The Nikon F3 is the best 35mm ever!

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Ara Ghajanian, Oct 22, 2004.

  1. Ara Ghajanian

    Ara Ghajanian Member

    Messages:
    368
    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2004
    Location:
    Providence,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I just thought I'd get everyone's attention by making a preposterous statement. What are people's thoughts on the F3? Who has one? Any website that you know of that are dedicated to the F3? State you case.
     
  2. roteague

    roteague Member

    Messages:
    6,671
    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2004
    Location:
    Kaneohe, Haw
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I bought a Nikon F3 when they first came out (~1979) and had nothing but problems with it ever since. I replaced the circuit board in it three times, within the first 10 years or so. The camera hasn't worked now for the last 6 or 7 years. I keep it as a paperweight, since I see no reason to put more money into it. I would never buy another F3. My current 35mm (which I don't use much) is a Nikon N80.
     
  3. jim kirk jr.

    jim kirk jr. Member

    Messages:
    743
    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2004
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    35mm
    personally,I like the Nikon cameras that begin with the letter C and end with N. :wink:
     
  4. VoidoidRamone

    VoidoidRamone Subscriber

    Messages:
    490
    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2004
    Location:
    New York Cit
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I think it depends on whether or not you are talking about an SLR or a rangefinder. And then it depends on what you are using the camera for. I personally prefer a simplistic camera, such as the F3... but I have a Canon F1. I've always been a Canon user and never had any problems with it. In the rangefinder department I think you would have a tough time saying that there is a better rangefinder than a Leica. I think your claim is a little too broad to really be taken literally, just my opinion. -Grant
     
  5. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

    Messages:
    2,027
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Never used an F3 but...... If my head speaks, the brialliance of Canon EOS cameras is hard to deny. They were leagues ahead when they came out and arguably still are in terms of performance. They lose out to Nikon in terms of perceived solidity and build. I have heard pros comment that they are stronger as the placky exterior helps them to bounce and reduce shock to the insides and so are in fact harder to break (stop working) than metal bodied cameras. I didn't want to like them, plastic, plastic,plastic, but the embodiment of SLR flexibilty and raw performance. I own them and respect them but am not fond of them. I do think that they really shifted the goalposts and pushed SLR cameras to another level. To me, Leicas are lovely things, but I cannot vote for anything so unjustifiably expensive. They must cost peanuts to make (so much retooling required over the last 50 years, so much R&D.....yeah right). I would love to own one, but would never buy one as I would feel like I had been robbed. I take a rather cynical view of how Leica does business with the M series. One minute the M6 is the ultimate reportage camera, with no uneccessary frills. Owners scoff at those who need such faddish rubbish as TTL flash....then embrace the M6TTL whilst scoffing at the idea of any auto exposure....and embrace the M7, claiming that the camera keeps getting better and better but claim that progress is now not neccessary; it has all it needs right now. Leicas are a bit like religion and society. The values of a faith should never change or be compromised to fit in with modern living. People should adhere to the values if tehy have any well, value. When progress is innevitable and is accepted, it completely reduces to cobblers the arguments previously used to deny it and the validity of the values themselves! The original values deemed intrinsic, definitive and ultimately of divine origin are now regarded as archaic, barbaric, reducing the current values to mere reflections of our culture, today. When the M4s and M6s were new, microchippery flaunted by other cameras was unneccessary. Now that the M7 has come along, it is OK....cos its a Leica, see! Now we do need TTL/ auto exposure. Before, when those other cameras had it, it wasn't needed. The point is that Leica could have produce the M7 20 years ago, but did not. I doubt it was because they could not, but more likely because they have customers wrapped around their fingers and tehy simply did not need to. They now have the MP and the M7, covering both bases, but put the daft knurled round rewind knob on the MP (like this is as efficient as that on the M6/7) whilst claiming that it is now raw, purified, distilled photojournalistic perfection...(by going backwards in the opposite direction to those improvemts made by introducing a proper rewind lever)......oh wait, its the M7 that is the perfect tool...err, or was it the MP. They must really have had to invest cash to build the MP at £2000, MORE than the M7. They are taking the P***! Nonetheless, I still want one. With 50mm lens, £1000 would be about right.
    If only another manufacturer vould hit Leica head on with seriously good build, stunning lenses etc with a similarly basic level of automation. Something less automated than the G2, but better built than the Voigtlanders, without the prblems of the Hexar RF. Basically a complete rip off of the M series, without the daft film loading (silent shutter mandatory). I am convinced if it was done, Leica would be reduced to the Cartier Bresson surfing fraud that it is. I still want one, because of what it is, not the name. I would gladly buy a competitor's rip off at 1/3 price that does the same job and is built as well and lose the name. I feel that Leica now run a shrewd business, serve their own interests well, but the photographic community (a member of which made them so famous) so very badly. Like Canon and Nikon, they could have moved things forward and produce serious tools to be used (those who use them because they are perfect for the job probably do so for that reason, namely because they have no alternative choice. The rest polish them.

