Nikon F3

The Front of the Nikon F3

I’ve been involved with photography for over 40 years, and this is the first Nikon I’ve purchased! Strange you may think, well yes, but that’s how it is! I suspect that the main reason is the simple fact that as a young person, we had four “camera” stores in my home down, but not one of them dealt with Nikon. They did Canon, Pentax and the like, so that’s what I did.

Anyway, a few weeks ago the opportunity to buy this, nice condition body arose, and I brought it. It’s not in what I would call mint condition, it does have the odd mark here and there but it is good, clean, working condition. This one came with a plain, “D” focussing screen, which is apparently the brightest of the screens, but is a plain Matte. With my eyes these days, I much prefer the split focus type, so I sourced and replaced it with the “S” described by Nikon as “Matte/Fresnel field with 3mm diameter BriteView (horizontal) split-image rangefinder spot surrounded by 1mm wide microprism donut. Rapid, accurate focussing for subjects with both straight and ill-defined contours”. Certainly seems more usable for my eyes. I was amazed how easy it was to change!

The removed “D” Screen and the box of the “S” now in the camera.

I also found a Nikon Yellow filter online. This is an almost standard filter for me to use with B/W, so brought that too!

The Nikon Yellow Filter

Much has been written about the F3 over the years. It is the third, and final, of Nikon’s professional grade of cameras that were manual. No prizes for guessing that it was preceded by the F and the F2 (Wonder if I’ll ever own one of those?) and followed by the F4, F5 and F6, (Wonder if I’ll ever own one of those?) but these were AF. The F3 took a while to gain it’s reputation, the previous offerings could be used without batteries, while the F3 uses them for the meter and the shutter. One can actually use an F3 without batteries, there is a second shutter release that is manual and offers a shutter speed of 90th sec. The “need” for batteries seemed to put off Nikon users at the time, but time has proved any fears redundant as the camera is regarded as one of the best. It’s interesting to note that while it replaced the F2 (F2AS) in 1980, and although the F4 was released in 1988, and the F5 in 1996, the F3 remained in production right up until 2001!

The top plate of the F3

A look at the top of the camera reveals that there is an “A” on the shutter speed dial! Otherwise known as aperture priority. At the risk of some of you reading no further, it’s actually a way I shoot quite a bit. X – flash sync is at 80th, top speed offered is 2000th all the way down to 8 secs, then B and T. I wonder to myself if I’ll ever use either end? Much of my photography happens at or about 125th. You might also notice that there is no hot shoe. I do little flash photography, so for me it’s nice to see a nice “clean” prism. I have an AS-4 adaptor should I feel the need, that clips over the rewind spindle, you can see it’s electric contacts there. There is also the handy exposure compensation dial.

Nikon 55mm f2.8 Micro (Macro)
The 28mm f3.5 Nikkor

I’m also lucky to own a nice Nikkor 55mm f2.8 Micro, what the rest of the world call a macro! I also have a nice 28mm f3.5 and the good old 50mm. So I’m set now to get out there and use it in the new year. I think I’ll pop a roll of FP4 in first and will report back with my results soon!

For further reading – Jim Grey over at “Down the Road” had done a great review here:

2 thoughts on “Nikon F3

    1. Hi Jim, I think it was your writing and results, along with John Smith over at Fogdog that finally persuaded me to buy one! I love the feel of it already, I just need some decent light to get out there and use it now! Wishing you well and sending all my best wishes, Andy

      Liked by 1 person

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