Classic SLR Series
<<< ---- © Copyright-free images collection 2002
The clean, neat look of the front section of FM3a looks similar to the layout of FE2 and FM2n. Other than a new flash exposure compensation button placed near the lens release button, the self timer lever, lens release button, meter coupling lever, depth of field preview lever, neck strap eyelet on each side, a covered PC sync terminal and the big lens mount at center are all the same. Anyone who has used any of previous bodies should feel very at 'home' and need not a lot of re-orientation to start using FM3a. However, the dual functions self timer lever on FE/FE2 - now only serves as a straight forward mechanical self timer as the AE Lock (AE-L) function has been reallocated to rear section of the FM3a camera mentioned earlier.
When it relates to self timer operation, as I have explained at the Nikon FM2n section; most people would just assume its sole function is to release the shutter automatically and remotely. This device is useful in general applications such as self-portraits or when taking a picture of yourself with other people. Well, since FM3a is not provided with a mirror lock up * feature. Nikon has cleverly designed the self timer to address the omission of the Mirror Lock Up feature found on the older Nikkormat (where both original FM/FE was supposedly aim to replace the entire series of the mechanical Nikkormat FT and electronic EL series bodies during the late '70). Once activated, the mechanism is designed to flip the reflex mirror upward first, which serves similar objective of ensuring absolute minimal mirror bounce movement that might affect sharpness in some cases such as extreme close-up photography without artificial light illumination and other special photographic applications such as super-telephoto and astrophotography. Next, Nikon claims noise and mirror bounce has been well damped as compared to previous model(s), but from a comparing non-scientific hearing test with a Nikon FM2n, I didn't hear a significant improvement (may be such degree of improvement Nikon claimed would need lab test to justify their remarks). Don't get upset with this because the minute differences that could possibly caused by mirror bounce only prove critical in rare, special situations especially in conjunction with shooting pictures at slower shutter speeds. The self timer of the FM3a is cancelable even after it has been activated, just simply push the lever back to standoff position (upright) will cancel the function even if you have press the shutter release button to activate it. A full stroke represents approx. 10 seconds in timer, you can set to any angle you like which correspond to any speed less than 10 seconds, shorter the stroke, the faster the timing the shutter will fire.
* NOTE: NOTE: There are a few very old Fisheye/Ultrawide Nikkor lenses which carry different optical design that would still require mirror lock up to enable such lenses to be safely mounted and use with the camera, but they are NOT useable with the FM3a.
Just above the self timer lever is the depth of field preview lever. Depth of Field is often used to add personal expression in photography. If used creatively, it can add a lot of sparks in a photograph. However, it is hard to determine the actual 'quantity' of blur through the viewfinder as virtually all SLR cameras are employing a full aperture metering which provides the convenience in ensuring the viewfinder remains bright for focusing and picture composing.
<<< -- © Copyright 2002 John Ishii All Rights Reserved
Once an AI-spec Nikkor lens is attached to a AI-spec camera body such as the FM3a, the auto indexing (AI) feature will effectively maintain full aperture of a lens even if you are changing the working aperture on the lens prior to shooting. Technically, unless you are intentionally shooting at wide open aperture with the lens in used, what you saw through the finder is NOT exactly what you will achieving in relation to quantum of depth of field because the image projects is based on the largest aperture of the lens in used.
For an example,says if a 50mm f1.4 lens is used, even if you have select an aperture of f/11, inside the viewfinder will still show effect of depth of field at f/1.4. Along with picture angles of the lens in used, depth of field often confused many new photographers why they cannot get the feel of the image they desire. In this aspect, Nikon has provided a few ways to assist photographers in determine the depth of field - both on the camera section as well as on the lens.
<<<< ----- © Copyright 2002 Arthur Teng All Rights Reserved
But CAN depth of field be visually check ? Yes ! Simply by pressing the depth-of-field preview lever will cause the lens to be stopped down to the f/number (aperture diaphragm on the lens) you select to enable you to examine depth of field before shooting.
