FM3a vs F6

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by donaldamacmillan, Feb 27, 2009.

  1. Hello ladies and gents
    I'm a relatively inexperienced (2-3 yrs film and DSLR) but enthusiastic amatuer photographer living in the UK. I have an excellent condition fm3a, and a number of manual/AF lenses (including a tamron macro lens). It has been on my mind for a few weeks now to trade-in my fm3a, and probably most of my current lenses, for the still available f6 and a good wide-angle zoom AF lens, while it is still currently possible to buy the f6 brand new, as oppose to second-hand.
    Basically, i am very keen to know what other, much more experienced Nikon film camera users would think about doing this [crazy thing!?].... I bought the fm3a with the specific intention to do some simple astro-photography, but this has never really taken-off for me and i am now much more passionate about general photography (landscape and portraites and candid shots), which of course i do use my fm3a for. I am essentially very happy with my fm3a. It's a lovely solid little camera, smooth reliable performer, and i've taken plenty of shots that i'm very happy with. I understand the f6 is a Pro' model, Pro' with a capital 'P'!!! Truth be told i don't need a 'Pro' capability camera. But both accurate auto-focus and really good ttl metering appeal to me, and general superior build and features ... and i really like the thought of getting the f6 brand new, and a good lens, while one still can.
    One thing that i do wonder about is, which of the two cameras should i expect to stand the test of time? I am in my late 30s and would like to think that i could still be using a good film camera for many many years, into my 70s perhaps?!?! That's assuming 35mm film is still around come then!!!!
    Should i be loyal to my little fm3a, and it's wee family of lenses? Or should i make the decision and opt for Nikon's 'flagship' film camera and a really good lens? Would the quality between the two cameras really show, given time and experience? Is it likely that i would have any major regrets by doing either??
    I realise this is very likely to boil-down to a very personal decision, but does anyone - on either side of the Atlantic, or anywhere really - have an opinion about what i am thinking about?
    Thoughts and opinions greatly valued and appreciated
  2. The 2 cameras are very different, obviously. Only you can decide which type suits you better. But the FM3A is a truly great camera, and I would be very reluctant to part with (either of) mine.
  3. I'd keep everything and buy an F100. You can easily find a minty F100 for around $200. This really is a no brainer; if you sell your gear, you'll almost certainly take a bigger loss than $200. I have an F6. I bought it after someone gave me a perfectly good F100. It's worth skipping a digital model in order to buy the best and last F series camera, IMO, but the F100 has all the automation that you need and you won't have to give up anything in order to get it.
  4. You suffer from what is called "Nikon Acquisition Syndrome", or NAS for short. You want the state-of-the-art 35mm camera and nothing less will do. Golfers buy putters like Tiger Woods uses, others buy cameras.
    If you want great metering and fast, accurate auto-focus, then an F100 will give you nearly as much as you will ever need for about $350. For marginally better metering, faster focusing, and a really solid build, you can get an F5 for not much more. Then too, you can pass Go and get the camera of your dreams.
    As for longevity, I think my D2x will outlast my F5 - its build quality is every bit as good. It may be obsolete by D3 standards, but I can still stand up to my competition and make money with it. Neither the D2x nor an F5 (or F6) is likely to come apart at the seams in a lifetime, but they may all rust in the back of a closet.
  5. Leo and Edward have a good idea with the F100. It's a great camera.
  6. I will not depart with the FM3A, it is a great manual camera,will outlast any of the mentioned cameras above,and you can improve your "wee" collection with really good Nikkor AI and AIS fixed focal lenses. You can find these lenses from a trusted source as , their reputation is solid and their products are well categorized,when they grade something as EX or EX+,expect the product to be of of almost "as new" condition.
    Besides, the FM3A has gone up in prices since is not longer in production.
  7. Having both would be ideal. I have neither, but have used both, and I use an OM-3 and a Fuji S5 for most of my photography. Appart from being film vs. digital, the mood I'm in decides what camera to pick. Technology is great, but sometimes, less technology, like in the FM3A (or the OM-3), feels better.
    The F6 is the best camera I've used ever from an ergonomical point of view, and I've used all current Nikon bodies. That alone, and the pleasure using the "ultimate film machine" may be enough reason to buy one. Will your photography improve? Not much, except the shots that require fast AF. But again, the experience counts as well.
    A used F100 is certainly better value for money, as has been mentioned above, but if the ultimate experience is what you're after, there's no way around the F6. I always found the F5 too bulky, at least for amateur use, but that's me. For work, it may be another story. I don't use film for work, but would prefer a D3 over a D700 for that, mostly because of the integrated vertical grip.
    Written down over 20 or 30 years, the cost per day for an F6 isn't bad at all. If you can afford it, I would go for the F6, but I would keep the FM3A as well. They are both the best within their category.
  8. I miss FM3a, I sold it while ago and regretted it ever since. It was the most joyful experience I've had with a camera.
  9. I just got my first Nikon body a year ago, a used D2X. My first real pro level camera after 25 years of photography, and I love it. I also have a full frame Kodak SLRn to go with it. A couple of months ago was the first time I did some research on the F6 and of course I came down with NASitis, and I was only looking at used ones! Well I gave my head a shake, not having used 35mm film in over 2 years, (I know Velvia 50 is back and so is Ektar 100), and got over it. There is just so much more that can be done with $2000, or more. When a used one becomes available for under $800, which maybe never, then I'd have to think about it again.
    The fact is you cannot tell the difference from a shot taken with a Nikon F, Nikon FM, Nikon F6 or any other Nikon film camera using the same lens and film. The experience from behind the viewfinder may be a little different and maybe you may create successful exposures 3% more often, but can you really justify that expense?
  10. pje


