Nikon F3
The 3rd Generation Professional System Camera from Nikon - Malaysia's Online Camera Shop!


The Nikon F3 was the third generation of the professional class Nikon F-series 35mm SLR camera model. Introduced in 1980, it was the followed up model of the original Nikon F of 1959 and the hugely successful Nikon F2 of the '70 where both the earlier models were commanding such a distinctive supremacy in the professional users' market. When the F3 was first announced, the heavy automation in the camera was like sending cold shivers down the spine to many purist photographers. As one can still recalled, the price of a discontinued fully mechanical Nikon F2AS has a retailed price higher than a new automatic Nikon F3 during those early days of its inception to the photographic community !
Main Features
# Aperture-Priority Automatic [A] exposure control
# Viewfinder with 100% picture coverage
# TTL flash control with Nikon Speedlights
# Accepts the MD-4 Motor Drive which fires at up to 6 frames per second (fps)
# Complete interchangeability of five finders, 22 focusing screens and camera backs including the MF-14 Data Back, MF-18 Data Back and the MF-6B Camera Back
# F3 high-eyepoint features DE-3 high-eyepoint Viewfinder
# Successors of this camera are Nikon F4 (1988) and Nikon F5 (1996).
However, one important aspect in the design of this classic Nikon is, it has replicated a successful concept similar to the previous F & F2 with a modular body design that enables it to accept an array of dedicated accessories to cater for individual requirements or setting up the camera for specific photographic needs. The Nikon F3 has one of most extensive collection of system accessories that built around body which has made the F3 one of the most desirable system camera in the market by professional users.
The Nikon F3AF, with its two dedicated AF optic and a removable AF-prism that can also serve as a electronic rangefinder to provide visual focusing indication when fitted on any F3 camera (except F3P, F3H and F3 Limited where all came with a non standard DE-5 prism). The Nikon F3 series have the most of variant models among all single digit F-models. Strangely, unlike many other comparing professional SLR cameras at the time, one aspect that has contributed to its popularity was actually its bare basic simple exposure mode of an aperture priority AE and manual exposure control. It was never intended in designing to shine in specifications or features but rather - its strength was realized over the time, soon photographers were starting to appreciate what a great camera it was. Well, I think much credit has to be given to its creator where I personally think the Company has shown a lot of courage in deciding its specification by turning their top of the line reference professional SLR model to rely on full-automation (well, almost..because the F3 has a mechanical backup shutter even if the batteries failed and with a superior MD-4 Motor Drive that supports its power management). This was an important feature as during the early '80, the market was still very much pre-dominant by traditional mechanical-battery-free market/users. Further, competitions were keen from rivaling brands where we saw the likes of Canon New F-1 & Pentax LX that debuted after the Nikon F3 (and other great SLR bodies such as Contax RTS II or even the Olympuses) - where all of which have benefited INDIRECTLY from the earlier success of Nikon by stamping a mark of confidence towards electronic SLR camera for real life professional usage.
In fact, many of its variants have developed as collectors' favorites. Other than the bare basic camera body which has so much to offer in strength and for users to explore its potential as a reliable imaging tool, it marks an important development curve on the course of both SLR camera design as well as for modern photography. The Nikon F3 was the the first professional SLR camera that has truly bridged between mechanical and electronic engineering in camera design where it has spearheaded popularity of adoption of automation in photographic usage. Its strength and reliability has influenced even the most hard-core users of mechanical SLRs in accepting the fact where automation as an inevitable route to modern photography without at the expense of reliability. But most of all, the simplicity in its design and handling along with an unsurpassed ruggedness, efficiency and great system compatibilities - which has made this Nikon body widely acclaimed as a true classic camera of modern times ! This site, along with many other classic SLRs featured in this site, chronicles another photographic legendary tool.

Nikon F3 Specifications

Type of camera:
35mm single-lens reflex

Picture format:
24mm x 36mm standard 35mm film format.

Lens mount:
Nikon bayonet type.

Lenses with Nikon F mount (with some limitations); AF lenses.

Electromagnetically controlled, horizontal-travel, titanium foil focal-plane shutter.

Shutter release button:
Switch meter on when depressed halfway (after shutter release lock is released), meter then remains on for 16 sec, after finger is taken off button; threaded in the center to accept standard cable release.

Automatic exposure control:
Aperture-priority automatic exposure control; stepless shutter speeds from 8 sec to 1/2000 sec.

