Another survey.Nikon F4s or F3hp.

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Mike Kennedy, Aug 30, 2008.

  1. Mike Kennedy

    Mike Kennedy Member

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    I actually met two fellows yesterday who owned the full manual Nikon F3hp and they said it was the best shooter ,bar none.Thought I might ask the APUG community their opinion.
    Thank you for your time.

    Mike
     
  2. Uhner

    Uhner Member

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    Being an amateur I choose cameras that gives me the most pleasure. I have owned both a F3 and a F4. Both are very good cameras. Even so, I have sold both of them and have been a happy F2 user for several years now.

    If you decide to buy an F3, and don’t wear glasses; get one with a regular viewfinder. It has higher magnification than the HP finder.
     
  3. nemo999

    nemo999 Member

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    I have numerous F3s, no direct experience of F4s, but I would say this latter is newer, considerably bulkier and heavier, has autofocus of course, is possibly a better prospect for extensive motor drive use, will cost more and be harder to find. The F3 does everything I ask of an SLR (including offering mirror lock-up for photomicroscopy, etc.) and can be found for little money (but very likely in need of a CLA). As with all Nikons, go for a cherished amateur-owned model, in pro hands a Niikon will soak up a lot of punishment but will wear out eventually.
     
  4. nsouto

    nsouto Subscriber

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    f4 has a much faster flash synch speed than the f3. Of course: depending on what you want out of it, that might matter a lot or nothing.

    f4 also has an inbuilt diopter adjust - invaluable for tired eyes like mine - and the metering is spot, cw and matrix. It will take all modern lenses including G-type, only doesn't do VR. The f3 has screw-in adjusts and the meter is just cw. You can only use standard non-AF or AF non-G lenses. Which is the majority of them anyway!

    The f3 is much lighter than the "traditional" f4s. On the other hand, if you get a f4 with the small 4-AA MB20 grip and the multi-function data back MF23, it's not that much heavier than a f3 with motor drive and it likely is less bulky as well as much more egonomic and can do a lot of extra things courtesy of the back. I particularly like the imprint of speed and aperture data between the frames.

    Oh, I forgot: the f4 has a very well dampened mirror slap while the f3 is a bit more f2-ish (if that makes any sense - only way I know how to explain it...). Basically:
    I can shoot the f4 handheld at lower shutter speeds than any other camera except the ZM rangefinder.

    I use a f4 with mb20 and mf23, as well as f2as with a md3. Used a f3 back in the 80s but never quite liked the slow flash synch and the general feel of it. This is not to say it is a bad camera! Just not my cuppa.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 30, 2008
  5. Paul Goutiere

    Paul Goutiere Subscriber

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    F3HP, F2 Photomic. The F3 is a more recent acquisition, I've had the F2 for quite a while. The F3 would have to be the most versatile 35mm SLR I've ever owned.

    Since I'm a amateur, I don't require other features like higher flash sync and autofocus. I have a motor drive for the
    F3 but seldom use it.

    The F3 is lightweight and has a AE feature which turns it into more of a snap shooter when I want it. My F2 still works perfectly, but has become a little precious to me, so gets used on occasion. The F3 gets the brunt of the 35mm work.

    I've been told that the F4 may have an edge when shooting slides, so I am considering one, but I think for the most, part I'd still shoot the F3.

    I wear glasses so the F3HP appealed to me, but since I like to get my eye close to the finder I since bought a diopter and a eyecup. So the idea of the non "HP" version may be a consideration.
     
  6. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    All cameras are boxes that keep the light out until you open the shutter.

    Nikon F, F2, F3, F4, F5, F6 are total crap without a good lens, and most importantly a talented operator.

    Forget about the camera. It is not a symbol of your artistic talents. It is only 'male jewelry' to be worn like a necklace.

    So get a box that works for you, not what others tell you. Then spend real money on lenses for they sharp the image to match your creative vision.

    I've used all the above cameras, except the F6, professionally. I prefer the FM2 over all of them.

    Here's a truncated list of my clients if you don't trust what I've said (the list does not include the 4 years I was a staff photographer and photo editor for USA Today): http://www.walterpcalahan.com/Cheers/Clients.html
     
  7. Uncle Bill

    Uncle Bill Subscriber

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    I am biased, go with the F3HP, you won't be disappointed.
     
