Buying one of these FG, FE2, FM3A

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by doga_d, Jul 3, 2015.

  1. Okay, so now I am about to buy a new nikon camera to use with my 50mm E series lens.
    I have three options; FG, FE2, FM3A.
    Price difference between FG and FE2 is EUR 68 and not sure if it is really worth it. I still feel like only advantage FE2 offers is 1/4000 fast shutter speed. In long term, what the benefits of FE2 would be, I am not sure.
    Another option is FM3A, which is EUR 7 is cheaper than FG for the time being. It is an auction, so probably the price will jump soon.
    Also I need to ask if my E series lens would work with FM3A.
    So, I am kinda on the fence. Not sure if it is really worth spending more on FE2. What would you do if you were in my shoes ?
    - Edit -
    I have just had another question. Which of those cameras can I use without battery in manual mode ? It says that FM3a functions without battery and FE2 offers only 1/250. I used to have an FG but not sure if I ever used it without batteries. So, all in all, can I use FG and FE2 at any speed without batteries ? Or those two have the electronic shutter, which requires a battery to function ?
  2. Doga,
    Without regard to what you want or need, I do not know where you are getting your pricing ideas from.
    Based on USA Ebay here's how it seems to stack up.
    Based on two weeks of Ebay "sold" history ... (and sold auctions are really the only ones that matter at all, as a seller I may ask for the moon but that's not a real indication of average worth)
    FG - sold for a median price of $ 50
    FE2 sold for a median price of $ 145
    FM3a sold for a median price of $ 500
    Are you sure about your numbers?
    Jim M.
  3. Hey Jim,
    Those prices are from Deutch ebay
    Only the FM3a is from American ebay, but it will probably won't stay as 100 bucks for too long, since it is ridiculously cheap.
  4. SCL


    Here's a ton of info about almost any Nikon SLR camera ever manufactured. Hope it is helpful.
  5. Also I need to ask if my E series lens would work with FM3A.​
    So, all in all, can I use FG and FE2 at any speed without batteries​
    No. Just like you can't with your EM.
  6. The FE2 and FG both need a batteries to work at anything other than a single speed. It is 1/250 for the FE2 and IIRC 1/90 for the FG. The FM3a is a hybrid. It will work without batteries and again IIRC it uses the mechanical speeds when in manual mode and the electronically governed speeds when in auto, aperture prority, mode.
    In practice if the FE2 has batteries there is little functional difference between the FM3a and the FE2 but the FE2 sells for far less! Both have a viewfinder which is poor for people with glasses which is one reason why I never use my FE2 now.
  7. Your 50mm Series E lens will work on any film Nikon from the Nikkormat FT3 and EL2 onwards. Those cameras were introduced in 1977 and quickly gave way to the FE and FM. So your choice isn't limited to the FG, FE2 or FM3a. Consider an F2A, which is a much better-built camera than those others. It's fully mechanical and will work without batteries, but obviously with no metering.
  8. If you want a camera that functions without batteries, get a FM2.
  9. It really depends on your priorities: do you need the biggest, heaviest most expensive camera to feel good about yourself, even though you will never use half of what it does, or will you settle for something that gets the job done and is easy to carry, so you end up carrying it everywhere?
    I chose FGs, based on the fact that I carry a camera 100% of the time and needed a shutter at the back, a lens at the front, and a good metering system. For $50, I don't worry about it at all--once I lost it for a while and didn't even worry about it. Now, since they're so cheap and reliable, I have a several of them spotted around my life, home, work, etc, some with different films. For me, it was a great choice.
    On Ebay, SR44 silver batteries are dirt cheap by the dozen, so operating without one shouldn't be a consideration. I've had Leicas, all sorts of Nikons, film and digital, an Olympus OM1 system, etc, etc, and the FG is the most ergonomic camera I've ever had. It's a real workhorse.
  10. I'm currently using an F3/T and love it! It's identical to the F3HP. For a mechanical camera with a good built in meter I'd go with an FM2n.
    Kent in SD
  11. What would you do if you were in my shoes ?
    To me best options are the FE2 and the FM3A. Usually the latter the better, just for time`s sake, although in practical terms any of them is a perfect performer. My empathy use to go for the older FE2.