    I have both the FM3A and the F6 (also all the pro F bodies and compact bodies). There are situations when I like a small manual focus camera then others where I like the F6. I have the battery grip for the F6 which makes it quite large (like the F5), but I have big hands and like the feel. However when removed the F6 becomes rather compact. A great combo for the FM3A is the 45 f/2.8 (which was introduced with it).
    The main reason I don't use the FM3A as much is mine is basically mint and is now worth about 3x what I paid for it.
  11. Impossible to decide. I guess for me I would go with the F6 since I own lenses for it already (I shoot Nikon AF) but the FM3A is a beautiful little camera.. I bought one brand new and the film door was floppy. I sent it back and then while I was still thinking about it they all dissappeared..I wish I would have just sent it in to Nikon and had them tighten the door up. The F100 is a good idea but it would be a pleasure to own a new F6..Only you can decide which would work best with your style..The F6 obviously will have much more advanced functions.
  12. I'm a big fan of the F6, which I had, then sold, then bought again. Barring a big reversal of fortune, I will not part from it any more.The F5 is great, but it's big, heavy and bulky, and its VF is a bit on the untidy side. Like others, I think the F6 IS the ultimate film camera, it's so solid and well built, its ergonomics are almost perfect, and its metering and AF are almost foolproof. And it's so well damped that you feel absolutely no vibrations whatsoever when you press the shutter release. Unless you have no inclination or sensibility for quality, it's hard not to feel good when using it. But sometimes, I will rather grab my F3HP and a couple of AI lenses and head out. Small camera, manual focussing, taking your time, cranking the buttery film advance lever, hearing the so sweet clonk of the shutter, which makes you believe you have just taken a masterpiece photo every time, just pure fun. What I mean is do everything you can to keep your FM3A AND get a F6. Tall order, I know, but anything less will leave you wondering.
  13. I think it really depends upon your financial situation. If spending 2,000 US dollars on a film camera is no big deal, then by all means, get the F6. I bought one when my FM wasn't working so well, and I wanted fast auto focus and the great Nikon lighting system features. I don't regret getting the F6. But if spending 2,000 would really hurt the pocket book, then better to just keep your fm3a. It, too, is a great camera.
  14. The experience from behind the viewfinder may be a little different and maybe you may create successful exposures 3% more often, but can you really justify that expense?​
    Good question. It's true if you can't spare money for the F6 that the FM10 exposes film just fine for less.
    I just got my first Nikon body a year ago, a used D2X. My first real pro level camera after 25 years of photography, and I love it .​
    Exactly; it's an experiential thing.
    And keep in mind the D2X cost more than $4000 three years ago, whereas the F6 is less than half as much today [On edit I see it's gone up in price since I bought mine.] In fact the F6 is the cheapest Nikon pro body still in production and wll probably retain its value for the longest. It's also the last of its kind. When you buy an F6 you own the last and best and to heck with all the rest, whereas when you scrimp and save to buy a D700, there'll be a D800 and a D900 after that, and so on, and when you're dead and buried people will be shooting shiny C300's, as if to spite you.
  15. Two points bear mentioning in addition to all the valid thoughts uttered above.
    You specifically asked which of these two cameras would stand the test of time over a 40 year period, and the answer of course is easy: the FM3A, because of its hybrid shutter. In a few decades, batteries for the F6 will be unavailable or a speciality item ( or a kludge solution will be found ), but the FM3A doesn't need them. Throw in a Sekonic L-398A selenium meter and a stash of film and it's a post-apocalyptic set.
    The auto exposure and autofocus capabilities of the F6 have been justifiably lauded, but there's one unique feature that I value in mine: It can imprint date ? time and / or exposure information on the leader and between frames. A good learning tool and it helps to order the negs. These sensible functions together with a clear and large viewfinder have helped me use mine as a street camera and shoot loose. It's not foolproof though ( inadvertend double exposure by putting a film in twice ):