    Damn, I missed out the politics....

    Come on bite, come on!

    Tom
     
  6. clogz

    clogz Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,842
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2002
    Location:
    Rotterdam, T
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Bite? Sorry, no time. I shot a few rolls of film this afternoon with my Leica and I can't wait to develop them.
    Greetings
    Hans
     
  7. roteague

    roteague Member

    Messages:
    6,671
    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2004
    Location:
    Kaneohe, Haw
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Well, if we are talking best cameras, I'll take my Toyo 45AII with my sweet 135mm Schneider Symmar-S lens anyday.
     
  8. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

    Messages:
    963
    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2002
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Yo! Tom! WTF, mate? I think you need to get back on your medication. :smile:

    Like it or not there is only one Leica. The M camera of whatever vintage you choose fills its niche like none other. Nothing else works like a Leica.

    Actually, I think you make a great case for why it costs so much. Limited manufacturing output, high priced labor (elves, actually) and pretty much hand assembled with a cost no object approach to materials and assembly. Leica has long been on the brink of extinction. Nobody's getting rich and nobody's going to.

    I'm glad I got mine back when I had the money and you should be glad they don't cost more.

    The Leica is the ideal combination of functionality, aesthetics and mechanical engineering. There isn't a single camera in the world that's more fun to actually use.
    Only the Leica has a soul!

    (I'm going to take my medication, now...)
     
  9. kwmullet

    kwmullet Member

    Messages:
    889
    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2004
    Location:
    Denton, TX,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've been using Canon EOS bodies for a few years, but if I had it all to do over again, I'd get a Canon F1 body. I trained on the F1 and used them all throughout my time as a Navy photographer. I can't say that my life has been improved at all by autofocus, multiple AE modes, etc. There's still lots of FD lenses on the market, both new and used, and batteries would last a heck of a lot longer. Also, I miss cranking the film advance with my thumb between exposures.
     
  10. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

    Messages:
    2,027
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    OK, so it was a rant! I am happy with that, but still beleive that Leica Ms are only used as tools because they are the only tool of the kind available and because there is effectively no brand choice! Just like if the only 4x4s available were Porsche Cayennes! Yup, people would say how great they are...one of a kind....great build and worth the money....without any real comparisons existing..... I think a lot has to do with what you were weaned on, often resulting in years of brand loyalty. As for hand built being a reason for cost. Leicas Ms are very simple and must take a very short period of time to screw together and adjust. Even if one camera took a whole day to assemble... The components are still produced on machines than knock them out etc? Lets face it, if a man can make 10x8 cameras from scratch for the same money, I dont swallow that argument. I have also had small camera/enlarger components made by hand by small precision engineering outfits and the charges again do not support Leica retail prices. I would be interested to know Leica's costs on the M, unchanged by time. I have had a good look over and used and M3 and there is nothing to explain the cost (maybe the very expensive boxes they come in?). To me Hasselblad have done the same with the Fuji lenses for the H1. About 3x what they would cost if the whole deal had been Fuji. Hasselblad used to be able to 'justify' the lens cost as they were fairy made Zeiss, but now? Name, name , name. It just leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