  8. Paul Goutiere

    Paul Goutiere Subscriber

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    Pinholemaster,
    "Forget about the camera. It is not a symbol of your artistic talents. It is only 'male jewelry' to be worn like a necklace."

    I think we know this. I think Mike Kennedy was looking for simple opinions.

    The guy who works at my favorite gas station is named Ernie. He looked at my cameras and definitely prefers my F3 but advised me I need at quart of 10-30.
     
  9. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    The FM2 is possibly the best little Nikon body that Nikon has ever made. It does have some shortcomings.

    The FM2 doesn’t have a viewfinder with a 100% coverage of the frame, it has about 92 or 93%. This is all right most times but it can be a bit dodgy when you use some interesting lenses, especially very wide angle ones.

    The non removable prism of the FM2, whilst extremely strong, does restrict the cameras ability to work with microscopes comfortably, sports viewfinders so you can view the whole image in focus whilst wearing a motorcycle crash helmet, waist level finder for when the camera is hard up against a wall, or attach the waist level 6x magnification finder for super critical focus whilst using a set of bellows or extension rings.

    Whilst the FM2 can do a mirror lockup, it can only do this by using the self timer, this isn’t a bad thing, but if you wish to use extreme wide angle lenses or for some other scientific applications, you do the need the mirror lock up facility of the F3. Mirror lockup is also very handy when using bellows and very long exposures.

    The FM2 does have a motor drive capability, but it realistically only winds the film on, however the ergonomics of the camera with the MD-12 drive fitted, are really good for some things. The F3 with it’s MD4 drive, also winds the film on, plus it re-winds the film, if you desire, it can also be set to expose a continuous set of frames, up to a pre-set amount or number. The MD4 drive can also be set to a couple of speeds, plus you can also run the motor drive (and the whole camera) from a mains supply and also use a regulated frame speed with that configuration.

    This mains supply system is quite useful when using bulk film backs, they do drain power. The F3 only has the possibility of a 250 frame bulk back, the F2 has the possibility of adding a 750 frame back, this holds a full 30m of film and it will drain a set of batteries from the motor drive after two lots of film goes through.

    The FM2 uses centre weighted metering, most people will tell you that the F3 uses the same set-up, not really. The F3 has a 12mm centre ring on most of the 20 interchangeable focusing screens you can use. About 80% of the light meter light, is gathered through this very central section, effectively giving you a near spot meter capability which will vary between the different lenses that are attached, but generally speaking will give you somewhere between a 20° to about a 5° meter reading, very, very handy.

    The FM2 does have a databack, but it is a basic one compared to the F3 which can have an array of choices, including the MF-18 which imprints the data in-between the film frames, instead of in the image area.

    The FM2 has a nice small body, compared to the F3 and does fit into a pocket (without a lens) easier than the F3.

    Extremes of weather, especially cold, are the bane of most things electrical with cameras, the F3 is no exception! The FM2 is the king when it comes to cold, it just keeps on going. In extreme cold I have used an external battery pack for my F3 to keep it going very well in temperatures around –25°C or lower.

    I myself run a couple of F3 bodies, I suppose it is a piece of jewellery, perhaps I’ll ask my wife the next time she uses her F3 as to why she is using a piece of male jewellery.

    Mick.

    PS:- the FM2 body is possibly the second best Nikon body for absolute functional ability, but it is certainly the best body for something that holds film and will keep on working day in and day out. The later FM2 bodies with the F-801 shutter (since 1989) are the best ones to get.
     
  10. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    It's difficult to choose between these two cameras. They are different in so many ways.

    The F3HP is a joy to use. It's very well made. It's relatively small for its build quality, and it's great if you prefer to use aperture priority. Metered manual is okay but the metering display is not my favourite. Using flash is tricky because there is no traditional hot shoe. Flash sync is quite slow (1/80 if memory serves). You can attach a motor drive and go like stink, or carry the camera without for portability.

    The F4S will run autofocus lenses (including AF-S) and is the best AF body to use with manual Nikkors (matrix metering works with AI and newer lenses, although not AI-converted Nikkors). It has built-in spot metering that works with all lenses. It's got a faster motor drive if you like to be able to see what you're shooting (5.7 fps versus 5 fps; the F3 can do 6 fps if you lock the mirror up though). It can be made small with an MB-20 grip but these grips are in short supply and are expensive.

