Returning to Film: 50mm suggestions for Nikon FM3? Zeiss Planar T* f/1.4 vs Nikkor f.1.2 or f/1.4?

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Optical1
Optical1 Senior Member • Posts: 1,111
Returning to Film: 50mm suggestions for Nikon FM3? Zeiss Planar T* f/1.4 vs Nikkor f.1.2 or f/1.4?

Hi all,

I am planning to return to film photography after spending the last several years solely shooting with digital cameras. I'm planning on purchasing a Nikon FM3 and a high quality 50mm(ish) normal prime lens to start.

I think I've narrowed down my list of lenses to the following:

Nikon NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4 Lens

ZEISS Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F

Nikon NIKKOR 50mm f/1.2 Lens

I'd like a decently fast lens, but I'm not caught up in the speed difference between F1.2 and 1.4 (or even f/2 for that matter). I'm also open to a slightly wide lens and have even considered the Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f/2 SL IIS Aspherical Lens for that matter, but I do gravitate toward something a bit tighter than 35mm.

Does anyone have recommendations on the above in a normal prime lens for the FM3?

Thanks!

Optical1

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Overrank Senior Member • Posts: 1,053
Re: Returning to Film: 50mm suggestions for Nikon FM3?
1

Optical1 wrote:

Hi all,

I am planning to return to film photography after spending the last several years solely shooting with digital cameras. I'm planning on purchasing a Nikon FM3 and a high quality 50mm(ish) normal prime lens to start.

I think I've narrowed down my list of lenses to the following:

Nikon NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4 Lens

ZEISS Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F

Nikon NIKKOR 50mm f/1.2 Lens

I'd like a decently fast lens, but I'm not caught up in the speed difference between F1.2 and 1.4 (or even f/2 for that matter). I'm also open to a slightly wide lens and have even considered the Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f/2 SL IIS Aspherical Lens for that matter, but I do gravitate toward something a bit tighter than 35mm.

Does anyone have recommendations on the above in a normal prime lens for the FM3?

Thanks!

Optical1

I don’t have an FM3, but my favourite 50mm Nikon is the Nikkor-H 50mm f/2, I used to have it in pre-AI on my F, but found I prefer it so much to the 50mm f/1.4 that I replaced it with the AI version (still the H but multicoated).

Autonerd Senior Member • Posts: 1,042
Re: Returning to Film: 50mm suggestions for Nikon FM3?
2

Nikkor 50/1.4 should be fine. 1.2 IMHO is not worth the extra money for a fraction of a stop, and frankly the close-up DOF is so small at f/1.4 that I rarely use it.

Personally if I was going to go with a Nikon I'd be more likely to go with an FE or an FE2 -- electronic shutter is more accurate and it's nice to have an automatic mode. I happen to think the FM3/FM3a is *way* the hell overpriced compared to other cameras. Remember, film isn't like digital in that the camera has almost no effect on image quality. FM3a is a lovely camera but $300 buys a lot of film (and cameras).

Four photos below. Two are Nikon (Nikomat FT2 and Nikon FE, both with the Nikkor 50/1.4) and two are Ricoh (KR-10 with Pentax 50/1.7 worth about $30 each). Can anyone tell which photos were taken with which camera?

Aaron

LenneMc Junior Member • Posts: 29
Re: Returning to Film: 50mm suggestions for Nikon FM3?

Fm3a has aperture priority and the shutter operates electrically in that mode. It's a mechanical shutter when taken off "A." It's a hybrid shutter.

Autonerd Senior Member • Posts: 1,042
Re: Returning to Film: 50mm suggestions for Nikon FM3?

LenneMc wrote:

Fm3a has aperture priority and the shutter operates electrically in that mode. It's a mechanical shutter when taken off "A." It's a hybrid shutter.

Ah! I thought the FMs were all manual-exposure only. My bad! Thanks for setting me straight. I own a few Nikons (FT2, FE, FG, N8008) but  dont' consider myself much of a Nikon guy.

Aaron

LenneMc Junior Member • Posts: 29
Re: Returning to Film: 50mm suggestions for Nikon FM3?
1

Autonerd wrote:

LenneMc wrote:

Fm3a has aperture priority and the shutter operates electrically in that mode. It's a mechanical shutter when taken off "A." It's a hybrid shutter.

Ah! I thought the FMs were all manual-exposure only. My bad! Thanks for setting me straight. I own a few Nikons (FT2, FE, FG, N8008) but dont' consider myself much of a Nikon guy.

