FM3a + lenses ???

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by donaldamacmillan, Mar 14, 2009.

  1. Hello again
    I posted a question a couple of weeks ago regarding either trading-in my FM3a towards the 'ultimate' film camera, the F6, or NOT trading-in my FM3a .... Many thanks for all the responses i received! As a result i have almost certainly decided to hold onto my FM3a, i feel very fortunate to own such a highly thought of little camera. My next querie is regarding recommended 'quality' lenses for my FM3a ...
    I have the following manual focus lenses: Nikkor 50mm f1.8; Nikkor 100mm f2.8 (E series), and a Nikkor 200mm f4.0 lens.
    I also have the following auto-focus lenses: Nikkor 28mm f2.8 D, and a Tamron 90mm SP AF Di f2.8 macro lens.
    My 50mm lens came with my FM3a and i have been very pleased with many of my images that this lens has helped me produce. All my other lenses were second hand purchases and appear to be of good quality - not that i am the most experienced of photographers .... Images taken with all my lenses do appear at least satisfactory if not startlingly vivid or expressive, but i have much to learn about good photography, i will readily admit that.
    My main passions in photography are landscapes and portraites/candids, and a bit of still-life/architecture .... From my small list would anyone think that i am adequately equiped? Should i be looking to replace any of my current lenses with more appropriate focal lengths or models?? If i am going to be using my FM3a for many years to come i think i would really like to ensure that i have the very best lenses that will fully exploit the quality of my camera body, in terms of truly great image quality in all light conditions ....
    I hope this querie makes sense!
    Much appreciation in advance, Donald
  2. Donald, I owned two FM3A and I sold them while they were still on production. Now I feel guilty,ashamed and danmed for doing so.I wish I held onto them,one was black,the other silver. I take good care of my cameras,I most certainly will have now in mint condition yet, but used a lot though.
    In my honest and not the most expertise opinion, I will forget about the auto focus lenses and
    the one that is series E.
    You have some good manual lenses.
    My dream kit of lenses will be those manual focus,hard metal built in Japan AI mount and to a lesser degree the AIS mount and my list are,all prime lenses, no zooms. Here is a link to the good lenses, I forgot the good ones in terms of aperture, but you can look into :
    20mm :
    50mm :
    55mm Micro:
    105mm Micro:
    180 and 200mm:
    200mm Micro:
    35mm PC:
    500mm Mirror:
    105mm Nocturnal UV:
    I repeat this page,but it is to you take a look at the usable auto extension rings PN-11,PK-11A,PK-12& PK-13:
    Probably I'm wrong about some of those lenses,lets others point that out.But those are the ones I will be buying for my minty Nikon FE2,the upcoming FM2N and probably a pricey FM3A.
    Good luck
  3. From my small list would anyone think that i am adequately equiped? Should i be looking to replace any of my current lenses with more appropriate focal lengths or models??​
    IMO, let the results you're geting tell you what lenses you might want to get. Get out and shoot, and if you find a limitation in your equipment, you can add a lens to address that.
  4. The 50mm f1.4 is a better lens than the 1.8, not just for the speed. Nikon made an interesting 45mm for that camera when it came out. I got my FM3 with a 105 micro, not the 45. Don't think the 45 is still being made.
  5. I don't think you need to get any more lenses for the time being. The 100 f/2.8 E and the 90 Macro Tamron are redundant though. You may want to let the 100 E go, unless it was so inexpensive to begin with that you won't gain much financially from doing so. The classic portrait lens in this focal length is the 105mm f/2.5 AI/AIS.
    I would disregard the idea that you need to get the 50mm f/1.4 over the f/1.8 lens. First, the f/1.4 lens has noticable barrel distortion, while the f/1.8 has none. Also, at f/1.4, the lens is rather soft. Between f/2 to 2.8 the f/1.8 lens performs as well or better. The bokeh is bad on both of them, but worse on the 50mm f/1.4.
    If you really want to get a fast 50mm, go for the 50mm f/1.2. I have both the 50 1.2 AIS, and 50 1.8 AI. Now that I've gotten used to the brightness of the 50 1.2, it's actually harder for me to focus with the 50 1.8 when I'm indoors (or maybe I'm just older).
    The 45mm f/2.8 AI-P is a Tessar design (4 elements), and also distortion-free. However, it vignettes heavily until about f/5.6. It really is very tiny. It's out of production (like the FM3a), and because it is out of production and a CULT item, it is now very expensive to get one (like a minty FM3a)!
    As for wide angle, I never found the 28mm comfortable, except with my PC-Nikkor (shift lens for architecture). I've preferred the 24mm f/2.8 AI or AIS, which is rather inexpensive these days. However, if you're getting good results from the 28mm AF, then keep using it.
    See how much money for lenses you've freed up now that you're not buying the F6?
  6. BTW, take good note of Robert Armas' second sentence. That could have been you, had you sold your FM3a.
  7. Donald, you're pretty much set. For years my only camera kit was a Ricoh (Pentax K-mount), and the usual three primes from that era: 28/2.8, 50/1.8 and 135/2.8. Those lasted me through years of casual photography and, later, as a photojournalist/reporter, from the mid 1970s-mid '80s. I only replaced that kit after it drowned in a canoe accident! When I look back at my slides and negatives I really haven't progressed much in technique despite more years of experience and a better variety of lenses.
    More than another lens you'd probably benefit most from a good tripod that won't fight you and maybe a small selection of filters: polarizer, graduated neutral density.
    By "won't fight you" I mean a tripod that's both sturdy and reasonable in weight, tall enough to use comfortably, light enough that you'll actually carry it. For scenics rather than action oriented photography you'll find better deals among tilt/pan heads than ballheads. The Slik 700DX is a great value in this type of tripod.
    You might also consider spending the money that might have gone into a lens in an in-person or online workshop, seminar or tutorial. Occasionally those can nudge us beyond a plateau more effectively than any additional bit of gear.
