Modern Classic SLR Series
Nikon FM3A SLR Camera - Instruction Manual - Part I

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Getting Started

Nikon FM3A incorporates Manual Exposure Mode operation for control of exposure as well as semi-automatic Aperture Priority operation. Aperture Priority mode was selected to let you control the aperture for depth-of-field considerations while the FM3A internal electronic circuit adjusts the shutter speed automatically. The FM3A incorporates a special shutter mechanism design that offers the advantages of a mechanical focal plane shutter
* for use during manual operation and an electronically controlled focal plane shutter for use during Aperture Priority operation. However, even when the FM3A's batteries are fully exhausted all shutter speeds remain functional in Manual mode.

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Main technical highlights of FM3A are its maximum shutter speed of 1/4000 sec. and a maximum 1/250 sec. flash sync speed, multiple exposure control, interchangeable focusing screens and the ability to use the MD-12 Motor Drive for high speed sequence photography. Beside, to enable higher chances of successful flash photography and expand its working capability, Nikon FM3a has incorporates a flash system that offers TTL control in Manual Exposure Mode and as well as in Aperture Priority Exposure Modes. There is also an innovative flash compensation button that provides natural looking fill flash results.

* Mechanical shutter is a shutter system that mechanically controls the shutter speed. Its advantage is that NO power is required. Permitting you to shoot even when the batteries are exhausted. This may be especially effective for photographing with long-time exposure or at low temperatures at which batteries would have to be warmed.

This instruction manual will provide all the details on getting the most from your Nikon FM3A and help you to enjoy more with photography in a all Nikon way, so it is always advisable to read the content thoroughly and ensure you know the camera operations in a more detail way before using it.

Although In many ways, I would believe a particular camera performance may has been optimized for use with Nikon brand accessories. However, for whatever the reasons (such as budget constraints or has already owned some of those third party products (most likely the lenses but I think they are fine...) but when relates to electronic accessories and prior attempting to use it, I would suggest always check with the supplier before using them with a new camera that has sensitive electronic circuitry such as the Nikon FM3A. Such products may come with differing voltage and has other compatibility issues with the camera, where products made by other manufacturers might not be meeting Nikon's criteria for specifications with this new camera, and non conforming accessories could damage the FM3A's components.

Note: If you come across some photographic term that you find difficult to understand, Use the Glossary section for Photographic Terms. Next, Refer to the readily available Main Reference Map to check location for specific term(s) mentioned in this site.

Supplied accessories with the Nikon FM3A: Body Cap (white); Battery (CR-1/3N) and a Tripod Mat

FM3a Box.jpg Mat.jpg

Body Caps.jpg
The camera sold with a few accessories in a package. Frankly, I thought Nikon should be a little generous in providing a proper body cap like the solid black cap of yester-year.

Note: The Tripod Mat serves two functions, it is used in combination when using a tripod with a lens of large diameter that the lens touches the tripod, insert the tripod mat between the camera and tripod; next, if you want to preserve the camera body when mounting it on a tripod that without protective base. it serves its purpose well.

Note: The tiny button cell (Originally supplied with a single 3v Lithium) is required to power the Nikon FM3A metering circuit or when you intend to operate in an autoexposure mode. However, the camera can still be operational even without any battery(ies) installed inside (by press the center button and turning the "A" (Auto) setting to any shutter speed(s) on the shutter speed ring. However, in such case, you will go without any metering guide inside the viewfinder of the camera. So, in order to operate the camera in its fullest capacity, you will need to learn to install the battery(ies).

Supplementary Info: General Guideline on Battery Maintenance.

Installing Batteries: Three types of batteries can be used with this camera. 1) One 3-V lithium battery (CR-1/3N type) 2) Two 1.55-V silver-oxide batteries (SR44 type) 3) Two 1.5-V alkaline batteries (LR44 type) ... Select one from among the three types.

1. Remove the battery chamber lid. Use a coin or equivalent to unscrew the lid counterclockwise.
2. Install the battery (batteries). Make sure that the pole(s) facing upward.
3. Return the battery chamber lid to its closed position.

Checking the Battery Power

Check the battery power after installing a new battery (new batteries) and before shooting.

1. Pull out the film-advance lever and lightly press the shutter release button. Pressing the shutter-release button lightly and stopping it halfway is called a "Light pressure." The power is turned on and the exposure meter is activated when you pull the film-advance lever out to the standoff position and lightly press the shutter-release button.

2. Check the needle of exposure, Meter indicator on the left hand side should moves in the viewfinder. When battery power is sufficient and/or battery(ies) has been installed correctly, the indicator keeps moving for approx. 16 sec. after you release the button. Check the polarity of the cells if it doesn't.

: When the shutter-speed dial is set to "B' setting the exposure meter is not activated. Be sure to set the dial to another position. Next, if you don't have any film roll installed inside the film chamber, the Exposure Compensation indicator and flash icon in red on top of the viewfinder frame will keep flashing. Err.... an irritating feature but It is normal.

Reference for battery replacement

The meter needle is the indicator to check the efficiency of the power cell(s). Although the FM3A can still function even if the battery is completed depleted, but you may not be able to make use of the camera's metering as an exposure guide to ensure successful photography. In such case, you may require to use own experience to estimate an exposure combination, so it is always handy to have a fully functional camera to count on especially when engaged in any important assignments. In extreme cold climate, battery(ies) may perform miserably while performance of respective battery types varies (Lithium has a better power resistance characteristic in low temperatures than Alkaline or Silver Oxides cell(s)) and it is always advisable to bring a long spare sets for such shooting condition. Below are guidelines on monitoring behavior or power cell(s):

1) Replace the battery (batteries) at the earliest opportunity if the exposure-meter needle moves only when you hold the shutter-release button pressed and then falls down at once when you release it. Such is the normal phenomenon of weak power cell(s) and good indicator that the power of the batteries are near its exhaustion.
2) Replace the battery (batteries) immediately if the shutter curtains do not open and the mirror stays at the upper position disabling film advance when you press the shutter-release button with the shutter-speed dial set to "A" (auto). In this case, set the dial to a position other than A to restore the original state.

In some cases (especially when operates in cold climate and/or the camera is "aged" as years go by); by changing the battery(ies) may not immediately activates the camera in auto mode and may even requires a few strokes of test shoots to re-activate the metering system. If you still have film inside the camera and don't intend to waste an frames, the best method is to turn the camera over to mechanical shutter speed(s) from the "A" setting on the shutter speed dial and check if the meter works (moves) before reverting to shoot in AUTO mode.

Previous | NEXT | 2/8 Attaching/Removal of lens, Viewfinder information, loading and checking films, setting film speed, DX Coding, and film confirmation window

| Back | Index Page of Instruction Manual Section 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
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| Back | Main Index Page of Nikon FM series Bodies

Shared Resources: MD-11 | MD-12 | Focusing Screens | Titanium Shutter | ORIGINAL dedicated Flash Units -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) (updated)
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

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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.