Modern Classic SLRs Series :
Nikon F3 - History & Background

How do I feel about the Nikon F3 camera by itself ? If I can have a wish list - Size, of course...

Nikon F2s.jpg

Nikon F3T.jpg

Nikon FM2nT.jpg

Nikon FG.jpg

Olympus OM-1.jpg

Anyway, a visual comparison should able to help you distinguish the differences: A Nikon F2s, F3T, FM2/T, FG and a Olympus OM-1.

You may be wondering why did I use the Olympus OM-1 and not the Canon New F-1 or Contax RTS II to compare - because neither the Canon nor the Contax can claim to be compact enough. But could that be possible the F3 be made smaller ? Yeap. Don't be fooled by the Olympus OM-1 (Or for that matter, OM2n and the Pentax LX too), because as with the Nikon F3, these are true top class SLR camera bodies. With a complete solution to professional a system that is built around the camera body. They have 5 fps Motor Drives or slower Power Winders, interchangeable finders (Not the OM-1), and focusing screens, film back including 250 exposures bulk film backs and Databack, similar class TTL (Not applicable for OM-1n) and even exceed in some specific areas than of the Nikon F3 - ALL packed within a metal structure, sized similar to a Nikon FG ! Well... although it could have been made smaller - that may have affected its performance, since many accessories such as the companion Motor Drive MD-4 is closely associated with the body design (The earlier 10 AA Penlight batteries MD-2 has been reduced to 8 power cells and yet able to out perform its predecessor in its overall performance). Thus, to maintain compactness, shifting the power source to AAA penlight cells may be able to reduce size further - but I don't think that would have been a good idea due to the easy availability and inexpensive AA penlight batteries. The F3 bare bones body is not an issue - but when it couples with a motor drive, it can be quite a 'burden' for travelling. Anyway, there are just too many positive features provided when using the camera with an MD-4, so issues of oversize dimensions and excessive weight, often were discarded.

By modern standards, Nikon F3 is a very simple automated SLR, but such simplicity resulted into a highly flexible imaging tool - because the whole concept of Nikon professional SLR bodies is that they are built as a system camera. The modular body concept is designed to personalize and custom build up a camera with various kinds of system accessories. This concept has improved with the F4 via the command back to tailor the camera to perform your task. The F5 leapfrogged this concept to another level in what we called 'custom settings' to personalize your camera to your preference. There are a few areas that Nikon does cast an influential aspect in camera design of many future SLRs. Some ideas (We leave the modular body concept out) are original while some would just require a Nikon to make it popular. Among the few, I would single out the adoption of a new electro-magnetic shutter, the clever use of LCD and quartz controlled timing has the most long lasting effect and influences. While those are key factors attributed to its enhanced reliability and flawless performance, but personally, one of the main factors that contributes to its popularity was in successfully duplicating the formula of the earlier F and F2 by introducing refined models, upgrades and some selective limited edition copies periodically to excite its followers or collectors alike. The original F3 was debuted as a basic camera with an eyelevel DE-2 finder. The high eyepoint DE-3 eye-relief finder was added in 1982, so did a Titanium version F3T toward the end of that year. An all different F3AF with autofocus features with two dedicated AF lenses and providing focusing indication when the finder is used with any normal F3 body - it was introduced a year later in 1983, along with a specially modified model called F3P for journalists and newspaper crewmen (and a 'Limited Edition' inscribed version for Japanese market); the original bright titanium finished F3T was replaced with a face lift model, a heavy duty coated black paint version barely two years later in 1984, making it as if it will be "a new 'model' a "year happening" event. The following years were dominated with users' attention and excitement diverted to autofocus bodies. Strangely, demands for F3 were still strong with its ever growing good name for reliability and dependability spreading around among users who looked for a dependable automatic camera.

My F3T.jpg (12k) Loading....

Despite being overlapped by another professional F-series model, the Nikon F4 of 1988, it remained in production until toward the end of 1996, another modified version of F3 with a new motor drive that can 'run' at blistering speed of 13.8 fps per second was introduced in limited number, that was the Nikon High Speed Motor Drive camera F3H with its dedicated MD-4H drive. The span of twenty years has made the Nikon F3 the single camera model within Nikon that has the longest life span of product cycle. I thought that was something you really need to be aware of, because Nikon has a reputation for always producing highly rated SLR cameras for the last 40 years and the Nikon F3 had its life cycle occupying half of Nikon corporate history for producing SLR cameras !

Copyright-free © Images Collection, 2000. leofoo ®

Another area where personally I would rated F3's main contribution to the development of camera history is its role in bridging the gap between mechanical loyalists and rapid acceptance to automation by traditional hard-core photographers and making them realize the path toward automation is inevitable. It did it convincingly with its ease of automatic operation. Redefining beliefs where high-tech and dependability can and do co-exist. It is a camera that has been designed with the utmost attention to reliability which meant to serve rather than commanding too much with its simple automation. Why would I need to reconstruct the F3 site ? Basically, the earlier version was my first attempt trying to build a reasonably good reference site for some of the true modern classic SLR bodies that I like . But after a year or so looking back to the original site I seemed so 'fragile' in its content in comparison with many other sites that I had dealt with. Possibly, experience gained in later stages has helped a lot. That m

ade me realize what a terrible site I have constructed earlier with the camera that I used most often, so I know I need to do something with it... at least, the next time I trip the shutter release button of my Nikon F3, I don't have that strong sense of guilt inside for not trying my best. I thought this new website has done a little justice to the old faithful that has been accompanied me for the last 18 years with untiring confidence, reliability and accuracy. Many would think the F3 has shown its age with modern photography. Oh.. that is alright, I can still live with 1/80 sec sync speed, maximum speed of 1/2000 sec and no autofocus sensing indicators in the viewfinder ... in fact the bare basic configuration has forced me to think more before I trip the shutter release button with more satisfying photography than ever. Perhaps, decision of investing into a Nikon F3T 18 years ago was one of the few rightful and smart decisions that I have ever made amidst all the silly things that I have done when I was young..

Enjoy yourself.

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Modern Classic SLRs Series :
Nikon F3 - History & Background

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