    But don`t miss the FG appeal, which is the smallest size in Nikon SLR cameras. Together with an aperture priority mode it features full manual, so it is a plenty useful camera. Notice that it is made in plastics, it may be of an issue for some. (Not for me, -my world`s favorite camera ever is even more cheaply made in the same materials, and its image quality and comfort of use are literally unbeatable-).

    The battery thing is pretty irrelevant to my taste. I always need batteries for the metering system, and battery operated shutters use to be more precise. I don`t see a huge advantage on mechanical shutters (special applications aside). So,
    • If I were a regular film user, I`d get the FE2 (if budget is not a constraint, and I wanted it specifically, the FM3A).
    • If I were shooting film occasionally, I`d get the advantage of the smaller size and weight of the FG (as a former Pentax user I have always found Nikons to be too much on the big side... :)
  12. FM3a for US$100 - not going to happen. It is sure going to jump up, they typically sell for a lot more.
    Most of my gear comes from eBay Germany and Italy; the FE2 price you quote is even on the cheap side. I bought my FM2 about a year ago from a German eBay shop (which I tend to prefer over the auctions - more reliable) for about €180, which is slightly below the normal price. FE/FE2 aren't vastly cheaper than the FM/FM2 mostly. Plus, for battery-less operation, get a FM or FM2.

    But what I would do in your shoes - to be honest, this is your 3rd thread on choosing a camera to match a €75 rather ordinary 50mm lens. You received a lot of good tips already. Stop fretting over it, because whatever you buy now, you can sell for pretty much the same price again on eBay. But I'd have done something else already: for a lot less money, I would have bought a Pentax K1000 with 50mm f/2 (for example) by now, or something similar. Why? Cheaper lenses, plenty on offer for good prices.... I already had a fair number of Nikon lenses, which made me get a F3 and FM2, but otherwise on a budget, I'd probably would go for Pentax, or Olympus OM, as building a more complete set of those can be done cheaper. Nikon gear isn't that cheap on EU ebay instances, in my experience. And the Series E 50mm - nice, but nothing special enough to stick with Nikon per se. So, I'd get what gives me the most options for the least money, and start shooting as soon as I'd can.
  13. Instead of answering your question, I would strongly suggest you to consider the F3. They are much cheaper nowadays and they are die hard cameras.
  14. I'm fond of the 50mm E-series - I'm using one as a body cap on my D810, since it hardly sticks out more than the grip (and the 45mm pancake is silly money). I'm not sure I'd buy a camera just to use one. It's a shame - as I've said before, indeed recently - that Nikon never made a camera with the compatibility level of the F5 but with the weight of the F75 (or at least, nearer to it). All of these cameras are pretty heavy. If you want something reasonably small and manual focus with interchangeable lenses, I have a Voigtlander Bessa R which works reasonably well and is fully mechanical, although it's clearly still made of metal. I have an Eos 500 (not D!) which is lighter and works with current lenses - and with the 50mm f/1.8 plastic fantastic, it's still very light, although not as thin as a typical camera with the 50mm E series because Canon, like Nikon, hugely inset the front element on the 50mm autofocus bodies.

    I don't know Pentax's system very well, but if you're after a thin system, as Wouter says, they're a good option - partly because they have quite a selection of "limited" pancake lenses. And these days, the price of film and processing it (unless you do it yourself) is high enough that I'd not be worrying too much about the cost of the camera, with the proviso that the body has a limited effect on the image quality.

