Best wind-up/manual Nikon for me?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by jordan_o|1, Jan 9, 2012.

  1. Hey guys,
    So long story short I miss my old photography class days where everyone used a film camera with manual winding and manual focusing. Gave me alot more thought into pictures.
    Anyways, I really want a Nikon, but I want to make sure I get a nice solid camera.
    Basically I want:
    -BUILT IN LIGHT METER <- most important, a year ago I bought a MF camera with no light meter and I lost all initiative because it made workflow really annoying, along with parallax, exposure compensation and all that, but that's another story.
    -Solid build (if possible not a tiny camera, I had a Canon Digital Rebel XT and it was so small that it actually inhibited how I held the camera)
    -Manual focus
    -Manual winding
    -hopefully aperture priority, shutter priority selections if possible, just a hopeful request.
    Can anyone tell me the best old Nikon that meets this criteria?
  2. I guess I might as well add, the larger the viewfinder the better since I wear glasses.
  3. hopefully aperture priority, shutter priority selections if possible, just a hopeful request.​
    The FA would fill that bill.
    All manual - you just can't beat the FM2.
  4. F2AS for the manual option. FM3a for aperture priority.
  5. F3HP fits the bill pretty close.
  6. F3 or FM2n
    Both well designed bodies and even cheap now .... I paid $150 and $100 resp for each of my immaculate black bodies.
    The F3 even comes apart if you get the urge to see how they work. The viewfinder aperture mark illumination can be a little tricky on the F3 - it is a bit of a knack pressing the little red square on the pentaprism. The F3 even has a variation on the detachable prism in the HP version which is popular with people who wear glasses. :cool:
    There is no shortage of good info in the net. A first place to look is
  7. Thinks ..... must learn to type faster and not talk myself thru a sentance :)
    The FM3a may be unnecessarily expensive though?
  8. 04:51 p.m.
    04:52 p.m.
    04:53 p.m.
    04:54 p.m.
    Jordan, you can't say we ignore you!
  9. Earlier when I was googling seems to not work, but cameraquest helped a bit.
    It said the F2 and FM3A were highly regarded but I'm trying to get some more opinions. It seems like a few cameras fit the bill but I'm trying to widdle it down to the best suited.
    Before reading this I was thinking about the F2 because of cameraquest's opinion of it, my only gripe is that it looks like the metering might be on the top of the camera, rather than through the viewfinder, but then again I've never used one on the top so it could be preferrable?
    I'm gonna have to check out your guys' recommendations.
  10. The only manual-focus Nikons with program or shutter priority mode are the FA and FG. Of those, the FA is somewhat larger, so if you aren't into "tiny cameras", you might prefer it over the FG.
    If aperture priority and manual will suffice, then the FE and FE2 would be good choices.
    Since you wear glasses, if you can afford a bit more, the F3HP would probably be best. "HP" stands for "high (eye)point", meaning it's designed to be viewed with the eye a little farther away, as it would be when wearing glasses.
    Re your questions about the F2: The F2's metering is built into the viewfinder (which is why it's a bit bulky on top) but metering is TTL. The F2 is a superb camera, but it's manual only -- no AE of any kind.
  11. The F2 has metering in the viewfinder, if you have the right viewfinder, but it has no aperture priority option. I think you have three choices for manual with the electronic features: the F3 (HP or not: HP is fantastic if you wear glasses); the FA as mentioned earlier, which has matrix metering; and, my personal favorite for what you're talking about: the FE2, which I'm surprised no one has mentioned. The F3 is bigger and heavier and more solid, and it is thought by many including me to be the best manual focus mechanical camera Nikon ever made. But if you want to spend less, you get a lot of camera in the FE2. I've never used the FA so cannot testify.
