Modern Classic SLRs Series : Some Nikon F3 variations & Conclusion

F3 T with 105mm.jpg
F3 3D logo.jpgThis site will be deleted soon as it has a newly revamped site: GO TO the newly revised Nikon F3 website\

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Nikon Auto Focus Nikkor lenses:- Main Index Page
Manual Focus Nikkor lenses:- Fisheye-Nikkor Lenses - Circular | Full Frame | Ultrawides Lenses - 13mm15mm18mm20mm | Wideangle Lenses - 24mm28mm35mm | Standard Lenses - 45mm 50mm 58mm | Telephoto Lenses - 85mm105mm135mm180mm & 200mm | Super-Telephoto Lenses - 300mm 400mm 500mm 600mm 800mm 1200mm |

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Index Page
  Special Application lenses:
Micro-Nikkor Lenses - 50mm~55mm -60mm 85mm -105mm 200mm Micro-Zoom 70-180mm
Perspective Control (PC) - 28mm 35mm PC-Micro 85mm
Dedicated Lenses for Nikon F3AF: AF 80mm f/2.8 | AF 200mm f/3.5 EDIF
Depth of Field Control (DC): 105mm 135mm
Medical Nikkor: 120mm 200mm
Reflex-Nikkor Lenses - 500mm 1000mm 2000mm
Others: Noct Nikkor | OP-Nikkor | UV Nikkor 55mm 105mm | Focusing Units | Bellows-Nikkor 105mm 135mm
Nikon Series E Lenses: 28mm35mm50mm100mm135mm | E-Series Zoom lenses: 36~72mm75~150mm70~210mm

MF Zoom-Nikkor Lenses: 25~50mm | 28~45mm | 28~50mm | 28~85mm | 35~70mm | 36~72mm E | 35~85mm | 35~105mm | 35~135mm | 35~200mm | 43~86mm | 50~135mm | 50~300mm | 70~210mm E | 75~150mm E | 80~200mm | 85~250mm | 100~300mm | 180~600mm | 200~400mm | 200~600mm | 360~1200mm | 1200~1700mm

Tele-Converters: TC-1 | TC-2 | TC-200 | TC-201 | TC-300 | TC-301 | TC-14 | TC-14A | TC-14B | TC-14C | TC-14E | TC-16 | TC-16A | TC-20E

Recommended links to understand more technical details related to the Nikkor F-mount and production Serial Number: by: Hansen, Lars Holst

| Message Board | for your favourite Nikon F3 Series SLR models
| Message Board | for your Nikon Optics in a shared environment
| Message Board | Specifically for Dispose or Looking for Nikon/Nikkor Photographic Equipment

| Back | to Pictorial History of Nikon SLR / rangefinders / Nikonos / digital cameras.

About this photographic site.


F3 is a workhorse camera for users and it is also can be considered a very successful camera model commercially for Nikon. Although technically it may not have some of the more useful features that carried along with its major competitions, like both the Pentax LX (1980) & the Canon New F-1 (Sept, 1981) have uninterrupted fully functional mechanical speeds (X (1/75 sec) to 1/2000 sec. setting for Pentax while the Canon can use 1/125 to 1/2000 sec. and B and X (1/90 sec.) if the camera battery cells fail to function, the F3 in this case, has only a single back-up mechanical speed (1/60) to activate). On the metering capability, the F3 is far more inferior in comparison - Canon F-1n can perform in three modes: spot, partial and center-weighted averaging, while the Pentax LX is even more exciting, they 're-enginneered' a Olympus exclusive TTL OTF metering method, using merely a single SPD cell to perform both flash and ambient OTF metering (although it hasn't got the spot or partial metering capability as the Canon) but it can meter from 125 sec to 1/2000 sec in auto mode.

(Incidentally both models were launched after the F3. Thus, they must have some good reference where and what the strength and weaknesses of their main target competition has)

Why was the F3 so popular ?

