Help picking BEST Nikon SLR..

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by bogdan_seredyak, Aug 17, 2011.

  1. ..basically i prefer something light, so it doesn't have to be a professional. Could be fully manual but i do prefer aperture priority(for some fast street work). I want to buy something not too expensive and preferably with 50mm lens. Smaller the better, but i am willing to sacrifice that nuance for quality.
    My contenders so far are:
    nikonF3 (one of the things I like is waist level finder ability)
    Nikon FE ( ken Rokwell says its as good as F3 in a smaller, lighter package, but when I look at the quality of images shot on it on Flickr it doesnt seem to be as good)
    Nikon FA
    Nikon FM3A/FM2N
    P.S. I do have a D90 so it would be nice to swap lenses, but its not a dealbreaker..
  2. For maximum lens compatibility you'd want an F100 - but that's bigger than a D90. The F3 is excellent, as are all of
    those you mentioned, but the manual focus ones don't take all the same lenses, so I'm going to make two suggestions:

    FE2: you need lenses with aperture rings, but at least it can share SB600 and SB800 flashes with the D90

    N75/F75: very small and light, and takes exactly the same lenses as the D90 (except for the limitations on DX lenses
    of course), but the downside is it's made of plastic (very good plastic, but some people do insist on metal) and it has a
    smaller finder than the others you mentioned.

    If you want a manual focus 50mm lens, you're in luck - they're inexpensive. A 50/1.4 AIS is an excellent lens, and so
    is a 50/1.8 AIS. The older version of the 1.8 (which has a larger focusing ring than the newer version) is particularly

