Modern Classic SLRs Series :
Nikon F3 - Film backs

The standard camera back for the Nikon F3 is made of brass with a full sized film tab memo holder at the back. To prevent accidental opening, an F3 camera back only opens after the safety catch is pressed while at the same time pulling up the rewind knob. Inside the camera, special film flattening rollers and full length, polished stainless steel guide rails insure maximum flatness on the film which can be a factor for sharpness, the guide rails also help to prevent scratches on films.

Credit: Images courtesy of Adorama® Inc. "Ebay - Mathew Duren" <ebay@adorama> Webisite URL:, who also operates a popular Ebay Store. All images appeared herein are Copyright © 2005. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.


Filmback Illus.jpg (7k)

The 'mysterious' pin (B) hidden at the railing of the film back is for film counter reset. The standard or any version of the Databack will have a slight protruding edge (A). This mechanical way has been used on all Nikon since the seventies.

If your frame counter won't work, check if both of these mate probably or the most likely culprit is the Counter Switch which would require slight adjustments.

It is standard for the camera back on all Nikon F3 camera models to be removable so that accessory backs can be added. Removing a film back is easy, first open the back, on the hinge side you will see a small chrome pin protruding from the hinge.

This pin is moved downward in its slot and this retracts one of the hinge pins allowing the back to be swung away and removed from the camera. Fitting an accessory back is a simple matter of reversing this procedure. You can then replace the standard camera film back with some optional accessory film backs designed specifically for the Nikon F3.

MF-14 Databack.jpg (11k) Loading..
Basically, these can be categorized into two groups. Other than the standard camera back that comes with the F3, there is another which provides a feature that prevents the exposed film roll to be rewound completely into the film cartridge.

Another group of the film backs provide a feature that can be used to record the data desired directly onto the film at the time of exposure. Thus, to differentiate between these two groups, one is called film back and another is called Databack

MF-14 inview.jpg (7k)

Note: Film back used here for illustration for is inverted, too lazy to revert...sorry.
Databack is often useful for archiving purposes, or when the photographer would like to recall the date on which a photo was taken. Of cause, the data back can also be set to NOT imprint information onto film.

Compared with an ordinary film back, there are two data contact terminals and an imprinting panel for superimposing the desired data to transfer onto film during an exposure.

Detailed below are the few film back and Databack options available for the Nikon F3. Please not these film backs are not compatible with the earlier F2 cameras nor with the F4 or the current F5. Well, basically the film back designs are still pretty conservative if compared with the current multi-features of a command back designed for the high-tech autofocus cameras. The Nikon F3 was not designed as such, reliability was its priority list. Whatever, twenty years has past, one can't deny the fact that even some time honoured features found in a F3 can look so simple in comparison. The MF-14, like the MF-16 Databack (For the popular mid-compact Nikon bodies such as FMs, FEs and FA) is using Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) and they were programmed to function until the year 2100 (Where I am not so sure for the rest). Anyway, even the cable-required Databack MF-12 for the FEs, FA and FM2(n) is programmed to year 2019.

I was going through old Nikon Factory literature published during the early eighties and noticed Nikon mentioned a "MF-15" Databack and also a MF-6 autostop film back for the Nikon F3 in there. The "Databack MF-15" has the same appearance with the current MF-14 and I am not convinced it was a "MF-15" which has been repeatedly mentioned. I did a high resolution scan and found it was marked a "MF-14" instead of "MF-15" on the printed databack. Anyway, the databack for the Nikon FG was MF-15 and that is why it caught my eyes... However, other than these two film backs, it did mentioned a "...special option to produce Instant Polaroid ® pictures, the "Speed Magny ". I have little knowledge regarding this "Speed Magny", other than the more modern
NPC ProBack or older Forsher Back, so, if anyone of you have users' experience, images or info relating to this, please mail me - appropriate credit will be given.

Anyway, Nikon was quite foresighted in realizing the potential of LCD in many of such applications. Most Databack designs those days were still using analogue instead of LCD.

Nikon had their earlier Databack which requires a cable to plug into the PC terminal such as the MF-12 Databack  When subsequent models were designed, databack terminals were incorporated behind the camera body which eliminates such requirements. So did the F3 and the newer series of Databack

This is the advantage of LCD, I remembered the Canon Databack MA designed for the Canon AE-1 Program and Canon A-1 was using three input wheels and numerals as input, the year dial was only limited up to year 1987! Perhaps, may be Nikon has learnt something from there. The Databack FN designed for the Canon New F-1 was also using the same design (But I am not sure the maximum usable year for that two models).

MA Bataback.jpg (5k)

Also take sometime to check a third party option film back called NPC Proback II for Nikon F3, ridiculously priced but may prove to be quite useful in some critically calculated exposures and need a preview method to check. It is basically a Polaroid back designed by NPC.

Nikon PREVIEW Camera


The MF-21 designed for the autofocus camera F-801 in 1988 represents the first wave in such high-tech command back design rather than performing just a databack which provided basic date and time imprinting functions.

MF-21 Commandback.jpg (8k)
Among its many features, it was also Nikon's first command back that provided an amazing unmanned freeze focus function. | More features illustrated in Gif image or PDF (53k) ||

MF-6B Camera Back is also called Auto Film-Stop Back. Use especially well with the fast auto rewind MD-4 motor drive, it attaches to any F3-series camera in place of standard camera back for automatic film rewind-stop, with the film leader being left outside of the cartridge to permit easier darkroom handling.

MF-6B filmback.jpg (8k)

MF-6B Camera Back
Earlier version is called 'MF-6', I am not sure what the difference is or improvements made on the MF-6B. (It has a Databack Version called MF-18)

The Nikon F3T model uses Titanium for its viewfinder, top and bottom cover. Well, bonus is, the camera back also was made with this touch, ultra-strong and corrosive-resistant metal. However, it is not sold as a separate unit nor as an accessory item.

Titan Back.jpg (5k)
I used to keep this camera back since I have changed my F3T's back to the MF-14 Databack since 1983. It is still here.. he he.

  |  |  |
  Back to Index of Nikon F3 Models
  Back to Pictorial History of Nikon SLRs
About this photographic site
Contributions and Credits
  Home - Photography in Malaysia
| NEXT | 1/3 Specification and features of MF-14, MF-18 and some basic info on Nikon 250 bulk film back MF-4 and Databack MF-17.

he MF-14, MF-18 and Databack or Bulk Film Backs Options

| Back to Nikon F3 Site |

About this photographic site Contributions and Credits

  Home - Photography in Malaysia

Modern Classic SLRs Series :
Nikon F3 - Film backs

Copyright © 1999. leofoo ®. MIR Web Development Team.