FM-10, 3 lenses for $100: did I buy a good deal?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by your_new_username, Feb 19, 2014.

  1. It's an FM-10 which I will find out tomorrow if it's working properly (had trouble getting the film to load/advance correctly at first, think it's working now). I also got 3 lenses with it which I'll list below from a Goodwill here in the mountains of Virginia, USA. It has the FM-10 manual and two manuals for two of the lenses (probably the third came with the body kit). They are as follows:
    • Nikkor Zoom 35-70mm f/3.5-22 (with Promaster 52mm UV filter)
    • Vivitar Wide Angle MC 28mm f/2.8-22 (with Tiffen 49mm Haze-1 filter)
    • Nikkor Zoom 70-210mm f/4.5-32 (with Promaster 52mm UV filter)
    I paid $100 for those three lenses, two lense carry bags, and the FM-10 with a Nikon neck strap on it. They had a paper showing a couple lenses valued at ~$130 on eBay, but they weren't the same lenses they had for sale (they didn't know any different).
    I have a feeling these lenses are worth more than $130 when combined, but considering I bought it to start fulfilling a dream of photography, if the camera doesn't work then I'm out back. I'll find out tomorrow, but in the mean time...
    Did I make a good decision, a good deal purchasing these items? I'm really not sure, but I have a gut feeling I did. Oh, and I know they're F-mount so they should pay for themselves if I upgrade cameras later, right?
  2. That's not the sort of purchase you can flip at a profit, but if it's all working and it's gear you want to use, then you got a
    camera with a useful starter set of lenses for $100. That's perfectly reasonable.
  3. If it works, I'd say it's good enough for the
    price you paid. By the time you put some
    rolls of film through it, you'll probably be at
    the cost of an entry level DSLR kit, though,
    which may be a better option for learning
  4. I'm no expert, but a quick check looks like you got a "fair" deal, if that's what you were looking to buy. Checking "completed listings," Nikon FM-10 bodies with 35-70mm f/3.5 AI-s zooms (apparently the kit zoom for this body at the time) have sold recently for anywhere from $60 to $170. Completed listings for the 70-210mm f/4.5 AI-s ranged from $20-$70.
    That said, old, manual-focus Nikkors and 35mm film bodies now sell for a fraction of what they cost new. For example, a Nikon N90s, a then top-of-the-line, consumer 35mm film body (which originally sold for about $1,000), can be had for between $30 and $50, with the MB-10 winder (though, the FM-10 is a much "cooler" camera). Familiarize yourself with the older Nikkor AI lens line-up, and you'll be able to pick off bargains quite frequently.
  5. The lenses may be decent, Brandon, but the filters are rubbish. I'd advise you to shoot without them.
  6. This camera is one of the latest Nikons, actually made by Cosina. I think the lenses you`re buying belong to the original "kit" offer, which I think are interesting if you`re on a budget or if you don`t want to spend more on film based cameras. If in perfectly good and new looking shape, I think it could be a good buy. The Vivitar 28 looks to be the desire of the owner to have a wider angle lens, as 35mm is "the least wide" of the wide angles.

    This is a very cheap body, full plastic, with a cheap look and feel. It`s not actually a Nikon, in the classic rugged and nice metal construction style. A friend of mine bought one of these time ago (don`t remember if the FM-10 or the FE-10), and used it extensively and sucessfully to document a scientifical work in botany for several years.

    Notice that is a full manual mechanical camera, so there is no aperture priority mode. It could make a big difference in comfort and working speed.

