Nikon F3HP vs. FM2N

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by matthew_nistor, Jan 13, 2010.

  1. Hello,
    I'm looking for some opinions on which of these two cameras would be "better" for me or if there is a third option and wanted to know if anyone has personal experience with either? I'd like to stick with Nikon as I've heard they're very reliable and readily available should a fix be needed. I'm looking for a 35mm slr and I'm looking at manual focus, mainly for size. I'd like to have an slr that I can toss in my bag and carry around all the time. I see both of these cost around $200-$300 used so they're comparable price wise. My main priorities are fast shutter speed, portability and some good lenses as it will be used for street photos mostly. Overall I'm kind of leaning towards the FM2N as it gives seems to score higher in these aspects, although the F3HP seems to have such a loyal following I'd love to hear what I'd be missing out on if I chose the FM2N. I've very rarely ever use flash. The only thing that I can see as a draw back for the FM2N is less selection of lenses I believe I read somewhere. Any help is appreciated!
    Matt
     
  2. Except for a few special lenses that require the mirror-lock up of the F3, every lens that can be mounted on it also fits the FM2N. Choosing the FM2N you loose the aperture-priority automatic exposure of the F3 as well as the option to change viewfinders (not sure that's important to you at all). Metering is a little more geared towards spot-metering on the F3 (80:20 vs 60:40). The FM2N can run totally without batteries - the F3 can not. The flash sync speed is much higher on the FM2N than on the F3 - which can be important in particular for fill-flash applications.
     
  3. I have exactly those two models and can't say I have any preference overall. Each is slightly better at specific tasks however.
    For nighttime or available light low light photography from a tripod, I'd pick the F3HP for the brighter viewfinder. However, the F3's gray LCD meter display is only slightly better than meh. For handheld candid photography I might pick the FM2N for the much better red LED metering display. And the FM2N finder is very good at night - I've had no problem getting sharp focus at night on the street or in theater and nightclub performances. The F3HP is top notch but the FM2N is by no means inferior.
    Lens selection isn't a real factor. The F3HP can accept non-AI lenses with stop down metering, but that shouldn't be considered a real asset. It's a sort of cobbled-on, compromise way of using pre-AI lenses. If you want to make maximum use of pre-AI Nikkors, get an F2 or Nikkormat with a working meter.
    Some folks make a big deal about build quality. I have no real preference there either. The F3HP is very good, but the FM2N isn't inferior. The FM-series are a little lighter in weight, more compact due to the smaller prism, but still very well made. I'd compare the build quality of the FM2N to the Olympus OM-series (I've also used the OM-1 and OM-2N), so it's very good.
    If you plan to use a motor drive, the F3 is the better choice. The F3 and MD-4 offers power rewind; the FM2N and MD-12 works great for advancing the film quickly, but offers only hand-rewinding.
    If I had to choose one over the other... I couldn't. I'd be satisfied with either.
     
  4. Thanks Dieter, I can live without different viewfinders, although I do wear glasses from time to time so the HP would help in those cases....
     
  5. Thanks Lex, it's a tough choice, they both seem like great cameras at decent prices. In terms of volume and weight, is the F3HP that much bigger or heavier?
     
  6. As much as I've loved the FM series cameras since their 70's introduction. I've always thought that Nikon dropped the ball regarding the viewfinder. Olympus set the standard with it's miniaturized OM cameras. And Nikon made a smaller body to compete. But Olympus created an outstanding viewfinder, and built the camera around it. Nikon FM series cameras, one's eye has to look up/down,right/left to see the entire frame. Great camera, crappy viewfinder.
    Zoom forward to the F3 HP's introduction and you have viewfinder heaven, but in a much larger and heavier package then the FM2n.
     
  7. The main size difference between the two is in the prism. The F3HP prism is a big hunk, tho' not quite as hefty as the metering prims on the original F. Apart from the prisms the body dimensions aren't that different, tho' the F3 has a slight finger swell grip on the right side. Theres something like a 6-7 oz difference in weight, which is really only noticeable with the naked bodies or when only a small prime is mounted, like a 50mm normal lens.
    Another factor to consider is condition. A used camera isn't much of a bargain if it needs a CLA, or even replacement foam and light seals. If you can find a recent model F3HP for the same price it's a very good value. Mine was old and battered when I bought it used almost 10 years ago, and still works very well. The FM2N was nearly new when I bought it and still looks very good. But the FM2N is among the more recent of Nikon's manual focus bodies (only the FM3A is newer among the bodies Nikon actually manufactured, which doesn't include the Cosina-made FM10). With both of mine the mirror rebound foam pads are still in good shape, tho' the door hinge seals are getting a bit gummy.
    Occasionally folks will tout the benefits of better dust/weather seals on Nikon's pro bodies like the F3. And that's true, but not with a 20 year old body. Seals deteriorate, shrink and harden. So don't count on the seals in a 20 y/o F3 being any better than a more recently made FM2N. And unless you're routinely shooting in a dusty desert or damp jungle, it's irrelevant. My home in Texas has some interesting shifts in climate and I don't baby my equipment, but it's held up just fine so far. Only the MD-4 occasionally gets balky, but the F3HP it came with keeps chugging along despite looking like it was trampled by a bull.
     
