Nikon F3 w/zoom MD-4.jpg (18k)

Modern Classic SLRs Series :

Nikon F3 - widely regarded as one of the most reliable electronic camera of all time and it was also the longest serving Nikon F-Series SLR camera. This evergreen model remains a hot favorite among many working pro and serious amateurs As every individual photographer has his own personal style to express himself and that includes how one handles his own photographic tools, this section allows you to share your knowledge & mutual experience using the camera. Some of the opinion presented within the site was specifically my personal experience and I do not wish to influence any decision prior to any potential purchases or disposal. You may make use of this convenience here to present your own views. Enjoy.

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1. From : Don Asa Allen (
Url : http://
Date : 02:17 PM Tuesday 11 December, 2001

I'm trying to make sure I get what my wife will need for TTL for the F3HP I got her for Christmas. Am I understanding this correct: The SB-12 is TTL ready and the SB-16A is TTL ready. Or, I can get the AS-17 and use an aftermarket flash. Will any aftermarket flash work? I read that the SB-16A will actually dilute and underexpose, would I be better off with an aftermarket flash? I'm trying to get TTL as CHEAPLY as possible as I spent most of my Christmas budget on the F3HP & MD-4 motordrive. Thanks, feel free to email me with advise on this or if you have a TTL ready flash or AS-17 for sale.

2. From : Tim (
Url : http://
Date : 07:29 AM Tuesday 11 December, 2001

How can you identify a titanium back? I purchased a black F3HP.

The top, prism and bottom surfaces are pebbled in texture. The edges of the back however, is smooth and glossy? I would have thought that all titanuim surfaces would have been textured?

3. From : Hermann Graf (
Url : http://
Date : 04:33 PM Wednesday 05 December, 2001

To Greg: "-8-" in the exposure time display means that almost now light comes to the metering cell. Check whether the mirror is still in lockup position or jammed, or the diaphragm of your lens is the position of the smallest aperture (i.e., does not flip back), or the DOF check button has stuck in in the test position.

4. From : greg (
Url : http://
Date : 11:47 AM Wednesday 05 December, 2001

I have an F3HP that has been sitting on the shelf for a year or two. When I recently tried to use it the light meter would not work. A new battery did not solve the problem. Everything else appears to be powered and operating correctly (LCD, low light aperature setting illumination, mirror etc.). When the shutter is released it is held open idefinitely unless I release it by switching to a manual shutter speed. The LCD displays: - 8-. Any ideas on what to check?

5. From : Hermann Graf (
Url : http://
Date : 06:36 PM Tuesday 04 December, 2001

To Don Asa Allen: The motor drive MD-4H was especially designed for the F3H camera, and its use with the F3/F3HP is not recommended (damage of camera or winder may be possible).

6. From : Don Asa Allen (
Url : http://
Date : 04:14 PM Tuesday 04 December, 2001

I am unable to find anything on Google Search Engine or on Ebay about the "MD-4H" or "F3H". Where can I learn more? The previous page of this website said the MD-4H was capable of 13 frames per second...where do I get one or can I modify my MD-4 to crank out this many frames per second on my F3HP?

7. From : Hermann Graf (
Url : http://
Date : 12:11 AM Tuesday 04 December, 2001

To Andrew Kalman: As for your opinion concerning the F3's TTL flash metering, I agree with you that the SBC meter cell signal of the F3 is directly transmitted to the flash unit, and not only a "start/stop" signal. But I doubt whether there are much electronics in the adapter AS-17. There is an extra ISO setting scale on the AS-17 to set the film speed; why would this be necessary if the adpater "reads" the ISO setting on the camera? BTW, the same is true for the SCA adapter from Metz for the F3. My opinion is that the SBC analog signal coming from the F3 is only attenuated proportional to the ISO setting on the adapter, probably by means of a potentiometer. Highest possible ISO is 400, probably because there is no signal amplification, and above ISO 400, the signal is to close to the noise level. In other words, this solution could have been offered to us as early as in 1980, and more marketing thoughts had been involved instead of technical ones.

8. From : David Smith (
Url : http://
Date : 01:42 PM Sunday 02 December, 2001

I just received my F3 (regular model Ser#1709xxx) Interestingly, the F3 on the front and the serial numbers on the reverse of the camera are red. Most pictures I see have the F3 and the serial numbers white. What gives? Do regular F3's have the F3 on the front and the serial numbers in red?
David S Smith

9. From : Leonard P S Foo (
Url :
Date : 11:30 PM Saturday 01 December, 2001

Andrew Kalman's posting has been included as an reading reference link which can be accessed at the Main Index Page of the Nikon F3's Flash Section: Andrew, thanks for a truly useful and educational input at this Board. Cheers.

10. From : Andrew Kalman (
Url :
Date : 11:23 PM Saturday 01 December, 2001

I have greatly enjoyed reading your F3 pages -- as a very early adopter (I received my F3 + MD4 + DA-2 as a graduation present in 1980), I have a real soft spot for my F3. Anyway, I have recently come across some information re the F3's flash system that is not on your website and may be of use to other Nikon users -- perhaps you would like to include it at some later date?

The gist of it is this: the F3's TTL flash system is not only "mechanically" different from later ISO TTL systems (the whole "F3 foot issue"), it is also _electrically_ very different.

It turns out (see my thread "Nikon AS-17 flash coupler -- What does the ASA setting REALLY do? (long)" on that the F3 has a unique, first-generation and rather crude TTL system whereby the flash itself receives a signal from the F3's TTL SPD and combines it with the ASA setting on the camera to control the TTL flash's output. All this electronics is housed in the bodies of the SC-12, SB-12, SB-16A "adapter foot" and SB-17. This is very different from later / current generation ISO TTL flashes, which simply receive a "fire now" and "quench now" signal from the camera (e.g. F4, FE2, etc.). These F3 feet (like that of the SC-12) have a mechanical pickup inside them that keys off the ridge on the ASA dial. A few such accessories (like the SC-14 and AS-7) do not, mainly due to electrical and/or mechanical packaging considerations, but on these one must ensure that the adapter's ASA matches that of the camera. O/wise one has an effective +/-EV flash compensation scheme going ...

So it is for this reason, and not because of the peculiar flash mounting foot of the F3, that it took so long for the AS-17 to be produced. After all, Nikon could not simply make a "ISO TTL version" of the AS-4 by simply adding an extra contact. That wouldn't work, as ISO TTL flashes wouldn't understand the TTL signal, and may in fact have even been damaged by it. (This makes the report of the Vivitar TTL adapter hard to explain).

What the AS-17 does is basically translate the SPD TTL output and the set ASA to a more modern "quench now" signal for ISO TTL flashes like the SB-28. It has some electronics in it to do this, and that's why it's a bit more expensive than your average F3 flash foot accessory.

I hope you find this information interesting, and if you are still maintaining and updating the F3 pages, that you might consider it for inclusion into your beautiful site.

Andrew E. Kalman, Ph.D.

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