    If you want my advice: get both, but get a used but good F6 from an amateur or a respectable dealer. They can be had below a thousand dollars.
  16. I have both, the FM3a and also the F6. I bought the FM3a new (maybe the last black one in Canada) and the F6 refurbished from B+H. I'd definitely keep the FM3a, as you would probably regret selling it soon and might loose money getting another one. I'd look for a refurbished or used F6 in good condition. Most of the time though, the FM3a with its small prime lenses goes on the road, the AF versions of the Nikon lenses are much bulkier and don't get used as much. I just found a 20 mm f/3.5 AiS on the big auction site, 52 mm filter diameter... If you know a little bit on how to deal with integral metering rather than matrix in some extreme situations, you won't find any difference in the results between the FM3a and the F6 for many motifs. Only time that might not be true would be sports photography or Nature photography with the VR lenses.
  17. Cameras are like cars - they start depreciating from the moment you take them out of the dealer's showroom. The little FM3a is more mechanical, and the one most likely to last the decades. Just ask a Nikon F or F2 user about longevity. I use a 1983 vintage F3 which is still running strong. It even has its original meter readout LCD, which Nikon thought would have to be replaced every 7 years or less. Many people report that these have lasted decades. Mine is still going strong after 26 years.
    With any camera, the electronics are the most likely to fail with time, and the circuit boards are probably not going to be available in the coming decades. Although the F6 may be the finest of the AF film Nikons, I don't think it will ultimately last as long as the FM3a. The older cameras such as the F2 used discrete electronic components (i.e. individual resistors, etc.) which are replaceable. All the newer cameras use more and more integrated circuits, some of which are custom made and unlikely to be available in the future. As an aside - can you still purchase Intel 286 CPU chips? What's the likelihood that Intel or any chip maker will still make the same chip 30 years from now?
    I would stick with the FM3a, and put the money towards more lenses, if anything. Oh, and also more film.
  18. I'd not part with good MF lenses too readily, especially to go to a zoom. I have an F6 and it's the best camera I've used. One of the reasons I bought it was for a very good level of compatibility with my MF lenses, some of which are better than the current AF ones.
  19. F6: Great, great camera, but almost certainly wasted on any amateur photog, unless you have great technique and will use it EVERY day.
    As others have said, If you want an af camera, much more sense to buy an F100 OR F90X...and some nicer lenses? If in the future you want an F6, they will always be not fall into the trap of 'must have it now' syndrome...the new price of the F6 recently rose from about 1299 GBP to 1699 GBP....
  20. I'd go for the FM3 and an F100. I have an FM2 and an F100 and I like to have both, i.e. there are situations in which I love the manual everything FM2 and situations in which I love the auto something to almost all everything of the F100. When I sold my worn out F90, I thought I could live with the FM2 only, but I soon realised it was not the case and I bought the F100.
  21. I expect the FM3A will be operational much longer than the F6. It's simpler, and with less parts and less electronics, there's less to go wrong. Even if batteries become unavailable, the FM3A will still work, albeit without an internal meter. Same goes for MF lenses. I sold a Leica III-f when it was over 50 years old. It still worked fine. There's a lot to be said for the durability of manual cameras.
  22. I'm still using Zeiss Super Ikontas - one of them from about 1937. These old mechanical cameras can be kept in good repair by any competent technician. They will continue from the 20th century, through the 21st and beyond.
  23. They don't call the FM3a "the poor man's Leica" for nothing. It's capable or producing world class images, still. I know photojournalists who continue to use it an alternaative in extreme conditions (such as the -50 windchills were experience up North). I bought mine and a full array of lenses on e-Bay, for peanuts. Shoot several rolls of slide film through it every year, just for old time's sake.