    As Ralph says, there are other options, "true" Nikons, maybe not as cheap an complete, but maybe more interesting to my taste.
    Say, an FG, EM, FE, with a standard prime for a bit more than $100... a FA body in good shape is around $100, it is an interesting all modes camera. If you don`t need to cover all focals, you can go with a small, compact and sharp 50/2 or 50/1.8 at a very low price ($50). AF bodies could be even cheaper.
  7. Jose said:
    This is a very cheap body, full plastic, with a cheap look and feel. It`s not actually a Nikon, in the classic rugged and nice metal construction style.
    Ah, I wasn't familiar with the FM-10 (I thought it was metal). A much "cooler" camera is a Nikon FM/FM2 (manual), or FE/FE2 (aperture-priority auto/match-needle), but they go for quite a bit more money. For lenses, an old 20mm f/2.8 AI-s, and an 85mm f/2.0 AI-s or 105mm f/1.8 AI-s would be great for starters (again, much pricier).
  8. Inside it should be metal mechanisms and chassis (it`s a mechanical camera), but the outer body parts, including the back door, I try to remember it was made in plastic, with that "champagne" finish.
    Well, other Nikons are also made with plastics (e.g. the FA have a plastic top), but certainly have a different feel, maybe because they also have metal parts.
  9. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Your risk is not necessarily the camera and lenses themselves. If you start putting a few rolls of film through it, film and processing cost can potentially add up fairly quickly in these days, far exceeding your cost in hardware.
  10. The FM10 is not of terribly high quality, but if it works, it will probably work well. The meter is accurate enough, and it does what it needs to do. It's not the best Nikon but it's not rubbish. The 35-70 lens that came with it is pretty cheap, but works decently. I'm not familiar with the other zoom. The Vivitar 28 may well be better than you think, and is at least worth trying. I agree with others that you should lose the filters. None of this glass is so precious that you need them for protection.
    It's no huge bargain, but it should work fine, and be a good intro to film work, and it's cheap enough that you can take it anywhere and use it anywhere without worrying about damage or loss. If you have a camera you want always to be in the car, just in case, this is a good candidate.
  11. The deal was pretty good value in my opinion, but......
    "I bought it to start fulfilling a dream of photography"
    If you have no prior knowledge of, or skills in photography Brandon, then film photography is a very poor learning option. There's no value in learning new skills in a medium that will be almost unobtainable or overly expensive in a few years time. Plus the lengthy feedback delay between taking a picture and being able to see the result makes film a very inefficient and overly-difficult learning route. As a learning tool almost any digital camera will be better in quality, cheaper in running costs, encourage experimentation more, provide more immediate learning and speed up your ability to evaluate and improve your skills.
    I've had over 40 years experience of using 35mm film, and given the opportunity to start over again, I'd choose digital from the outset. After all, almost nobody wet-prints in a darkroom anymore, so you'll very likely end up scanning your film and manipulating digital image files anyway. Or having a near useless pile of tiny slides or negatives stuffed away in a drawer somewhere that nobody will ever view.
  12. This is true. Serious film photography is a bottomless pit for the money, unless you make your own processing and printing. And if so, it turns to a very expensive "traditional craftmanship", which requires a somewhat ungrateful learning period to control. I agree that shooting film to be scanned is a nonsense.

    If you tell us about your "dream of photography", maybe we could tell you anything.
  13. Brandon, just to highlight Shun's point on cost; once you bought the rolls of film, shot them, developed them (or have them developed) - then what? Either print, or scan?
    Given that scans from the average lab aren't really all-inspiring, getting a decent film scanner is a logical next step, probably. Cost? Well, mine is really simple entry-level, and costs the same as a Nikon D3100 with 18-55VR in retail stores. But at least, I now get digital files from my negatives that are about the same resolution as a D3100, more or less.... Printing isn't all that much cheaper either. So, there are quite some costs yet to come. The deal you found is reasonable (though not great; something like a F65/N65 with kitlenses can cost less and is about as good as what you bought), but it's just the tip of the iceberg.
    Film has its nice sides, really. I like occassionally shooting film, scanning it and picking up small prints from the stores. But I'll gladly take my digital camera 90% of the time so I can freely experiment, play around and not regret taking one shot more to try a different thing. And I learnt a great deal more doing just that too.
  14. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Serious film photography is a bottomless pit for the money​
    Jose, I am afraid that it is not limited to film photography. The same can happen to digital as well with frequent upgrades. :)
    Some people still prefer film for black and white photography, although I haven't used film for several years and haven't been inside a B&W darkroom for decades. But it is kind of misleading that some old film cameras are dirt cheap. They are cheap as long as you don't put any film in them. :)
  15. This is true. Serious film photography is a bottomless pit for the money, unless you make your own processing and printing.​
    I used to do my own processing and printing but I had to spend more money than having the lab do it. I did it only because I can get the exact result I want. The reason primarily that doing it at home means one shot chemistry and no replenishment. The lab does it a lot cheaper (I used to manage a 1 hour lab).
  16. Thanks everyone for the great insight and advice. Although the camera and lenses are 35mm and fully manual (exception being the light meter), and despite the costs of processing ($13 for 4 cassettes and $4 for negatives and CD), I decided to keep them.
    Today I shot my first ever roll of film, now uploaded to my portfolio for advice, and although I've come at a hitch where they all seem overexposed (it was really bad the first dozen frames, then started easing up a bit, possible due to light exposure when troubleshooting the film upon loading?), I had fun and have now officially, and literally, gotten my feet wet in photography.
    I know film is basically a past-time now, but I love things of yesteryear. My kitchen and living room are being decorated with 60s retro and vintage items. I have a mint green/yellow boxspring sofa and wouldn't trade it for the world. I bake bread and pizza, calzones, and other things from scratch (omgosh Hersey's dark chocolate brownies using real cocoa, not box mix). I just enjoy everything from when I grew up and how my grandparents' and mom's house were. It just feels right.
    So will I go dSLR? If I continue and this is what I enjoy, and I seem to be learning reasonably, then most definitely (in a fully manual mode dSLR because I love knobs, not buttons!). Until then, I guess this will fill that void in my life and I don't care how many megapixels you have--it just ain't a photo album.
  17. How are you getting your film into digital files Brandon? I've just looked at your portfolio and the pictures are all far too blue with almost no red content. Are these from negatives? If so the scanner profile needs to be altered, or worse still your film processor has messed up. There's no telling which easily, and I'm afraid any criticism of those pictures that you get at the moment is hardly going to see past the poor colour to any aesthetic content.
    This is just the sort of nonsense you get with film that will hinder your learning. Retro is all very well, but I wouldn't want to go back in time to the house where I grew up with no running hot water and outside sanitation. There's retro, and then there's primitive - and 35mm film is quite primitive! The idea of using film might seem quaintly attractive and "traditional", but then why not go the whole hog and take up painting or drawing? Painting has at least a 10,000 year lead on photography when it comes to traditional methods of image production.
    You say you don't care about megapixels, but want a real photo album. Well, that's easily solved. For less money than it costs to buy and process film you can have digital files printed onto real photo paper at almost any high-street photo processor or online. In fact there are self-service machines in many processors that allow you to create prints direct from a memory card almost instantly.
  18. Brandon, I'd be the last one to tell you how you should or should not spend your money. To a certain level, I can understand the attraction of shooting film. Whether it is the right way to get your feet wet, or not - there can always be debate about it. You shot your first roll, and that does matter.
    The next real question is: do you want to grow? Rodeo Joe gives you honest feedback, and I can only echo: the colours of the images you posted are unappealing. Even if they should be some sort of retro-look Instagram style, this blue-ish cast is not pleasant. There are two ways out: either you accept this is happening, and continue to use normal development and printing services, and take the risk; or you do take control over the process. And that is where things do get more expensive and more laborious.
    If it sounds we're here to ruin your enthusiasm, I'd be sorry if that is what you take from what was said. It's not the intent at all. But retro for retro-sake in this case does have serious drawbacks.You cannot compare that to home-baked bread or real wood furniture - those are examples where the actual ingredients are vastly better, and in capable hands will lead to vastly better results. That comparison will not be equally so for film/digital.
    Not that film is inferior to digital, but it's the processing, scanning and printing that does matter - a lot. And you have no control over any of those steps now. I do not think the photos you posted are horridly overexposed. I think if you would scan the negatives and work a (tiny) bit on them, they'd be fine. But mass-market printing services nowadays are set up for digital files, which tend to print reliably. Prints from negatives? Not anymore, not in my experience. I have my film developed and (small) printed via a mass service - and the prints tend to have problems structurally, ALL of them. This photo was printed greenish-blue, hardly had any red in it. This one lacked blue and seemed all yellow with a harsh green cast. Using C41 Black & White films (like Kodak BW400), I usually get prints with a strong colour cast (typically dark orange). I scan the negatives afterwards typically to discover the negatives look a lot better than the prints.