Manual exposure control:
Quartz digital control for 16 shutter speeds from 8sec to 1/2000 sec, including X (1/80 sec); B and T also provided.

Backup mechanical release lever:
Trips shutter at approx 1/60 sec, regardless of shutter speed dial setting (except T); used when batteries become weak or exhausted, or none are installed in the camera.

Exposure metering:
TTL center-weighted (80/20) full-aperture metering; aperture stop-down metering possible; silicone photodiode (SPD) and metering circuits incorporated into camera body; meter works with all interchangeble viewfinders.

Metering range:
EV 1 to 18 (ie f/1.4 at 1 sec to f/11 at 1/2000 sec with 50 mm f/1.4 lens and ISO 100 fil).

Film speed setting:
ISO 12 to 6400.

Exposure memory lock:
Via button.

Exposure compensation:
Via dial; +2 to -2 EV in 1/3 increments.

Film advance lever:
Single stroke type; 30 degrees stand-off angle and 140 degrees winding angle; automatic film advance possible when motor drive MD-4 is used.

Quartz-controlled approx 10 sec delayed exposure; LED blinks at 2 Hz for first 8 sec, then at 8 Hz for last 2 sec; setting cancellable.

Nikon F3; Eyelevel finder DE-2 as standard;

Nikon F3 High-Eyepoint;
eyelevel High-Eyepoint finder DE-3 as standard; both equipped with eyepice shutter; each interchangeable with 4 other types.

Viewfinder display:
Liquid crystal display (LCD) shows shutter speed; on Auto, +2000 indicates overexposure, -8- underexposure; on Manual, M appears with + indicating overexpousre, - underexposure, and -+ correct exposure; LED ready-light glows when Speedlight SB-16A and SB-17, plus SB-11 and SB-14 with TTL Sencor cord SC-12, is completely recycled; apertyre in use also show through aperturedirect-readout (ADR) window.

Focusing screen:
Split-image microprism Type K provided as standard; interchangeable with 21 other types.

Finder coverage:
Virtually 100%.

Finder magnification:
Nikon F3: 0.8x

Nikon F3HP:
0.75x (both with 500 mm lens set at infinity).

Viewfinder illuminator:
Via button; illuminates both LCD and ADR f/number.

Multiple exposure control:
Via lever.

Reflex mirror:
Automatic instant-return type with lockup facility; incorporates air damper and brake mechanism for reduced vibration and noise.

Depth-of-field preview:
Via lever.

Frame counter:
Additive type; frame numbers from 0 to 40; automatically resets to S when camera back is opened.

Film rewind:
By crank provided after film rewind button is pressed.

Flash synchronisation:
Possible at all speeds up to 1/80 sec with electronic flash; with SB-16A and SB-17, plus SB-11 and SB-14 with TTL sensor cord SC-12, sync speed is automatically set to 1/80 sec with dial at A or 1/125 sec an above; at 1/60 sec or slower, flash synchronizes with speed setting as set; threaded sync terminal provided for off camera or multiple-flash photography.

Accessory shoe:
Provided; special Nikon F3 type located at base of rewind knob; accepts Speedlight SB-16A, SB-17 or TTL sensor cord SC-12 from SB-11 or SB-14 for TTL direct flash control; two types of flash couplers available for mounting ISO-type or F2-type direct mounting flash units.

Power source:
Choice of one 3V lithium battery CR-1/3N type, two 1.55V silver-oxide batteries SR-44 type, or two 1.5V alkaline batteries LR-44 type; optional Anti-Cold Battery Holder DB-2 accepts two AA alkaline, Ni-Cd or manganese batteries. Note: for Nikon products using AA batteries, do not use lithiums unless specifically stated.

Motor drive coupling:
Electrical contacts and mechanical couplers provided for operation with motor drive MD-4.

Camera back:
Hinged; opened by pushing safety lock while pulling up rewind knob; memo holder provided; interchangeable with camera back MF-6, data back MF-14, or 250 exposure magazine back MF-4.

Body finish:
Black only.

Body dimensions:
(W x H x D) Nikon F3: approx 148.5 x 96.5 x 65.5 mm

Nikon F3HP:
Approx 148.5 x 101.5 x 69 mm.

Body weight:
Nikon F3: 715g approx

Nikon F3HP:
760g approx.

Back to the Photogarphy Page


© 1997-2020 HIFISHACK. All rights reserved