Nikon F3, dim viewfinder?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by eurekaiv, Dec 6, 2011.

  1. eurekaiv

    eurekaiv Member

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    So I picked up what might be the worlds most heavily used, brassed up, worn to crap Nikon F3 at a camera meet in trade for a broken AE-1/50mm outfit. I absolutely ADORE the solid (and "broken in" feel :cool:) of this body compared to my FE2 and FG but one thing is kinda annoying me, the viewfinder is incredibly dim by comparison and has what I would call a vignetted appearance. I'm wondering if this is something plaguing my specific finder/screen combo (an E type grid and standard prism) or is it just part of the TTL metering design? The mirror has that weird looking keyhole pattern that best I can tell from searching the google, allows the light to pass through the mirror and onto the meter.
     
  2. OldBodyOldSoul

    OldBodyOldSoul Member

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    Every time I look through my F3 viewfinder I go OOOooooOOOOh. There is nothing dim there, that's for sure. Maybe your lens cap has got a big hole in it and you forgot to take it off? :D
    Seriously, take the screen out and see if it's dirty. Prism too.
     
  3. eurekaiv

    eurekaiv Member

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    I had a feeling... I've taken off the prism and it looks extremely bright and even if I point the bottom at a light and look through it. If I then hold the camera to my monitor and look through the screen like a TLR it looks more like what I see through the viewfinder. So maybe it's the type E (just looked it up to be sure) screen and it's meant to look this way? One thing that's unusual (to me) is that it's not flat like the type E screen in my FE2. It's actually convex on top—looks more like the front of a lens. Seeing as how it's giving the appearance of vignetting I though maybe that could have something to do with it.
     
  4. Dave_ON

    Dave_ON Member

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    The doo-hingy that holds the apeture full open until you release the shutter might not be working.
     
  5. CGW

    CGW Member

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    If so, then wouldn't the aperture ring affect the light level in the view finder? I'm thinking seriously damaged viewfinder prism.
     
  6. CGW

    CGW Member

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    F3 screens have a curved, clear surface facing up to the view finder--the bottom is a fresnel surface. E screens transmit as much light as any other screen. Any chance of a misaligned mirror?
     
  7. Kisatchie

    Kisatchie Member

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    You can also get a Nikon RED DOT screen, which gives a brighter image than earlier screens. Look on one of the short sides... the one that has the screen type, then Nikon Japan, then a red dot if its one of the newer screens. Hope this helps.
     
  8. MFstooges

    MFstooges Member

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    I swear every time I looked thru F3 viewfinder is like watching IMAX theater. Something is not right with your F3. Borrow a friend's prism and or screen and try them on your camera.
     
  9. eurekaiv

    eurekaiv Member

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    Well, this might be a clue... my screen has no Nikon markings on it. Perhaps it's the wrong type for my camera or an inexpensive aftermarket piece?

    Here's a couple pics for those that like pictures of beat to hell cameras. The prism is dented but I can't find fault with it when looking through it off the body. I really love the way it feels... a bit like an old friend. Not that I feel my old friends or anything. :confused:

    F3_1.jpg F3_2.jpg
     
  10. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    You might want to try another focusing screen, usually they are marked at least "Nikon" or have the screen type imprinted on the side where the black frame surrounds it.

    Check if the lens and aperture lever is stopping down correctly, could be the problem there, where its stuck at something smaller the widest, and not opening up.
     
  11. OldBodyOldSoul

    OldBodyOldSoul Member

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    Did you check the mirror for excessive dirt and/or damage? Cleaning the screen is easy, corners and edges of the mirror not so much, so maybe the previous owner did a quick clean that didn't include the whole mirror.

    edit: Oh, and that F3 doesn't look so worn out.
     
  12. CGW

    CGW Member

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    How's 'bout some pix of the screen? Any F/F2/F3 screen I have is marked "Nikon." Aftermarket piece? Beattie is the only one that comes to mind. But if the screen's in the same shape as the body...
     
  13. CGW

    CGW Member

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    That mirror would have to be utterly encrusted to block that much light. Dust and smudges? Doubtful. Still wondering about mirror alignment issues and whether the viewfinder image is squared up.
     
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  15. eurekaiv

    eurekaiv Member

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    The mirror is clean as a whistle—that was one of the first things I did when I got home with it. I need to check the aperture lever though... that could be something. The lenses are a little tighter fit on this body too, I have to use some pressure to get them to lock in. Not crazy or anything but it's not the effortless twist and lock of my other two Nikon bodies.
     
  16. OldBodyOldSoul

    OldBodyOldSoul Member

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    Well, yeah, it would have to be very, very dirty, possibly scratched too. I've seen that amount of dirt before, it's not that hard to get it if you don't care for the body and toss it on the junk pile with mirror exposed. But that can't be the reason since OP mentions the mirror in his first post and he doesn't mention anything suspicious there. I somehow missed or forgot that part of his post until now.

    Here's another wild guess. The lens - OP didn't say if he had checked the lens, right? Wild mushrooms. Haze.

    edit: Just missed OP's post above.
     
  17. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Not the kindest thing to say but just maybe this old F3 is done for. Frankly, I thought the pix said it all. The bad lens mount is spooky. God know what the poor thing's been through. They're not that pricey in way better shape than this one. But try another lens before you junk it.
     
  18. eurekaiv

    eurekaiv Member

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    I've used at least four lenses on it already—a 24, 105, 50 and 35—and all are pretty much the same story. I'll take a closer look this evening though. I really don't want it to be done for as I absolutely adore the way it looks and feels. It's like whoever held this thing every day for ten years had my hands and my grip becuase it fits like a glove.
     
  19. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Yeah but would you feel that way if it was a car? Friends are into "beat is better" too with cameras. Not me. It's not prissiness but practicality that convinces me to get the newest, cleanest, lowest-mileage cameras I can afford. Old but NOS or little used will live longer trouble-free than old and nearly dead. I want to spend $ on film and prints, not repairs. Brassy just doesn't speak to me. Shelve this tchotchke and get a camera that works.
     
  20. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Why not try a different finder?
     
  21. eurekaiv

    eurekaiv Member

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    I don't have a different finder to try at this point and I really don't think that's what it is. I just checked the DOF preview button and it functions as it should and is opening up to max aperture without trouble. So I think I've narrowed it down to the screen and have already bought a new, proper Nikon one. Hopefully it will be here before the weekend and I can give it a shot.

    This comparison is pretty far off base IMO. I don't trust my life with a camera that cost me roughly $50 in trade value. I like the way it feels, like the way it looks, and if it breaks, I have very little invested into it along with two other Nikon bodies (and far too many other cameras) that work just fine for me. I do really appreciate all the help though. :cool:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 7, 2011
  22. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Hope the new screen sorts things out. I have two F3s+MD4s and love 'em--obviously.
     
  23. eurekaiv

    eurekaiv Member

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    New screen = joy. MUCH better, HUGE difference. I don't know what the heck was in there before but it's clearly not the right screen for this camera. Thanks for all the help everyone. :smile:
     
  24. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Very pleased to hear that. They're wonderful, slightly quirky cameras I dearly love. The ability to do absurdly long, accurate exposures in low light on aperture priority is very cool.
     
  25. OldBodyOldSoul

    OldBodyOldSoul Member

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    Great news. Enjoy your F3!
     
  26. Aja B

    Aja B Member

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    How long have your longest and accurate exposures been? I've never tested the limits but have done at least a few minutes. Yours?