Refurbushing old & battered Nikon F3??

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by TheToadMen, May 10, 2013.

  1. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

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    Hi,
    I was offered an old Nikon F3 with two focusing glasses (type K and type G4) for Euro 25 (USD 28). The only problem was that the leatherette was coming loose at the edges. But the camera was supposed to be in good working order.

    I already have a Nikon F3 looking and working as new. So I really don't need a second one. But then, my daughter (16 years old) is suddenly showing an interest in analogue photography, so this could be a nice extra camera for her to use and practice. I have somewhere an old 50 mm f2 Ais lens that doesn't look nice either (but in good working order) to complete the test set for her.

    I took the bate and said yes. The camera was mailed to me and it arrived today. First of all, the batteries were dead so I didn't know if it was in working order. But the shutter did fire at 1/60 with the manual release button (next to the lens). I went out and bought me two new watch batteries type SR44W / 357 (but a pair of A76, S76 or DL1/3N will fit also). I put it in the two batteries and the camera came alive. All the shutter speeds sounds good and it is as fast as my own F3. The LCD screens is also working, as is the light meter.

    But, it looks really terrible on the outside taped up like this:

    Nikon_F3_taped_02.JPG Nikon_F3_taped_03.JPG Nikon_F3_taped_01.JPG
    It doesn't look even that bad in these images (made by iPhone) but believe: it looks and feels bad enough. I won't send my daughter out on the street with this one.

    So, now I'm thinking of refurbishing it. I found a very nice DIY kit to replace the leatherette, see: http://www.cameraleather.com/nikonslr/
    I like the grey Griptac for USD 14.00. Gives a nice look and it doesn't have to look original.
    Look like this (on an other model Nikon and an Olympus):

    leatherette_grey_Griptac_Nikon_motorwind.jpg leatherette_grey_Griptac_Nikon.jpg leatherette_grey_Griptac_Olympus.jpg

    An other nice on (to me) is the Granite Kid Skin (Goat). It looks like this on a Leica M3:
    leather_m3_Goat_grey05.jpg

    I haven't decided yet, but this real leather costs USD 44.00. And since my F3 is black (not chrome as most examples on http://www.cameraleather.com) I think the lighter Grey suites better.

    I was wondering: has anyone done this himself? Was it "easy" to do?
    And has anyone uses a set from this company?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 10, 2013
  2. ArtO

    ArtO Member

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    Have never tried it. But best of luck with the project and let us know how it turns out.
     
  3. wiedzmin

    wiedzmin Subscriber

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    I would test the camera first with film. Replacing leatherette is not very difficult but time consuming - cleaning old residue. Also check the condition of the mirror bumper foam.
     
  4. erikg

    erikg Member

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    Griptac is a great surface. Hopefully Morgan will come through for you, I've bought 4 kits from him, but he never shipped #4. Stopped responding to my emails, I've given up. Too bad, nice product. F3 is a nice camera to start with for your daughter, you'll get her hooked!
     
  5. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    There're a few postings here of people not that pleased with that company. I'd read those if I were you.

    I've bought a few covers from this site:

    http://aki-asahi.com/store/

    Service was great, shipping quite fast and the quality terrific. Not hard to do.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 10, 2013
  6. summicron1

    summicron1 Subscriber

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    my m4 has camerleather on it and it took me a while to realize it -- but as to type, shouldn't your daughter make that decision? Maybe a nice snakeskin or something fashionable.

    or just leave it looking battered and tell her to tell folks that it survived the Vietnam War...:tongue:
     
  7. LiamG

    LiamG Member

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    They made the f3 up till 2005, so it shouldn't be too hard to find the original leatherette. I like a nicely used F3, it's a camera that wears well.
     
  8. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Subscriber

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    I am also one of the former cameraleather.com faithful. I bought several kits from the guy, then all of a sudden zilch. The outfit Richard S mentions has been top notch. I'd skip the hassle and go with them. The job is not too difficult.
     
  9. agnosticnikon

    agnosticnikon Member

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    If there were Nikon F3 cameras in the Vietnam war, it went on a lot longer that I thought. (heh, heh) But I get your point, I've always liked the look of the well used camera. Then again, a 16 year old might not see it that way. How about going to a hardware store, home supply store, or even a Walmart. There are lots of cool colors and types of duck (duct?) tape that would be cheap and easy to apply. (how about pink?) Tape the camera good, use single edge razor blade or exacto blade to trim at the metal edges. Also, I don't think that the replacement leather kits supply the smooth rubber grip on the right front of the body, that your camera seems to be missing also. Check first. I bought a replacement leather kit for my Contax 139 and it was easy to install, but a pain to prep the camera body. All old glue/leatherette has to come off completely.
    Good luck with your project, and I hope your daughter has fun with this camera, they're great!
     
  10. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

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    Hi everyone,
    Thank you for all the replies. Some interesting comments.

    1) I thought about letting my daughter decide on the type of covering, but wasn't sure yet. Maybe I'll keep it a surprise for now? And what if she doesn't like the camera after all? I won't go out shooting with an all pink F3. But oke, I'll get her opinion first.

