Appropriate that I started my year of shooting old film cameras with one from the pinnacle of the film age. The FM3A was released in 2001. The reviews I read tell me it is full of all the best technology of the time, but to pick it up and use it, you don’t feel overwhelmed by all the features. It is a simple camera to use that can do more than I need but does not get in the way.
One of the advantages of the FM3a is that it can still be used without a battery. I did not use it this way but I can see the plus. The top shutter speed is a fast 1/4000th of a second. You can shoot in aperture priority or manual. In manual there is a window in the viewfinder that shows you the aperture setting of the lens. Matching a green bar representing shutter speed to the needle showing the recommended setting allows for easy manual use. There is also a red light that tells you when the over/under expose is engaged. There is no on/off button. By pulling the film advance lever out you unlock the shutter release. Depress the shutter release slightly to activate the meter. This also, lets you store the camera with the film advanced without taking a picture of your bag. Not that I don’t like a well-composed shot of the inside of my bag, I do. Focus was simple and easy.
I found mine at a local camera shop. It looked almost new and even came with the original never used Nikon camera strap. It was a overly loved F3 that originally caught my eye but the FM3a was just too nice to leave.
This was an easy camera to like. Easy to use, nice size and built to last. A smart man would stop with the FM3a, got a few nice lenses and learned to take better photos. Not my strategy, way to reasonable. But if I were picking a camera to stick with, the FM3a would be high on the list.
Lens: Nikon Series E 50mm f1.8
Film: expired Kodak 400 Tmax