GAS - In My Hands Again (Manual Focus Ride Again)

Started 6 months ago | Discussions
user_name
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GAS - In My Hands Again (Manual Focus Ride Again)
6 months ago

No, it's not the Dƒ.  It's a new to me FM3a film camera.

My girlfriend gave two rolls of film as part of my birthday gift, suggesting I try shooting film for a changer of fun.  Well, I was game as I love excuses to try new gear and found a used FM3a to replace my faulty N90s.  I haven't shot film for so long I forgot how to load it.  Thankfully it comes with a manual, but that was about all you will need a manual for.

Oh, before we go any further, the FM3a does not have video, a flip out LCD display, menus, rechargeable batteries, nor dual slots.  It also lacks auto focus and matrix metering.

However, Nikon sure did a great job with the viewfinder.  The screen is a snap to change, but the stock K3 makes life with manual lenses simple and easy.  Focusing my Zeiss lenses has never been easier.  The eye point is not good if you wear glasses, like I do, but useable.  It's bright, maybe slightly brighter than my D700.

Since the FM3a is a fully manual camera, you either select Aperture Priority or manually select the shutter speed and aperture combination that suits the situation.

What makes it work so well is the analog meter on the left of the viewfinder.  It makes selecting the right combination of aperture and shutter speed so simple and quick.

Having used DSLRs for so long now you forget how simple things were in the film days.  I find most of the extra features in my DSLRs not very useful for my shooting.  In fact, they tend to get in the way.  DSLRs have taken on the same disease that plagued VCRs with an overabundance of features stuffed into the box, not because we needed them, but because they can.  Secondly, people buy based on the useless features - the more the merrier - yet only a small percentage of users ever use them.  That leaves the minority minimalists like myself out in the cold.

So far I see only two things that are discomforting.

1. If you are like me and appreciate the finer things associated with instant gratification, shooting and waiting for film to be developed and scanned is going to be a real paradigm shift.

2. Nikon doesn't have a DM3a model nor will there ever likely be one.  Too bad because the size, weight, and the simple manual focus performance of the FM3a is first class, but such a camera would never sell any of Nikon's current lens lineup.

I suppose I could cave and buy the porkier Dƒ, which is 200 grams heavier and significantly thicker to accommodate the LCD, sensor, electronics, and battery.  The Dƒ lacks the focusing screen, which makes focusing with my aging eyes so much easier.  Oh well, we have been over that here ad nausium…

Anyway, trying film again may have been a bit of genius on my girlfriend's part.  It should provide a new and fun perspective to photography for me and a better appreciation for where we once were as well as an appreciation of where we are.

Got film?  Maybe you should drag that dusty film camera out and reconnect with the roots of photography.

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Fogsville
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Re: GAS - In My Hands Again (Manual Focus Ride Again)
In reply to user_name, 6 months ago

user_name wrote:


1. If you are like me and appreciate the finer things associated with instant gratification, shooting and waiting for film to be developed and scanned is going to be a real paradigm shift.

Paradigm shift?  Digital is the paradigm shift.

Film has been with us for decades.  It's the model that digital is based upon.  People seem to want their digital files to look like film (which is partly why Nik, DxO, and VSCO software are profitable.) If one wants a film aesthetic then just use film.

I use the Nikon F3, the Leica M6 and M4, a 4x5 view camera, and FX DSLR and mirrorless APS-C digital cameras all on a pretty equal basis.  They are all great tools for their own specific applications.

Within a lexicon of image making we call a daguerreotype a daguerreotype.  And cyanotype is a cyanotype.  A tintype is a tintype (http://lumieretintype.com/) Maybe an image originating with film should still be called a photograph but an image created with a digital camera should instead be called an electrograph.

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user_name
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Re: GAS - In My Hands Again (Manual Focus Ride Again)
In reply to Fogsville, 6 months ago

Fogsville wrote:

user_name wrote:

1. If you are like me and appreciate the finer things associated with instant gratification, shooting and waiting for film to be developed and scanned is going to be a real paradigm shift.

Paradigm shift? Digital is the paradigm shift.

Depends which side of the fence you started.

Used film a little as I grew up with borrowed cameras, but didn't get into photography until after the digital age. Started with an Olympus 500 kb (yep, that's kilo-byte) digital and then jumped to a Nikon D2H as my first real camera.  Yes, that was a big leap, too.

After another D2H and  D2Hs I got the D700, then the D800, a M8, and recently this FM3a.

By the way, I used that Olympus during premed biology class to take pictures through their microscopes.  I would hand hold that camera over the eyepiece and was amazed how well it worked.

Printed the results and pasted them into my notebooks.  Made that class a lot easier.

Film has been with us for decades. It's the model that digital is based upon. People seem to want their digital files to look like film (which is partly why Nik, DxO, and VSCO software are profitable.) If one wants a film aesthetic then just use film.

I use the Nikon F3, the Leica M6 and M4, a 4x5 view camera, and FX DSLR and mirrorless APS-C digital cameras all on a pretty equal basis. They are all great tools for their own specific applications.

Within a lexicon of image making we call a daguerreotype a daguerreotype. And cyanotype is a cyanotype. A tintype is a tintype (http://lumieretintype.com/) Maybe an image originating with film should still be called a photograph but an image created with a digital camera should instead be called an electrograph.