    Oh, another example is the finest air rifles in the UK ( I used to do a lot of airgunning competatively). Incredible precision engineering (often including small high pressure components hand milled), constant innovation, hand finished, expensive woodwork. The most expensive would come in at about £1000 (Air Arms/Daystate/Theoben/Rileyetc). The build and performance on these is amazing and just make Leica look silly. Perhaps there would be more volume for Leica if the prices were not daft -£2K for a body ! I'll stop sitting on the fence now.

    Tom
     
  11. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

    Messages:
    3,042
    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Tom I use to do small-bore target rifle at county level, we're not talking about Anschutz here are we here? Absolutely beautiful beasties :wink:
     
  12. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

    Messages:
    2,027
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    No, not Anschutz (German), but I agree they are superbly well made. Air Arms/Daystate/Theoben/Riley are manufactuerers of pre-charged pneumatic air rifles (charged up with compressed air, usually from a diving bottle). All the target versions used are .177 and can hit a 5p coin every time at 50m. Due to restrictive firearms laws, Britain has really excelled in the manufacture of such rifles, used for Field Target shooting which is kinda like a cross between simulated hunting and golf. It is as addictive as photography, so I'll say no more apart from it must have been good if it got me out of bed every Sunday at 7am while I was at university...

    Tom

    Tom
     
  13. bobfowler

    bobfowler Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,440
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2003
    Location:
    New Jersey,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    My "standard" F3 set up is the non-HP DE-2 prism, "T" screen, MD-4 motor, MF-18 databack, and an MK-1 speed control. I love the camera, but to be honest, I think I use my FM2n more than the F3. Come to think of it, I haven't shot much 35mm lately at all...

    Anyway, I can't make a case for the F3 being the "best 35mm" nor would I be foolish enough to make an attempt. It has some very good points - it fits my hands perfectly, fantastic selection of finders and screens (I use several), and can use any Nikon F mount lens. It's major weak point - that bloody maximum flash sync speed of 1/80th sec. I guess that's why I use the FM2n more than the F3, at least that camera allows flash sync at any speed up to 1/250th.

    I was at the PhotoPlus Expo in NY today and saw the F6. I'll pass on that one.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 22, 2004
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

    Messages:
    1,325
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2004
    Location:
    Louisiana, U
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I skipped the other answers so I may be redundant. The F3 pretty much sucks.

    I started serious photography with a pair of Nikon F's. I now use Canon EOS and Leica M. Of all the 35mm cameras I've ever owned, the Nikon F3 was the biggest disappointment. I bought an early model and the damn thing would never work properly. It would short out on a foggy day. It could not be used near moisture. It sometimes quit working for no apparent reason. It got sent to Nikon Professional Services multiple times--I don't know what they did with it but it didn't help. I complained to people at NPS so much, they sent me a big box of modified F3's for all the photographers at my newspaper to try out. They were designated "F3P" for "Press". They were very reliable cameras--none of the guys at work could kill any of them after a month of trying. The problem was that Nikon wouldn't modify my F3 like those F3's. They could be bought from NPS for about twice what I paid for an off-the-shelf model. I declined with the advisory to Nikon that it seemed odd that they would build a camera so unreliable the first thing they had to do was modify it on a limited basis and not incorporate the improvements in the standard F3.

    So, buy a Nikon F2 if you want the best camera Nikon ever built. Preferably the F2A. If not a Nikon F2, go with a mid-line EOS--they do all the things an F3 was meant to do and more. And they actually work!
     
  16. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

    Messages:
    3,042
    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Tom - Interesting as I've not heard of that manufactuerer before and the sport sounds really good fun :smile:

    Back to thread - Surely with the F6 coming out the others from the same stable are going to decrease in price, so a more up to date F4 may be on the table instaed of the F3?