Aaron

All FM's but the FM3a are mechanical shutters, manual only.

Optical1
OP Optical1 Senior Member • Posts: 1,111
Re: Returning to Film: 50mm suggestions for Nikon FM3?

Overrank wrote:

Optical1 wrote:

Hi all,

I am planning to return to film photography after spending the last several years solely shooting with digital cameras. I'm planning on purchasing a Nikon FM3 and a high quality 50mm(ish) normal prime lens to start.

I think I've narrowed down my list of lenses to the following:

Nikon NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4 Lens

ZEISS Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F

Nikon NIKKOR 50mm f/1.2 Lens

I'd like a decently fast lens, but I'm not caught up in the speed difference between F1.2 and 1.4 (or even f/2 for that matter). I'm also open to a slightly wide lens and have even considered the Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f/2 SL IIS Aspherical Lens for that matter, but I do gravitate toward something a bit tighter than 35mm.

Does anyone have recommendations on the above in a normal prime lens for the FM3?

Thanks!

Optical1

I don’t have an FM3, but my favourite 50mm Nikon is the Nikkor-H 50mm f/2, I used to have it in pre-AI on my F, but found I prefer it so much to the 50mm f/1.4 that I replaced it with the AI version (still the H but multicoated).

Thanks for the suggestion!  I was not considering this lens, but will do so now.  There is definitely a price premium for AI, but I'll give it a hard look to see if I can find a good copy.

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Optical1
OP Optical1 Senior Member • Posts: 1,111
Re: Returning to Film: 50mm suggestions for Nikon FM3?

Autonerd wrote:

Nikkor 50/1.4 should be fine. 1.2 IMHO is not worth the extra money for a fraction of a stop, and frankly the close-up DOF is so small at f/1.4 that I rarely use it.

Personally if I was going to go with a Nikon I'd be more likely to go with an FE or an FE2 -- electronic shutter is more accurate and it's nice to have an automatic mode. I happen to think the FM3/FM3a is *way* the hell overpriced compared to other cameras. Remember, film isn't like digital in that the camera has almost no effect on image quality. FM3a is a lovely camera but $300 buys a lot of film (and cameras).

Four photos below. Two are Nikon (Nikomat FT2 and Nikon FE, both with the Nikkor 50/1.4) and two are Ricoh (KR-10 with Pentax 50/1.7 worth about $30 each). Can anyone tell which photos were taken with which camera?

Aaron

Thanks for the suggestion Aaron.  I appreciate the suggestion.  I bet that the 1.4 is just fine for what I'm looking to do shooting casually with this combo.  I actually had an FM when I was shooting in the 90's, with a Nikon 50/1.4 that I remember fondly.  My camera was stolen from an overhead bin in 2000, and I lost my way from film photography.  When the FM3a was released in 2001 I remember I really wanted one, but $820 was beyond my college budget at the time.  You are correct though, the FM3a is waaay overpriced, and I could probably do with an FE or FE2.

Honestly, this purchase is a bit of nostalgia paired with a desire to shoot film again a bit.  My wife and I are having a baby soon, and this seems like a good reason to pull the trigger on my return to film.

I suppose the other thing I need to budget for here is a good scanner, so perhaps I should heed your advice here and put the savings toward a scanner.

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Optical1
OP Optical1 Senior Member • Posts: 1,111
Re: Returning to Film: 50mm suggestions for Nikon FM3?

LenneMc wrote:

Fm3a has aperture priority and the shutter operates electrically in that mode. It's a mechanical shutter when taken off "A." It's a hybrid shutter.

Thanks for the clarification!

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Gesture Veteran Member • Posts: 7,383
Re: Returning to Film: 50mm suggestions for Nikon FM3?
1

I think you are on track.

I understand the appeal of the 50mm f/1.4, but for years I had only an FM and the 50mm f/1.8, which is also a great lens.

I know you want a lens with good maximum aperture, but I think one great appeal of this era are the 55mm Nikon micro (macro) lenses, f/2.8 or f/3.5.  It's not that I am doing real macro, but these lenses really shine when you are shooting in that 9 inches to 2 foot range.

Those film era 50-55mm macros are one of the best values in vintage lenses.  Minolta, Konica, Pentax, Olympus, Canon, Nikon all offered them.

Have fun!

Overrank Senior Member • Posts: 1,053
Re: Returning to Film: 50mm suggestions for Nikon FM3?