  8. One other question, are you familar with what you look for as far as serial numbers and which are more preferable than others for each camera? I suppose I could assume the higher the serial number the newer it is...
     
  9. Since I feel like the fm2n might fit the bill for what I'm looking for, is there anything I would be sorely missing if I got the f3hp? For some reason the F3hp has some allure, maybe that it's big and chunky and the crazy viewfinders!
     
  10. Well I'm thinking you're not going to give them the type of abuse I did when I had them, but the F3HP held up very well for me. Aside from replacing the lens mount a few times from crashing, it ran flawless. Finally I broke the whole motor and everything off the bottom and I traded it in at a repair shop for a lens I wanted. The FM2 pair I had was so-so and the one ended up several times in Nikon for repairs I felt shouldn't have happened. I had the winding mechanism fail, the shutter failed and the motor and motor linkage failed. I also never liked the viewfinder or the idea that without the motor the little winding lever used to be out wacking my glasses. Got rid of those for N90, honestly one of the absolute best Nikons in my opinion. I still have my first one, it is well beat up and runs beautiful. So having had these formany miles, I say look at the N90.
     
  11. The F3hp was made from 1986-2004, so cameras can be much newer than 20 years. It costs about $150 to replace the mirror foam and CLA the camera at Authorized Camera Service in Morton Grove.
    Except for the shutter and mirror noise, the F3hp handles and feels like a Leica - smooth as glass and precise. The TTL metering is accurate and predictable. I don't use mine much any more, but I can't bear to part with this gem.
     
  12. The F3HP is my favorite camera, hands down. It's not the best manual focus 35 mm SLR by a long shot (that would be the OM-4T, IMO), but the combination of excellent metering, rock-solid construction and the HP finder (I wear glasses) make it a joy to use. Plus, it's not really that bulky without the motordrive. The downside - F3's are getting old, and if/when the electronics go, I imagine the fix will be neither easy nor cheap. While the finder is great, the finder display isn't that hot - small, almost unusable in dark conditions (the Nikon designers appear to have designed the display illuminator after having downed their own body weight in sake). The FM2N is smaller/lighter, newer and, while I don't consider battery dependence to be a big disadvantage, dependence on aging electronics can be - if the FM2N meter packs up, it'll still be usable. The lack of rewind in the FM's MD-12 drive is a tiny disadvantage - otherwise, the MD-12 is a great, reliable motordrive - not quite as fast as the F3's formidable MD-4, but almost as good. Lens compatibility is almost a wash - so the FM2N can't use non-AI lenses - you wouldn't want to use them on the F3 either. If you're interested in "aging" an F3, just google "nikon F3 serial numbers" or go directly to http://www.nikonf3.com/nikon-f3-serial-numbers/, where you'll find everything you ever wanted too know about the F3. My F3HP, bought on ebay, is #1718XXX, which places it around the beginning of 1986 (production ran from 1980 to ~2001, I believe). Rather arbitrarily, if I was looking for another F3 body, I certainly wouldn't buy one older than this, but I have seen newer models that were in way crappier condition - mine was a lab. camera which spent it's life on a copy stand, so it's in great condition considering its age. I paid $200 for it, which seems to be about the going rate for a good F3HP. I imagine a good FM2N will go for around the same. My son uses my old FM/MD-12 which looks like someone (not me!!) took a hammer to it, but it works perfectly. I have no doubt that the FM2N is just as bulletproof.
    I would compare/contrast the F3HP and the FM2N as follows:
    F3HP - almost indestructible, great metering with aperture priority, fabulous finder for glasses wearers, but crappy display, heavier and getting a bit long in the tooth (but what teeth!!)
    FM2N - smaller/lighter, newer, maybe not quite as robust as the F3, but still wicked tough and battery independent, good display, and decent finder
     
  13. Used both cameras and still own the FM2n. I wear glasses and the main problem of the FM2n for me is that I am unable to see the entire viewfinder and light meter at one go. What I have done is to look more at the light meter and estimate the side of the frame that I cannot see.
    The pros for the FM2n for me are the light meter is really easy to see under low light, it is lighter than the F3HP and smaller. Somehow, I find the split prism in the FM2n to be easier to use than on the F3HP.
    The pros for the F3HP for me are the smoothness of the film winder (not a big deal but I just love the smoothness), all the data (shutter speed, aperture, light meter) are located at the top of the viewfinder (the FM2n is scattered, the light meter is on the right, aperture at the top and the shutter speed on the left) and that it has aperture priority and lock.
    Unless you have a lot of non-Ai lenses or intend to get them, the lens selection is not that big an issue. If you no not need the aperture priority function, your criteria seems to be calling for the FM2n.
     
