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A Pictorial History...
The Rangefinder || The Nikonos || Compact Cameras
SLRs -
1959/1979 | 1980/1990 | 1991/1999 | y2k/2003 | 2004 ~

Nikon F3, 1980

Nikon F3, 1980

(A featured write-up on the Nikon F3 as one of the
Modern Classic SLRs)
Some Nikon F3
prototype models. * Message Board for Nikon F3

The Nikon F3, a fully electronic professional specification body (With a back-up mechanical shutter speed of 1/60 sec), replaced the Nikon F2. It was the longest serving camera model Nikon has ever produced. Its simple aperture priority AE uses stepless shutter speeds from a low 8 sec to 1/2000 sec. Quartz timing is used to maintain shutter speed accuracy when switched to manual mode. It was also the first Nikon pioneered to use TTL-OTF flash exposure control, a method first invented by the Olympus OM2n but the F3 has refined and turned it into a mainstream flash feature for 35mm photography. Unlike the earlier F & F2's concept of metered prisms, the metering cell is now integrated within the body to handle both ambient as well as TTL flash metering. It came with a superb motor drive, MD-4 which provides a top performing maximum firing rate of 6 frames per second (fps) with a Ni-Cd power source at 1/125 sec and above. It was also the last remaining pro-spec model from Nikon that still provided a mechanical back up speed. System accessories include: 6 types of viewfinders, (Standard is the DE-2 eye-level finder), multiple data back options (includes two versions of 250 exp. Bulk Film Backs) and 22 types of focusing screens to choose from to suit various photographic applications. It has a simple but very accurate center-weighted (80/20) metering system and the MD-4 will take over the power supply when mounted on the camera body. F-features such as multiple exposures and mirror-lock-up were standard. The F3 was also the first Nikon pro-oriented camera that provided integrated built-in automation. While still employing horizontal travel, its ultra-reliable shutter has a lab test result of 150,000 exposure cycles which is 50% more durable than its main contender, the Canon New F1n with 100,000 exposure cycles.

Generally, the two contenders for the pro market, the Canon New F1n and Pentax LX that launched in later stages,  both technically offer better options than the F3. But the F3 succeeded by helping the users on the market, both pros and amateurs, to accept the natural and inevitable trend towards full automation in camera design. Credit must be given to Nikon for providing such an ultra-rugged and reliable workhorse which accelerated the whole process of acceptance and paved the way for the AF age in another development cycle. I think that this is how the F3 will be remembered in the history of cameras as a whole...

| Instruction Manuals for: Nikon F3HP, MD-4, MF-4 |

1981, the redesigned Medical-Nikkor 120mm F4 (IF) offered internal focusing.
Another underwater camera model with AE function, the
Nikonos IV-A was introduced.

F3HP, 1982

Nikon F3HP, 1980
Instruction Manual )

The Nikon finder DE-3 was introduced a year later. The High Eyepoint finder was designed for eyeglass wearer or for photographers who may be required to work with an underwater housing and/or shoot with while wearing a helmet or mask. It allows regular eye level viewing with an eye relief distance of up to 25mm. This feature turned out to be the most popular F3 version ever. Subsequently, in all later models of F3 variants, the high-eye point finder was made as a standard option.

F3T, 1982

Nikon F3/T (Titan) (Champagne), 1982

The Titanium-spec F3 model was generally regarded as the most rugged F3 available. Titanium was used to protect key components - viewfinder, top plate, base and even the camera film back ! The 1st generation of the F3T was finished in a white-chrome champagne finish. This model has remained the most elegant looking F3 model among all other variations. It was replaced by a black paint version at a later stage. Serial numbers for the champagne finish started from T 8200001. Incidentally, a special early production edition - 200 Limited production model was introduced during 1982. Just for comparison: see a very rare view of a Nikon F2T in champagne finish).

