Amarcord Photography: Nikon FM3A

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To take a picture (technically) we need only three small things: aperture, shutter speed and focus. Three simple choices that today we don’t do anymore : it’s the camera that chooses for us . But to take a picture in that way, I mean automatically, is not the same: we don’t think over on what we are doing … and we do it in a hurry. We carry the viewfinder to our eye (maybe) and we click: the camera will choose the “best” exposure; of course we will get a photo , but it could be a better photo, but how? With that three small choices I told before. In the analogic “world” ( a lot of years ago ) we were obliged to set manually the exposure and focus … because there weren’t a lot of automatism in our camera. So I ‘d like to speak  about a very nice camera the Nikon FM3A … one of the last analogic film-based camera.

It was produced in 2001 when the digital cameras had spread like wildfire and everybody said that analogue was dead and criticized the choice of Nikon: why does it insist on an outdated technology? Often we need some time to get an answer to a question. I don’t know the answer, but I see that  the analog film still lives.


So pick up this piece of “antique” and we notice immediately by its weight that there is a substance! 570 grams (without lens) made of silicon alloy and aluminum with brass caps (as the cameras manufactured in the 70’s) : not plastic! This substance is not a quirk: it means good healthy and robustnesswith the added bonus that with this Nikon I can do even small household maintenance like drive nails or pulverize the coarse salt. I owned the FM3A since 2001 … and after many paintings on the wall, it still makes his jobs … taking pictures.

The first time I had in my hands the Fm3A, I tried to power on it… ACC! But where is the power button? I was not able to find it! Simple, just pull the film-advance lever!

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In any case that lever must remain slightly open for shooting and so it can be use as a power button. Very simple!
Well, once powered on, I looked into the viewfinder and what I saw? Hundreds of figures that only hide what I wanted to capture? Nnnnooo! Only few informations … let’s see: shutter speed display with the exposure-meter indicator, exposure compensation, flash lamp, aperture indication and 12mm-diameter reference circle (  for focus indicator).
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Now I’m ready to take a picture ( after I inserted a film into the camera )… how !? Very simple again: I can use the “priority aperture” by
setting  “A”  in the shutter-speed dial
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then I choose an aperture on the lens
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I compose the image and I press lightly the shutter button: if the exposure-meter indicator in viewfinder is in the range of the shutter speed display then I can press fully the shutter button
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otherwise I have to change the aperture ( remember that we set “A” only once and to find a good exposure we have only to change the aperture on the lens ).

To be continued…

 

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