  14. I had both, sold both, and am now buying a F3 back. The main reason is handling, plus mirror slap and sound. I wear glasses too, but with the F3, I never had problems (while the FM2n viewfinder is a little bit too small). However, I got a DE-2 viewfinder (the smaller one) for my F3, which is smaller (easier for the kind of shooting you intend to do) and magnifies a little better than the DE-3 (at the cost of overview, but even with me wearing glasses, it's worlds better than the FM2n viewfinder. Mirror slap is much smoother on the F3 compared to the FM2n, and (also due to the camera being a bit heavier) better damped.
    Compared to todays DSLR monsters, both of them are unconspicious. If you prefer chrome, than there is no choice (other than evenutally the F3 T, which at the beginning came out in a bright color), but if black is your favourite camera colour, I would go for the F3.
     
  15. 'Except for a few special lenses that require the mirror-lock up of the F3, every lens that can be mounted on it also fits the FM2N.' The F3 can mount non-AI lenses while the FMn cannot, but that shouldn't be a decisive factor as there is an abundance of AI and AIS lens available and there's no reason to futz w/ stop-down metering as it is easily avoided.
    '...carry around all the time.' That sounds more like the FM2n. You also have an extra stop in shutter spd; FM2n min shttr spd = 1/4000 while F3 = 1/2000. Trying to read the F3 meter in low light is difficult, not to mention trying to depress the tiny button which illuminates the shttr spd/meter. One particularly nice, seldomly used, but very valuable feature when needed is the F3's fabulous ability to meter up to 30 seconds or so (or more?) in aperture priority. The max shtr spd of FM2n is 1 sec while the max manual spd on F3 is 8 sec . Generally not applicable to street-shots but worth knowing.
    I suggest starting with the FM2n for reasons of size, weight and low-light meter-reading. Given the realtively modest cost for these bodies, set aside another few bucks over the coming year and get an F3 if you so desire. You, like many others, may find having two different films at the ready is advantageous. I shoot these two bodies (and others)...tough choice but good options.
     
  16. I owned an FM, FM2, and FM2N and still own my now 28-year old F3 (on which I changed the original viewfinder to an HP version). I had forgotten that the FM2 versions cannot mount non-AI lenses - while the FM can. Though the LCD display in the F3 was supposed to have a lifetime of 7 years or so, mine is still doing fine - but it certainly is a weakness of this camera. The fact that I still have the F3 but sold all the FMs (and the FAs as well) shows which one I prefer; it's the only Nikon film camera I still own. The viewfinder is better, the film transport smoother and the camera just sounds better too (after a while I got downright annoyed by the sound of the FM/FM2). I already mentioned the different metering characteristics of the F3 - but not the fact that it may take some getting used to.
    Now, if I were to name my favorite manual focus Nikon film camera - that would be without a doubt the Nikon F4 (without the extra battery compartment at the bottom).
     
  17. I also have&used both. I`d make my choice in base to this two features:
    1. Aperture priority. The F3 is far more polyvalent, faster, forgiving than the FM2n. The lack of this feature always will ask you for a few seconds before each shot, something that could be highly relevant for some.
    2. Weight (and size). The FM2n is noticeably lighter and a bit smaller, you can notice it if you look for a light weight camera.
    All other specifications could be better or worse on each model for some specific uses, e.g. horizontal vs. vertical shutter courtain, battery powered vs. mechanical (>shutter speed accuracy over the time), removable vs smaller VF, etc.
    In my experience, I prefer to use the F3 for almost everything except for mountaneering and hiking, where the FM2n excels.
    "Since I feel like the fm2n might fit the bill for what I'm looking for, is there anything I would be sorely missing if I got the f3hp?... "
    For sure; I bet most F3 users would like to have faster speeds (1/125 sync and 1/4000), non battery dependance and probably, a smaller package.
     
  18. ... and (I forgot), the finder display! (The +- indicator on the shutter display window is sometimes hard to read in comparison to the wonderful FM2n leds).
     
  19. I've had an F2A and an FM2 and for me, the FM2 was the more fun camera - it is quite a bit lighter and shorter. The F2 (and I'm assuming the F3) are definitely a lot more solidly built and are the kind of cameras that if you drop them they will most likely dent the floor ;)
    If its for travelling, grab the FM2. They're awesome little cameras - and if you really are looking for the smallest / lightest 35mm film SLR its also worth taking a look at the Olympus OM-1n / OM-2 series. Smaller than the FM2, lighter and with smaller lenses - but of equal optical quality. They're a bit cheaper than the Nikon stuff but just as good. You won't go wrong with an FM2 though!
     