    Also as already mentioned the F80 is a really good body and I'll throw in the F90X for consideration.
     
  17. roteague

    roteague Member

    Messages:
    6,671
    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2004
    Location:
    Kaneohe, Haw
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Yes, it's not a bad camera. I've had mine for about four years and it has never suffered any type of problems. However, when I bought mine, I insisted on the external battery pack; the camera is just too small for my hands without it, and the battery pack means I can now use AA batteries for it. I have to admit I use it more as a meter these days; I've transitioned almost exclusively to 4x5.
     
  18. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

    Messages:
    3,042
    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Agreed the battery pack is essential for grip and also lowering the center of balance for longer lenses from 200mm upwards :smile:
     
  19. dr bob

    dr bob Member

    Messages:
    871
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Annapolis, M
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    The F3? Yes, I thought it was a fine camera (for an slr) until I got hold of a Zeiss Ikon Contarex with a couple of lenses. A bit of a tank, but super smooth and brilliant results.
     
  20. titrisol

    titrisol Member

    Messages:
    1,671
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    Rotterdam
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I dunno about the best ever but I think one of the most prolific cameras ever?

    It was in every newspaper of the world, Nikon must have made millions out of those.
     
  21. jacbro

    jacbro Member

    Messages:
    8
    Joined:
    May 27, 2004
    Location:
    Racine / Que
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Well... I cannot talk for or against the F3. I'm still using my old F (built in the Viet-Nam era) and it still fits the bill. One of the toughest body I ever had...

    Otherwise, I do appreciate my newer Canon EOS 7N body. I must admit my sighting is less accurate than 30 years ago and electronics makes life a little easier when shooting fast subjects.

    But my main body is my Nikon F, for its tank-like reliability.
     
  22. kjsphoto

    kjsphoto Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,322
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2004
    Shooter:
    Sub 35mm
    I loved the camera. Still ahve one and use it. It was the first camera I used as a photojournalist and you could beat the tar out of it and it would keep on clicking away.

    And the motor drive for it just rocked back in the day!
     
  23. modafoto

    modafoto Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,102
    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2003
    Location:
    Århus, Denma
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I would go for the F5 if I was to buy a Nikon. But my All-Time favourite is Canon EOS 3. Great, fast and rock solid!
     
  24. Dr.Kollig

    Dr.Kollig Member

    Messages:
    107
    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2004
    Location:
    Rhine valley
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    A good side on Nikons is "Photography in Malaysia" lots of infos, like instructions.
    I use a Nikon F3 with MD 4 motordrive combined with 85 or 135 lenses, I like the almost spot like metering with 80% centered in the 12 mm. Used in manuell mode only, the display is hard see in low light and trying to find and press the light button for the display is a pain in the ...So some nights I switched back to an F2AS with bright red LEDs inside.
    If I compare the F3 to an Contax RTS III or Leica R8 it is a rather simple camera and if you work in manual mode you will like it, if you want more gadgets it is NOT the camera for you. For me it is fine, but I also work with 1957 Leica M3s with Leicameter or Gossen Variosix.

    Wolfram
     
  25. fparnold

    fparnold Member

    Messages:
    264
    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2002
    Location:
    Binghamton,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Physically, I think the original F was the top. No fuss, no frills, but everything you wanted plus interchangable finders and screens. Ergonomically, the F2, where the layout is more natural to my hands, and the back doesn't have to be removed to load film. I acquired one after my F collapsed just before a trip a few years back, and while I love the feel of the F2, like others of its breed, it's a bit of a hypochondriac. OTOH, it hasn't needed service since originally purchased (three trips to get the shutter release to reliably fire, and not just in level, horizontal, mode), so maybe it was just adjusting poorly to a new camera bag.
     
  26. gr82bart

    gr82bart Member

    Messages:
    5,271
    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2003
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I don't have a comment on the F3. I hear it's a great camera. I have an F4 - now that's the BEST film camera! LOL

    For a website, check out The Nikonians website. They have forums for each of the Nikon profesional camera models.

    Art.