Modern Classic SLRs Series :
Nikon F3 - Interchangeable Viewfinders - Index Page

The modular design concept of the F series bodies provide a trend setting tradition of interchangeable prisms way back to the late '50. This concept has been retained from the first Nikon F to the current F5. Most likely, the Nikon will eventually be the sole manufacturer that still provides this flexible and versatile option in a system camera.

Nikon F3 finder.jpg (15k)
Unlike any of the earlier Nikon bodies, Nikon designers have shifted the metering sensor from previous F & F2's method of metered finder to the camera body which has resulted in a far less important role of the  finder in the F3. Other than the DX-1 finder designed for Nikon F3AF, the role of finders has been 'relegated' to just perform as a viewfinder accessory.

However, there are five regular production finders which should be more than enough to provide a F3 user to tackle virtually any imaginable photographic situation. Further, as with the standard set by the Nikon F and F2 series bodies, these finders designed for the Nikon F3, still maintain a virtually 100% picture coverage.

The Nikon F3 was the first of the Nikon F-series single digit bodies to employ a LCD readout in the viewfinder. It is basically a very simple auto exposure camera with a simple feature of aperture priority AE and manual exposure control. Although simple in its choices of exposure control and metering options, it is an extremely well made camera. As far as F3 is concerned, it won its acceptance and status as a modern classic purely by the simple fact of the time it endured, i.e. its reliability. With the F3, you can use different viewfinders to obtain a clear or complete view of your image, depending on where (or how) the camera is being used or held. With all electronic components built into the camera body of the F3 cameras, TTL exposure metering is possible with every interchangeable viewfinder.

F3 100% Viewfinder.jpg
Note: The LCD readout display method used in the Nikon F3 was also the first in a Nikon and among all professional grade SLRs available in the market during the early '80. Why LCD instead of the popular LED ? As Nikon claims ".. LCD consumes 1/10,000 of power than comparing LEDs..." - one way to comfort the hard-core mechanical users who may still act defencive against electronic cameras.

Anyway, power efficiency of F3 is very impressive. Nikon assured that screen darkening will not occurred for the first 7 years and there after, a 'nominal fee' will be charged for a replacement - that was a little conservative, I have used it for the last 15 years and still have not shown any dimming effect. The original standard prism that came with the F3 was an eye level DE-2. It has a red coloured shutter blind to prevent undesirable light source from hitting the mirror to affect meter reading. For example, situations like self timer operation or macro work with the body facing downward. In 1982, Nikon introduced a newer Finder for the F3 that permits eyeglass wearers or photographers who require slight working or viewing distance (Such as behind goggles or in a underwater housing etc.). The DE-3 Finder was called High-Eye Point Finder and F3 that came with the DE-3 was referred as model Nikon F3HP.

F No finder.jpg

Nion F2 No finder.jpg


Nikon F3 no Finder.jpg
Can you really take out the viewfinder and focus from there ? Difficult, but you can use it as a composition aid. Special care is required in handling the metering (In the case of F3, since the metering cell still meter without a viewfinder in place, stray light entering may affect the accuracy - so meter before you perform this task). But why would you do that in the first place ? Oh.. sometimes it can be a perfect way for candid shots in a public area and help to make people unaware of your intention, such as where others might think you are cleaning a camera etc.

F4 No Finder.jpg F5 No Finder.jpg
Note: the Nikon F and F2 will be meter less without a finder in place; the Nikon F4 and F5 has only spot metering to function and thus, it is not advisable to use this method at all. If you insist doing so, pre-meter with a finder in place first and operate it in manual exposure mode only.

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Modern Classic SLRs Series :
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