  20. Have and use both...still. The above info is all true and good so I'll just say one thing. I wear glasses. I cannot rell you how important it is to have the good eye relief of the F3HP. For me it's the critical difference.
     
  21. " The FM2N can run totally without batteries - the F3 can not."
    This. If you're throwing it in your bag and carrying it around--or better yet, hanging it over the passenger seat of your vehicle, as I do mine--you need a camera that is low maintenence. I know I can pick up my FM2N and it will WORK, even if I have to guess on the exposure. Plus, it's smaller.
     
  22. "...One particularly nice, seldomly used, but very valuable feature when needed is the F3's fabulous ability to meter up to 30 seconds or so (or more?) in aperture priority. The max shtr spd of FM2n is 1 sec while the max manual spd on F3 is 8 sec..."​
    It's been awhile since I used my F3 in auto mode for long exposure nighttime photography, but I recall that it would accurately meter and expose for several minutes. I remember setting up for nighttime photos in the country under a full moon, using the aperture priority AE mode, and the shutter would remain open for several minutes. A couple of times I'd walk back to the house for a refill of wine or beer, about 100 yards away, stroll back to the lakeside, and the shutter would still be open. At first I thought the shutter was stuck. But as long as the light didn't change significantly (sometimes a problem with cloud cover on windy nights), the exposures were remarkably accurate, with film reciprocity being the main challenge.
     
  23. I have all the film cameras, beside the digitals, used them from the fist Nikon F ( I have a roll of b/w inside heading out right now + one of the FE2) Nikkormat, F2, FM, FE, FE2 FM2, FM3a, FA(one of the best), F3, F5. All of them build like a tank and the FE, FMs are very small cameras. The smallest and even more liked cameras by me is, my Olympus OM-1, 2 & 3. They are strong, even smaller jewels. But we talk about the Nikons here. The oldest of my Nikon F, only a prism, no meter, are 35+ year old, never serviced working perfectly, so is all of the others. The F3 & F5 is super, but heavy and big. The most practical for easy to move around is the FM or the FE. I prefer the FE because the pointer light meter inside. The safest is the FM, FM3a Working any situation, even if battery run flat for the light meter. In the FM bodies I have, and using them, battery was changed at list 5 years ago, or more. . . . . . My recommendation is an FM body. . . . . Lens? . . . Any lens, depending what do you like to shoot. You can buy a 24, 35, 105 or 135 and 200/4 AIs, for a couple of dollars. I usually skip the 50mm. The 35 is my standard lens all the time. All of those manual AI lenses are very sharp and darn solid build lenses. Zooms? 43-86/3.5 the latest black nosed, or 35-105 or 35-135. You can buy them like new, solid metal build made in Japan.
     
  24. Thanks again for your help this is great! I think I now have sufficient info to say the FM2N is probably the best for me to start with and ultimately I can get the F3HP later on since they're both relatively cheap. Last 2 questions, any tips on dating a FM2N? Are there any lenses that would work on one but not the other if I end up getting both? I'd rather stick to lenses that can be used on both. I'm new to Nikon so I'm pretty basic in my understanding of non-AI, AI and AIS. From what I vaguely recall, the FM2N can use everything but non-AI and the F3HP can use everything but AIS lenses so that would lead me to believe I should stick with AI lenses. Can someone confirm this please?
     
  25. The F3HP can use AIS lenses. The only lenses that the F3 can't use are the AF lenses without an aperture ring; the FM2 can't use these either. The only lenses that can be used on the F3 and not the FM2 are the pre AI lenses.
     
  26. Matthew, it looks like you are confused by the AiS designation... AiS are Ai lenses with two added features that only certain cameras enjoy. It is not a limitation, but an extra (and almost useless IMHO) feature.
    Also, there are a very few "exotic" lenses that must be used in conjunction with a mirror lock-up feature. This rare Nikkors need free space inside the camera for the rear elements (hence the need of locking up the mirror). The FM2n lacks this feature, then cannot use them (best for your budget).
    AiS lenses are also more recent designs, with their advantages. Just to add that some prefer the characteristics of the older Ai lenses, like longer focus throws or better (suposedly) construction. Some of them share the same optical design. That`s all.
     
  27. Ai and non-Ai lenses... to make it short it refers to the camera meter linkage system. Earlier non-Ai lenses use a linkage via "rabbit ears", and later Ai lenses use a coupling ridge on the aperture barrel even though they also have that "rabbit ears".
    The issue with non-Ai lenses is related to their aperture rings. They need 1.To be modified to avoid damage to Ai cameras --or-- 2.To be only used with certain Ai&non-Ai capable cameras.
    The F3 is an Ai&non-Ai capable camera, and the FM2n is an Ai-only camera.
     