    I have one of each and I like both, but they are not at all alike. :smile:
     
  11. tomkatf

    tomkatf Member

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    I've used pretty much every Nikon from the F on and I'd say... look into the Nikon F100!

    Best,
    Tom
     
  12. John_Nikon_F

    John_Nikon_F Subscriber

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    Since I own both, I'm going to have to say that the F4 is actually a bit nicer, due to the features listed above. Luckily, F3's are cheap, so you can pick up one along with an F4s and only spend about $300 or so. The main reason why I still have my F3, is due to it being the P version with the hot shoe on the prism. At least, it lets my SB-25 do non-TTL automatic without an adapter...

    -J
     
  13. ehparis

    ehparis Member

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    I like the weight, an important consideration for me, of the F3HP vs. the heavier F4S.
     
  14. declark

    declark Subscriber

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    I have never owned an F4 but did hold one in a camera shop once and loved the feel of it being a like a sculpted piece of metal and really like the idea of matrix metering with manual focus lenses, but it was missing something... a winder. One of the reasons I love the F3HP is the ball bearing smooth feel of the winder, made my FE2 feel like it had gravel in the drivetrain. I haven't used the F3 much since getting an F100, but I still want to keep it because it is just so much fun to use.
     
  15. nemo999

    nemo999 Member

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    With all your experience, you must surely realise that if an SLR is worn or has bad build quality, its vibration level will wreck the sharpness of any lens, and that the same will happen if the focusing screen and film plane are not absolutely in the same register. And particularly with press work, an accurate auto-exposure system you can rely on will time and time again make the difference between getting a vital shot or being too late. The contention that "All cameras are just light-tight boxes, they're all the same" is total garbage.
     
  16. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    I agree that lenses are more important than cameras, in general, but once you get lenses of a reasonable quality, then putting some money into your bodies makes sense. You can shoot sports, e.g., with a non-motor-driven FM2n, but you might have an easier time of it with an F4s or F5, with AF and a motor drive, and you might have better luck with accurate exposure in rapidly-changing light conditions using autoexposure.

    I'll tell you one thing I really prefer about the F3HP or F4s versus an FM2n (and I own all three) - the high-eyepoint viewfinders. I wear glasses, and using the first two cameras is a lot easier. Still, the FM2n is a great camera in its own right, and it's awfully reliable in the cold, since it doesn't really need the batteries except for metering. :smile:

    These days, with film cameras being so cheap, a person can afford to have the best of gear. I can't justify owning an F5 from a purely practical level, but the price has dropped to such a point that I can afford it and get my money's worth out of it. I really don't care if I need it or not.

    Henri Cartier-Bresson made a career out of using a simple rangefinder camera and a 50mm lens. Should everyone have such basic gear? Obviously you can do amazing work with it. Photography would be boring, however, if everyone used the same gear.

    Don't forget the glass - it's hugely important - but as long as you can afford reasonably good glass, by all means get reasonably good bodies to go with it. And, especially if you are a film shooter, have more than one camera - for multiple film types, not having to change lenses (sometimes subjects don't let you change them - there simply isn't time), and for the pleasure of using complementary tools.
     
  17. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

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    If I didn't see your client list I never would have believed that cameras are light tight boxes!

    On the other hand most modern lenses are more than sharp enough and people who obsess over minute differences between them are mostly wasting their time. Bodies, though, can have crucial differences that can make or break a shot - i.e. ease of focus, MLU, or the ability to use a 6x finder or aerial screen as on my F3.

    -A
     
  18. HerrBremerhaven

    HerrBremerhaven Member

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    The F3 enjoyed a longer and more popular sales run. If you don't want a motor driven SLR, then the F3 is a smaller and more compact set-up than an F4S. The biggest downside to an F3 (for me) is the non-standard flash shoe. There is a wealth of quite good Nikon lighting gear, and without an adapter you are restricted to much older Speedlights with the F3.

    The F4S probably has one of the easiest to read viewfinders in the industry. When light levels drop, simply turn on the assist light for the displays. It also has a great range of capabilities and options, though some of the accessory items cost nearly as much as a good used body. I have and use often the waist level viewfinder for low angle shots. On a film flatness comparison, the back on the F4S is slightly different than the F3, which in theory might allow better film flatness.

    I think though it really comes down to trying one in hand. The F4S is definitely not a light camera, though the grip set-up gives it a good balance. Ideally you would handle both cameras, and decide which one is the least distracting.

