Nikon F3HP, FE2, F2A or FA for Your Only Film Camera?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by Vincent Peri, Aug 13, 2020.

  1. Vincent Peri

    Vincent Peri Metairie, LA

    I have several of each of the above cameras. If you could have only 1 of the above models, which would it be?

    Looking forward to any comments.

  2. Will pass, I have Brownie.
    I also have Nikon F50, only cos no one wants to buy it.
  3. Shouldn't the FM3A be in that mix too?

    Personally, I'll always love the F3 the most. Just the feel of it in the hand...still unparalleled for me.
  4. I've made that choice some time ago
    Of the cameras you mentioned, I only owned the F3HP (mine started life as an F3, I upgraded the finder at a much later time) and the FA. Back when the FA was announced, I wished I had purchased it instead of the F3; much later when I owned the FA it turned out that my initial choice had been the right one; my FA was very quickly replaced with the F4. If I were to own an F2 - then it would have been the F2AS back in the days and now I would only want a plain F2 (preferably Titan). Most of my shooting back in the 80s and 90s was with FM2 bodies - mainly because I could not afford the more expensive FE2 at the time. My F3 has sentimental value to me - if I were to choose a manual focus film body to use, most likely the F4 would be my choice. It AF is thrown in:
    Both the above are now shelf queens - but there might still be a film in the F100.
  5. F2AS for me(which I know wasn't listed), with the FM2(n) as a close second.

    Even though I have several of them, the F2SB and F2AS spoiled me on using the F2 Photomic and F2A.
  6. Seems like the last two Nikon film cameras I used as primary choice before going mostly digital were an F2S and F100. The F2S was a great choice for manual focus, at the time I still had several pre-AI lenses in use.

    Film, manual focus, and my favorite Nikon with motor drive: F, FT head that did not have the ratchet index, and F36 drive. With this setup:

    Use all lenses with about the same aperture, say F/2. That way one does not have to change the indicator on the ASA dial. The earlier f stop mechanism was smoother than the auto index later model that always seemed notchy when going through f/5.6.

    I liked the F36 grip, really good for hooking fingers around. Slow to reload, though.

    Still get that setup out from time to time.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2020
  7. I have never shot an FA. Even though I love to shoot my F2SB there are times when aperture priority is nice. The F3 feels great in my hand, but I prefer the metering on the Fe2, so the Fe2 gets my vote.
  8. I have an F3 and an FM2n (plus an F4), but sadly no longer use any of them regularly.
    Wouldn't part with any of them though.
  9. The FA, on paper, is the best of the bunch listed as far as features.

    In practice-I've shot two rolls of film through mine. It "burned" me on the first one in that I'd get random blank frames-apparently there's a known problem of the shutter sometimes firing at 1/4000. It was totally unpredictable-I'd have a blank one or two in a sequence of three, and then 10 or more in a row without one.

    I chanced a second roll and it was fine, but there again I'm still a bit leary of it especially since the big selling point-the meter-begs for slide film.
  10. I'll take the F2A. Solid fully mechanical camera that will probably still be working for many years after I'm gone!
  11. For portability, usability and reliability the FE2 would be my choice. None of the others would satisfy all three IMO.
  12. My F3HP served me well for many years until worsening eyesight forced me to buy an F4. I still have both and will not part with either. My F3HP has several prisms which seems to be a weak spot as they always get dented (have you seen all those damaged ones on eBay) so I’ve reverted to the standard prism head which also has a little more magnification.
    robert_davies|2 likes this.
  13. My choice is the F3HP. I do like the F2AS (not the F2A though) like Ben but it's not listed but still I pick the F3HP above the F2AS.
  14. Vincent Peri

    Vincent Peri Metairie, LA

    Thanks for all the replies so far. If I had to pick, I think I'd go with the F3HP, although I really like the FE2 and FA. With the F2A, you never know when the meter is going to get erratic.
  15. SCL


    I'd choose the F3HP, although I no longer have mine. Always thought it was a reliable, versatile workhorse.
  16. The F3(whether in HP or non-HP form) seems to be a very polarizing camera.

    I've never warmed up to either the meter weighting or the tiny LCD. The F3 seems to be a great camera if you shoot in aperture priority(provided you're careful with the meter), but I don't much like it for manual.

    The standard vs. HP debate is always fun too. My first F3 was a standard prism, and I've had a few HPs(and do have one now). I wear glasses so the eye relief is nice, but I'm so used to the F2 that the standard just feels "right" to me and I like its higher magnification than the HP. That's definitely something you have to decide for yourself, though. The standard prisms don't seem to be as common as the HPs.
  17. I’ve had all of those. If I had to pick one it would be the FE2. It has a 1/4000 shutter and a proper needle meter readout.
    robert_bowring likes this.
  18. Was the standard-prism-(DE-2)-equipped still available after the F3HP (DE-3 finder) was introduced in 1982?
    The F3 certainly would have deserved an upgrade of its shutter sometime during its production run instead of being stuck with an F2-derivative.
  19. Now out of the list I wouldn't pick the FA. It's about the worst Nikon of the era.
  20. As listed I will go with the F2A but any F2 is fine with me. The F4s is right there with it for what I want in a film camera. I also have a Nikkormat and some N90S bodies and an FE2 so I feel like I am unlikely to ever need any more, not that need has anything to do with it.

    Rick H.

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