  28. ... and neither of them enjoy that extra "S" features (from the Ai-S lenses).
     
  29. One of the greatest strengths of the FM2N over the F3 is it requires no batteries. Although people always should, few carry spare batteries with them in their bags. If the battery gives up the ghost on an F3, you have a very pretty paperweight. On the FM2N, all you lose is the meter. Any film photographer really worth his salt should carry a separate hand held meter in their bag anyway. I do not even bother to carry batteries in my F2's any more.
    You do have more accessories and flexibility available to you with the F3; ie interchangeable finders, etc. As previously mentioned, the F3 will let you mount non-AI lenses, whereas the FM2N will not. Really not a deal breaker in my opinion. Non AI lenses (mirror lenses excepted) are getting very old and there are a lot of AI and AIS lenses available on sites like Fleabay.
    The X-synch on the FM2N is 1/250, whereas it is only 1/80 (same as the F2) for the F3. The FM2N is also smaller and lighter than the F3, and although it certainly should not be a major factor, a lot more attractive (at least in my opinion it is).
     
  30. I have had the F3 (original, no HP finder) since 1983. Mine is still going strong. There's a very silky feel to the camera, with the large number of ball bearings devoted to the wind mechanism alone. The original LCD panel is still going strong on mine. Battery consumption on this camera is negligible - one set of button cells will last over a year, and what's wrong with carrying extras in the pocket?
    Not yet mentioned is that if you ever want to use a shift lens (I have the 28mm f/3.5 PC), the F3 is the ONLY Nikon camera that can meter accurately with a shift lens in any degree of shift. ALL others have to be metered with the lens unshifted first.
     
  31. I'm a big fan of the FM2, FM2n and in fact have two of them. I've also owned two second or third hand F3s and what the previous poster said about electronics is definitely true. In both F3s, the meters conked out on me entirely. Getting those things repaired is about as expensive as buying another body, in which case you're taking another gamble. Highly recommend anything from FM to FM2 to FM2n based on reliability alone.
     
  32. Thanks for everyone's opinion. I'm going with the FM2N and later one get the F3HP when I get bored. Is there anything I should look out for specifically when buying a FM2N, in terms of serial #, common issues? Also is there a good resource or explanation on the difference between AI or AIS lenses, it's a bit fuzzy to me, no pun intended!
    Matt
     
  33. not to add any more confusion, but maybe an FE2 is the right camera? It's the same size as an fm2n, but has apperture priority and TTL flash metering.
     
  34. Hi Bob,
    I'm all ears, the FE2 sounds interesting, can anyone lend some personal experience on this camera? I don't really mind if it's electronic and not completely manual, that's not a concern.
     
  35. I've owned both the F3HP and FM2n, loved both, and only an FE2 remains as my film camera. The FE2 is my favorite. You get auto exp if needed, smaller size vs. the F3, higher flash synch vs. the F3, higher shutter speed vs the F3. The only things I noticed the FE2 could not do vs. the F3 were chg its prism nor could it meter w/ a more concentrated center area (80% vs 60%), which were not concerns for me.
    To me, the FE2 is the perfect camera. I never used the FM3a which seems to be a mechanical version of the FE2, but certainly more expensive.
    Good luck.
     
  36. Also, the FE2 does not have the 100% view that the F3 does. Again, not a concern for me.
     
  37. Thanks everyone, I'm leaning towards the FE2 now, seems like all the perks of the FM2N plus AP if needed. This is such a great resource, thanks again!
     
  38. Matthew Nistor , Jan 14, 2010; 05:55 p.m.
    Thanks everyone, I'm leaning towards the FE2 now, seems like all the perks of the FM2N plus AP if needed. This is such a great resource, thanks again!​
    I had an FE2 with the MD-13 in the 80's and loved it. You won't be disappointed. And if I am not mistaken, it had the capability to change focusing screens, which was a bonus. Just keep spare batteries with you at all times, because it goes through them pretty quickly and gives very little warning what it is getting ready to give up the ghost.
     