Optical1 wrote:

Overrank wrote:

Optical1 wrote:

Hi all,

I am planning to return to film photography after spending the last several years solely shooting with digital cameras. I'm planning on purchasing a Nikon FM3 and a high quality 50mm(ish) normal prime lens to start.

I think I've narrowed down my list of lenses to the following:

Nikon NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4 Lens

ZEISS Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F

Nikon NIKKOR 50mm f/1.2 Lens

I'd like a decently fast lens, but I'm not caught up in the speed difference between F1.2 and 1.4 (or even f/2 for that matter). I'm also open to a slightly wide lens and have even considered the Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f/2 SL IIS Aspherical Lens for that matter, but I do gravitate toward something a bit tighter than 35mm.

Does anyone have recommendations on the above in a normal prime lens for the FM3?

Thanks!

Optical1

I don’t have an FM3, but my favourite 50mm Nikon is the Nikkor-H 50mm f/2, I used to have it in pre-AI on my F, but found I prefer it so much to the 50mm f/1.4 that I replaced it with the AI version (still the H but multicoated).

Thanks for the suggestion! I was not considering this lens, but will do so now. There is definitely a price premium for AI, but I'll give it a hard look to see if I can find a good copy.

I particularly like the way the 50mm f/2 renders colours.  It’s also a much smaller lens than the f/1.4. I think I paid about £60 for mine. As people have said the FE and FE2 give you most of the functionality of the fM3A for a lot less money and will deliver the same photos. With the FE you can also use pre-ai lenses including the 105mm f/2.5 which is superb for portraits.  (There is an AI version - I don’t think there’s much difference in the image).  You  lose some of the higher shutter speeds with the FE vs the FE2 (I have an FM which is very similar to the FE but without automatic exposure)

D Cox Forum Pro • Posts: 27,100
Re: Returning to Film: 50mm suggestions for Nikon FM3?

Overrank wrote:

Optical1 wrote:

Hi all,

I am planning to return to film photography after spending the last several years solely shooting with digital cameras. I'm planning on purchasing a Nikon FM3 and a high quality 50mm(ish) normal prime lens to start.

I think I've narrowed down my list of lenses to the following:

Nikon NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4 Lens

ZEISS Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F

Nikon NIKKOR 50mm f/1.2 Lens

I'd like a decently fast lens, but I'm not caught up in the speed difference between F1.2 and 1.4 (or even f/2 for that matter). I'm also open to a slightly wide lens and have even considered the Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f/2 SL IIS Aspherical Lens for that matter, but I do gravitate toward something a bit tighter than 35mm.

Does anyone have recommendations on the above in a normal prime lens for the FM3?

Thanks!

Optical1

I don’t have an FM3, but my favourite 50mm Nikon is the Nikkor-H 50mm f/2, I used to have it in pre-AI on my F, but found I prefer it so much to the 50mm f/1.4 that I replaced it with the AI version (still the H but multicoated).

The f/2 is a great general-purpose lens. My copy is pre-AI but I haven't found flare to be a problem.

The f/1.4 is very soft wide open, with a luxurious creamy bokeh. Ideal for romantic soft focus shots. Of course it sharpens up when stopped down.

Ideally one would have both.

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Sigma fp
Autonerd Senior Member • Posts: 1,042
Re: Returning to Film: 50mm suggestions for Nikon FM3?

Optical1 wrote:

Honestly, this purchase is a bit of nostalgia paired with a desire to shoot film again a bit. My wife and I are having a baby soon, and this seems like a good reason to pull the trigger on my return to film.

That was exactly my reason for getting back into film... I had a good "photo walk" with my digital and that really cemented it. Bought a roll of B&W, put it through my trusty ol' Pentax KX, and developed it myself. That was last fall, and I just developed my 50th roll the other day. Haven't looked back! My return to film has made all of my photography, film and digital, more enjoyable (though it's been mostly film recently).

Congrats on the baby! Another of life's great adventures. I just dug up some old slides from when our first was just learning to walk. Great stuff.

Aaron

Autonerd Senior Member • Posts: 1,042
Re: Returning to Film: 50mm suggestions for Nikon FM3?

Overrank wrote:

With the FE you can also use pre-ai lenses including the 105mm f/2.5 which is superb for portraits.

...but you don't get stop-down metering. Just something to keep in mind.  (I'm an old Pentax K-Mount guy, where "compatible" lenses really are compatible.)