    One other thing. Don't be discouraged by image quality of photos you see on Flickr. An F3 does not take better photos
    than an EM. The most important factor for image quality is technique (and it's probably true that the average F3 owner
    has more technique than the average EM owner). The equipment that factors most in image quality is the lens, and of
    course the film choice. The camera body is there to help you work with the lens and the film - this isn't digital where a
    D3 has a better sensor than a D40 - so what's most important about the body is how well you can work with it.
  3. Whatever you buy, get one that is from a reputable seller. You want a camera, not a project. They are all twenty-thirty years old now.
    If you want small, reliable, compatible, start with an EM. It's best for fast street work.
  4. '...not too expensive...' The FM3a is likely out of your price range, which is unfortunate as it is the most recent model and offers an excellent set of features, including ap priority. In lieu of the FM3a the FE2 or F3 will fit the bill nicely.
    '...but when I look at the quality of images shot on it on Flickr it doesnt seem to be as good.' Have faith that your skills will level the field amongst any camera bodies.
  5. Look at the N80. Its a much better camera than the above mentioned N75 and it has most of the bells and whistles of the F100 in a much lighter form. I think its a great little camera.
  6. Hi,
    I recommend Nikon FA. It has Program, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, and Manual modes (PSAM) that you can choose from, a primitive but effective 5 segment matrix sensor, and TTL flash capability. With the body, I suggest a Nikkor 50/1.8 Ai-s (old style). The combo is a tremendous value, and your images will be high quality. The F3 is super, but it has the weird flash hot shoe that is outdated. You may use AF lenses with aperture ring (not G lenses) on the FA.
  7. N80/F80, too: new enough, light enough, similar to D90 enough, everything on board from idiot mode to completely manual, and works with G-lenses, too. If you don't want something specifically "classic", the N/F80 should be perfect.
  8. 1. Nikon FE2: rock-solid, compact 35mm body.
    2. Nikon N90s: more modern, matrix-metering body--one of my favorites.
    Nikon FM/FEs are favorites among Nikon fans. But for more up-to-date features, the Nikon N90s was the top-of-the-line consumer 35mm film body of its time, originally selling for about $1,000. You can buy a decent-condition N90s for as little as $35, or a mint-condition N90s for only about $100. The N90s has a wicked-fast AF screw-drive, plus it supports current AF-S lenses as well (but doesn't support VR). Plastic body, but a very nice camera. Although I love the FM/FE series, I would probably opt for the N90s. I own all three (plus, an F6), but I still love shooting with my N90s.
  9. Give some thought to AF/MF bodies. You can use AF lenses on MF bodies (just not the G lenses) and MF lenses on AF bodies, but it may not be very pleasant. It harder to manually focus with AF bodies and AF lenses don't have a great feel when manually focused.
    If you decide to stick with AF, I would look for a N80: small, light cheap and not too old. The FE2, aside from the much more expensiveFM3a, was my favorite MF body, but the last one was made in 1987. You would want to make sure it's in good working order.
  10. What do you want the camera to do? What will you be photo'ing, and where?
    Kent in SD
  11. I'd get an F100 if I were going to shoot film and wanted a Nikon 35mm.
    If I knew for sure that I'd only ever shoot manual focus (I can't imagine ever living that way again, though) I like the way the F3 works a lot, and there are a few that are only a little more than 10 or so years old (they made that camera a very very long time).
  12. I'm a long, a long time Nikon user. From be beginning of SLR era, the "F", and all the way to F5. But I inherited, from my dear friend a whole set-up of Olympus cameras, lenses, etc., one OM-1. and three, OM-2s. All of them working perfectly. They are jewels, the best SLR cameras ever made, reliable, beautiful to handle, and have a bigger view finder area as any other cameras have, and small. I said. Smaller then any other cameras exist in this class to day. Even with the tiny motor winder, witch give a better hold, grip, to the tiny body, still, smaller then anything els. And you can get them for 80-200 max dollar. (C$200 collection condition, in box, some time new) The lenses are also super quality lenses, many of them mach more expensive then a Nikon or canon or even some of Zeiss lenses. Regardless, I'm a dedicated Nikon user, and loyal follower for Nikon, I highly recommending for you, as a small, but professionally build and quality camera, you like to have.
  13. I have the FA and I really like using it. The matrix metering is nice.
    RE: N80 - I also have this one and I wouldn't recommend it if you want to use manual focus(non-cpu) lenses because it cannot meter with them and you must set the aperture on the lens, not with the camera. I've tried it before and it's a pain in the rear to use it that way.
  14. Bela,
    That might work for you, but I suspect that for most users, having multiple systems is a very frustrating way to go. Two sets of lenses to buy and maintain, etc.
    to the OP: I'd stick with Nikon, whatever you do...
  15. Depending on the lenses you own, you may not be able to use your D90 lenses on a Nikon film camera. The DX lenses intended for use on the crop sensor DSLRs usually vignette heavily when attached to a full-frame/35mm camera.
  16. N80 is a bit plastic/new for me.
    To sum up, so far what I really like is FA, FE2 and F3. Now, which ones of these would be best...
  17. oh and any of these have Aperture Priority?
  18. All of them.
  19. '...which ones of these would be best?' You're the best judge of that. Peruse the archives for hours of reading-up on features and opinions of these bodies.
  20. All three of those are excellent cameras. The F3 is bigger and has the removable finder, the FA and FE2 are smaller and lighter but still well made. The FA is a year newer than the FE2 and has M, A, S, P modes (I think it might have been the first SLR to have all of those...) and matrix meter. I have an F3 and an FE2 and can't really decide which I like better, but in my downsizing effort I'm selling the FE2 because the main reason I like it is that it works well with my SB600, and for that I also have an F100.
  21. I sold both my FA and FE2 and kept my F3HP. I will probably keep it for many more years to come. It feels almost intuitive to use.
  22. RE: N80 - I also have this one and I wouldn't recommend it if you want to use manual focus(non-cpu) lenses because it cannot meter with them and you must set the aperture on the lens, not with the camera. I've tried it before and it's a pain in the rear to use it that way.​
    Just to bring up the old rant... I've always wished that Nikon had produced a camera with two control wheels and reasonable functionality, including an AI ring, but make it small and light like an F75 (which might involve a pentamirror) - I'd like to use my AI and VR G lenses, but have a light and portable camera option, as opposed to my F5. (I know an F100 and an F6 are lighter, but not by enough to make me shop.) Of course, Nikon sort of did do this, but with the D7000 - not really a cheap back-up film option.

