FM3a exposure compensation

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Bob C, Jan 4, 2004.

  1. Bob C

    Bob C Guest

    I just bought a Nikon FM3a yesterday; quite a sophisticated piece of
    machinery. The instruction manual doesn't go into much detail over
    the "exposure compensation" dial. I know this dial will
    increase/decrease the exposure in 1/3 stops during aperature priority
    shooting, but will it also change the exposure during TTL flash work?
    Likewise, if I'm shooting pure manual, can I increase/decrease
    exposure by 1/3 stops with this dial? Thanks.

    Bob C, Jan 4, 2004
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  2. I believe the exposure compensation only works in AUTO mode. It changes the
    effect of the meter readings on the cameras speed for any given aperture. In
    manual mode, the camera will operate at whatever settings you choose
    regardless of the exposure compensation settings.
    William Graham, Jan 4, 2004
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  3. Bob C

    Gordon Moat Guest

    Definitely something to check in the owner's manual. However, the
    exposure compensation dial does affect the ambient light level exposure.
    The circuit for TTL, and the TTL metering, is separate from the exposure
    compensation dial, but it will respond to the ISO film speed dial
    The best bet would be to use a Nikon Speedlight that allows for
    compensation settings. There are several within the last ten years that
    will allow this, though not all will work in TTL.

    On the FM3A, at the left side of the lens mounting, is a small switch.
    That is used for flash compensation, though it is fixed in effect, and
    not changeable in any increments. If my memory on this is correct, it
    should allow one stop less flash when used in TTL.

    I find that having a good Speedlight that allows many increment manual
    settings can often be better than TTL results. While TTL is nice when
    you are in a hurry, or under rapidly changing conditions, it is possible
    to get better results, and more control, on manual or auto settings.


    Gordon Moat
    Alliance Graphique Studio
    Gordon Moat, Jan 5, 2004
  4. Bob C

    Bob C Guest

    Thanks for the input guys. So far, the only complaint I have about
    the FM3a is that the auto exposure lock is hard to use. Some of you
    may remember the Pentax P30t from the mid 90's. That AE lock is sweet
    as sugar. Just a gentle press of the left index finger and you have
    about 10 seconds to recompose. The FM3a required some thumb wrestling
    to hold the button down while you compose the shot.
    Bob C, Jan 6, 2004
  5. Bob C

    Gordon Moat Guest

    On the older FE, you need to push the self timer the other direction, and
    hold it in place. All things considered, the button on the FM3A is an
    improvement. Maybe a future FM4 might get it really right.


    Gordon Moat
    Alliance Graphique Studio
    Gordon Moat, Jan 6, 2004
  6. Actually, the exposure compensation works in both auto and manual modes.
    It always does exactly the same thing as changing the film speed setting
    would do. That is, in auto mode, it moves the meter needle which makes the
    corresponding change to the shutter speed. In manual mode, it only moves
    the meter needle, and it's up to you to move aperture and/or shutter
    speed to re-match the needles if that's what you want. Exposure compensation
    in manual mode isn't necessarily that useful -- many people find it simpler
    just to keep it set on 0 and adjust aperture or shutter speed to
    mismatch the needles.

    Richard Cochran, Jan 6, 2004
  7. I don't have the camera, but I was going by what the downloadable PDF
    version of the manual implies.....It strikes me that you could find out in a
    hurry if you had the camera in hand. Just meter some scene and see what
    speed the camera wants to use in auto, and then switch to manual and see
    what it tells you to do.
    William Graham, Jan 7, 2004
  8. Bob C

    Bob C Guest

    Quite right. The exposure compensation dial does change the
    meter reading, and therefor the exposure. From what I've read, it
    also changes the output of a TTL able flash. What I don't know is if
    I can change exposure in manual mode by 1/3 stops.
    The was an article in "Outdoor Photography" about shooting scenes
    with slide film. The author seemed to think that it is necessary to
    be able to adjust exposure by 1/3 stops in full manual mode, totally
    bypassing the camera's meter. I think the only way to do this is to
    try to place the lens's aperture dial between the click stops.

    Bob C, Jan 8, 2004
  9. That should work, if the camera has an electronic shutter, with continuously
    variable speeds. I know that it works on my F5, but I don't have an
    FM3a.....(I'd like to get one though.)
    William Graham, Jan 9, 2004
  10. Bob C

    David Guest

    Hi Bob

    Yup - just ignore the click stops (why nikkors don't have half stop
    indents - makes it easier to set intermediate stops without the lens
    "falling" into an indent) and meter 'till the viefinder needle is centred in
    the shutter speed indicator - don't know what the resolution of the finder
    indicators are though but should be around 1/3 stop ????

    Make sure no light is creeping in the back of the finder!

    If you want to get really accurate exposures for slides (assuming a tripod
    and loads of time per shot then either, bracket in 1/3 stop increments or
    buy a handheld meter and bone up on zone theory (yawning already) and, most
    importantly - take notes!! it's a bit anoraky but if you don't write it
    down at the time you will never remeber by the time your K64 drops through
    the letter box.


    David, Jan 9, 2004
  11. Bob C

    Dr. Gizmo Guest

    My FM3a has a mechanical shutter and the camera is operable without
    batteries. I just dragged it out of the case and experimented with it.
    I always assumed that I needed to have the shutter speed set on one of the
    detents. Not so, it seems. I can have the shutter set between 2 speed
    settings and it will still fire. Don't know what the actual speed is,
    however. Guessing it's midpoint but who knows without more sophisticated
    testing. The meter pointer indicates as if it is actually shooting a
    mid-point speed.

    Dr. Gizmo, Jan 14, 2004
  12. Bob C

    Bob C Guest

    Another interesting thing about the FM3A is the cable release trigger.
    I have a non-Nikon cable, and when I screwed it in, I found that the
    cable button required considerable pressure to fire the shutter.
    Everything worked fine, but it worried my how hard I had to press the
    button. Does this happen with Nikon cables?
    Bob C, Jan 18, 2004
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