  39. Matt
    Hello from Scotland! My humble advice; do consider the FM3a. Someone above mentioned it's pricey; there's a good reason as to why perhaps it's relatively pricey (even here in the UK it'll cost you quite a few pounds to pick up a very good condition FM3a);
    it's a marvelous QUALITY manual control camera!
    The only real battery requirement is for the metering system (however you can still take photos perfectly happily without the battery installed). It is small and light yet very robust, durable and a relatively modern (not very old) Nikon film camera (Nikon stopped production of this model sometime around 2003/2004 i believe). So, any very good quality 2nd-hand FM3a that you can lay your hands on will be just that, VERY good quality and dependable. In the FM3a you'll have a reliable spot metering system, Aperture Priority, exposure lock, exposure compensation, good ISO and shutter-speed range and TTL flash metering. I have been using AiS and AF-D lenses with my FM3a, i believe Ai lenses are also compatible. Some folks don't like the less than 100% view finder nor the lack of mirror lock-up, but this camera's strength is in it's compactness and in it's mechanical quality ... And with a good quality manual focus lens attached it'll take great photos for you!
    Whichever you do decide, enjoy, but do think about the wonderful FM3a (i find it strange that fewer folks recommend this camera, Nikon were brave to try and make a success of this model when they did, i for one thank them for their effort!).
    Regards to all,
    Donaldo
     
  40. I prefer match-needle over leds for metering. Otherwise, both cameras are about the same.
     
  41. Thanks Donaldo, I'd love a FM3A, the price is what makes me hesitate although I have no doubts that it's worth it!
     
  42. The F3hp can indeed function without batteries. One activates the shutter by using the lever on the exposure memory lock button on the right side of the camera, below the mirror lock button. It shoots at 1/60 vs. the 1/90 of the FE. (If you have an owner's manual, the instructions are on p. 25.) I love my F3hp - other than the virtually unreadable LED in low light. Adding to what others have mentioned about the build quality and view bright viewfinder, I find that it has a wonderful balance in the hand.
     
  43. Donaldo, the FM3a doesn't have spot metering, it has 60/40 weighting in the 12mm center circle, which is pretty much the same as all of the other FM/FE series and most other Nikon SLRs, except those with matrix metering or the F3 which is more heavily weighted (80/20) in the center circle.
     
  44. A final thanks for everyone's input, greatly appreciated! I'm going with the FE2. Thanks again!
     
  45. I once used an FM2 for a shoot couple of days and absolutely hated the viewfinder and metering. I had previous experience with an Olympus OM-2, which is a far superior camera. A good match needle aperture priority mode with easy exposure compensation is a key feature for me.
     
  46. FE2 is a great camera if all is working. Great meter, A priority, light, solid, but mine and an other one is pretty loud. Best of both worlds is the FM3A combines the FMN2 all manual batteryless speeds with all the electronic speeds of the FE2. On the FE2, if the battery goes, you only have one shooting speed, but...just keep an extra battery around. If you get one, make sure the meter is working. A fast and fun camera.
     
  47. I've had owned both F3HP and FM2n cameras. The F3 was a smooth-working camera, and for some applications the 100% viewfinder coverage was very useful, as was the aperture priority automatic metering. However, I preferred the 60-40% center-weighted metering and the meter display on the FM2n. In affordability terms the FE2 may be ideal for you, but be sure to get one that is in good condition that looks like it has relatively few miles on it, because electronic failure would be catastrophic vs. just losing the meter on the mechanical FM series.
     
  48. For me, I like the Aperture-priority mode of the F3HP, and ability to dial in exposure compensation. The viewfinder is the best I have used, as well. I also have both cameras in like-new condition, and the FM2N is one that I would gravitate towards when shooting cold weather. Both cameras are good photographic tools, and making a choice may depend on how much and often you depend on flash. The FM2N has the edge in sync speed, for sure, but it is still a pretty basic camera.
     
  49. Oskar Ojala
    I once used an FM2 for a shoot couple of days and absolutely hated the viewfinder and metering. I had previous experience with an Olympus OM-2, which is a far superior camera. A good match needle aperture priority mode with easy exposure compensation is a key feature for me.​
    Interesting how different our opinions can be with similar experiences. I used Nikon and Olympus gear side by side for a few years: FM2N, F3HP, OM-1 and OM-2N. As much as I enjoyed the compact size and lighter weight of the OM gear and 49mm filter thread Zuikos, I consistently found the OM viewfinders slightly dimmer than the Nikons and the match needle metering very difficult to use in dim available light or nighttime photography. The FM2N finder seemed brighter and crisper to me, and the red LED meter display was much easier to see in dim lighting. Reportedly some aftermarket focus screens improved the OM finders considerably, but I never tried 'em. I grew up with match needle meter displays and can't say I miss 'em a bit.
    I still miss the more compact OM's, in part because none of my Nikons fit my favorite waist pack, the little Lowepro Off Trail. But if I got 'em again I'd probably go for the OM-4T for the more sophisticated viewfinder display, much superior multi-spotmetering option, and exposure compensation controls (compared with the clunky F3 comp dial). I'd still want an OM-1 or OM-1N as a backup, but the non-illuminated match needle meter display is not easy to see in the dim available light and nighttime shooting that make up much of my photography.
     