    Given how well Sigma, Tamron, Tokina et al. have reverse-engineered the mount, I keep vaguely hoping someone's going to produce a knock-off model with the features I want. Nikon never seemed to appreciate that functionality/compatibility and portability might be welcome over being bulletproof. Or I might just get an F75 and one of the fully manual cameras and pick and choose my lenses, but that's not a recipe for portability. Sigh.

    If you don't care too much about sharing lenses, may I ask whether it has to be an SLR? If you want small and suitable for street work, Leica and knock-offs like the Bessa series (or the Minolta/Zeiss versions for more money) - or even a decent P&S - might be worth a look. Or even a TLR like a Yashica. Just a thought.
  23. Any reason F3HP(F3) is superior?
    Ive found a FE2 w/ AF Nikkor 50mm f1:1.4 D lens on Ebay for $90 which seems like a good deal. But I'd rather spend a bit for F3's if its truly a better deal. Ideally I would buy it with 50mm
  24. For 90 dollar on eBay? I wouldn't trust such a deal, specially with a lens. A decent FE2 would go, for 120-180 dollar, without the lens. The FE2 is a very nice little camera. I have 2 of them, and with a MD-12, a joy to use them. The F3 is a mach bigger camera. The F3? Yes, it is a more advanced camera, but if you know photography, and camera technic, the FE2 would be just fine.
  25. Hi Bogdan.
    . . . "Nikon FE ( ken Rokwell says its as good as F3 in a smaller, lighter package, but when I look at the quality of images shot on it on Flickr it doesnt seem to be as good)"
    The camera has nothing to do with the quality of an image, it is the photographer whom creating the image. A good photographer can create a stunning image with any camera, including the cheapest, like Gallen Rowels stunning photograph, "The Dalai Lamas Pagoda", with was created with a Nikon Series "E" 75-150mm lens, witch you can bay today, for 50 dollar.
  26. Actually that E lens is a very nice lens. It gets no respect because of the plastic but the optics are quality. Same with
    the 100mm E. Also, agree with the above - $90 for an FE2 and a 50/1.4D (which is also a desirable lens for digital) is
    too good to be true. Unless it's an auction, in which case I'd expect it to go over $300 if the condition is good, though
    the seller could have got more by selling them separately.
  27. I haven't had much experience with the F100, but I have owned the F3, F4, F5, D2, and D3. My favourite of the lot is the F4. Great camera, matrix metering, solid build, can be stripped down in size, and no crappy thumb scroll wheels like the F5 and beyond. You won't be able to use the cheaper Nikon "G" lenses that don't have an aperture ring - unless you shoot in "S" mode.
  28. FM3-A would be my number 1 choice with 2nd being FE2 if you want aperture priority. Both smaller yet sturdy cameras. You can pick up an AIS 50 1.8 for very little or some some of the other great manual focus Nikon 50 lenses, or even some of the new manual focus Zeiss or Voigtlander. Do some research on 50's. The F3's are great cameras too but are bigger. A good general read-up on manual focus film Nikon SLRs is to be had on He's opinionated and I think he's a lot more knowledgeable about classic cameras than Ken Rockwell IMHO. :) Also, all these cameras work great. It will really be up to you to get quality pictures out of them.
  29. any particular reason for FM3-A over FE2? And why not F3HP?
  30. The FM3a is newer, and has some unique features. In auto exposure it's an electronic shutter, but you can switch it to manual and it becomes a mechanical shutter. It's particularly well made, and being newer and so many of them having been bought be amateurs with high expectations you're likely to find one in top condition.
    WRT F3HP, I think a lot of us say F3 and include the HP version in that. The difference is the finder, it's easy to use with glasses. Mine is an HP and I appreciate that fact.