    So, yes, you may have a photo-album, but whether it's printed in the right colours, it's going to be a bit of a guess. If the photobug bites you, you'll want to resolve that - and using film, that is going to cost quite some.
  19. Yes, I had it done at a local drugstore thinking it's just my first roll, these ladies can't mess it up but so bad it won't be that great anyway. I see after the fact, yeah...kinda does matter even on the first roll. I put a lot of effort to get the shots or at least get into getting something even remotely interesting to shoot including hiking and exploring (which was half the fun, but not easy).
    I understand what you guys are saying. And you know? I also thought about the color being off more or less than exposure. I actually told her it seemed like maybe it was too much blue or actually a lack of red making it so bright or discolored.
    I think the film is fun, and the retro concept of it is equally fun. It's not something everyone else is out there doing, and my goal initially was to learn how to develop as well so I wouldn't have these issues. Of course, pretty early in the stages to just develop my own first roll.
    Maybe I should go into digital and it will help me become a good photographer. That's what my overall objective is--I don't want just a hobby, but to be good at my hobby. Who knows, maybe when I'm retired it will be more than a hobby. But I know I have to start somewhere.
    Now I realize digital might be possible with cameras like D50 and D70, etc on Adorama for less than $200 USD. I know simply using manual and continuing to learn the basica can be done on a dSLR and in the long run less expensive. Being able to correct myself at the moment I take a shot and re-shoot with correct exposure, etc. has GOT to be the best way to learn. Trial and error without the high costs. You're all right, I know I'm stubborn. Sorry if I gave anyone a hard time, wasn't meaning to--just very passionate sometimes lol.
    Any way I can re-use these F-mount lenses on any Nikon dSLR cameras that are reasonably cheap used? Like a D50 etc only $135ish in real good condition on Adorama, for example. I just want to be able to continue shooting with them for a few months until I can start getting AutoFocus lenses (I guess they don't hinder good photographer aspirations much, do they?).
  20. Any way I can re-use these F-mount lenses on any Nikon dSLR cameras that are reasonably cheap used?​
    Yes and no - the lenses will mount and work, but on a D50 or D70, you will have no metering with them. Which doesn't need to be a problem, but in earlier posts you indicated to appreciate the lightmeter ;) The cheapest body that can meter with those lenses is a D200, which costs quite a bit more.
    But frankly, none of the lenses you bought is excellent, and I wouldn't spend a lot extra on a DSLR just to be able to use those lenses with metering. A second hand 18-55 kitlens can be found for little money, and will simply perform better. The "old" D70 kitlens (18-70 f/3.5-4.5) is even better, and frequently available 2nd hand for relatively little money too.

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