  12. Cool thanks Vince, I'll compare those out and see if any float my boat. Having the choices laid out like that makes things easier :D
    I appreciate all the suggestions so far guys
  13. And let's not forget: lenses. My choices would be the 20mm f/2.8 (or f/3.5 for budget - both are excellent); the 35mm f/2; the 50/1.4 AIS; and the 105/2.5 AIS (THE essential Nikon lens, shockingly beautiful). For longer work you have some great choices: cheap and great are the Ai 80-200mm f/4.5 (final version) or the 200mm f/4. If you want some real weight, switch that last for the very substantial 180 f/2.8 ED -- stunning sharpness, much more $$ -- or the 300mm f/4.5 ED, which is purely for the tripod. Back at the wide end, some would switch 20mm for 24mm -- really an inexplicable matter of taste in how wide you want wide to be. I love 20/21mm lenses myself. If you want to merge your wides into one, 28mm is the way to go, eradicating the need both for 20/24 AND 35mm: if so, the AIS 28mm f/2.8 is a famed Nikon masterpiece. Be sure not get the earlier and different Ai version. Anyway, for starters, a wide, a 50/1.4 or 1.8, and the 105/2.5 will do everything you need.
  14. I still have my two FE's (1 all back for B&W film, the other with silver trim for color film). Aperture priority and manual. Compact. Mostly used with my 50/1.4 or my 24/2.8 Nikkor lenses. Used for 30 years. Just purchased some batteries last week to run some film through them for nostalgia's sake.
  15. The easiest way to find nikon stuff on is a google search like " mir nikon f3" without the quotes, Seems google has that site down pat. Replace the f3 with any nikon model number, lens parameters, or words like extension tube, bellows, etc.
    You can't go wrong with a F3 in good shape, I really like the one I have, and have an endless supply of goodies for it. :)
  16. I have used the FA and if you can put up with an electronic camera, it's the Swiss Army Knife of the amateur line. I am not totally enamored with the VF layout (my Minolta XD-11 made much more sense to me), but I can put up with it, and it can be used with the inexpensive when found used MD-12 motor drive (the drive made for the FA, the MD-15, is not as cheap). The FG is not a bad camera and is very inexpensive, but also all-electronic with more plastic, lower top shutter and flash sync speeds, no shutter priority, and the MD-14 motor drive isn't as easy to find if you want one. They both have the same flash system (the FE2 does also) which allows off-the-film plane control with the correct flash. I only have experience with those cameras and the FM/FM2, so I can't say anything about the FE line.
    P.S. Invest in lenses over bodies, you'll be happier you did.
  17. Normally I'd say FA because you want more than one autoexposure mode, but since small DSLRs are too small for you and you wear glasses, F3HP would be my choice. I have one and wear glasses, and it does work well with the eye a bit away from the finder. It's also pretty substantial, though not really that large by current standards. It's smaller than an F100 and feels smaller to me than a D7000.
    You know what they should make? A D700HP.
  18. Nikon F3hp might be Nikon's best camera ever. They do carry a bit of a price premium though.
    Kent in SD
  19. Buy an F3 body from KEH for around $150. You don't need to worry about solid with an F3.
  20. I've got it narrowed down to either the F3HP, or the FE2.
    I have a feeling it'd be hard to find a good F2, and it's nice to have AE if I want it.
    Now it comes down to how much I can find each for..ebay didn't have many good results for good condition/price. I've never checked out KEH though. Any other sites a Canadian should browse?
  21. Local camera shops, Henry's have some used stuff, BHPhoto and Adorama do as well.
  22. Just adding another voice to the choir here - if you're a glasses wearer (as I am), the F3HP is without equal, IMO. Although larger than the FE/FMs, it is by no means a bulky camera - the body is merely substantial - it fills the hand nicely and the controls are large (with a couple of famously misguided exceptions*) and straightforward. The film wind is silky smooth (ball bearings), and if you're eventually in the mood for a motordrive, the MD-4 is arguably the best bolt-on MD ever made - it melds seamlessly with the camera body to become a single solid slab (and the MD-4 powers the camera, saving the onboard silver cells). The F3HP ties with the Olympus OM-4T as my favorite SLR - simply magnificent. It's not for nothing that Nikon continued to make and sell the F3 right through the succeeding F4 period and well into the reign of the F5 - 21 years, I think - the camera is that good.
    *I think the design team were hung over or suffering from food poisoning the day they came up with the viewfinder illuminator and the ISO dial.
  23. I would pick the F3HP over the FE2 because the viewfinder is nicer. It's more accurate. There are more choices of focusing screen so that I can pick the screen without any focusing aid. The meter does not protrude into the image viewing area. Film winding is much smoother.
    But it's me because I have never used shutter speed above 1/1000 second. I don't use flash in broad daylight so higher flash sync speed is not and issue.