    Is it worth me mentioning that Rolleiflexes are surprisingly small and light? Shame about the cost, really.
  15. If I were buying one of your 3 choices it would be the FM3a, because it is newer and should be problem free longer. Don't rule out a nice FM2n that has not been used as a workhorse they are very nice to use. You are buying a body for 1 E lens?
  16. Thanks for all the answers.
    I am really hazy that can't decide somehow. FM3a is out of game, already reached to EUR 255 :)
    FG really appeals me. I used to have one and I was totally happy with it. It was so rare that the max 1/1000 shutter speed become an issue. Okay, had some over-exposed shots but they were fine.
    Built quality is not a big deal for me. FG already feels rugged to me. However, I am not sure if this built quality also covers the inside mechanics.
  17. If someone were to to give me one for free (i.e., take money out of the equation), I'd take the FM3a.
    If I don't want to be battery-dependent AND the FM3A costs too much, I'd take the FM2(N).
    If I want AE and manual exposure, I'd take an FE2. Batteries are cheap.
    If I shot AE ONLY and don't care about manual exposure and want to go really cheap, I'd take an FG or an EM.
    I've owned all of the above at one time or another. The FE2 was the first Nikon I owned and bought with my own hard-earned funds (my first job out of college). I still somewhat regret selling my FM3A. I currently own an FM2N.
  18. Affordability is an issue, I understand that. It's the hard issue, but I've noticed that when it comes to camera's, people seem to rule out the, 'You get what you pay for,' Notion. Particularly when it comes to film camera's. The FM3a when it all is said, and done, is miles apart from the others mentioned, and perhaps one of the best film camera's ever. So shouldn't there be a value quotent involved when shopping for an item? The FM3a is my go to camera. I've worked this camera big time, and its still bangin it out. Not to mention the historical nuances that went into the design, and making of this amazing camera, and build quality. What is it worth?
  19. FG really appeals me...FG already feels rugged to me.​
    So FG it is - why agonize over something else then? Especially since it appears you are on a budget and any other Nikon alternative will cost more.
    I am not sure if this built quality also covers the inside mechanics​
    It likely won't - but you need to realize that you are buying cameras that are some 30 years old now. No matter how well they were built, wear and tear has taken their toll and will continue to do so.
    Being able to shoot without a battery should be of no concern to you unless you are working in extreme climates (both hot and cold) - otherwise just pack a second set, they really aren't that big.
    Re: FM3A. Certainly the newest of what you are considering, and certainly a unique camera within the Nikon system (many purchased likely with collecting rather than using in mind). But you certainly pay a premium for the privilege of owning one - and need to ask yourself it that premium is worth it. If you truly appreciate or need what that camera offers, then it maybe worth the money - but in everyday shooting, there will be precious little difference between it and an FE2. If all you want that mechanical shutter for is the one day that the battery ran out on you and you didn't pack a spare - then paying for a FM3A is most definitely a waste of money.
  20. In my opinion I would stay away from the FG just because one doesn't have to. Get any Nikon FM,FE, Nikkormat etc... that you can get for less than $100 USD. Just don't get the EM or one of the FG series (i.e. FG20). Although really the series E lenses were designed to go with the EM and FG. The FM3a is certainly nice but I doubt you could get one for much less than $500 USD.
  21. In my opinion I would stay away from the FG just because one doesn't have to​
    Why do you think so ?
  22. These are great cameras, any of them will make great images. If manual-with-no-batteries is important, then you want one of the FM cameras.
    FG is tiny, and great to use. From experience and talking to repairers, both the FG and FE-2 eventually have electronics rot and are not repairable. My FG did so, the FE-2 is holding out. The FG is so cheap these days, consider it disposable; don't dry just buy another when it fails.
    Go for the FG, especially since you like it.
  23. Don't get me wrong - I love my FG - its the little engine that could! Its tiny and light and I have shot plenty of slide film through it so I can tell you that the meter is wonderfully accurate. Few cameras have surprised me as much as it did.
    I am holding my FM in my right hand and the FG in my left (the FM chassis is virtually the same as the FE's).... I CAN LITERALLY BEAT THE FG INTO A PANCAKE with the FM and then use said FM to take a picture of it.
    If you think the FG is "rugged"... not that its flimsy, but uhm... no. Not compared to any pro or prosumer body of the era.
