Modern Classic SLRs Series :
Nikon F3 AF - Camera Instruction Manual - Index page

Nikon F3 AF SLR camera
By the early 80's, the F3 series established itself as the mainstream press photographers pet. Many say that the F3 series was the last 'real' press camera that Nikon made before competition from Canon set in, in the late 1980's. The F3AF was launched in April, 1983 amidst rising pressure to create an AF SLR. Being a professionally orientated camera, the F3AF is a landmark camera from Nikon. It was also among the first SLRs (if not the first) to have an AF system that was based on TTL contrast detection. The early FD series Canon's did come up with a series of early AF lenses, but these were based on active infrared sensors fitted directly on the lens.

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Like all F3 series cameras, the F3AF still maintains the 150,000 cycle shutter reliability rating and the excellent 80/20 Centre-Weighted metering system. It also accepts about all the lenses that other F3 cameras will take along with the matching accessories. However, there are limitations owing to the unique nature of the camera. All will be discussed within.

Images by: MCLau
The F3AF was launched in 1983 together with two AF Nikkor lenses, both the AF 80mm f/2.8 and AF 200mm f3.5 ED-IF. Naturally, the F mount was retained so that the progression to AF lenses would not hamper the use of older Nikkor lenses on the F3AF. As an interesting technological note; the AF Nikkor lenses made for this camera have their driving motors in the lens and not in the body. They are in a sense, the predecessors to the current AF-S series lenses. These first* generation AF Nikkor lenses also predate the electronic EF series lenses for the Canon EOS based SLR cameras, by 5 years. Unlike most other members of the F3 family of cameras, the F3AF does differ in its construction, despite being very similar to the other F3 series cameras. The main difference being a set of contacts that exist in the pentaprism area and the lens mount. The F3AF also has a very unique pentaprism, the AF Finder DX-1. The F3AF is the only F3 series camera that has a viewfinder area that is less than 100% (approx. 92% coverage with the DX-1).
AF80mmf451971.jpg (11k)
Supplement: * In fact, as early as 1971, Nikon did showcase a prototype AF lens in 80mm focal length with a maximum aperture of f/4.5. Along with the AF-Nikkor 80mm f/2.8 lens featured here, both lenses are probably the only 80mm Nikkor lenses that have ever been produced by Nikon and/or surfaced thus far.

Credit: The one and only picture I can find on this early AF Nikkor lens. Image downloaded from Nikon Japan website. The original can be accessed by clicking here.

Both the Autofocus Nikkor 80mm f/2.8 and 200mm f/3.5 AF Nikkors, two of the most popular focal lengths among sports and action photographers, are the first of Nikon's first generation of autofocus lenses. They have a moderately efficient internal gear train, making for smooth power transmission, enhancing focus response time. The system can detect and react to focus changes in a mere 0.5 milliseconds. It takes the 30mm AF-Nikkor no more than 0.6 seconds and the 200mm no more than 1.7 seconds to move from the closest focusing distance to infinity or any point in between. The 200mm AF Nikkor, which uses Nikon's special Extra-Low Dispersion glass, also incorporates a variable range autofocus setting mode for even faster response time. And both autofocus optics provide a focus lock for off-centrer composition and a manual focus override so they may be used on Nikon cameras. Although Nikon had claimed more AF Nikkor focal lengths will be available in the future after the two initial optics, they never appeared. When the F501 was eventually introduced with body driven AF mechanism, Nikon posted many problems of compatibility between the F3AF and the newer series of AF camera bodies and lenses.

Main Reference Map; Forewords; Basic Camera Operations: Part I and Part II

Focus-Aid Operation, Focus Lock, Manual Focus, Special Situations

Exposure: Setting the Film Speed; Setting the Aperture; Setting the Shutter Speed; Automatic Exposure Control; Manual Exposure Control
Relationship Between Shutter Speed and Aperture; Depth of Field, Depth of Field Preview, Exposure Compensation; Dial, Auto Exposure Lock, Stop-Down Exposure Measurement

Release Button; Backup Mechanical Release Lever; Film Advance Lever; Frame Counter; Eyepiece Shutter Lever; Self -Timer
Mirror Lockup Lever; Viewfinder illuminator; Multiple Exposure Lever
Memo Holder; Film Plane Indicator; Infrared Focusing Index

Flash Photography:
Accessory Shoe; Sync Terminal; Ready-Light; Nikon F3AF/Speedlight Combination Chart

System Accessories:- Interchangeable Viewfinders; Focusing Screens; Electronic Flash Equipment; Motor Drive MD-4; MK-1, Data Back MF-14; close-up Equipment; Anti-Cold Battery Pack DB-2; Cable Release AR-3; Rubber Eyecup; Eyepiece Correction Lenses; Filters; Lens Hoods; Camera Cases; Neck straps; Compartment Cases

EV range of the camera..
Care and
Battery Issues
Liquid Crystal Display (LCD).


Nikon AF Nikkor 80mm f/2.8 for Nikon F3 AF Nikon AF Nikkor 200mm f/3.5 ED for Nikon F3 AF

As a result of the design of a TTL image displacement detecting system, utilizing two SPD's built into the AF Finder DX-1, the F3AF camera offers you through-the-lens autofocus control with either of two AF Nikkor lenses, the 80mm f/2.8 and the 200mm f/3.5 IF-ED. Thus, you can shoot fast-moving action while the subject remains in sharp focus. And like the regular Nikon F3, the shutter speed is set automatically to match the f/stop in use, so you never have to worry about getting the correct exposure. The F3AF also gives you focus-aid operation with the vast majority of Nikkor and Nikon Series E lenses having a maximum aperture of f/3.5 or faster, while regular manual focusing using the matte portion of the screen is possible with any lens.

Before actually taking pictures with the F3AF, you should familiarize yourself with its basic operation as presented in the first section. For more detailed explanations and special picture-taking situations, refer to the rest of the manual. A few minutes wisely invested now will pay off later in years of rewarding photographic experiences.

This Instruction Manual was separated into two main sections:

F3AF by MCLau.jpg Edward Ngoh's F3AF.jpg (12k) Loading..
Basic Setup and Operations (2 Parts)
Detailed operation and Other Issues (8 Parts)

W A R N I N G: The New G-SERIES Nikkor lenses have no aperture ring on the lens, they CANNOT ADJUST APERTURES with any of these manual focus Nikon FE series SLR camera models; please ignore some portion of the content contained herein this site where it relates.

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Modern Classic SLRs Series :
Nikon F3 AF - Camera Instruction Manual - Index page

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