  24. Donald, unless your decision will be based upon financial considerations, the F6 is THE world-class film camera. It is different, though, from the FM3a. It is obviously a very electronic camera. That being said, it is very tough, and I wouldn't hesitate to use it in challenging environments as you would with a fully mechanical camera. If fact, I think the F6 is more weather-resistant regarding moisture and dust.
    But, it comes down to this. You only live once--carpe diem. I was so very satisfied to get a brand new F6...knowing nobody else had used (or abused) it. All these 35mm film cameras are capable of taking exactly the same image, but if I had bought a new or used F100 instead of the F6, I'd be occasionally wishing I'd have just bought my original choice in the first place.
  25. Donald, I'm going to suggest that you keep your FM3A and rather than get the F6, get a D300 DSLR. You can use your MF lenses on the D300. The D300 shares the same AF system as the professional D700/D3 cameras. With these two cameras, the FM3A & the D300, you would still have the pleasure of using a mechanical FM3A film camera and enjoy the process of crafting your photos. If however you desired an instantaneous result, the D300 is your tool. Having said all this, I don't believe either the F6 or any DSLR you acquire today will last into your 70's (unless of course you're approaching that age) but if your no where near your 70s, the FM3A is the definite keeper.
  26. Fab,
    He says that he's in his 30's, and he wants to keep shooting the same camera into his 70s. For that reason, the FM3a is the only Nikon choice. Other choices would be an FM2n, F, or F2 - both of the latter with plain prisms.
    If you're going to throw that much money around, and want a camera to last several lifetimes, then have you thought about Leica?
  27. I like all of the above posts that suggest F100. Its cheap and its lighter than the F6 and its probably just as good for what you want.
    I agree. If you really want the Pro model, get the F6 but seriously consider the F100 first. Dont listen to the digital people, digital bodies are expensive (as is the F6), and from the way your post sounded to me, you would be better served by film if thats what you like.
    But please please dont get rid of the FM3a, you may come to regret that. And keep you lenses too.
  28. I'd keep everything and buy an F100. You can easily find a minty F100 for around $200. This really is a no brainer; if you sell your gear, you'll almost certainly take a bigger loss than $200.​
    $200 seems somewhat low for a mint- , mint F100, but I'd love to find one at that price.
  29. You just missed one: item # 300295458594.
  30. Michel, for me too I enjoy hearing the so sweet clonk of the shutter of a F3. To be noted: the viewfinder of a F6 (and F3) covers 100% of the picture, whereas the Fm3a is well below. The main reason why i did not buy one.
  31. Donald, you say "Truth be told i don't need a 'Pro' capability camera. " In that case you really don't need an F6 or even an F5.
    Will you be photographing moving objects (sports, acrobats, musicians, etc) if 'No ' then you don't need an F6..... How about landscapes and townscapes? If 'Yes ' then you don't need an F6 ........ In short, very few of us actually need an F5 or F6, though many of us have them.
    Stick with the FM3a and it will stick with you. You will know when you need an F6: it's possible that right now just desire to own one. Spend your money wisely on lenses, film, filters and other things that will help you now. Pick up a "cheap as chips" F80, or a F100 if you need autofocus - then you'll have everything that you want, and a bit more than you need ... really. Good luck.
  32. Hi Donald,
    The F6 is a very nice camera and will last you at least 30 years. However, I doubt the FM3a wouldn't either. I'm sure you didn't ask, but of course, the quality of the images is nothing to do with the camera. The F6 is built in pro-style, chunky magnesium alloy clad in rubber - it certainly gives the impression of business. The AF is excellent, and a real boon for street and portrait photography.
    I have a recent review if you're interested :
    Ideally the Nikon F6 is best paired with AF-S lenses, with the AF disabled on the shutter release - allowing you to use the camera much like a manual focus one with the option of AF when you need it. However, I haven't found a well-built, good quality AF-S wideangle lens that I want yet. The 17-35/2.8 is all of this, but heavy, and the 35/2 (which I have) is good, but feels cheap compared to the F6's standard. I await Nikon to make a nice pro AF prime lens with AF-S.
