped to rewrite some of the content appeared this site. Chuck Hester® who has been helping me all along with the development of all these Nikon websites;LarsHolst Hansen, 'Hawkeye' who shares the same passion I have; Ms Rissa, Sales manager from Nikon Corporation Malaysia for granting permission to use some of the official content; TedWengelaar,Holland who has helped to provide many useful input relating to older Nikkor lenses; Some of the references on production serial numbers used in this site were extracted from Roland Vink's website; HiuraShinsaku from Nikomat Club Japan. t is also a site to remember a long lost friend on the Net. Note:certain content and images appeared in this site were either scanned from official marketing leaflets, brochures, sales manuals or publications published by Nikon over the years and/or contribution from surfers who claimed originality of their work for educational purposes. The creator of the site will not be responsible for may discrepancies arise from such dispute except rectifying them after verification."Nikon", "Nikkormat", "Nippon Kokagu KK" & "Nikkor" are registered tradename of Nikon Corporation Inc., Japan. Site made with an Apple IMac.