    Ciao!

    Gordon Moat Photography
     
  19. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    The Nikon F3 and the F4 are both great cameras. At one time, I used the auto-exposure Nikon F3 as a backup to my F2 bodies. Today, I use the auto exposure/auto focus Nikon F4 as a backup to my F2 bodies. I hope my following notes on the two cameras are of use to you. Others have probably covered many of the items in my notes, but I list them anyway.

    F3 pros:
    1. Has interchangeable viewfinder and view screens.
    2. Has a highly selective center-weighted meter.
    3. Less electronics than the F4
    4. The F3 has the option of being used without a motor drive.
    5. When the MD-4 motor drive is removed from the F3, it is smaller in size and lighter in weight than the F4.
    6. Has traditional brass top and bottom covers.
    7. Has leatherette covering on body
    8. Is less expensive to repair compared to the F4.
    9. Can use linear or circular polarizer.
    10. Works well with AI/AIS manual focus lenses.

    F3 cons:
    1. Battery dependent but has a mechanical shutter speed that can be used if the batteries die.
    2. Slower flash synch than F4
    3. TTL flash system is very primitive and does not allow for the use of the light meter when a flash is attached and turned on.
    4. Like the earlier F and F2 bodies, it has a non-standard accessory shoe around the rewind crank.
    5. Viewfinder display is not as informative as the F4.
    6. Does not have an auto focus mode for auto focus lenses.
    7. Cannot use G lenses.

    F4 pros:
    1. Has interchangeable viewfinder and view screens.
    2. Has classic 60/40 center-weighted light meter.
    3. Viewfinder display is more informative and is easier to read than the F3.
    4. Faster high-end shutter speeds and faster flash synch than F3.
    5. Normal ISO hot shoe and more recent TTL flash system
    6. Does not need expensive and rare AS-17 adapter to use normal flashes in TTL mode.
    7. Better balance than F3 when long lenses are mounted.
    8. More metering modes
    9. Has faster flash synch speed and a more advanced TTL flash system than F3.
    10. Works well with AI/AIS manual focus and auto focus lenses.
    11. Can use G lenses (in Programmed and Shutter Priority modes only)

    F4 cons:
    1. Battery dependent
    2. Too conspicuous for clandestine candids
    3. Not able to wind film manually
    4. Cannot use camera when the batteries die.
    5. More expensive to repair than F3
    6. LCD bleed problems are common
    7. Even with the smallest battery pack (MB-20), the F4 is still heavy.
    8. Can only use a circular polarizer.
    9. Rubberized covering gets a bit slippery.
    10. Has plastic top and bottom.
     
  20. djacobox372

    djacobox372 Member

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    F100's are nearly as cheap as f3's and f4's these days.... I'd go for one of those!
     
  21. Markok765

    Markok765 Member

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    If you prefer a manual camera that is simple, with only needed features and do not care about AF[remember that most shorter AF lenses have a plastic body, while the older MF lenses are metal] I would go for the F3.
    If you want a camera with a lot of automation, AF, while still preserving traditional dials, go for the F4.
     
  22. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    I have to agree. I've owned an F4s for years but after getting a F100 off ebay for an insanely low price, I never look back. The deals that are going on ebay are great for the F100 and it is worth every bit. I highly recommend it.
     
  23. gsbene

    gsbene Member

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    I've used both and vote for the F4s...

    I started with an F, graduated to the F2s, then got an F3HP with motor drive. Basically got out of it to go autofocus, but also because the motor drive contacts were not reliable on my model, causing it to not shoot sometimes when I needed it to.

    I now have the F4s, and use it both in AF and MF modes (not convinced the AF is always spot-on with this camera), and just love the feel and function of it (forgiving the AF fudginess). I also love the feel of the grip for both horizontal and vertical shooting. And I echo others' posts about the built-in diopter correction. I have a hard time with some models that don't have it (like my Nikkormat EL).
     
  24. Daud

    Daud Member

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    I have the F2SB, F3 and the F4, if given a choice would still go and buy another F4. It is the most versatile camera I own and the lens availability is phenomenal given its age; all Nikon lenses up to the newer (horrible) G types with very few restrictions on metering.

    Oh and it does have manual rewind and a quiet mode on the motor drive.

    Weight is not a problem for me as I am of an age where plastic still makes me question quality.

    David.

    http://davidalockwood.wordpress.com