  8. My 45 f/2.8 AI P lives on my FM3a. I don't even consider using anything else. The two together are just great for walking around.
    I haven't seen vignetting with my lens.
  9. The 45/2.8P really does match up well with this camera, and here's mine showing it off...
  10. Personally, I dont like the 28mm focal length. If I were you, I would probably look to ADD a 24 or a 20 or maybe REPLACE the 28 with the 20 and the 35.
    I would get AIS versions since AF does nothing for you and the AIS are better quality build.
  11. Almost my entire portfolio was shot with an FM3a. I once shot a wedding using only a 50-135 f3.5 AIS Nikkor.
  12. Well, it all depends on your personal preferences!
    I finally got my first decent SLR, a Nikon FE, back in 1982, then spent 2-1/2 years using just a 50/1.8 Series E lens. That got pretty limiting and frustrating so I added a Vivitar 28/2.8 and a Vivitar 70-210/4.5, and was satisfied except for the poor quality of the zoom lens (low contrast) towards the long end. 20 years later I got a 28-105 AF lens just for convenience, though it's also better than the Vivitars. Pretty good gear, I thought, as a casual (and not very knowledgable) nature photographer.
    Several years later I begin branching out and getting more cool gear, trying to do better photography, and craving lenses that would do new things. So here come the 200/4 AIS, the 85/2 AIS, the 35/2 AF, the 20/4 AI, several macros, the 14/2.8 AF, the 8/2.8 NAI fisheye, fast telephotos, and more. Are they all good and useful? Sure! Are they all *necessary*? Well, no... and it's easier being a gearhead online in the evening than going out and doing really good photography.
    There is no one right set of lenses to have. New 35mm photographers are sometimes instructed to stick with a 50mm lens at first, but you're already past that stage. Contrary to some of those above, I love the 28mm perspective, but your preference may vary. Does the 28mm seem to cover enough territory for you to get the compositions you want, or too little, or too much? The answer will determine whether a wider or narrower lens would be a good addition. I like having a 20mm, 28mm, and 35mm all available. Each has its use and has a perspective I like. Maybe you can borrow one of these and see how you like it.
    At the longer end an 85 or 90mm is nice but some prefer a 100 or 105mm. From what I've heard the 100mm Series E is actually a pretty decent lens, but your 90mm Tamron would seem to offer more versatility as it's a macro. I'm partial to my Series E 75-150/3.5, but then I need to carry a separate macro lens if I want to photograph wildflowers. There's also a lot to be said for having a somewhat longer telephoto lens like 200/4 which is still fairly easy to carry around unlike longer and faster lenses.
    Beyond these simple choices are the more exotic and expensive ones, like the 8mm circular fisheye, the 14mm superwide, and the really long telephotos. These tools can be really fun to use and (used properly) can give results you can get no other way, but there's no need to rush into this. Go there only if and when you're really motivated, are willing to shell out the money, and are willing to put in the time to learn to use these tools well. Or consider medium format, which has finally become surprisingly affordable.
    BTW, I have a couple of FM3a bodies. They're an excellent choice that will last decades, and are a dream to use.
  13. I concur strongly with the preceding advice. I've discovered I don't really need everything I think I do, and I'm happier with my results when I don't carry too much stuff.
    I think that you have a nice assortment there, and is fine if you don't feel limited. As you progress, you'll get a sense of what else you might want.
    That said, I'd suggest you try a 17 to 21mm lens. You can buy a cheap used one to see if you like that focal length, then replace it with a better one later on. I have a 17mm Tokina RMC, a well-built sharp lens that cost me $100. It turned out to be a better lens than I expected, and I'll be hanging on to it for a while. Another well thought of lens is the old Nikkor 20mm f/4.
    Over on the other end, you could try a relatively cheap 300m f/4 to 5.6 like the Nikkor 300mm f/4.5, and a 1.4X teleconverter, for a 420 mm with a one stop loss. That would give you an idea of what you prefer and if you think you want longer, a 2X teleconverter would get you out to 600mm with a two stop loss. Or, you could buy a looong zoom.
    Once you know what you want, you can pop for some top glass, secure in the knowledge you're getting what you really need.
    As time passes, your idea of what you need will probably change. I recently bought a Tamron SP 500mm mirror lens with matched 2X teleconverter. It's small, light, excellent and inexpensive, focuses to 1:3 and careful framing avoids the bokeh problems. It's fun to work around its limitations as a trade off for a 500-1000mm I can actually carry anywhere. I never considered a mirror due to their optical limitations, but recently realized that for my use, the lens I carry is better than the lens I leave at home or in the car.
  14. I should clarify my previous post to note that I didn't mean that new gear will make one a better photographer (as was perhaps implied by my third paragraph), only that I was both 'gearing up' and trying to improve my techniques and compositions at the same time. My purchase of several prime lenses that are within the range of my existing (and now retired) 70-210 Vivitar zoom was an effort to get better-quality glass in the hope I could put it to good use.
    There's a tradeoff between the ease of using a zoom and at least potentially better technical quality from prime lenses, a topic that has certainly been debated here in the past. I chose to handle this issue by purchasing both better zooms and good primes, and taking along with me what was practical to carry in a given situation. Each person will need to make this tradeoff for themselves based on what kind of photography they are trying to do and what they can afford. Fortunately, if you're buying manual-focus lenses you can often afford to buy a larger selection for the same amount of money, relative to the latest AS-F and VR lenses.

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