    2) I saw the site of aki-asahi.com . They seem to offer 15 different prints/colors for the Nikon F3 but I can't see on the site what the look like? This is the link to the Nikon F3 page: http://aki-asahi.com/store/html/Nikon-F3/index.php . I've sent them an email inquiring about this.
    The site of www.cameraleather.com was much better with its info, but if they're not shipping anymore ...

    3) Is ther anyone who had good contacts & dealings with www.cameraleather.com recently?

    4) I didn't realize it at first, but the rubber grip is missing. They used extra thick tape to mimic it. Anyone got any ideas how to fix this? Has anyone a spare lying around? Or should I leave it out? The grip itself is formed on the camera body, the rubber grip is only a layer of rubber (it seems?).
    At www.cameraleather.com they offered a kit wrapping all around the rubber grip (loosing the red stripe):
    This would be a solution but aki-asahi.com doesn't seem to have this option.

    Here are some images from the sites about not including the rubber grip:
    Nikon_F3_grip_rubber-cover.jpg
     
  11. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    Camera coverings are pretty easy to do and not an expensive investment unless you are using exotic leathers. If you buy thin leather and some pilobond you can do it yourself if you can measure with a ruler and cut with a hobby knife. You'd probably need to alter the leather kit cutouts anyway since your missing the rubber grip. It would be interesting to see how a f3 would look like without it. Also if the grip is going that badly, be sure to check the foam in the back and in the mirror box to see if that needs replacing. Would be cleaner to do it all at once than to do it after you put new leather on.
     
  12. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

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    The grip isn't going badly, it is missing at all! Its replaced with extra layers of tape.
    By the looks of it - compared with my "new" F3 - it's just a thicker layer of rubber glued to the cast.
    If I get a full sheet of leather to wrap around the grip as well, I can just put some extra fillings beneath it. For instance with the suggested "rubber cement" (don't know yet what it is). See: http://aki-asahi.net/store/html/Nikon-F3/camera-body/install/01/01.html

    The light seals seem to be fine. The foam above the mirror is a very little bit sticky. Anyone knows where I can get this foam and light seal for the F3?
     
  13. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

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    It's easy to re-cover the Nikon... the only slightly difficult part is cleaning the old covering off. As for the grip, I would use a few layers of tape instead of the camera leather, because that area is high-use and will show more wear.
     
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  15. Ap507b

    Ap507b Member

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    As someone else has suggested, maybe try your local Nikon Spares to see if they have the originals. It may be the least hassle option & you may be surprised how cheap the leatherette is from them. New leatherette for FM2 camera back was only a few pounds direct from Nikon spares.

    The missing finger grip is a part on its own & you may be able to get one from them also? I can email you a parts manual for the F3 if it helps? (Also have the repair manual if you want it?) PM me your email address if you are interested.

    Regards.
     
  16. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

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    Hi David,
    I thought of the original leatherette too, but Was thinking it would kinda nice to make it a whole "new" model while I'm at it.
    And it would be nicer for my daughter, having a non-standard F3 (I think at least).
    But the grip I'll try to get original if I can't get a new skin that goes all around the camera.

    BTW: I PM-ed you with my email address for the manuals, Thanks!!
     
  17. Jon Goodman

    Jon Goodman Member

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    I have light seal kits for the F3 and I send one to The Netherlands nearly every week. Please feel free to contact me at jon_goodman@yahoo.com
    Good luck and best regards,
    Jon
     
  18. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

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    PM sent, thanks.
     
  19. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

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    Update:

    I mailed to http://aki-asahi.com for other possible colors of coverings for the Nikon F3 and received this link:
    http://aki-asahi.com/store/html/material-list/ColorLeather_MaterialList_02_e.html
    I showed it to my daughter and we are probably going for "Yellow Lizard Emboss (cow hide)" or "Deep Pink Lizard Emboss (cow hide)" since the F3 has a black body. The other option was the "Granite Kid Skin (Goat)" from www.cameraleather.com as showed above.

    I also mailed to Nikon asking for a rubber grip. Waiting for reply.
     
  20. Canuck

    Canuck Member

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    Just got a Blad kit in from him, so he is still alive and kicking :smile:
     
  21. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

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  22. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

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    I ordered the rubber grip from Nikon for $6.00 today.
     
  23. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

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    Small poll on choosing the right color

    I received a new rubber grip from Nikon for my F3 body, so I'm now gonna order me a leatherette kit. My daughter chose two colors: yellow and pink.
    See these color examples:
    002.jpg and 002.jpg

    The first option was the Grey Griptac mentioned above:
    leatherette_grey_Griptac_Nikon_motorwind.jpg

    Since she couldn't choose between these colors, I would like to post a small poll. Which color do you think suits best my Nikon F3?
    Bare in mind that it is a black body with a black grip.
     
  24. Jim Rice

    Jim Rice Member

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    Pink.
     
  25. Fast14riot

    Fast14riot Member

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    Yellow.
     
  26. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    Yellow. I like yellow and black together. Bumble bee F three!