Brassed Nikon F3 worthwhile?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by dugrant153, Jun 24, 2011.

  1. dugrant153

    dugrant153 Member

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    So after delving into a Nikon FM2 and being farely impressed with the build quality and the wide-known (or so it seems on the net) reliability of this calibre of camera, I was looking to grab a Nikon F3 as my main monster.

    I would think these two cameras would be good long term investments.

    My question is: I found a Nikon F3 (non-hp) that seems to be in pretty good shape and is within my price range of under $200. However, there is brassing around the eyepiece and brassing on the bottom. However, the mirror foam looks to be brand new and so does the film bay foam. All else looks to check out.

    Does this sounds like a decent investment, even for something so "brassed"?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 24, 2011
  2. Shawn Rahman

    Shawn Rahman Subscriber

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    I think the price is good, and these cameras are only getting more expensive. As to the brassing, don't worry about it. You already know what a tank this thing is. If the foam looks good, use it. When it needs a CLA or service, get it done. If you don't abuse it, this camera will outlive you.
     
  3. CGW

    CGW Member

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    First, it won't be an "investment" in that shape. Second, you'd do way better for that kind of change in looking at a late AF model like an N90s or F100.
     
  4. dugrant153

    dugrant153 Member

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    The main reason for me thinking F3 is the viewfinder (but the "hp" version is way too over my budget at the moment). I've considered the AF models but are the viewfinders large? My experience with other brands is that AF cameras generally have poor viewfinders/screens for focusing.
     
  5. CGW

    CGW Member

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    The finders on the N90s and the earlier 801s/8008s are remarkably good, especially the N90s/F90x which are dirt cheap now. Their screens are either plain matte or grid with no split image focus aid like the K screens on MF models. They do, however, have excellent electronic rangefinders that confirm focus, making them especially nice to use with manual lenses.

    Most F3s I see now are veterans of years of hard use. Their legendary toughness doesn't mean they're impervious to wear and tear.
     
  6. Ken N

    Ken N Member

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    You might want to also consider the F4. Personally, I think it's the last AF camera made where you can actually manually focus without fear and loathing.
     
  7. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    The HP finder is best if you wear eyeglasses when shooting.
    It's an expensive luxury imo espesially if you shoot bare eyed.

    KEH has bargain non HP's for around 130.00 and would probably be in comparable condition to what you're describing.
     
  8. j-karr

    j-karr Member

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    I'll also second the F4. I think it's a very handsome, solidly built camera that still has knobs for everything and where you'd expect them to be. I had an F4s for a while and I really regret not keeping it.
     
  9. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

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    It may be considered an investment in yourself . . . :whistling:
     
  10. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Buying a nice single malt is an investment in myself.
     
  11. Kiron Kid

    Kiron Kid Member

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    The F3 has a wonderful reputation and cult following. But, due to it's paltry 1/60'th flash sync, I always grab my FE-2 or F100.
     
  12. dugrant153

    dugrant153 Member

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    Well, I took a look at it and the quality is really good. However, even with the microprism I found the viewfinder to be difficult to use.
    Maybe it's because I wear glasses (this was a non-HP version), but I compared it to a Pentax Super Program that was nearby and ... maybe it's just me, but it was easier on the Pentax.

    The F3, though, is a fantastic handling machine. Wow. This camera was so smooth. It felt like a refined BMW in my hands! Perhaps it's just Nikon viewfinders that don't work with me...is this really odd?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 25, 2011
  13. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    I have the N90s and have to agree.
     
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  15. j-dogg

    j-dogg Subscriber

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    I'd get it. Especially if you got a ton of Nikon glass already. I got a bunch of AI and AI-s lenses and an FG.
     
  16. mr rusty

    mr rusty Subscriber

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    Hmmm, I usually find its a depreciating asset :laugh:
     
  17. Selidor

    Selidor Member

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    For an eyeglasses wearer such as myself, I always thought Nikon's Pro/semi-pro viewfinders were the best; the FG-20 wasnt that great. The FE2 was OK, the F801s was excellent (reputedly based on the F3HP design), but the F5 was just in a league of its own. I'd imagine the F4/F90 to be similar, respectively.

    Id have no hesitation in buying a brassy F3, but at the same time I wouldn't be heartbroken if it did break. Id probably just buy another brassy model and see how long that lasts - though at the rate I shoot quite a while probably.
     
  18. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    The brassing is a fairly good indication of how much use the F3 has had, and generally very few cameras if any are an investment these days the reason to buy them is to use them, if you need an investment choose something else.
    There are more Nikon F3s out there for sale than you can shake a stick at, I suggest that you wait to get one with the high eye point viewfinder that you can afford that is in better condition.
     
  19. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    The standard focusing screen isn't as good as it could be with the standard finder. I have a couple of F3HP cameras, both fitted with the Type E focusing screen.