There are few factors attributed to that: Firstly, Nikon has a very huge installed base in system users inherited from both the pro oriented F in 1959 to F2 in 1971. Naturally, those working professionals will not easily drop all their earlier investment in the lenses, accessories and besides, most of the components in the Nikon system are interchangeable and backward compatibility issue was taken care of (In fact, some accessories like its focusing screens can even be used on the F4) . Most of all, the F2 was essentially an upgrade of the original F in 1959, despite it has, in certain way, automatic functions when used in conjunction with mounted accessory like EE Aperture Control to convert the F2 into an semiautomatic camera, such exposure created a level of fresh desire for a more responsive photographic tool. Certain features adopted by Nikon for the F3 (Like its TTL Flash) does appeal very much to news and location photographers, and the pack slowly leads the way for its popularity, even though at its initial stage, many still were skeptical about incorporation auto exposures into such professional level cameras. But by the time when the Canon F-1n was launched later in 1982, also an "half" automatic camera, the F3 really took off in wide scale popularity, as photographers started to realize the arrival of automation.

Secondly, the departure of the conventional "F-look" (see
prototype of F3 page) that was so familiar in the F & F2 was given a modern facelift, external industrial creativeness (Designed by: Giorgetto Giugiaro) was brought in and thus the famous red-line new Nikons was born. That was refreshing enough for both, from a conservative thinking camera manufacturers and for the F and non F users as well. The new design has a very 'inviting look and the human engineering was clearly one of the best among all Nikons produced.

Thirdly, throughout the life span of F3, some of the F3 variations were directly solving some of the users problems in some indirect way where the original version didn't provide and such upgrades and variations just keeping many users excited as well. (All these models featured can be accessed at this page).

An example is the F3P. The first Nikon that affixed a standard hot shoe on its viewfinder and some other little gimmicks (More practical is the additional cushion to protect the possible leakage to moisture to its all important computer circuits). For those who demanded even higher degree of reliability or dependability, there was a F3 Titanium and these models have incorporated extra seals or O rings in critical entry points for possible leakage at high humidity environment. Further, even the main circuit board of these models were treated with extra layer of epoxy coating to prevent moisture penetration (The F3T: Early model was a beautiful champagne finished version and later many working pros requested for a more "matching" and stealth looking model with the MD-4, Nikon obliged and substituted with a black chrome coated version (But beneath the layer, it is still Titanium all over)since then on the ground of practicality, the F3 T (see a pix at top of this page) is, apart from being more rugged by the use of titanium on its finder, top & bottom plate and as well as the camera back, but it is also lighter in weight than the conventional F3).

The Nikon F3/T, a special version of the Nikon F3 High-Eyepoint camera, uses titanium for its right and left top covers, base plate, camera back, and the pentaprism cover of the viewfinder. Unlike normal chrome camera bodies, the F3/Ts finish is the original titanium metal color (Applied only to the Champagne finish model). Titanium is one of the world's strongest, yet lightest materials; its specific gravity is approximately half that of brass, yet its hardness is almost the same as that of steel, while its corrosion resistance is greater than that of stainless steel. However, titanium is a very difficult material to process. Nonetheless, as early as 1957, Nikon first fashioned shutter curtains out of titanium, and now, Nikon's technical know-how is utilized in creating one of the toughest SLR's around - the Nikon F3/T. As to the other features and specifications, they are the same as those of the Nikon F3 High-Eyepoint camera, except for the weight; the F3/T is approximately 740g, including the high-eyepoint viewfinder. Before actually taking pictures with the F3/T, please familiarize yourself with the camera, referring to the instruction manual for the F3 High-Eyepoint camera.

-Exact reproduction from the paper that came with the F3T-
Pls refer to
this page for a view of the F3T in chrome black version cross reference.
Or check out my F3T - the * Limited Edition Unit; Other related Nikon Titan like the * F2T or limited edition of the F2T.

The Nikon F3P, a special heavy-duty version of the Nikon F3 High-Eyepoint camera designed for hard, rugged use by photojournalists, is produced in limited quantities. Except for the modifications listed below, the F3P is the same as the Nikon F3 High-Eyepoint camera.

1. Textured titanium-finish pentaprism viewfinder for increased sturdiness.
2. ISO-type accessory shoe with flash and ready light contacts located on the top of the pentaprism viewfinder.
3. Focusing Screen Type B (matte screen) as a standard accessory,
4. New Camera Back MF-6B as standard equipment for auto rewinding stop in conjunction with Motor Drive MD-4.
5. New mechanical shutter release lock. (Just push in and set the lock release lever at the red mark to release the lock control.)
6. Round film counter read-out window.
7 Film counter numerals in white.
8 ASA/ISO film speed setting dial window cover.
9. Higher height of shutter speed dial and shutter release button.