    The FM3a is a bit of a unicorn - and if you can get it at the price you mention - DO IT YESTERDAY. if you hate it, sell it, use the money to buy enough FG's to build a small dwelling out of them.
    If you want a camera that only depends on the battery for the meter - get an FM or FM2.
    The FG is will only fire at M90. you can get free ones from people who are convinced they broke theirs when in fact the batter died - this causes that mirror to go up and stay up - until you rotate the dial to M90 and viola, you "fixed" it. Guess how I know:)
    On an slightly off topic note - I have the famous 50mm E series NIKON. its cool. Its very much good enough. Its better at taking pictures than most people who use it.
    BUT - I have shot countless 50's, from super expensive speed demons to the ones that used to be kit lenses of their time. They are mostly ALL as good, this lens is in no way remarkable - its just very good, at a time when most 50's were just that - very good.
    And because of the hype and the crop sensor "50 as a portrait lens" hysteria, the 1.8 aperture (which was very much average when that lens came out), it has grown to mythical proportions. The only real lesson to learn from that is how mediocre the armada of kit zooms really was, and how generations of people have gone away from a perfectly good prime to down right shitty zooms without batting an eye lash.
    End of rant:)
  24. Why do you think so ?​
    Nothing bad about the FG but the FG (and the EM) was designed as a low price camera. A lot of cost cutting measures went into the design. So functionally they are fine but the camera reflects its price. Today with the FM, FE so inexpensive there isn't any real excuse to buy the FG.
  25. BeBu, I disagree - with the conclusion, not your reasoning. All the factors you mention are very much true. But, the FG with all of its cost cutting is a very reliable camera, and has proven itself to be so over many long years and much less than gentle use. And it is smaller and lighter. And it is still even more inexpensive. I would say (and believe me this is not spoken from a place affluence lol) if anything the prices make it so there is no reason not to buy BOTH and see which one gets more use. I am almost embarrassed to say, but in my case and through no conscious design or intent, it has been... the lowly FG. As much as I love my FM and have nothing but stellar things to say about it.
  26. Even though it costs more, if one can afford it, my choice would be the FM3A. Its the newest of the cams but it really is a FE2 combined with a FMn2. Great electronic lens and meter system, with all mechanical speed back-up if your batteries fail. Also, the pancake 45 lens that was designed for that camera is another choice, but the 50 is great too. It works great with pretty much all Nikon MF lenses of AI and later. You can find AIS lenses at really good prices too and they are still excellent lenses for those cameras. I myself have an FE2 and its a good solid camera, but its pretty loud and I don't use it much, but the match meter is really cool.
  27. Can't argue with Barry's logic. If price is no object, the FM3a is really the pinnacle of its lineage. But I would say it is usually not mentioned in the same conversation as it usually costs more by a factor of several times. Still a bargain given what you would pay for a Canikon Rebel 5xxx... whatever its called this week;)
  28. I carried an FG around in my daily backpack for a couple of years and it started to fall apart! It's just not durable. Sure, they are cheap to replace but a camera that costs 2X or 3X as much will last far longer and will be more reliable. My FE went on hundreds of miles of backpacking and hiking trips and never failed me except through user error. The FE2 will probably be more reliable than an FE at this point due to not being as old.
  29. Two quick points to the OP.
    1. Your misconception about the price of teh FM3A shows you have not done your homework. To avoid paying too much, look at prices of completed auctions (checkbox on the right of the screen). And be patient.
    2. The FM3A is a "better" camera than an FG, FE, or FM2. But costs, say 5x the price. Will you make 5x better pictures with the FM3A? Or get 5x more keepers? Or, if you have the cash anyway, wouldn't it be better spent on extra/better lenses?
  30. I much rather use the original FM than the FG. If I have both I would never touch the FG. My F5 was programmed via photo secretary software to allow only A and M mode.
  31. FG durability? This is a great small camera. No, it's not as strong as an FM, FE, or F body. The biggest issue I've seen in considerable use is electronics rot, not physical breakage.
    My answer: If you like the FG, buy two, they are so cheap today.
    For an inexpensive film camera that's small and light-weight, the FG is great. A little bigger, heavier, more expensive, and more robust is the FM/FE series. All are good.

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