  50. Nikon F always will be in a class of its own. They are height of Nikon dedication to quality. If you don't care about that FM series where very good as well.
    F3 will be the last of slrs I would part with....the viewfinder is just glorious
     
  51. My favorite from this series is the FE2. It's the same size and weight as the FM2n, but adds the aperture priority auto exposure of the F3HP, without the added size and weight of the F3. It uses the same match needle meter as the FM series, which is miles better than the LCD on the F3, F4, and FA. Like the FM2n and F3 (and unlike the FA, which has a ghastly plastic top cover), it's all metal, and built to last a lifetime.
     
  52. There are a lot of educated opinions here, may I add my two cents from a practical point of view.
    I own the F3 (non-HP), the FM2n and the FA, doing street and landscape.
    Forget about battery dependence, this is a non-issue in real life. Anybody can bring two of these tiny battery cells as spare (I never do). While the F3 certainly has a high-quality build, in no way does the FM2n stand back, it is one solid bugger and neither of them is going to fail you in terms of sturdiness.
    In case, you are considering the A mode in the F3, which can come in handy in my opinion, you may also consider the FA. The FA is more or less an FM2n with an A mode added, equal in terms of portability (i.e. weight, the form factor of all three, F3, FM2n and FA, is similar enough for daily life purposes). If you're into tech talk, Ken Rockwell has some very nice things to say about the FA and I can personally recommend it as the best compromise between the two. Also, they sell dirt cheap, got a used FA at Adorama for $144.
    Funny enough, I am not using the FA for street, as its A mode is superior to the one of my F3 in terms of long auto exposure (my F3 is faulty there, i think). So, the FA is usually loaded with Velvia and ready for the tripod, while the F3 is my street cam. Silly story, but can show you one thing: either will serve well (including the FM2n).
    However, in my opinion, you answered your own question. You plan to do street with the priorities of fast shutter speed and portability. It seems you are happy without aperture priority auto mode, so there you go, the FM2n is it. Good choice!
    Greets, Seb
     
  53. I've owned the FE2 and F3HP and found there are really great features about both of these cameras. My biggest gripe about the F3 was having to switch it on, whereas the FE2 comes to life just pulling the wind lever out. The F3 is bigger, but so much smoother and better feeling when winding, which I like doing and never had any interest of adding power winders. I like the metering better on the F3 and seemed to get better exposures with it's fat spot meter vs the 60/40 of the FE2. It was much easier to read the needle of the FE2 but then again the F3HP viewfinder is an eye opener and changing screens is a breeze. For some reason I seemed to get sharper results with the F3, maybe because it was just heavier and seemed better damped. You won't go wrong with either, but if I were to get another, it will be the F3.
     
  54. I will add my 2 cents in support of the Nikon FA body as well. It's metering is superb, and it has P,S,A, and M modes. It's lightweight, has TTL flash connections, with a sync speed of 1/250th sec. It has an eyepiece shutter for long exposures, and I have no idea why I don't use mine more often. Must be I have too many Nikons?
     
  55. Having owned both cameras, I will say that overall I liked the F3HP better than the FM2N. First of all as a glasses wearer, the HP finder was a welcome improvement over the smaller finder of the FM2N. I didn't wear glasses when I was using the FM2N though, so it wasn't an issue then. I like the larger body of the F3, it feels better in my hand overall. The metering on the F3 is second to none. Slides came out perfectly just leaving the meter on A most of the time. Amazing really. It is a solid camera, built to last. I'd love to have one again, but as I don't shoot film anymore (unless asked to by a client or documenting something in which case I will shoot film and digital) I have no need for one. If I were a collector I would buy a mint example and put it in a glass case. The F100 I currently use is my favorite over all other 35mm film bodies I've ever owned.
     
  56. You can't really go wrong with any of the bodies mentioned, they are all excellent cameras.
    Faced with the same problem (deciding which to buy) I've ended up with a fair collection of manual focus film bodies (F3, FM3a, FA, FE2, FM2, FG, FT3). I use them all, and I like each one for different reasons. Having most recently acquired the FM3a I'll probably end up parting with the FE2 and the FM2 just to thin the herd a bit, since the FM3a is basically a hybrid of the FE2 and the FM2.
    Each of these bodies have their own strengths and weaknesses, and most of these have been pretty well discussed in previous responses. The only one of my favorites not mentioned so far in this thread is the FG.
    The FG is often seriously underrated, but I think it is a little gem. It is by far the smallest and lightest MF film SLR that Nikon ever made. It offers TTL flash capability, full manual exposure control, AE mode, and a Program mode, and it can be fitted with the compact MD-E motor drive. Aside from it's size the feature I like best is it's match diode metering system, it is sort of an LED version of a match needle system and it is absolutely the best MF SLR readout I have seen for shooting in dark conditions.
    While the FG is very small and lightweight it is far more rugged that many people realize, although it is not nearly as well built as the FM series and it is nowhere close to the near bullet-proof build quality of the F3 or the older Nikkormats. Like the FM series it has no mirror lockup but the only thing this camera lacks that I ever really missed was a depth of field preview button.
    While I would not give up any of my other bodies, as I said I like them all, when I want to travel really light I grab the FG with the 28-50 f3.5 AIS and the 75-150 f3.5 Series E. That set makes a refreshingly compact and quite capable MF film package. The best part is you can buy a user FG for well under $50, and one in excellent-mint condition can probably be had for less than $100.
     