  24. Just to get this straight, the F3HP uses the LED light meter system, whereas the FE2 uses the needle right?
    I've heard that the needle is preferred, wonder if it's that big of a deal.
    I'm also assuming that if the battery runs out on the FE2, that you can't run it manually like the F3HP, correct?
    Also, I'm a little afraid of overpaying since I see you guys have got better deals that what I'm finding on ebay/locally.
    What should the F3HP body go for in decent condition?
    What should the FE2 body go for in decent condition?
  25. I use an FE all the time. I shoot with it everyday, and love it. Such a wonderful camera. The FA is a cool camera, but always felt a bit heavy to me. The FE is light, but rugged. Gives you AP and the cool AUTO function which is great for nighttime shots.
    Of course, you'll probably be happy with any of these fine cameras. I don't think there is a wrong choice.
    Then once you have your new camera, use it! These older cameras love to work! Have fun!
  26. The F3 has a LCD meter display in the viewfinder. Look at the link to the manual that was posted. Cdn prices can be quite different than US ones. Ebay is a crap shoot at best, you might get a bargain, or a box of parts. Used film camera prices are going up, not down. Use for pricing guidelines, they are a HUGE reseller of used equipment and their gradings are very conservative, an EX+ camera will look like it just came out of the box usually. They give you a moneyback warranty as well.
  27. The F3HP uses LCD (not LED) but is similar. As for whether needle is better you have to see for yourself.
  28. I will make a slightly different recommendation - the F100.
    Set the exposure mode to manual, set the focus to manual, you have a manual camera. Set the light meter to center weight; it emulates the older Nikon F series camera.
    You also have a camera that has ready parts availability and is still serviced by Nikon and most Independent Nikon Service facilities. The F100 accepts most Ai/Ais lenses as well as the latest "G" lenses and VR lenses. It takes AA batteries that are readily available around the world. The only item on your list that it does not have is manual film advance.
  29. I'm also assuming that if the battery runs out on the FE2, that you can't run it manually like the F3HP, correct?​
    Both cameras are essentially dead in the water without battery - one shutter speed only.
    I take the F3 over the FE2 any day. But be aware that the metering in the F3 is more weighted towards the center 12mm circle 80:20 vs the standard 60:40 in other manual focus Nikons. Had the FA been available when I got my F3, I would not have hesitated a second to go for it - for the AMP metering alone (and the option to have A, S, and M (never cared about P). But the best manual focus camera in Nikon's lineup is the F4; the AF is forgettable but the rest is just superb. Forget the MB-21 (of the F4s), the MB-20 makes this into one very nicely handling unit. But of course - no manual film advance.
  30. If I recall correctly, the Nikon F4 was the heaviest camera Nikon ever made. :)
    Kent in SD
  31. My F3HP is a BGN from Keh. They sell for $99 and I'd take one over most of what's on Ebay - your get some wear, cosmetic only, if it has any functional problems they'll take it back and be polite about it.
    BTW, the FE2 is also a really excellent camera. I'm only not recommending it because I think you'd find it too small, and the finder is not as good when wearing glasses.
  32. FE2 or FA
  33. If you like them big and heavy, F3HP. If you like them small and sleek, FM3A/FE2
  34. Just to get this straight, the F3HP uses the LED light meter system, whereas the FE2 uses the needle right?
    I've heard that the needle is preferred, wonder if it's that big of a deal.
    If you`re in manual mode, you control the exposure with a tiny "+" or "-" in the right side of the LCD screen, something not so neat for many... some prefer the "LED" light system (up+down arrows) or even the classic "needle system". In the F3 the LCD screen is not that great, but it is not a huge problem; the camera is "mostly designed" to be used in AE mode, where you can easily have a fast look at the shutter speed.
    I by far prefer to use aperture priority mode. But if I had to control exposure manually, I personally prefer a LED system first, or even a needle system over the LCD "+ or -" indicators.
    I'm also assuming that if the battery runs out on the FE2, that you can't run it manually like the F3HP, correct?
    As mentioned, the F3 only runs 1/60 sec. mechanically, something I have used one time or never since the eighties with two F3 units. Not a huge deal. If you want to be always ready, buy a mechanical camera (F2, FM2, FM3).