    With that combination, there is virtually nothing that outshines it in 35mm land.

    I wear glasses and these days don't have very good eyesight, I can still see and focus with my cameras quite well.

    The early F4 is more or less an F3, with a built in drive and autofocus.

    My suggestion is to get one which is the F3HP and think about changing the standard focusing screen to one that suits your vision and/or concept of what the focusing screen should look like. There are about 20 focusing screens for the F3.

    The wind mechanism, is possibly the best mechanism fitted to a manual wind 35mm mirror reflex camera. Silky smooth is close to what it feels like.

    The MD4 drive is brilliant as well, these days they are as cheap as chips.

    Mick.

    Ps:- the HP finder was designed for eyeglass wearers. You can see the entire frame whilst wearing eyeglasses and you don't have to move your head at all.
     
  20. Kisatchie

    Kisatchie Member

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    You should be able to get an F3HP for $175-$225 in excellent condition on eBay. Just keep looking

    Things to look for:

    Make sure the camera serial number starts with 16xxxxx. This way, you avoid earlier models that have the old style exposure lock button. The older lock button has a strong tendency to loosen with use and it pops out and is gone forever.

    Make sure the motor drive coupling cover is screwed into the base. If it isn't, there will be a hole in the camera base that lets in lots of light. Not good.

    Make sure the original eyepiece (not an eyecup) is on the HP prism. It is rubber-coated and prevents scratches to your eyeglasses.:cool:
     
  21. CGW

    CGW Member

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    There's really not an enormous difference between the DE-2 and DE-3(HP)finders. I have both and really don't have preference for the DE-3. There is often a considerable difference in price, though, between an F3 and F3HP based solely on the finder. The DE-3(HP) finder has slightly less magnification(.75x) vs .80 on the DE-2. If you can find a clean F3+DE-2, buy it.

    The F3+MD4 is truly brick-like and not light. It was the 80s PJ's rig. There's really no convenient way to rig a vertical shutter release on the MD-4 outside the wart-like MR-3. Camera and drive can also be used for self-defence.
     
  22. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    I am not so sure about your tem investment. If you mean that the camera will gain in value then it's definitely not. If you mean if it's worth having and using then it is although about $200 is a high price. Unlike other posts recommend you to get other cameras I would recommend you to get an F3 but wait to see if you can get a better one. I like the F3 very much but I doubt that too many people like it also.
     
  23. dugrant153

    dugrant153 Member

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    well, I read all the advise and (with it all in mind) walked into the store. I decided to maybe hold off on the F3 for now and wait for a better one - ideally an HP.
    I'm also going to try to get a better focusing screen for my FM2.

    I walked out with a Nikon F801s!! Took the advice about the electronic rangefinder. Definitely useful. In brighter light, the viewfinder is pretty clear! :smile:

    More on this later!
     
  24. Selidor

    Selidor Member

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    Awesome! I had that camera and loved it. Sold it because it was heavy, especially with an SB-24 attached (infact with an MF-21 databack I had 10 batteries around my neck...) Got some good shots with it though, as no doubt you will too :smile:

    A word of advice about the rangefinder: I found it didn't work all the time, mainly in low light. Thats one advantage of a split prism.
     
  25. semi-ambivalent

    semi-ambivalent Subscriber

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    There are a ton of F3-HPs out there. On the 'Bay the winning prices for same are all over the place; if you buy one and can sleep at night knowing what you've paid, that is all that matters. Someone will certainly have paid less than what you did and someone will certainly have paid more. Take a lot of pictures and move on. Nothing is a "good investment" except in hindsight, but on Ebay F3s with the DE2 usually fetch less than F3s with the DE3. You might consider that a hint from the Market.

    Having said that, if the box you're looking at has the motor drive connector cover and some brassing on the bottom I would say it's likely that it rarely if ever had a motor on it. That's good news for the shutter. If you have large hands you might like it with an MD4 motor; there are lots on that auction site, cheap. (They might even have an extra cover in the little storage pocket. You'd be surprised how often people forget that's there.) If you have large hands you might like the feel of an F4 better. I don't so I cannot speak to that. I have an MD4 but never use it except in winter when it makes the camera easier to hold with gloves (and the drive's batteries run the camera, rather than the camera's).

    Finally, Nikons are very Hemingway. A mint Nikon is pretty. A brassed up Nikon is lovely.
     
  26. RidingWaves

    RidingWaves Member

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    The best way to get a working vertical shutter release is with the MK-1 Firing Rate Converter, as seen on one of my F-3's HERE, fitted with a DA-2 Action Finder as well.
    Using a DE-2 does shave a bit of weight off, and sometimes I do prefer the lower profile, lighter weight while only slightly altering the finder's image. I do use glasses, and the DE-3 is nice, the P body DE-5 is the same view.