Nikon F3AF.jpg

Nikon F3AF, 1983
| Instruction Manual for Nikon F3AF |

The first Nikon body integrated with a TTL Autofocus module. As opposed to other manufacturer's approaches to autofocus that began to take off during early 80's with the "AF lens on an SLR body" concept, Nikon's first attempt with autofocus used their flagship model, the F3 as the basic chassis. It debuted along with two dedicated, damn sharp AF lenses: F3AF-Nikkor 80mm f/2.8 & the F3-AF 200mm f/3.5 IF-ED. The F3AF has an oversized DX-1 prism which also serves as an electronic rangefinder to assist manual focusing when used with any Ai Nikkor lens with a minimum aperture of f/3.5. The focusing screen used on the camera was a fixed and non- interchangeable type, but the F3AF shares many of the system accessories with the standard F3.

F3T Black Chrome

Nikon F3/T (Black), 1985

The basic specification of this Nikon F3/T Black is the same as with the earlier Nikon F3/T Champagne finish except this model has a black finish to answer some professional user's requests for a matching black version with the Nikkor lenses. The serial number for the black Nikon F3/T body starts from T 8500001.

F3P.jpg (10k)

F3 Limited.jpg (15k) Loading..

Nikon F3 Press

Nikon F3 Limited, 1994

More Info and
detailed views of the F3P
Also see the
Nikon F3 Limited* version- with almost identical specifications

The Nikon F3P (some interpreted the designation "P" as "Professional" but it was actually "Press" - either way - it was correct, press photographers are professional shooters too..). There were some omissions in the basic features of the F3P, such as the self timer, multiple exposure etc. * Check the specification papers that came along with the camera. The camera has a specially produced Titanium-made version of the High Eyepoint prism called DE-5 which houses a built-in hot shoe on top of the pentaprism, but such a design was at the expense of the TTL-OTF flash capability of the basic Nikon F3. The DE-5 has remained the only viewfinder for the Nikon F3 that has an accessory shoe. (it was used as the standard finder for the Nikon High Speed Motor Drive camera introduced much later in 1996 as well). It was supplied with an MF-6B camera back, which leaves the film strip leader out after rewind. The shutter speed dial is taller than the standard F3's. A "B" focusing screen was used instead of the standard type "K" while the shutter release button is not threaded in the middle for use with a cable release. It also has extra water sealing gaskets around the shutter release. It was supplied as a black body only. I have little knowledge of the Nikon F3 Limited version shown above except for what has been addressed at the related site that featured that model.


Nikon F3/T (Titan) Classic

" ... Hi Mr. Foo, First of all congratulations and thank you for a great site. I have been enjoying it for years. I am also a collector of mechanical cameras, particularly F2 and F3 variants, and I wanted to share with you an F3 variant, the F3T Classic, which I came across and purchased in Japan. When I came upon the camera I had a Japanese friend verify with Nikon directly, as I had not heard of this particular model. They indeed confirmed that they had produced a hundred of these camera for one of their oldest camera dealers, Ando Camera of Japan, in celebration of the 50th year of their relationship. I enclose photos of the set, but here are some details MORE info & other great views of this model.

Nikon F3 High Speed.jpg

Nikon F3 High Speed Motor Camera, 1996/7

Go to the
F3 High Speed Mirror Camera site for more info or
check out the
full specifications and system configuration (instruction Manual provided).

 In 1996, in a very surprising move, Nikon introduced a 13.5 fps high speed motor drive camera that came with a fixed, non reflex pellicle Mirror similar to the earlier 10.0 fps F2 High Speed Motor Camera. The F3 High Speed camera was different in that it can operate exactly as a normal F3 (except for its mirror lock up and metering functions). Widely seen as a move to neutralize the Canon 10 fps pellicle Mirror EOS1 RS's impact to the Nikon F5 launched at the same time with the F3H.