Important Notes:
1. TTL flash photography is
impossible when Nikon speedlights are attached to the new accessory shoe on the top of the pentaprism viewfinder.
2. The AF Finder DX-1
cannot be attached.
3. The following features
have been removed from the Nikon F3 High-Eyepoint camera in accordance with the new modifications:
a) 1/80sec. shutter speed release control until film counter reaches first frame,
b) Multiple exposure lever *Self-timer lever and self-timer LED,
c) Camera back lock lever (Just pull up the film rewind knob to pop open the camera back.),
d) Cable release threaded hole in shutter release button,
e) Eyepiece shutter and eyepiece shutter lever
Dimensions: Approx. 148.5 mm (W) x 118.5mm (H) x 69mm (D)
Weight: Approx. 780g (body only)

The F3P site is up ! (New)

At the initial AF war, a AF based F3 was launched, although the F3AF cannot be regarded as a serious Nikon attempt (Only two lenses were produced) but its AF-teleconverter did restored many users' confidence in Nikon's commitment in its future AF direction. It came along with two (Non compatible with MF) optically
superior AF lenses, the 80mm & 200mm as 'demo'. Things to note: The F3 High Speed motor camera completes the F's tradition of always has a variation of High Speed Motor Drive model (Except the F4) - BUT only 17 years late for delivery, launched along the timing of the F5 ! I see the birth and main aim of this limited production model was to neutralize the impact of the EOS RS to the F5 rather than functional aspect, but nevertheless, it is still a F3 variation.

Besides, the ever growing family of Nikkor lenses has its supplementing factor to the F3's huge success. The Nikkors manual focus lenses reached its peak in its many options during the eighties, amounting to seventy lenses in total! One of the main improvement was the AIS from the earlier AI (Automatic Indexing) in 1981. Popular auto-exposures like program auto, shutter priority was eventually realized on the Nikons. Although the Nikon F3 has never directly enjoyed these upgrades in its F-mount with such auto-exposures (In fact, I thought so at the initial stage, I just can't imagine those designers have no such considerations in the F3 core design, especially with those few 'mysterious' extra pins and contacts under its viewfinder, but the AIS main direct "beneficiary" was the multi-modes Nikon FA in 1986 and few later models).

Lastly, its popularity was even extended until now, amidst in a world of current poly carbonated AF bodies - the F3, with the simplified camera operation and the ultra-rugged camera structure plus the absolute advantage having the huge system accessories behind, has attracted million of loyal users worldwide. By the way, just a indication of its popularity: After 17 years in production line since its birth (By the way, one of the longest serving Nikons around and just has been discontinued last year) and having the distinction of being the only Nikon pro-oriented camera body that have bridged two generations - along with the F4 in production - until the
F5 emerged in late 1996.

Incidentally, Nikon has the tradition to support ALL camera accessories at a period of
10 years after official termination of a pro-model. But like the Pentax LX (1997), the F3 is still available as NEW in major outlets (Could be the last big stock pile rolled out from the assembling line before it goes).

But as what I have commented in the Pictorial History Site - the F3 will be best remembered to have successfully made photographers accepting the arrival of automation in photography with its flawless performance, reliability and dependability - in any possible imagined conditions or photographic situation. It may not be incorporating the best or even basic of today's automatic features, like its 1/80 top flash sync may sound unacceptable by modern standard, doesn't even has a DX coding system, has only a simple aperture priority automation etc.. all these - make the F3 looks primitive in comparison But, it is a ultra reliable image making photographic machine, simple, inoffensive yet make you feel very comfortable and most of all, confident that it will never failed with its duty to assist you, the photographer.

Nikon F3 End.jpg (14k)
I am just one of the many happy users of F3 worldwide. By the way, after serving me almost one & a half decade -I have finally invested in a F5. Even then, my aged 15 lover still serves as a handy and comforting companion to my new modern featured AF body. I am still won't hesitate to recommend a "BUY" in the used market if you are longing for a dependable body to serve you for next one decade or so..

Earlier sections are:
Preface | Exposure Control | Important Accessories | Flash | Conclusion | * Message Board/GuestBook

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