When you hold the lever downward, the image in the viewfinder will "darken" according to the selected f/number - the smaller the aperture (i.e., the larger the f/ number), the "darker" the image. Clear components of the pictures that appear in focus when the lever is pressed will be within the zone of sharp focus (Although it dims, you can still visually inspect the foregound and background for sharpness and blur). Just make sure you press the depth-of-field preview lever fully. Next, you have to release the lever when intend to shoot picture(s) . The DOF Preview lever is only serves to provide a visual aid to check the depth of field, however, if you depress this lever when using an AI-spec Nikkor lens while shooting, it will result in erroneous exposures because the camera metering circuit has been programmed based on reading from default full aperture and count down to working aperture value. However, even though a lens can be equipped for full aperture metering,in some cases there are some accessories that fits between lens and camera but do not complete all the mechanical linkages require for full aperture metering. For example, Bellow unit/Extension Ring etc. may not transmit mechanical signals between camera and lens, so full aperture metering is not possible then. You may make use of this lever, stop the lens down (a term signifies changing the aperture on the lens) and meter normally and then shoot. This method of acquiring a metering guide for correct exposure is often called "Stopped-Down Metering".
Is that the only way that can help to determine depth of field ? No. Another way to determine DOF is actually via the lens. With an "older" manual focus Nikkor lens, Nikon used to provide a very nice and easy way in a rough visual guide to check on depth of field for some selected aperture used (in correspondence to the distance of a focus subject). Each of those manual focus Nikkor lenses (including zoom-Nikkor) have very well illustrated color-coded depth of field scales imprinted on the lens mounting ring (The metal ring between the aperture and focusing rings) or on the lens barrel in the case of zoom lenses to determine roughly where the depth of field covers for any given distance with the particular aperture value used.
How about autofocus lenses ? Difficult . This useful feature was strangely being omitted by Nikon on all AF Nikkor lenses. AF Nikkor has only a minimum aperture i.e. f/32, f/22 or f/16 (where it is usually printed in orange ) there is only one scale being provided at that specific aperture which is almost useless to provide a visual aid to check DOF.
Well, If you have MF Nikkor lenses. Make good use of the Depth of Field Scales on the lens for your photography. Someday, when you are seasoned enough, apply this technique with any wideangle lens which has a nature of providing greater extension of depth of field, a moderate aperture such as f/8.0 or smaller, you need not even have to focus at all - it is a simple trick most journalists and news reporters used to handle situation that would need quick reflexes or when there is no time to focus.
<<< -- A typical well illustrated distance, aperture and depth of field scales on a manual focus Nikkor lens. Let's assume after focusing, the subject of interest is at roughly 25 feet away ( Red arrow).There are 4 color coded lines on each side of the focusing/aperture index (Black dot on the chrome ring) engraved on the lens mounting ring (R). The outer two lines on each side is blue which is corresponded to f16 in blue; the yellow lines is for f/11 which is marked in yellow on the aperture; so does the pink f/8.0 and greenish f/4.0 coded line.
The f/16 illustrated in this standard 50mm f1.4 lens used here has the broadest depth of field (covering between roughly 10' to infinity) as compared with the rest aperture. F1.4 is the maximum aperture of this lens and it has the narrowest zone of sharp focus. A medium aperture such as f/8.0 will cover from roughly 14' to infinity too.
Is there a third alternative help to check depth of field ? Yes. A conventional and tedious way to do it is to check the tables. Most lenses that you purchased new will usually come with a DOF table in relation to each aperture used at specific distance. This is a also and tedious process and it is very inconvenient as you have to carry along the table wherever you go. Unless 80% of your photographic work are engaging in macro or close-ups photography and the table may prove to be very handy to have it with you. Why am I spending so much time explaining this ? Because when operates in AUTO mode, Nikon FM3a will provide aperture priority exposure which is also often called depth of field AE mode. It provides sheer convenience of shooting with depth of field control by selecting aperture on the lens while camera will automatically selecting the appropriate shutter speed to match your aperture selection for a proper exposure. Secondly, even if reverting to manual control or simply for general knowledge, it is essential to understand what has this got to do with photography. You can play around with your hardware to achieve your desire visual results more positively. Anyway, just bear that in mind, NOT exactly everyone that coming in here are photographically sound in handling a camera and they are my priority of creating this website .
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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
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| 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-11 | 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)
Specifications: 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
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 |
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:
http://rick_oleson.tripod.com/index-153.html by: my friend, Rick Oleson
http://www.zi.ku.dk/personal/lhhansen/photo/fmount.htm 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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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.