Note:- Still thirsty for info ? Check other Nikon F3 variations

NIkon F3 Digital (DCS) | Nikon F3 NASA 250

Nikon F3 Special Edition Models MAIN INDEX in

Nikon F3 DCS-3
(Digital camera) | Nikon F3 PIN | Nikon F3 US NAVY | NIkon F3T Titanium
Nikon F3T LE | Nikon F3T Classic | Nikon F3P Press | Nikon F3 NASA 250 | Nikon F3H

Nikonos IVa, 1980
Nikonos IVA was the first underwater Nikon that offered auto exposure (the "A" behind the IV signifies auto-exposure). Film speed range was extended from 25 to 1600 ISO. The vertical traveling, metal focal plane shutter has an improved range from 1/30 sec to 1/1000 sec. (and Bulb) + a backup mechanical shutter speed at 1/90 sec (M setting). Flash synchronization is via a cable connection for electronic flash synch up to 1/90 sec with Nikonos electronic flash units. It was also the first Nikonos that incorporated a built-in light sensor and offered aperture priority exposure control. Discontinued in 1984.

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The Rangefinder || The Nikonos || Compact Cameras
SLRs -
1959/1979 | 1980/1990 | 1991/1999 | y2k/2003 | 2004 ~

Nikkor lenses Link to pages.jpg

The Eyes of Nikon:-
Rangefinder RF-Nikkor lenses:- Main Index Page | Nikon Auto Focus Nikkor lenses:- Main Index Page

Nikon Manual Focus Nikkor lenses:-
Fisheye-Nikkor Lenses - Circular | Full Frame | Ultrawides Lenses - 13mm15mm18mm20mm | Wideangle Lenses - 24mm28mm35mm |
Lenses -
45mm 50mm 58mm | Telephoto Lenses - 85mm105mm135mm180mm & 200mm |
Lenses - 300mm 400mm 500mm 600mm 800mm 1200mm |

Special Application lenses:
Micro-Nikkor Lenses - 50mm~55mm -60mm 85mm -105mm 200mm Micro-Zoom 70-180mm
Perspective Control (PC) - 28mm 35mm PC-Micro 85mm
Dedicated Lenses for Nikon F3AF: AF 80mm f/2.8 | AF 200mm f/3.5 EDIF
Depth of Field Control (DC): 105mm 135mm
Medical Nikkor: 120mm 200mm
Reflex-Nikkor Lenses - 500mm 1000mm 2000mm
Others: Noct Nikkor | OP-Nikkor | UV Nikkor 55mm 105mm | Focusing Units | Bellows-Nikkor 105mm 135mm
Nikon Series E Lenses: 28mm35mm50mm100mm135mm | E-Series Zoom lenses: 36~72mm75~150mm70~210mm

MF Zoom-Nikkor Lenses: 25~50mm | 28~45mm | 28~50mm | 28~85mm | 35~70mm | 36~72mm E | 35~85mm | 35~105mm | 35~135mm |
35~200mm | 43~86mm | 50~135mm | 50~300mm | 70~210mm E | 75~150mm E | 80~200mm | 85~250mm |
100~300mm | 180~600mm | 200~400mm | 200~600mm | 360~1200mm | 1200~1700mm

Tele-Converters: TC-1 | TC-2 | TC-200 | TC-201 | TC-300 | TC-301 | TC-14 | TC-14A | TC-14B | TC-14C | TC-14E | TC-16 | TC-16A | TC-20E


Nikon F
| Nikon F2 | Nikon F3 | Nikon F4 | Nikon F5 | Nikon F6 | Nikkormat / Nikomat |
Nikon FM
| Nikon FE/ FA | Nikon EM/FG/FG20 | Nikon Digital SLRs | Nikon - Other models

MIR Supports for Photographic Community: Various Message Boards/Community Forums
Nikon F-series| Nikon F2-series| Nikon F3-series| Nikon F4-series| Nikon F5-series|Nikkormat/Nikomat-series
Nikon FM-series
|Nikon FE-series|Nikon FA|Nikon Digital SLR series|Various Nikon Models|Nikkor Optic -shared

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Recommended links to understand more technical details related to the Nikkor F-mount and production Serial Number: by: my friend, Rick Oleson by: Hansen, Lars Holst

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