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  1. #1
    John_Nikon_F's Avatar
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    Passing some info on, Re: Nikon F3 serial numbers...

    Saw an interesting thread on the Nikonians manual focus bodies forum, discussing the age of Nikon F3 bodies. One of the other users there posted an interesting tidbit that I figured I should pass on.

    To determine the date of an F3, open the back, then remove said back from the body, by depressing the screw that holds the hinge pin in place. Once the back is removed, look at the body casting. There will be a four digit number. The first two digits are used for determining the date of the body. 1-9, O, N, D show the month. The second digit shows the last digit of the year. The third digit is, alas, not shown, but that can be determined by the serial number, whether or not the body was made in the '80s, '90s, or during this decade.

    As an example, my F3P has 7803 as its code. So, July 1988, since I don't think the F3P was made after 1996. If it was, then it could be 1998, but the serial number is in the 901xxxx range on this body.

    -J
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  2. #2
    Mick Fagan's Avatar
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    Not so sure about that, interesting theory though.

    My first F3HP was purchased in March 1985 in Germany, the code under the hinge axle, is N3VJ.

    The second F3HP body was purchased in Germany in April/May 1986. The code on that body is, 75VL.

    As these units were purchased brand new and in the second case, had to await Nikon Germany to get fresh stock from Japan, the theory doesn't seem to be correct.

    Unless the coding, which is in our alphabet, is a direct translation from the Japanese way of doing things

    Mick.

  3. #3
    John_Nikon_F's Avatar
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    It's possible that it is wrong. But, at the same time, it is also possible that Nikon had a body made in July '85 that they sent to Nikon.de when you ordered one from them in late April, early May '86. And, the first body could've been made in late 1983. What are the first 3-4 digits of the serial numbers on them? That may help lay things to rest, when this data is combined with the more well-known F3 production dating webpage on the Nikonlinks.com website.

    -J
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  4. #4
    Mick Fagan's Avatar
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    The first one purchased in 85 has 1637 as the first four digits of the serial number.

    The later one is 1733.

    How do you get a month with the letter,"N"?

    I do know something though. Once I called into a camera shop with my first F3 hanging off my shoulder. A camera rep in the shop asked me if he could quickly look at my camera, which I did. He remarked almost immediately after looking at the serial number, that it was sourced from Germany, interesting eh? He was a rep from the company, that at the time, imported Nikon cameras into Oz.

    Mick.

  5. #5
    John_Nikon_F's Avatar
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    Mick,

    According to the F3 manufacturing date by serial number page on Nikonlinks.com, your 1637xxx body was likely made in November '83. There is one marked 1640xxx that was sold at the end of January 1984. The other body, likely was made in July '85, as the 75 digits of the code signify, due to the fact that there's a 174xxxx body that was sold in March '86, and a 170xxxx body that was sold sometime in 1984.

    The "O" is actually the letter "O", not the number "0". "N" is November, and "D" is December.

    So, how Nikon did it was this way:

    1 = January
    2 = February
    3 = March
    4 = April
    5 = May
    6 = June
    7 = July
    8 = August
    9 = September
    O = October
    N = November
    D = December.

    I guess it was easier to do it this way, than to change the four digit code to a five digit code and go 10, 11, 12.

    Anyway, interesting tidbit about your first F3HP and the rep recognizing it as being a German market body. Must've been in the serial number block that was shipped to Germany in late '83, early '84. So far, I've owned three bodies in the 16xxxxx serial number block. Two near the end, and one near the beginning. Also have owned two in the 17xxxxx block, as well as three earlier bodies, one in the 15xxxxx block, one in the 14xxxxx block, and one in the 125xxxx block. Plus the current P body and an earlier P, that was my first F3. That body was owned by the person who helped Nikon design the F3P, then sold to someone in Hong Kong, before it made its way to New Zealand. Afterward, it went somewhere else, and finally landed in the Seattle, Washington area of the United States. My current F3P came from someone in the UK. Not sure if he was the original owner or not.

    -J

    P.S. here's the Nikonlinks page...

    http://www.nikonlinks.com/~nicke/photo/misc/f3date.html
    APUG: F4, F3P, F2ASx2, F
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