From AF to MF....

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by andrew_tan|1, Jul 21, 2003.

  1. I'm getting sick of all these AF techno babble. Thinking of selling my
    AF gear to fund the purchase of a Nikon MF system (with AF Nikkors
    just in case, but I'll get some AIS ones too), most likely the FM3a.
    I'll also get a light meter to complement the camera.

    Has anyone done that before, as in, go back to the "basics"? If so,
    what particular aspect of the current AF generation do you miss the
    most (besides AF that is)?
  2. I did. Bought an N80, used for 5 months. Sold off, bought an FM3a and an N90s. Used N90s for 6 months, sold off -- bought another FM3a. 2 FM3a s and two 105 and 200 AF micro-nikkors are all I have. I have stabilized pretty much on the equipment front. Am getting a 50/f1.8 in next few days.

    You'll love the FM3a. I swear by this camera. Buy a couple of them.

    BTW, my most precious possession is still the Pentax K1000 my father bought me when I was 16 years old.
  3. Me too. I bought and then sold, in succession, an N80 (traded with my father for his well used F3), an F100, and an N90s. Although I kept one n90s, I almost never use it. What I use are F3s (when robustness and/or motor drive is key) and FGs (when light weight and portability is key). If I had to choose just ONE Nikon, I'd go with an FE2 or an FM3a, which split the difference of the strenghts of the F3 and the FG.

    And as for what I miss about AF, that's easy. Absolutely NOTHING.
  4. You guys make me feel much better now :)

    Imagine a Kwannon user going back to Nikon, instead of the more popular Nikon to Kwannon route aye? :)

    Might get 2 bodies then.

    I presume the "D" lenses (e.g. 50mm /1.8D) are applicable to AF camera bodies only right?
  5. Yes the D lenses are supposedly useful for flash metering in matrix (?) mode.

    In my brief stint with AF Nikons I could never figure out exactly where and how this D feature makes a difference. Never found any any D/non-D comparison/test on the web either.

    Anyway -- if you get two FM3A bodies get one chrome and one black. They look just great together!
  6. My understanding is that D stands for distance, and the lens is able to provide some kind of range information to the camera, I would presume based on focal length; someone else? As for switching, I decided to just complement my AF gear w/ some MF stuff. I bought the most beat, tough looking F3 I've ever seen so I could use non-ai lenses, mirror up lenses, shift lenses, whatever. The old stuff is nice, but sometimes you just need modern convenience :) BTW, I miss matrix metering the most, centerweighted is pretty foolproof, but takes a more delicate touch.

  7. Well, I'll be getting a light meter (with spot capability) to help me out with the exposure setting so it's all good. :)
  8. I sold off a bunch of MF stuff as I started buying AF. After a few years, I started missing MF and have bought more MF gear. I shoot with both. I prefer the AF stuff for flash use. I also rely on AF for predictable (linear) action shooting. I prefer MF for some action, like Basketball.

    F3/MD-4 is my favorite motorized camera, F2AS is my favorite non-motorized camera.

    One of the best reasons to go MF Nikon is the vast array of great lenses selling for cheap. I would definitely look at used MF glass anytime you're considering buying another lens. There are things that new AF lenses do better (particularly the high end zooms) but lenses like the 105/1.8 AIS selling for $225 are pretty tempting.
  9. I recently purchased an original F with a working FTn prism for about $150 and love it. It uses all Nikon lenses and is built like a tank (and looks like it has been through a war!) Manual is the way to go!
    I put my N70 away and use my FM and F more often than not.

    I was also thinking of getting a 24mm f2.0 and a 35mm f1.4- two lenses that do not have AF versions available. (Why there is no 24mm f2.0 AF-D is a mystery - no market for that lens?)
  10. Yes, I had a N65 for about 2 years. The first couple months of using N65 was the only time for using the AF/program modes. The next 18 months were spent strictly with the N65 in manual mode. I purchased a FM3a about 2-3 months ago along with a 105mm macro and 50mm 1.8. The N65 now is used by my girlfriend (in M mode only, I might add).

    I never miss the AF/program modes at all!!! I shoot lots of macro, landscapes, etc. and always found MF to do the same or better.

    I would hold off on getting a separate spot meter. The FM3a has an excellent CW meter, which I use along with a grey card for nice results. Filling the screen with grey card or other (shadow detail area) allows facile placement of zones.