I'm thinking about a Nikkormat EL just so I can get one of those 105s (and have full functionality). Best and most cost-effective way to get into a good portrait lens. Another advantage to the Nikkormat is they won't get stolen like the OP's original FM because no one can lift it.

Aaron

tomnorth
tomnorth Senior Member • Posts: 1,089
Re: Returning to Film: 50mm suggestions for Nikon FM3?

The Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 is a beautiful lens. I’m amazed at how sharp it is.

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Tomm111 Contributing Member • Posts: 853
Nikon FM3 50mm

I think the Zeiss Planar 50 f1.4 would be the best, but also expensive, even more than the Nikon 50 f1.2. Best bang for the buck is the Nikon 50 f1.4, but I would try to get an AiS version, with more modern coatings. The 50 f1.8 always is reported as a cheap sleeper lens, but it is not built as well as the 50 f1.4s. I had a 50 f2 believe it was a Nikon H (many years ago) that wasn't very good, it was that lens that got into Leicas.

Nikon macros are excellent but most manual focus were f3.5 the f2.8 manual focus is rare and they went to AF soon after that, but I would bet an f2.8 would still be inexpensive. I have a 55 f2.8 AF with my digital Nikon, terrific on AF but very difficult to manual focus.

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Overrank Senior Member • Posts: 1,053
Re: Returning to Film: 50mm suggestions for Nikon FM3?

Autonerd wrote:

Overrank wrote:

With the FE you can also use pre-ai lenses including the 105mm f/2.5 which is superb for portraits.

...but you don't get stop-down metering. Just something to keep in mind. (I'm an old Pentax K-Mount guy, where "compatible" lenses really are compatible.)

I only use the 105 at f/2.5 so I never need to stop down

You can get a AI version of the same lens so that would be a better buy new.

I'm thinking about a Nikkormat EL just so I can get one of those 105s (and have full functionality). Best and most cost-effective way to get into a good portrait lens. Another advantage to the Nikkormat is they won't get stolen like the OP's original FM because no one can lift it.

Aaron

It was a Nikkormat (FTn) that first impressed me with the colour rendering of the 50mm f/2, shot on AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 ("Poundland Film" i.e. £1 for a roll of 24 exp). Straight scan, no post processing.

Autonerd Senior Member • Posts: 1,042
Re: Returning to Film: 50mm suggestions for Nikon FM3?

Overrank wrote:

It was a Nikkormat (FTn) that first impressed me with the colour rendering of the 50mm f/2, shot on AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 ("Poundland Film" i.e. £1 for a roll of 24 exp). Straight scan, no post processing.

Great photo. I have an FT2 and love it, though I have every reason not to.

One of my favorite color shots was taken on 3M print film which I bought while I lived in London... don't remember what it cost but it must have been pretty cheap.

Aaron

Overrank Senior Member • Posts: 1,053
Re: Returning to Film: 50mm suggestions for Nikon FM3?
1

Autonerd wrote:

Overrank wrote:

It was a Nikkormat (FTn) that first impressed me with the colour rendering of the 50mm f/2, shot on AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 ("Poundland Film" i.e. £1 for a roll of 24 exp). Straight scan, no post processing.

Great photo. I have an FT2 and love it, though I have every reason not to.

Thanks. I got rid of the Nikkormat - It was too heavy (from someone who uses a Nikon F !)

One of my favorite color shots was taken on 3M print film which I bought while I lived in London... don't remember what it cost but it must have been pretty cheap.

Aaron

One of my favourites (just for the colour) is this, shot on out of date Adox 126 film (rebadged Ferrania, which was 3M for a while) on an Kodak Instamatic 500, straight scan, no processing

Ken Seals
Ken Seals Senior Member • Posts: 1,334
Re: Returning to Film: 50mm suggestions for Nikon FM3?
1

Gesture wrote:

I think you are on track.

I understand the appeal of the 50mm f/1.4, but for years I had only an FM and the 50mm f/1.8, which is also a great lens.

I know you want a lens with good maximum aperture, but I think one great appeal of this era are the 55mm Nikon micro (macro) lenses, f/2.8 or f/3.5. It's not that I am doing real macro, but these lenses really shine when you are shooting in that 9 inches to 2 foot range.

Excellent points! In addition, the 55mm MicroNikkors can be used on a Nikon DSLR with the ES-2 film copy adapter to negate the need for a scanner. This system relies on using Lightroom Classic with the plugin Negative Lab Pro for both color and B&W conversion to positives. It works very well.

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Ken - LR ACE
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