    About prices, beware of auction site bargains. The F3 is a pro camera, many of them used since 1980. I have seen many extremely abused ones, even in good cosmetic condition; lots of them have changed owner several times, some have suffered "DIY" repairs, some have sticky grease in the mount... In the other hand, this camera has been in production up to a recent date; if you find on of the latest units in good shape it will cost you more a bit more.
  35. Are you looking for this?
    I had a F2 for a long time. Best camera I have ever owned.
  36. Good rundown on MF Nikons is then pick classic camera profiles then in the middle of the page or so there is Nikon SLR's and select his buyer's guide. It's his opinions on what's best and why, and though some will disagree maybe in standings etc., they are pretty sensible picks and you will learn something about each camera. You'll get more in one luck than you will going through a thread like this. Let us know what you think:)
    Good luck.
  37. Down Town camera in Toronto has better pricing than Henrys or Vistek. Your other option might be ebay or
  38. I'm with Les. The FM3A offers everything including a shutter that works sans batteries all the way up to 1/4000 sec.
  39. KEH definitely preferable over eBay. And their BGN grade has always been sufficient for my needs.
    I love my F3, but the FE2 is smaller and a good deal depends if you want brick outhouse construction or easier to tote around, I guess.
  40. I would definitely go for the F3HP - why wouldn't you? At today's prices it's a steal, and it's a pro-quality body, unlike the FM3a, FE2, FA or suchlike, which were aimed at the amateur/backup body market. Battery dependence wouldn't bother me in the slightest, that's like worrying about running out of film, since running out of film leaves the camera just as dead-in-the-water. Carry a spare battery - problem solved!
    One other small advantage of the F3 is its hinged AI coupler tab. This allows the use of Pre-Ai lenses, which may or may not be of any consideration to the OP, but do increase its lens options.
  41. I will third the notion of the FM3a. Most of my portfolio was shot with it.
  42. The Fe2 and I presume the FM3 which I think has the same body have tight eye relief. I preferred the F3 and of course the F3HP has good eye relief. I wear fairly thick glasses and didn't like the FE2 because of its limited eye relief.
  43. F3 HP all the way.
  44. There's something about an F3. At current prices it seems a shame not to have one.
    I even relaxed my stubborn loyalty to the F enough to get one, and don't regret it for a moment.
  45. The above posters aren't mentioning that the FM/FE family of cameras, have the worst VF's Nikon ever devised! The entire field of view cannot be seen unless one roves one's eye right / left, & up / down. Nikon copied the compact design of the Olympus OM cameras with their FM/FE cameras. But IMHO, they really dropped the ball in the VF dept. Which was something that the OM got right.
    F3 HP is the camera for you.
  46. F3HP
    Great viewfinder - 100% and bigger eye relief for those glasses wearers like me
    Replaceable Viewfinder
    Super extra build quality
    Exposure meter in the viewfinder is terrible to use
    Very Heavy
    Extra bulky
    Match needle metering is much easier to use
    Very good build quality
    Not 100% viewfinder coverage
    Smaller eye relief
    I've been on the lookout for a good used FE2 for a few weeks now. I handled a F3HP the other day (I used to own one a long time ago) and I immediately remembered why I sold it - too heavy, too large, and poor shutter speed indication/metering display.
    FM3A, though expensive (I had one of those as well) is the cat's meow.
    And really, any of the FE's, FM's, or F3's are really built super tough by today's DSLR standards, so I don't think build quality really should be on the list of features to consider.
  47. A very nice all around, all manual Nikon is the FM2n. Solid build, much less costly than the FM3a, and a diopter will correct for glasses users giving a nice viewfinder without the bulk of the F3Hp. I used them for weddings for many years and they never let me down. You can probably buy 2 FM2n bodies for the price of 1 FM3a. Give one a try.
  48. Just got my FE2 - used, but in fantastic shape. Glad I got it over the F3HP due to the way better metering of the FE2. Yes the viewfinder is less cramped on the F3HP, but I wear glasses and the FE2 is fine - just as good if not better than any Nikon DX DSLR.
    While the FM3A is certainly the overall best manual film SLR they are way too expensive at the moment so the FE2 will do just fine for my last 10 rolls of Fuji Provia.

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