  57. I own both of these, as well as an older FM, and have owned them for quite awhile. 90% of the time, I'd go with the F3HP.
    If you're going to use a motor drive, the F3HP's motor is much faster, smoother, and much less jam-prone than the FM2n's. But on the downside, it's bigger and heavier. The two cameras are pretty close to the same size without motors, but add the motor, and the F3 becomes very noticeably bigger and heavier.
    If you're going to use a flash, the FM2n has a faster flash sync speed, and a hot shoe built in right above the lens. The F3 requires an adapter for a hot shoe, and it puts the flash to the left of the lens.
    The F3 has a much more solid build quality (though both are so far ahead of modern plastic cameras that the difference between them probably isn't crucial). The F3HP's finder is much nicer for glasses wearers. The F3's wind lever has the most wonderful silky feel of any non-motorized camera I've ever had the pleasure of using.
    So for non-motorized usage with on-camera flash, the FM2n is a clear winner. For motorized use with a flash, it depends -- probably the FM2n wins barely. For non-flash non-motorized usage, the F3's nicer finder and build quality makes it a little better to use, but not by much. For motorized non-flash usage, the MD-4 makes the F3 a clear winner.
     
  58. Heart-warming to see how much passionate answers this question evokes!
    Me too would definately choose the F3/HP (or /T). It does everything the FM2 does, with indispensible additions.
    'Exceptions': extreme cold and maybe specialist photography like astrophotography.
    'Additions': auto-exposure (fast working, together with AE-Lock), TTL-flash (get the AS-17 Flash Unit Coupler), mirror lock up (easy to use and effective), and did someone mention the lovely motordrive and viewfinder already?? ;-)
    A FM3A could seduce me, though.. Mmm.. The FA! And the FE2 was a classic too..
     
  59. I'm getting in here late & admit that I haven't read all the responses.....I own & shoot with both the F3hp & FM2n plus the FE2. Matter of fact, I spent several hours out in the woods today stauking white tailed deer with both my F3 & FE2, different film types in each. The F3hp is a quality gem, all the bells & whisles, but ask yourself if will need them! I generally use a motor drive & there-in lies a major reason for my preference amoung the three [FE2], the F3 with it's MD4 motor drive turns into a monster in size & weight, though it will balance large lenses well. The FE2 with it's MD-12 motor drive is much easier to handle, nice & compact. Relative to viewfinder brightness, I have replaced the original focusing screens in both my FE2's with FM3a screens which results in a nice bright viewfinder image. I have both the F3 & HP viewfinders & must admit that I have absolutely no difficulty with the original F3 viewfinder/prism while wearing glasses. I much prefer the needle metering of the FE2 in leiu of the diodes of the FM, although I think I'm in a minority there. All three bodies will handle AI & AIs lenses which are readily available today a reasonable prices in clean used condition.
     
  60. Get them both. Both will back each other up exceptionally well...
     
  61. I just got back from a 4,000+ mile road trip. Took 2 cameras and 3 lenses. The cameras were the FM2N and the F3. Shot 500+ pics. Never pulled the F3 out of the bag. The FM2N got a workout. From blazing heat on the New Mexico desert floor to the very cold conditions of the mountains in that state and Colorado. Not sure why I didn't pull the F3 out. Maybe because the FM2N did so well. Both cameras will and do complement each other. The lens I used for 99% of the pics was the 17-35 F2.8 Man what a sharp, sharp lens. Can't leave home without it....
     
  62. I just got back from a 4,000+ mile road trip. Took 2 cameras and 3 lenses. The cameras were the FM2N and the F3T. Shot 500+ pics. Never pulled the F3 out of the bag. The FM2N got a workout. From blazing heat on the New Mexico desert floor to the very cold conditions of the mountains in that state and Colorado. Not sure why I didn't pull the F3 out. Maybe because the FM2N did so well. Both cameras will and do complement each other. The lens I used for 99% of the pics was the 17-35 F2.8 Man what a sharp, sharp lens. Can't leave home without it....
     
  63. Hard decision, cuz I like them both. With the 17-35 F2.8 lens I like using it on the FM2N (lighter weight), more than using it on the F3 or F2. If I'm carrying a couple of wide angle primes, I'll use those on the F3 or F2. As I said, i like 'em both.
     

Share This Page