Comparing features of Nikon manual 35mm film cameras: FE, FM & F3.

Nikon has been making high quality film cameras since it was founded in 1917 and, no surprise here, they’ve made dozens of models over the last 102 years. If you’re looking to add a new camera to your stable, and want a manual camera with a built-in meter then this post is ready-made just for you.

Camera Selection

I purposefully left out the bigguns, F4, F5, F100 and F6.Those 4 particular cameras do so much for the user I generally leave them out of the discussion when I’m talking about manual shooting. Which brings me to the chosen few. In this batch the F3 is the shinning beacon of badassdom. Then you have the Nikon FE and FM lines. There are some features that can eclipse some others. For instance, the Nikon F6 has the same 3D color matrix metering as the F5, and it works with all older manual lenses.

After staring at this for several days, I have com to the conclusion that I want something more versatile than the F3 that I carry around. Don’t get me wrong here, the F3 is my goto camera right now, But I would like a camera with a better meter, bot in style and in function. The F6 is pretty much the perfect film camera at this point. It uses Nikon’s amazing 3D Matric Metering, and it uses that meter on all lenses attached to the body. It’s a chunk of change though, weighing in at a hefty $2,000! I know I’m going to get an F5 here pretty soon too, though the prices on those little monsters are going up now too.


FeaturesFMFM 2FM 2nFM 3aFEFE 2F 3
Manufacture Dates1977
1982
1982
2001
1989
2001
2001
2006
1978
1983
1982
1989
1982
2001
Min Shutter Speed1s1s1s1s8s8s8s
Max Shutter Speed1/10001/40001/40001/40001/10001/40001/2000
Camera ModesMan.Man., AutoMan., AutoMan., AutoMan.Man., AutoMan., Auto
AI Aperture Tab *FAdjAdjAdjFAdjAdj
Motor DriveMD-11
MD-12
MD-11
MD-12
MD-11
MD-12
MD-11
MD-12
MD-11
MD-12
MD-11
MD-12
MD-4
Exposure Comp.NNYYNNY
Double exposureNNYYNYY
exp. per roll36+36+36+36+36+3636+
Removable Film DoorYYYYYYY
Changeable screensNYYYYYY
Changeable finderNNNNNNY
Battery type/count2-A762-A762-A762-A762-A762-A762-A76
FeaturesFMFM 2FM 2nFM 3aFEFE 2F 3
Shutterall-metal Copal Square S focal-planeHoriz.
focal plane,
titanium
Horiz.
focal plane,
Aluminum
Horiz.
focal plane,
Aluminum
Vert. metal focal plane shutterHoriz.
focal plane,
titanium
Horiz.
focal plane,
titanium
Shutter typeMech.Mech.Mech.Mech.Elect.Elect.Elect.
HotshoeYYYYYYN
TTL FlashNNNYNYN
Sync Speed1/1251/2001/2501/2501/1251/2501/80
Mechanical speedsB, 1,
1/1,000
B, 1,
1/4,000
B, 1,
1/4,000
B, 1,
1/4,000
B, 1/90B, 1/250B,T, 1/2000
AE LockNNNYYYY
Mirror Lock UpNNNNNNY
*** Notes:
MODESM = Manual : A = Automatic
AI Tab F = Fixed : Adj. = Adjustable
This allow use of Non-AI lenses w/o damaging the camera.
***Ken Rockwells site was helpful in the creation of this resource: https://www.kenrockwell.com
As was Camera Wiki:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camera
Huge thank you to the creators of the Nikon 100th Anniversary Resource

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