    The F100 is nice, though the F6 more technologically more proficient (CLS flash system, AF system, 1005-segment meter). Both have nice shutte-releases - I think both have counterweighted mirrors and shutters which add to the overall impression of balance and precision.
    The only down-side to the F6 is its weight, I find having it in a shoulder bag with two other prime lenses gives my neck a *really* bad time. However, I have quite a slight frame and is probably not a problem for most. If you sling just the camera, and another prime in a pocket, it's fine.
    I would buy both if you can!
    All best,
    P.S. I'm sure film will be around - there's a bit of a revival at the moment, and I think processing and scanning services will improve.
  33. Donald,
    I was in your position with an FM2n and FE2. I also have a D300 for digital.
    I ended up keeping the smaller bodies and buying a really good F4s for AF on film. This was a bulletproof PJ camera and here's why its so good:
    1. Full backwards and forwards lens compatibility, manual and AF. (not G)
    2. The best, huge, 100% uncluttered viewfinder ever designed.
    3. All the adjustments and controls are by dial messy menus (like an F6).
    4. Great matrix metering on old and new lenses.
    5. Simple and blindingly fast AF.
    6. All the functionality of an F6 and called the Rosetta Stone of cameras by those who know.
    7. Fully bomb proof and sealed to the environment.
    8. Cheap as chips to buy used....abt $400.
    9. Uses cheap AA crappy ni-cad and expensive recharger.
    The not so good:
    1. Weighs a lot
    Have a look at what KR has to say (email me for details)
  34. Another vote for FM3a/F100 combo.
    I have all 3: FM3a, F100 and F6 and use them all. But I purchased the F6 simply because I could afford this wonderful pro body. If you cannot afford F6 without trading FM3a don’t buy it.
    For your purposes (landscape and portraites and candid shots…) seems to me you cannot find better camera than F100. Light, reliable, weather resistant, built to last and definitely better value for money. And keep your FM3a.
    One thing that i do wonder about is, which of the two cameras should i expect to stand the test of time?
    I believe both. However if you read Robert (Lai) posting he might have a point. If we take a look at mid 80’s when we had F4 and FM2 I would suggest that F4 is more prone to failure than FM2. But both those bodies were built as rock and still hundred thousands photogs are using them.
  35. I also suggest an F100 and keeping your FM3a. Sure the F6 is a superb camera and many of us would love to have one but the F100 will do most things just a well. I just picked up a mint- F100 for a total of $250 including delivery.
  36. I also highly recommend the F100 and FM3A combination..... you should be able to pick up a very good F100 second hand (even two!) and have a great kit with the lenses you already have. The F6 with a fast 2.8 lenses is going to be very heavy and while the F6 is a great camera, the F100 has all the functions you will ever need. You can then spend the money you saved on film...
  37. The best things I can think of in purchasing the F6 is backwards compatibility with older AI and AI-s lenses. You can even have Nikon add the prong to accept pre-AI lenses to allow for direct metering. The other is the advance lighting system with their speed lights.
  38. Joey,
    The prong at f/5.6 on the aperture ring is to mate with a pin on the meter heads of the Nikon F and F2 era cameras, including certain Nikkormats. On cameras beyond this, the prong does nothing. To use pre-AI lenses, you need to perform stop down metering, or have somebody grind the aperture ring to the AI setting.
  39. Be done with it and get an F6. I have it and an fm3a and if I had to, I 'd pick the F6 -- it is the better machine. Go to the nikon home page and read about the f6 development and the fm3a as well.
  40. Hi Robert, with regards to using non-AI lenses, according to the F6 manual, the body needs to be modified by an authorized Nikon service center to perform the modification. FWIW Tom Hogan's review confirms this. The meters DP-11 and DP-12 did away with the prong attached to the meter head using instead the coupling lever/tab for the AI series lenses.
  41. a camera is a light proof box. unless you are a sports photographer, you do not need an f6. keep the FM3a and be happy in the knowledge that you had more of a hand in your great images than your camera. it's all about the film inside and the lenses.
  42. I agree 100% with Tom statement.
  43. Donald: Forgive me if this post is out of line.

