Second film body, any recommendations?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by jared_angle, Aug 16, 2009.

  1. When it comes to film, I've been using my Nikon F4s, which is quite hefty for carrying around for all-day events, especially outdoor car shows, which I've done a few of in this summer heat. I will admit that I've gone relatively camera-crazy recently, and I've decided that I want an additional film body. I'd like to go lighter, and I've been eyeing the FA and the FG cameras in particular.
    I am aware that neither will function properly with any G lenses, so I'm going to be using my AF 50mm 1.8D for the time being, and maybe add an AI or AIS 35mm lens later on. I realize that there is a large price difference (~$90 vs. ~$250) between the FG and the FA. What I'd really like to know is how the two cameras measure up to each other, based on size and handling/ease of use alone.
    If the FA is a decent enough size, I will most likely purchase it since it has features I use like matrix metering, but if the FG is significantly smaller than the FA to make a difference, I'll go with the FG to get the smallest camera possible.
    Or, should I check out an FE2 or something similar instead of the FG?
    This camera will likely always have a small standard lens mounted on it, and will mostly be for travel type images, when I don't want to have my F4 dangling around my neck and would rather leave the heavy stuff in my bag.
  2. For $50-80, an FE or FG is a great, lightweight manual camera, but an N80 is also a light camera that also provides AF and works fine with G lenses and has excellent, modern matrix metering.
    If you really want a manual camera, an FG is fine. But it won't get you all that much weight savings vs. an N80.
  3. Have you thought of getting an MB-20. Makes your F4 into a small lighter weight camera, not much bigger than an F100.
  4. Paul,
    I have thought about the MB-20 and might purchase it down the road, but I was still thinking about the FG/FE/FA because of the whole feel of a manual focus camera, with the focusing and film advance lever and such.
  5. The Nikon N75 & N80 are also good cameras.
  6. I used to own an FA as a smaller backup/companion body for my F4 (I have also owned the FG).
    The FA is certainly larger than an FG, and also has a better build quality. You should be able to find a nice FA for considerably less than $250 ... most on eBay sell for $150 or less. It has a very smooth manual film advance. The FE2 is a bit more reliable (the FA is *very* complex electronically) with a very similar size and form factor, and has a much better metering display for manual exposure IMHO. I was never a fan of the simple +/- LCD in the FA after using the superb display of the F4. I didn't feel the addition of matrix metering on the FA was that big of a deal, but I was/am very used to center-weighted metering and compensating if necessary.
    The biggest shortcoming with the FG is that there is no DOF preview, something you may find seriously lacking if you use that feature at all on the F4. It is a fun little body to use (especially with a small 50mm) with a nice big viewfinder. But it has neither the shutter speed range nor the build quality of the FE2 or FA. Film advance, while smooth, is considerably less silky than either the FA or FE2. But it is a fairly well made body (metal chassis, plastic top/bottom plates) and you can easily find them for under $50 on eBay. They tend to behave strangely with weak batteries (all speeds will fire at 1/90, mirror will eventually stick up) so use fresh S76/SR44 *silver-oxide* cells and keep a spare set in your bag.
    Whatever model you get plan on replacing the mirror bumper foam and at least the hinge seal. I have sold many of these cameras over the last few years and have yet to see one that did not absolutely require a foam replacement. It might look good but as soon as you touch it it falls apart or compresses into a tarry goo.
  7. I love my N80, which is very light yet full featured. Its only real weakness is an inability to meter with pre-AF lenses.
  8. Look at the Nikon FM2n nice camera, our nikon F100 for AF
  9. How does an F100 qualify as a light weight compact camera?
  10. "How does an F100 qualify ..."
    Depends on what you compare it to. Compared to an F4s with a MB-21 6-cell pack loaded with alkalines, it's a lightweight. :)
    I have an F100 with a Kirk L bracket attached. Even with the bracket, it's a full 1/2 pound lighter than a "naked" MB-20 fitted F4 with lithium AA's.
  11. FM2n is light with out MD12
  12. I have an FG, which I used prior to getting an F4s. The limit that I hit was the low max shutter speed, in daylight situations. If you use a fast lens, and want to use it at low F numbers, you may run out of shutter speed. I did a few times. What I DO like about the FG is it has a row of LED dots for the meter, which will show more than the + - indicator in the FA, and it it easy to see in low light, where the match needle style is not so good. It does have TTL flash, where the FM series, does not, I think. It weighs nearly the same as a D40. After the F4s, it almost feels lick a point and shoot.
  13. There is a F100 for $150 here:
  14. I take a F100 or fm2n before FG OR FA Buy F100 FOR 150.00 OR 200.00 Mint, FG or FA mint good luck in getting one in mint
  15. An FA with a 50mm f/1.8 Nikkor lens is a great combo...Be sure to get an FA that still has that little handgrip thing in-place on the camera.
  16. An F100 may be light weight compared to a Mamiya RB67, or an F4 with full battery pack, but there is no way that it's appropriate for someone looking for a light weight travel kit who's looking at an FG or FA.
