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  1. #1

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    Nikon F3 meter four stops off

    I have a Nikon F3 that is consistently four stops off (underexposed) in manual mode compared to the correct exposure in Aperture priority. Batteries are fresh, aperture index ring moves freely, springs back nicely, and is in the correct position. I did recently mount a non-ai lens on it once on accident without flipping up the tab, and the lens mounted fairly easily (which is why I didn't notice) but was a little more difficult to dismount. Doesn't seem to have caused any damage. Could this be the problem? I do think I remember the meter being OK afterwards, but the timing is pretty close. Any ideas?

  2. #2

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    Sounds like dead meter cell(s) to me. Try wiping the battery faces and contacts. Also do not take for granted that batterys are fresh just because they might be newly purchased. Take my tips with a grain of salt, because low voltage typically leads to over exposure, not under.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by zabin29 View Post
    I have a Nikon F3 that is consistently four stops off (underexposed) in manual mode compared to the correct exposure in Aperture priority. Batteries are fresh, aperture index ring moves freely, springs back nicely, and is in the correct position. I did recently mount a non-ai lens on it once on accident without flipping up the tab, and the lens mounted fairly easily (which is why I didn't notice) but was a little more difficult to dismount. Doesn't seem to have caused any damage. Could this be the problem? I do think I remember the meter being OK afterwards, but the timing is pretty close. Any ideas?
    Please explain the problem a little clearer? You said it underexposed in manual mode you mean that the meter is off by 4 stop? And you said compared to correct exposure in aperture priority you mean that in aperture priority mode the exposure is correct? Please explain a little clearer.

  4. #4

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    for example, indoors f/4, iso 400, in manual mode the +- shows up at 1/250 and in Aperture mode it will read 1/15. And the meter will track changes as the aperture and shutter are adjusted, but a 3-4 stop difference remains. And yes, aperture priority is giving almost the correct exposure compared to my digital camera, which is giving 1/25. So aperture mode seems to be overexposing by about 2/3 of a stop. I'll add that I do remember this happening a little while ago, before the non-ai lens incident, and it mysteriously fixed itself within a day. And this current issue just happened today, so maybe I'll wakeup tomorrow and it will be fixed. And I just checked with the motor drive attached, and same issue - so I think that rules out a battery issue.
    Last edited by zabin29; 01-03-2014 at 12:13 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  5. #5

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    I think it just need calibration. I think all the adjustments can be made via potentiometers under neath the leatherette on the left side of the camera. There are something like 10 adjustments and must be done in correct order.

  6. #6

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    thanks for your reply, guess I'll bring it in and see what my local tech says.

  7. #7

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    Sounds like a classic case of a cracked FRE unit. Check the left side by the film rewind knob, if any impact damage there the ceramic and gold FRE unit gets a crack and the meter goes off by 3-5 stops, its not Rare but it happens. I had one of my 4 F3's take a tumble on to concrete and thats what got replaced by NPS. The FRE replacements might be in very short supply.

  8. #8

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    If the FRE cracked the same effect for A mode and M mode. The OP said it's OK with A mode. Camera must be put on a calibrated light source / shutter tester to verify the problem. If there is no problem with A mode that is the shutter speed indication in viewfinder and the actual shutter speed are correct and only the shutter speed indication in M mode is off then it's only a calibration of the + - display level. If other problems are found then the problem can be different.

  9. #9
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    Plus, if the FRE is damaged, wouldn't you also have twitchiness in the "+-" indications?

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  10. #10

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    There is no impact damage that I can see, the camera is in beautiful cosmetic condition, with barely a mark on it. No twitchiness in the +-. Did a couple test shots in very low light and the meter gave 2 seconds at f/2.8 in A mode and 1/30 in manual mode - that's 6 stops, so maybe the 3-4 stops isn't as consistent as I thought. Both shutter times sounded accurate. Now checking with the lights on, f/5.6 in A mode gives 1/15 and M mode gives 1/1000. Six stops again. So the differential between readings has increased over the past couple days. Just put in a fresh set of batteries (again) and same readings.

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