    Do what makes you happy. If an F6 will make you happy, by all means go for it. But will it, really?

    A personal story: I worked in a music store for four years. In that time, I bought/built eleven guitars and four amps. I can't play very well, but I had dreams of the things I would play, and the tones I would get. I spent a lot of time on guitar boards researching and weighing options. Had a lot of fun with it.

    Every day I would go to work and see guys come in and talk about their gear. Their vintage this, or brand-new that. But they would never sit down and play, because they couldn't. Simple chords or poorly delivered solos from the sixties were all they knew. But if I sold them a guitar, they would check every last detail, listen for noise, feel for fret burrs, etc.

    Eventually, I realized that these guys don't enjoy music; they enjoy the guitars. And that's fine. But I was also forced to realize that about myself as well. I owned more guitars than the number of gigs I'd actually played. If I had put 1/10th the amount of energy I invested in guitars into learning to play, I'd be a damn fine player right now. After that realization, it was very hard to be happy playing my expensive guitars. Now I'm down to two guitars and one amp. Ok, three. is a great place to talk about gear, and it's fun to talk about gear, but I worry sometimes that many folks on here are more concerned with cameras than with photographs. It's fine to enjoy cameras, and it's even fine to enjoy them more than taking pictures, but what I fear from reading your post is that you're getting caught up in something that will ultimately detract from your photography.

    I am a poor guitar player, but I'm a good photographer. When I realized what I'd done with the guitars, I got scared that I'd do the same thing with cameras. For years, I used a K1000 and a 28mm, and never considered anything else. I didn't buy a nicer camera until I started seeing situations in which I missed a shot because of my gear.

    So, my advice: Do what makes you happy, but make sure it really does make you happy. Is it owning an F6, or producing awesome photos? Make sure that your desire for one doesn't overshadow your vision for the other.

    I'd keep the FM3a, and buy an F100. For what it's worth, you can see my cameras and my work here .
  44. Max,
    truer word was seldom spoken ...
  45. I've owned the F100, F5, F6, then back to the F100... No manual Nikon bodies though I own a Olympus OM1 system.
    F6 is a special camera and indeed the flagship of all film SLR bodies.
    I really see no advantage unless you prefer the ease of autofocus, need the autofocus for sports, etc... The F5 and F6 are robust cameras to say the least.
    The F100 gives you 90% of the performance in a lighter package. The red focus points and weight are the advantage over the F5. The F5 is a BEAST!
    At $200 +/- the F100 is a bargain compared to the F6.
    Unless money was an issue I would add the F100 and keep both. Take the extra savings and buy AIS telephoto glass like the 300mm f/2.8 or something else that may interest you.
  46. I professionaly shoot the FM3A along with F100, D700, D3, XPan, 500 CM, M3, M6 and MP3. I have shot at one time or another every F series camera starting with the F2 and I can honestly say the FM3A is by far my favorite.
    It is the combination of build, pro driven features when a battery is in it and even more professional pro feature of a full shutter speeds range without the batteries in the FM3A that make it a never sell for me.
    I bought mine brand new just 7 months after they were first announced. It is now brassed and worn and is as good as ever.
    I found the F6 to be a great camera, but for the money, the F100 is nearly as good and is a bit lighter and smaller.
  47. Many, many thanks to everyone who has taken the time to answer my post .... I have almost certainly decided not to part company with my FM3a, i think many of you are right, i would very soon regret not having my FM3a. The F6 may be the 'ultimate film camera', but i am no pro, and i never will be ... i have to be very honest with myself about this.
    So many of you have suggested the F100 as a quality Nikon AF alternative ... I will be looking very seriously at this option (and at the F4s). I do feel my photography would benifit from gaining some experience with a quality film AF camera, maybe the F100 is the 'one' for me .... Of course, i will probably very likely also take the opportunity to expand my 'wee family' of lenses too, as many of you have strongly encouraged!!
    Many thanks again for so many friendly thoughts and suggestions and honest advice ... None offence was taken at any point and i enjoyed reading all you posts :))
  48. I think film will be around a long time for its archival qualities. You don't need a machine to view an image. Silver hallide films are stable when kept in the dark. I have Kodacrhome slides from the 1950s that look great. It sounds like you don't need any equipment. If you have a 50mm f1.8, you already have a "really good lens." Do you have a good tripod? That's a big help in getting sharp images. Do your lenses cover the focal lengths you need? Keep in mind prime lenses generally perform better than zooms. I'd consider a DSLR for the convenience and the digital darkroom experience. It will give you autofocus as well. By the way, TTL fill flash is a great Nikon feature. I'd consider using it with something like a Metz unit off-camera to avoid red eye. I'm pretty sure you can perform this on your FM3a by metering the scene normally, and then cranking the ISO up two stops, to fool the flash and give you the proper fill-flash ratio. I do this with my Hasselblad 503CX with great results. I hope this helps, and am glad you're enjoying photography. Post a photo some time! Ed

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