  17. I had a similar idea of a light weight hiking camera. After thinking about it for a few months I decided on the Nikon N80. I bought it and when it arrived it was broken. It is now on it's way back for refund and I am back to thinking about it. I do not want to spend more on shipping for broken camera's so I am just going to sit on it for a while and carry my D200 as before..
  18. Ah, I forgot about the FG having a low maximum shutter speed, but I'll try to avoid intense sunlight or use a lower speed film if possible.
    Thanks everyone for the input!
  19. The FA is nice and compact and it also has a very quiet shutter. The shutter is much more quiet than my FM3A.
  20. Ross, I'm sorry to hear that your N80 arrived broken. Had it arrived as it should have, I think it would have suited your purposes very well. It certainly has for me. It's light, quiet and has all the features of an F100 other than metering with AI/S lenses and fast autofocus.
  21. An F100 for $150? Wow!
    I have that camera and I like it, but I really like a manual camera. I got it because my vision has made the auto-focus feature necessary. I use diopters on my manuals, but they're not perfect.
    My favorite ever, I think, was the FG. I like the simplicity, and especially the metering system. I do have an FM2 and I like it, but when I get the chance I'll grab up another FG.
  22. Get an FM2n if you want a compact Nikon that will work without batteries if needed. Or if you like aperture priority, get the FE2. I have both and and F4s. I'll never sell them.
  23. YES Get the fm2n I have one with my F5 and F100 never sell them. And I have D300 too, F4s had no luck with them have 2 got a F5 love it
  24. How about the inocuous little EM?
  25. I have a little Nikon EM that I use as my street camera. It has a tiny 50mm f1.8 pancake lens, is in mint condition and cost me £10.00 GBP off Ebay.
    The EM is a seriously under reated SLR. I'ts tiny - smaller than a Leica M8, lightweight and well built. I often take mine out in the pouring rain and shoot street photography, I make no effort to protect it in any way from the elements and it just keeps on working.
    Sure it's not in the same league as F series SLR's when it comes to build quality but It's not in the same price range either.
    I sold all of my film kit when I bought my first digital slr. A D700. Out went the F5, FM, Nikkormat EL, FM2n and various lenses that I was never going to use again.
    The only film slr that I kept was the little Nikon EM and the 50mm pancake lens. I also have a motordrive for it but never use it.
    Funnily enough I'm now looking for a second film body that I can use my new AFS G glass on and was going to get an F100
    In the end I've settled on a F80 (N80 i think in the USA) as it smaller and lighter than the F100 and will probably only get about a roll of film a month put through it.
    Now I've jumped to digital, I view film slr's as little more than a light box that I can put good quality film through and mount pro glass on to. In a way I wish my EM could take AFS G glass but it cant.
  26. Well I think if you want to use AI or AIS lenses then stick with a manual focus like a FM2N and others. The absense of the grip handle is great for portability.
    If you wanna use AF body, then use AF lenses only only a few consumer bodies will meter with AI AIS lenses like the N70 I think. The N75 somone mentions is great, small and light but AF lenses only at 330g or abouts. Great for travel which I like to get one down the road. FG cannot remember o the specifics but they are good too, just check they have manual modes. Aperture preview is subjective, independent on battery is also I think. Automation likewise, if you can deal with manual.
    F100 is great maybe a bit heavy depends on you. F80 is also good but like a F100 without the build and the speed. Doesn't work with AI AIS lenses in metering.
  27. With my 45 years of experience, I highly recommend the Nikon FE or FE2 cameras with a MD-12 motor-drive. The unit still a light, easy to handle and carry cameras and all the lenses, except those darn G lenses work on it. The beauty of the FE is, it has a needle pointer light meter in it, very easy to manipulate the amount of under/over exposures, and build like a tank. And also, has an "A" aperture priority mode. The FM body also a fantastic camera, total manual mode, and running without battery too. I myself has two FEs(FE2) and two FMs(FM2) and a FA, all of them with a motor drive. The most compact and beautiful cameras ever made, and they will work for ever. My digital bodies will die and the FMs&FEs still working. They are solid, metal build almost indestructible cameras. And you can get them for a 120-200 dollar in the used market. And if you learned photography, photography technic, you can live without matrix metering comfortably.
  28. F3 and F100 would be my final choices for film camera's.. (I do own a F4 as well).
    I DID take some slide images at the heather at sunset last evening.
    24mm on F3 is still wonderfully intuitive and compact..
    Unless you add the MD4.. Which makes it even more intuitive!
    Good luck.
  29. Surprised a wee bit more hasn't been said specifically about the FM3a. A lovely little camera. Simple and reliable. I've got an 'ok' wide-angle, a couple of good standards, and another 'ok' short telephoto for portraites (i'd certainly like a really good portraite lens, that's for sure!). So, small lenses, with small but totally sound camera = a hard to beat portable high quality picture-making system! The FM3a is not a perfect camera i know but it isn't so far off. I'd wish Nikon would do another FM3a but with mirror-lock!
    Kind regards.