    I'm holding off on a spot meter until I can add a 4X5 LF setup to my equipment.
  11. Remember, as you consider MF bodies, that in the opinion of many people the F4 is the best MF camera Nikon ever made. And with the MB 20 battery pack it is lighter than the F3 with a motor drive. Spot meter, TTL, and AF if you ever need it . . .
  12. I sold all of my Nikon manual gear a year ago bought into C---- digital with all the trimmings. Awesome setup. Then last month I purchased an FM3a, used 28, 50, and 105 ais lenses, and a brick of Tri-X. Why? My digital system with IS lenses and 8 fps does things that are eye-watering -- things that a manual system could never do. But for my personal work, I just missed the feel of manual photography too much. Carl
  13. Is it necessary for me to purchase a spot meter for the FM3a?
  14. Andrew -- If you really want to get back to basics, don't consider a spot-meter to go with your FM3. Do what I do: meter off of your open palm and open up one stop from there (of course you'll need to be in the same light as your subject). Do this in combination with using only ONE film shot at ONE EI and eventually you'll not need a meter at all.
  15. I haven't gotten rid of the AF gear, but I've definitely created a manual system (FM2n, FT3, EM, 16/2.8 fisheye, 28/2.8, 50/2, 55/3.5, 105/4, 80-200/4.5). It was never really intended. I just wanted a mechanical body to use with my AF lenses in tough conditions, like extreme cold. (Shooting comets with autofocus cameras is a waste of time, especially when it's -24 C. :) ) The system took a life of its own. I find I use it differently from the autofocus equipment and I prefer to do my black-and-white photography with it. The system does have some crossover (I use my 16 on my AF bodies a lot; I use my 20-35/2.8 on my manual cameras frequently) but the systems are more separate than I would ever have guessed.

    What would I miss if I abandoned my AF gear? The handling. My F100 is the best camera I have ever owned. I love the 1/3 step adjustments. I love the matrix metering. I love the quick, sure autofocus. I would hate to do sports photography or wildlife photography with an FM2n, even if I had an MD-12 to put on it. (Yes, I could do it, but it would hurt. :) ) I would miss the great TTL flash technology. I would miss the build quality (yes, even compared to my Nikkormat, as lovely as it is).

    Don't sell your AF gear if you can help it. Take advantage of low prices for manual equipment and start assembling a compatible, parallel system. Take advantage of the best of both worlds.
  16. I did this going from Canon EOS to Nikon MF. Much happier now...honestly don't miss anything about EOS.

    A strange side effect is that I'm getting even more luddite selling my chrome Nikon F Photomic FTn in favour of a 1950's Rolleiflex TLR. The 35mm negative leaves me wanting for more, although I'll never part with my F3's which will still see heavy use. The 'Flex is perfect for portraiture allowing me 1/500 flash synch compared to my 1/80 on my F3's.
  17. Hello Andrew,<p>
    I've lived with an F3 for almost 20 years, so I can't recommend anything else to you, since I don't know any other camera. But, they are great, tough, everlasting cameras. Now that everyone else is going on the AF bandwagon, the F3 are available for relatively low prices. So much so, that I just bought a second body (mint) as a backup for about the same price as the first was 20 years ago - $400.00. The price of great glass like the 35mm f/1.4 or 85mm f/1.4 is also down.<p>
    I wouldn't be too obsessed about the spot meter. Most people don't want to use a handheld meter all the time. I bought a flash meter for the multiflash setups. I still don't have a spotmeter. The F3's 80/20% heavy centerweighting acts as a sort of fat spotmeter.
  18. I'm with Jim. The same things he would miss, but for some different reasons would keep me from ever giving up my AF system which definitely gets the most use. But since I got the FM3a, I've been more interested in non-auto-everything photography. I had other Nikon manual focus cameras and used them but just intermittently. Then I got going and My SO and I have gotten into developing our MF systems. When we travel, it's our AF Nikons but I always carry the FM3a, oftentimes loaded with B&W. Now we do excursions where we only carry a manual focus camera.

    Neither of us would give up our AF systems, though.

  19. If you are going to use Manual Focus, do yourself a favor and get/use
    Nikkor manual focus AI & AIS lenses.
  20. I still have my F80, but it's my newer FM3a that sees most use. I miss the motor once in a while, but that can be rectified.
  21. ky2


    =) Just my story (And I came from EOS land->DSLR land->FM3A land!). Now, does anyone wanna trade my 35/2 AFD with his 35/1.4 + Cash? ;)
  22. Thank you everyone for your kind response. Greatly appreciated!
  23. After a disastrous sale of a Pentax 6x7 system I&#146;ve learned to hang on to most everything. Having learned a bitter lesson I never "went AF." I added a couple of AF bodies and six AF-D Nikkors, four of which work quite nicely on my FE2(s) and FM2n(s). I kept almost all of my AI and AIS Nikkors and I&#146;ve added a few since buying the AF bodies. In a few months I hope to buy one more MF Nikkor.

    I would not buy any AF-D lens for an FM3a unless you have tried the lens and like the handling on the MF body. A couple of AF-D lenses I like using on the manual focus bodies are the AF 35~70/2.8D and AF 80~200/2.8D ED. I feel the 80~200/2.8 needs an MD-12 for leverage and balance on the smaller Nikon bodies.