  31. The F3 is the best! The FE and FM series are not as well made! They will outlast most photographers but if indexing gets sluggish or needs attention, its a repair will not be worth it! The F3 is small! Only a tad larger than my Leica M3 with meter. If you did NOT want auto, a F or F2 would do fine. The F works in spite of any kind of condition, either the camera or the environment.
    I paid $200 for my F3 two years ago. My meters almost all gone in Photomics. So it was like getting a meter.
    I use my digital point and shoot as meter for the others..
    Good luck!
  32. I think in the end im gonna go for FE2. It has fast shutter speeds, and its light/small, which is what I prefer....F3 seems nice but I really dont think its gonna contribute anything more to my shootings.
    P.S. Canon A-1 does also lure me with its sexy body...
    now if I can only find De3 somewhere cheap..
  33. You can buy mine on ebay :)
  34. FE2 is a great camera, it's older so make sure that the one you get has a properly working light meter. It uses the old, and I think highly desirable analog needle, very nice to use IMO. If it's working, it's a great camera. The titanium electronic shutter is awesome. Try not to touch the actual shutter itself ever. The FM3A has as said above by Andy, the benefit of being a much newer camera and the big advantage of being able to use all speeds in mechanical mode should your battery run out and you not have a replacement. (should always carry one but it's a great back-up just in case). On the FE2, if battery goes, you have 1 shooting speed available only. You may also want to send the FE2 in for a CLA and have them check the foam etc. They need to be replaced every once in a long while.
  35. Lots of experience and opinions...
    Here's mine: The small body manual focus Nikons are great.
    Sounds like MF will be OK for you and you want Aperture-Prefered autoexposure. For me, this means the FE, FE2, or FG. The FG is wonderfully small. All are great to use and cheap today.
  36. The FM2n is my favorite. It's totally mechanical, you have to set everything, only needs battery for the meter. Meter lights up in the viewfinder with either a +, _, or a o for proper exposure. It does not have matrix metering, just average. It is small and fairly light and will take all AI, AIS, AF, and AF-D lenses. It will not take the dreaded G lenses though. You have to have an aperture ring. If you want to use a G lens on a film camera you have to get the F 100, F6, or one of the other high F cameras.
  37. G lenses are easy - all the newer film cameras take them. N90, N80, N65, N75, etc.
  38. Let me say first that only you can determine which is best for you. So if you post a question, I would assume that you want to know what is best for me or by my opinion.
    Among your contenders, it's easy! The F3 is a definitely best of the bunch. I would put the FM3a second if price is no consideration. Otherwise it's the FM2N and then the FE and then the FM3a. The FA is absolute worst of the bunch.
    That's my opinion.
  39. My photography seems to flow best with the F3. I have the EM (which I thought would be a light travel camera) but the focus screen was not perfectly aligned which gave off-focus shots and the vibration spoiled hand-held photos. The FE is a really nice camera but issues are common - sluggish Ai follower (repairs don't last long) and shutter faults are two.
    My vote - the F3 all the way. The viewfinder, easy controls, accurate metering and low vibration are all you need to make great photos. Make sure you get a clean one though as one I had was heavily used and the mirror jammed in the up position.
  40. Hands down the FM2/N. It's the camera I keep coming back to no matter what. Everything is right where it needs to be, and the Flash sync of 1/200 or 1/250 is far more useful than the over-rated F3's. And for runner up I'd pick a surprise; The Nikkormat FTn. It's solid, dependable and has a rugged beauty. Again, every button is right where it needs to be.
    For best digital SLR, well that remains to be seen. The sensors become obsolete so quickly. However the D200 seems to have amazingly simple and well placed controls for a DSLR. It has the Solid Nikon feel the D70/80/90 series seem to lack.

Share This Page