  30. If you want an incredibly light weight camera, the Nikon FG is hard to beat. Combined with any of the Series E lenses (particularly the 50mm f/1.8 Series E) it's a combination made in light-weight heaven. And the current prices for them are incredibly low; I recently bought a Nikon FG and the 50mm Series E for $50 off flea bay.
    I was still thinking about the FG/FE/FA because of the whole feel of a manual focus camera, with the focusing and film advance lever and such.​
    But if you're looking for a great manual camera, spend the extra cash on a Nikon F3 or FM2/FM3. There's simply no comparison between the a flagship Nikon F Series F3 and the bottom of the barrel consumer Nikon FG. My Nikon F3 is hands down my favorite Nikon to shoot. Compared to what they used to cost, F3's can be bought for a song.
  31. I'd go with the F100. Although you don't say what your subject matter is. Also I might recommend a different method of carry for the F4s rather than a lighter camera. I use a messenger bag style camera bag F4s is in and out quick and the weight is shoulder not the neck.
  32. My primary film camera is also an F4s and use an FM2n as my backup camera. I love the FM2n... lightweight, rock solid, great meter.
  33. I'm with you Paul. But I have the FE2 as well as your two. I also have to admit I love using the F4s. Mine is heavy as I have the M23 back and its programmed for bracketing and imprinting exposure and speed in between the frames. But I don't care. The viewfinder is huge and empty, and its so easy to focus with the one big sensor. No wonder it was the newspaper photog's camera of choice for ten years. Its even got a quiet mode and a dial for stupid menus and screens to peer at. Now if I could have an F4s with a sensor, how good would that be? I also don't mind the weight. The issue of G lenses to me is irrelevant when there are so many beautiful AF and AF-D lenses out there that will sing on an F4 as well as on the FM/FE in manual focus mode. Nikon has yet to produce any affordable G lenses that can come close to the older Nikkors for imaging quality.
    On my F4s I have an 18-35 f3.5, a 28-70 f2.8 and a 70-210 f4. They are all superb and the affordable 18-35 is almost as sharp as the legendary 17-35 f2.8. For film, I just don't need anything more.
  34. I still have my F801s. Its an relaible and well specced camera even today and is surprisingly compact compared with many of today's digital offerings whilst also being strongly built. It has the ability to shoot both MF and AF lenses and also has a quite effective matrix metering / centre weighted metering / spot metering option. Its only demonstrable disadvantage is that if used in AF mode it does tend to be quite slow by today's standards. Others recommend the F100. I would agree excpt on one criterion - price. The F801s can be found for almost nothing.
  35. I still have my F801s. Its an relaible and well specced camera even today and is surprisingly compact compared with many of today's digital offerings whilst also being strongly built. It has the ability to shoot both MF and AF lenses and also has a quite effective matrix metering / centre weighted metering / spot metering option. Its only demonstrable disadvantage is that if used in AF mode it does tend to be quite slow by today's standards. Others recommend the F100. I would agree excpt on one criterion - price. The F801s can be found for almost nothing.
  36. Another vote for the FE-2. Nice, 1/4000 second top shutter speed with 1/250 X sync. Will work at B and X settings w/o battery.
  37. The FE-2 looks nice, higher shutter speed and it's only a little bit more than the FG that I was eyeing.
  38. I loved my N80. It's relatively compact, light weight, great egonomics, and a great camera all around. The F100 is even better, but bigger and heavier. I used an N75 as a second body, but the N80 is so cheap it doesn't pay to get the N75.
  39. Hooray for the N80! If you've used the D200/300, you've used the F100. It uses essentially the same body, however modified for digital it may be. If you put a 50/1.8 on an N80, you have a seemingly weightless combination that can produce great images. One small thing I like about the N80 a lot is how the dial on the left side of the camera changes the exposure mode.
  40. Now you just have to see how prices are going up on ebay for used equipment! Can you guys keep quiet. Let them unload those awesome cameras and lenses for a song, would you?
  41. I have the FE2 as a backup to my F5. (The FA has lens_limitations). Any other body with
    no aperture-priority is OUT!!! You want my FE2? You have to kill me first...
  42. The FG is a nice little camera for street shooting....but it has it's limitations...that said I usually keep a FG with me traveling or on the boats as the backups,backup....Someone recommended the EM,a fun litttle camera...I'll never get rid of mine,but not a serious backup,to me.....I've got 12 Nikon film bodies and my favorites aren't the F4,F5 or the F6.....My favorites are the ones I enjoy using and can get the job done no matter what...for a serious backup I would recommend the F3,FE or FE-2 for daylight use or FM2n for night and daylight use,any one of these bodies is just a joy to use....The FM3a was recommended above...that would be another fine backup as well.
  43. Well, all the suggestions here are good ones. I have an FG, F4, F3, and 2 F6s. The FG is a great little camera and capable of quality work. The F4 is a favorite of mine, but as you said, heave. The F6 is by far the most capable all around workhorse. Its more capable, lighter and smaller than an F4.
    If you are a dedicated film shooter, its worth getting an F6. They are about $1000 on the used market. Its a camera you can walk around all day with and never have to worry about capability, etc.
    Have Fun

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