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sgoldswo
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Re: GAS - In My Hands Again (Manual Focus Ride Again)
In reply to user_name, 6 months ago

I also have an FM3A. It's a fantastically satisfying camera to use and takes up very little space in your bag, particularly if used with the Voigtlander pancakes for which it is well suited.

Ironically it's having shot with the FM3A that led me to end up being very satisfied as an owner (later on) of the Df. The manual focus lenses that work well on film work well (in general) with the Df too, and its easy enough to focus them on the Df.

I think you've inspired me to load up a camera bag with both and take some photos.

user_name wrote:

No, it's not the Dƒ. It's a new to me FM3a film camera.

My girlfriend gave two rolls of film as part of my birthday gift, suggesting I try shooting film for a changer of fun. Well, I was game as I love excuses to try new gear and found a used FM3a to replace my faulty N90s. I haven't shot film for so long I forgot how to load it. Thankfully it comes with a manual, but that was about all you will need a manual for.

Oh, before we go any further, the FM3a does not have video, a flip out LCD display, menus, rechargeable batteries, nor dual slots. It also lacks auto focus and matrix metering.

However, Nikon sure did a great job with the viewfinder. The screen is a snap to change, but the stock K3 makes life with manual lenses simple and easy. Focusing my Zeiss lenses has never been easier. The eye point is not good if you wear glasses, like I do, but useable. It's bright, maybe slightly brighter than my D700.

Since the FM3a is a fully manual camera, you either select Aperture Priority or manually select the shutter speed and aperture combination that suits the situation.

What makes it work so well is the analog meter on the left of the viewfinder. It makes selecting the right combination of aperture and shutter speed so simple and quick.

Having used DSLRs for so long now you forget how simple things were in the film days. I find most of the extra features in my DSLRs not very useful for my shooting. In fact, they tend to get in the way. DSLRs have taken on the same disease that plagued VCRs with an overabundance of features stuffed into the box, not because we needed them, but because they can. Secondly, people buy based on the useless features - the more the merrier - yet only a small percentage of users ever use them. That leaves the minority minimalists like myself out in the cold.

So far I see only two things that are discomforting.

1. If you are like me and appreciate the finer things associated with instant gratification, shooting and waiting for film to be developed and scanned is going to be a real paradigm shift.

2. Nikon doesn't have a DM3a model nor will there ever likely be one. Too bad because the size, weight, and the simple manual focus performance of the FM3a is first class, but such a camera would never sell any of Nikon's current lens lineup.

I suppose I could cave and buy the porkier Dƒ, which is 200 grams heavier and significantly thicker to accommodate the LCD, sensor, electronics, and battery. The Dƒ lacks the focusing screen, which makes focusing with my aging eyes so much easier. Oh well, we have been over that here ad nausium…

Anyway, trying film again may have been a bit of genius on my girlfriend's part. It should provide a new and fun perspective to photography for me and a better appreciation for where we once were as well as an appreciation of where we are.

Got film? Maybe you should drag that dusty film camera out and reconnect with the roots of photography.

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michaeladawson
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Re: GAS - In My Hands Again (Manual Focus Ride Again)
In reply to user_name, 6 months ago

user_name wrote:

Since the FM3a is a fully manual camera, you either select Aperture Priority or manually select the shutter speed and aperture combination that suits the situation.

What makes it work so well is the analog meter on the left of the viewfinder. It makes selecting the right combination of aperture and shutter speed so simple and quick.

I don't get this comment.  I grew up on film cameras starting with a Minolta SRT-102 back in the 70s.  The match needle analog operation for setting the camera's exposure worked well.  But now that we're in the digital age I don't see any real difference in ease of use of a DSLR's electronic meter.  If you want a set up like a the old film cameras set your DSLR to center weighted metering.  Then use the digital scale to adjust aperture and shutter.

I can totally get the enjoyment out of using the old analog system.  But I don't see how it is any easier.

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Mike Dawson

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user_name
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Re: GAS - In My Hands Again (Manual Focus Ride Again)
In reply to michaeladawson, 6 months ago

michaeladawson wrote:

user_name wrote:

Since the FM3a is a fully manual camera, you either select Aperture Priority or manually select the shutter speed and aperture combination that suits the situation.

What makes it work so well is the analog meter on the left of the viewfinder. It makes selecting the right combination of aperture and shutter speed so simple and quick.

I don't get this comment. I grew up on film cameras starting with a Minolta SRT-102 back in the 70s. The match needle analog operation for setting the camera's exposure worked well. But now that we're in the digital age I don't see any real difference in ease of use of a DSLR's electronic meter. If you want a set up like a the old film cameras set your DSLR to center weighted metering. Then use the digital scale to adjust aperture and shutter.

I can totally get the enjoyment out of using the old analog system. But I don't see how it is any easier.

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Mike Dawson

The meter scale on my D800 has 13 steps, which is a little crude compared to a true analog dial.

You are right that the information is there on the D800, but I prefer actual analog needles as they are much easier to see subtle movements and trends.

The shutter speed indicator is also an analog needle and makes it easier to read than it does if it is a digital number.  I can explain that and how the brain processes that in greater detail, but it would probably bore everyone.

The difference between the the D800 and the FM3a is not all that great in the grand scheme, but it feels a little easier for me to use.

I know the D800 does 10X more than the FM3a as far as features go, but I find a camera like the FM3a covers 99% of what I want for casual shooting, which means that the other 90% of the D800's features is just baggage most of the time.

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