I bought my first SLR at age 13 after mowing lawns and washing cars over a Summer and well into the warm California Fall, a new Nikon FM with a 50mm 1.8 lens. No longer was I stuck using my dad’s old folders or my plastic X15F 126 camera. Over my 23 career as a photographer I have probably put over a million frames in Nikons like the FM2N, F100, F2, F3, F4, F5, D1H, D100, D300, D3, D700 and now the D800. But in 2001 when I was traveling abroad shooting for news agencies for a year, Nikon announced the FM3A and I was mesmerized….how in the hell did they create a step-less AE shutter that would go for minutes with great exposure accuracy and yet have full manual speeds from 1 second to 1/4000th with NO battery?? Needless to say, I wanted one. Even though I always appreciated the greater build quality, higher frame rate and feature set of the F series cameras, I appreciated the smaller form factor of the FM2N, F100 far, far more. In pro use, I actually had more failures with F series cameras ( rewind motor went bad in an F4, shutter in an F5 ) than with the other ones, go figure… After I got back in the U.S. and got settled into my staff job at the paper, I ordered an FM3A in black brand new from B&H for $525. I fell in love with it right from the start, small, light, accurate, awesome TTL -1 stop flash compensation, exposure AE lock, KILLER JOB Nikon! I summited over 40 peaks with the FM3A, shot countless days in sub zero weather without a care in the world. I even bad the battery go at 13,000 feet right in the middle of a shoot. I had no hand held meter that day, no spare batteries, I just winged it and everything looked perfect. What was once my *new* FM3A is now dented, brassed, scuffed and well used. I now keep it loaded with TMAX-400 and it even goes on every digital shoot I bring a Nikon D800 on, I always see something I want to make a real photograph of when I am making the digital ones. Over the years I have read countless arm chair reviews of the FM3A that show just how misunderstood it is. People tend to defer to some other model as doing better or equal to the FM3A for less money, better build, blah, blah, blah. Before I say the following, read the above list of professional Nikon experience again….hundreds of thousands of photos in earning my living, not testing, not collecting and not babying. The FM3A is by *far* the best Nikon 35mm camera body ever made for my needs. Hybrid shutter folks, it has made a big difference in using the FM3A for darn near anything I can think of. The inspiration for this came today when the winds whipped the ridge I had descended to the tune of 70+ MPH in bitter cold. I held up my FM3A and looked at and thought to my self about the awesome shutter, “How in the hell did they do that”? I know who Nikon made the FM3A for….they made it for photographers like me…..