The F3 has a wonderful reputation and cult following. But, due to it's paltry 1/60'th flash sync, I always grab my FE-2 or F100.
Well, I took a look at it and the quality is really good. However, even with the microprism I found the viewfinder to be difficult to use.
Maybe it's because I wear glasses (this was a non-HP version), but I compared it to a Pentax Super Program that was nearby and ... maybe it's just me, but it was easier on the Pentax.
The F3, though, is a fantastic handling machine. Wow. This camera was so smooth. It felt like a refined BMW in my hands! Perhaps it's just Nikon viewfinders that don't work with me...is this really odd?
Last edited by dugrant153; 06-25-2011 at 01:58 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I have the N90s and have to agree.
Originally Posted by CGW
Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR
"We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin
I'd get it. Especially if you got a ton of Nikon glass already. I got a bunch of AI and AI-s lenses and an FG.
5x7 Eastman-Kodak kit / B&L 135mm Zeiss Tessar + Compur Deckel
4x5 Graphic View / Schneider 180 5.6 Symmar in a Synchro Compur
RB67 Pro S /50 4.5 / 90 3.8 / 180 4.5 / WLF / prism finder / polaback
Random 35mm stuff
Hmmm, I usually find its a depreciating asset
Buying a nice single malt is an investment in myself.
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For an eyeglasses wearer such as myself, I always thought Nikon's Pro/semi-pro viewfinders were the best; the FG-20 wasnt that great. The FE2 was OK, the F801s was excellent (reputedly based on the F3HP design), but the F5 was just in a league of its own. I'd imagine the F4/F90 to be similar, respectively.
Id have no hesitation in buying a brassy F3, but at the same time I wouldn't be heartbroken if it did break. Id probably just buy another brassy model and see how long that lasts - though at the rate I shoot quite a while probably.
The brassing is a fairly good indication of how much use the F3 has had, and generally very few cameras if any are an investment these days the reason to buy them is to use them, if you need an investment choose something else.
There are more Nikon F3s out there for sale than you can shake a stick at, I suggest that you wait to get one with the high eye point viewfinder that you can afford that is in better condition.
The standard focusing screen isn't as good as it could be with the standard finder. I have a couple of F3HP cameras, both fitted with the Type E focusing screen.
With that combination, there is virtually nothing that outshines it in 35mm land.
I wear glasses and these days don't have very good eyesight, I can still see and focus with my cameras quite well.
The early F4 is more or less an F3, with a built in drive and autofocus.
My suggestion is to get one which is the F3HP and think about changing the standard focusing screen to one that suits your vision and/or concept of what the focusing screen should look like. There are about 20 focusing screens for the F3.
The wind mechanism, is possibly the best mechanism fitted to a manual wind 35mm mirror reflex camera. Silky smooth is close to what it feels like.
The MD4 drive is brilliant as well, these days they are as cheap as chips.
Ps:- the HP finder was designed for eyeglass wearers. You can see the entire frame whilst wearing eyeglasses and you don't have to move your head at all.
You should be able to get an F3HP for $175-$225 in excellent condition on eBay. Just keep looking
Things to look for:
Make sure the camera serial number starts with 16xxxxx. This way, you avoid earlier models that have the old style exposure lock button. The older lock button has a strong tendency to loosen with use and it pops out and is gone forever.
Make sure the motor drive coupling cover is screwed into the base. If it isn't, there will be a hole in the camera base that lets in lots of light. Not good.
Make sure the original eyepiece (not an eyecup) is on the HP prism. It is rubber-coated and prevents scratches to your eyeglasses.
There's really not an enormous difference between the DE-2 and DE-3(HP)finders. I have both and really don't have preference for the DE-3. There is often a considerable difference in price, though, between an F3 and F3HP based solely on the finder. The DE-3(HP) finder has slightly less magnification(.75x) vs .80 on the DE-2. If you can find a clean F3+DE-2, buy it.
The F3+MD4 is truly brick-like and not light. It was the 80s PJ's rig. There's really no convenient way to rig a vertical shutter release on the MD-4 outside the wart-like MR-3. Camera and drive can also be used for self-defence.