    My favorite, in production, Nikon cameras are the FM3a and F5. I don&#146;t think it at all strange to select several MF Nikkors an FE2, F5 and no AF Nikkors. My preferred exposure mode is manual with center weighted or hand held meters.

    There is a point at which second guessing what all the automation is doing is more trouble than it&#146;s worth. If you want to go light the Nikon FM/FE family is a fine way to go.

    All the best,



    "Is it necessary for me to purchase a spot meter for the FM3a?" --Andrew Tan

    That depends on your style and the film you use. I use a Pentax Digital Spotmeter with an F5 which has a built in spot meter. The Pentax meter feels natural to me and I "think" on its calculator dial.

    I hang the Pentax over my neck and shoulder and let it hang on my left side. The strap is made of round nylon tubing used for mountaineering. It slides up and down very smoothly. It&#146;s my primary meter for B&W in all formats.
  24. You guys sound like you think there's some kind of special virtue in avoiding autofocus. I come from 30 years of using all manual, mechanical cameras, and I love autofocus. It's not like the camera decides. I still have to know what subject I want to focus on. The decision process is exactly the same. As far as all the other automation, so what? Use it or don't use it, whatever is appropriate. Nikon F80 and up are as convenient to use in manual exposure as any manual camera ever made. In keeping with your philosophy, I suppose you still drive a car with hand crank starting, manual spark advance and a manual choke.
  25. Hi Pierre: I like Coke more than Pepsi, but it doesn't mean that Pepsi is any less good, or that I'm virtuous by picking Coke.

    It's just a matter of preference. That's all.
  26. I like Coke better too :)

    I actually went through the nostalgia thing a few months ago. First, I replaced my aging Pentax with a Nikon F80. I loved it, but I just had to have metal, and the FM3a beckoned - so I traded the F80 in for a brand new chrome FM3a with 45mmP lens. However, it didn't take long to start missing the ability to take very quick snapshots, not to mention the incredible ability of the F80 to continuously focus on a moving subject (it's truly something to behold in amazement), the motor-drive, the spotmeter... not to mention the built-in diopter correction. I liked the first F80 so much that I took the FM3a back after a few weeks and got another F80. When I want to use manual exposure with centre-weighted averaging, I do, in which case it's not much different than the top-of-the-line Pentax K2 I had in the 1970's, or the MX, or the K1000, etc. If a person can only have one, I would rather have the camera that gives me a full choice of tools to work with. If I ever decided to get something better, it would probably be an F100. Other than the above, the big failing of the FM3a is, in my opinion, the 1960's viewfinder. First, it has very poor eye relief. Second, you absolutely cannot see the meter if the subject behind it is dark. It's also not as solidly-built as we all imagine. On top of it all, the one I had was built with very poor workmanship in the film chamber. The door had to be replaced due to a faulty pressure plate, and the film rails looked like they belonged more to a cheap generic SLR.
  27. Sorry to hear about that Pierre. :(
  28. While we're at it -- speaking of FM3A's worksmanship, I found it to be a very sturdy camera. I have accidentally dropped both bodies a number of times in the field and nothing seems to go wrong except a few scratches.

    But I must say thr FM3A black paint (around the film chamber on both the body and back) is not the most robust kind. I sweat a lot and due to the poor eye relief I really have to press my face against the back of the camera. ' Don't always have oppty to wipe off sweat and the black paints have nicely peeled off of those places, with the exposed metal parts gathering some kind of greenish white deposit. Weird.
  29. Arnab: you have a chrome body too right? Have you observed the same with it?
  30. Yes, on both. The laquored black paint along the edges of camera back and door. The black paint on top and bottom of the black body is intact.

    Don't let it deter you -- I work for hours in 34 degrees celsius and 85%-90% relative humidity and sweat an awful lot, I wouldn't blame the camera too much.
  31. I had an extensive Minolta AF kit... sold all of it and jumped into a CoolPix 5700. Love the CoolPix but just last week I bought an FM2n along with a 24m/f2.8 AIs and an 85mm f/2 AI. Now THIS feels like a camera!
  32. "I like Coke more than Pepsi, but it doesn't mean that Pepsi is any less good, or that I'm virtuous by picking Coke." --Andrew Tan

    Coke and Pepsi aren&#146;t made anymore. Look at the ingredients. They include high fructose corn slime. The real thing was made with pure cane sugar.
  33. I was unaware that it had been legislated that Coke and Pepsi were immuteable formulas. And, BTW, if you must know, the original "Real Thing" actually had a slight hit of cocaine in it. No wonder it became so popular. But the change from cane sugar to high fructose corn syrup was by NO MEANS the first, last, or only change to the recipe for Coca Cola (call it "original" or "classic", or whatever). It's just the one that gets the most panties twisted into a panic by folks who have some vested interest in sugar cane prices.

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