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Nikon F3 Tribute
Old 10-06-2010   #1
Calzone
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Nikon F3 Tribute

Been looking through 15 pages here and see little mention of the durable F3. Who here shoots a Nikon F3?

I own only three. Currently my favorite every-day-carry is a Non HP with a Md-4 motordrive, AH-4 handstrap, with a 58/1.2 Noct-Nikkor mounted.

I live in NYC and perhaps carrying this rig is kinda loud, but I love the fast focus for street and the bright-bright viewfinder. Been shooting Pan F at 50 almost always wide open.

Generally I take the subway one stop to Madhattan and walk from 53rd and Third to 72d and York on my way to work. Today I emptied a new roll by the time I got to the 59th Street Bridge. Oh what fun. Very easy to shoot because its always ready.

BTW this rig is as aggressive as it is big. Kinda like carrying a lethal weapon in plain sight.

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Old 10-06-2010   #2
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I have an F3AF, still operational- but I do not use it with the DX-1.

And two F3HP's, among the last made.

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Old 10-06-2010   #3
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I had a F3, wonderful camera and so smooth. But I sold it and bought a F4. Still use my manual focus lenses but now have matrix metering. And the meter read out in the F3 just bothered the heck out of me.
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Old 10-06-2010   #4
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F3 user here too. I have 3 of them. I gave a 4th to my daughter. They seem to be selling at or just under $200 these days on eBay. What a deal for what you get. The only other camera that I have 3 of is the OM1.
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Old 10-06-2010   #5
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I have a F3 with a lot of accessories. It is still my favorite camera and I use it regularly.
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Old 10-06-2010   #6
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Ball bearings for the film advance add a certain smoothness. The non Hp viewfinder has a higher magnification so it helps with critical focus over my HP versions.

I bought my Non HP with MD-4 for $185.00 in excelent condtion at Adorama about a year ago. Because they are so durable they seem to have flooded the market. Unbelievable how cheaply a Nikon Pro camera can sell for.

I replaced all the foam seals myself.

My F3P was a real press camera for the newspaper "Newsday." I bought it after it recieved a total overhaul, after it came back from Operation Desert Storm. The brassing is awesome. It was my first F3. Came with an E screen. A 105/1.8 AIS is permanently mounted.

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Old 10-06-2010   #7
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I have a couple kicking around and have used them. The only thing that bugs me is having to turn it on/off. That was coming from the FM/FE family where you simply pulled the wind lever to the stand off position for the same result. Nice finder too.

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Old 10-06-2010   #8
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1 F3hp. With careful selection of lenses is comparable to Leica.
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Old 10-06-2010   #9
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The F3 on/off switch is a weak point and sometimes breaks. I leave mine on all the time. The meter times off so there is no battery drain.
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Old 10-06-2010   #10
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Greetings, I have two F3hp's and one MD-4 and a waist level view finder!
I bought my 1st F3 in 2004. I love this camera with the waist level viewfinder, it is small stealth like, and keeps going! It is just great fun shooting this camera!

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Old 10-06-2010   #11
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I love my F3 (Non HP) but have been told I should try the HP viewfinder as I wear glasses, what does RFF think.
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I LOVE my F3's
Old 10-06-2010   #12
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I LOVE my F3's

I use my F3/T with a Zeiss 50/1.4 ZF.2 and love it! Sure you can hear it a block away but who cares.
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Old 10-06-2010   #13
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I started my photo B&W hobby with a F3, still have 6 (5 that I don't touch including 2 F3HP black in mint condition, 1 F3HP/T black mint and 1 F3HP/T champagne mint). The 6th is a user HP that is still going strong with its motor drive. Captured alot of good shots of my son playing hockey (he was around 10)
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Old 10-06-2010   #14
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I love the f3 - particularly the f3hp. Lovely looks, smooth as hell, simple and so tough. I like it so much more than the often highly rated fm2n.
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Old 10-06-2010   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankS View Post
The F3 on/off switch is a weak point and sometimes breaks. I leave mine on all the time. The meter times off so there is no battery drain.
True, but if you dump it into a camera bag and something holds the shutter button down you could be in for a surprise. Anyway it is a small niggle that takes some getting used to.

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Old 10-06-2010   #16
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Just sold mine. Also sold an FE2. It will be either RF(VC R4A) or auto focus from here on out.
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Old 10-06-2010   #17
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I have an F3HP with MD4 and a tripod centering plate just to add the needed "heft". I usually have a Nikkor 50mm 1.4 AIS lens mounted. Overall it is inelegant, brutish, loud, and borderline anti-social; all reasons why I love it. It is perhaps the anti-barnack camera and, as such, has it's place. It also happens to take wonderful photos.
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Old 10-06-2010   #18
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I never liked the F3. The FE2 bests it in every way that matters to me.
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Old 10-06-2010   #19
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Everyone has different tastebuds. That's okay.
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Old 10-06-2010   #20
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I hate you guys.

I have an FE2 that i THOUGHT i was happy with, but now, who knows?
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Old 10-07-2010   #21
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If I were to buy a film SLR today, it would be an F3hp.
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Old 10-07-2010   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pastor Chris View Post
I have an F3HP with MD4 and a tripod centering plate just to add the needed "heft". I usually have a Nikkor 50mm 1.4 AIS lens mounted. Overall it is inelegant, brutish, loud, and borderline anti-social; all reasons why I love it. It is perhaps the anti-barnack camera and, as such, has it's place. It also happens to take wonderful photos.
You need to 'add heft' to an F3 with that gigantic motor drive? Seriously?
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Old 10-07-2010   #23
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Thirty years ago I only used F3's with motor drives. Only in the last couple of weeks have I realized how well the camera handles without the MD-4.
I agree, the F3 by itself is a wonderful camera. Its actually pretty compact. Bigger than the really little ones like the Olympus OM cameras but smaller than the plasticky motorized computerized monstrosities that dominated the 35mm SLR world in the late 80s till now (where that ethos still prevails in the digital SLRs made now).

I gave my digital SLR to my son since I rarely touched it, and he never uses most of the lenses I have for Nikon since he mostly uses the 50mm Sigma macro lens I had for it. So, I got an F3 to shoot with my Nikon lenses. I like it a lot, though I agree with those who hate the metering display in the finder. It sucks. I have an F4 I got new in high school, and it has a nice finder but I can't stand carrying that heavy thing.
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Old 10-07-2010   #24
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Bought one for my daughter for her 16th birthday. F3HP with AIS 50 1.4. Serial number 1997....so very late, mint condition. I've been allowed to hold it but I've never been allowed to use it.
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Old 10-07-2010   #25
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I bought a mint second hand 2002 F3HP, never used and boxed. First thing I did was replace the prisim with the DE-2 (non-HP), a P-focus screen and added a small anodised grip. The extra magnification of the DE-2 I find is much better, and that smaller prism allows the body to fit into bags much better.

For lenses I have the VC 40mm f/2 version 1 & 75mm f/2.5, Nikkor 15mm f/3.5, 20mm f/2.8 & 85 f/1.4 - all are AIS. I tend to always use the rangefinders so it doesnt get a lot of work. If it did I might even consider one of the Zeiss 35mm lenses
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Old 10-07-2010   #26
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My F3HP press edition's serial no. is P9022381. Any idea when it was made? Recently got it 2nd hand, but it looks virtually unused. It shares slr duty with an FE2, 2 F4s, and a brace of Canon A1s.

It really is a lovely camera, especially with the MD4 attached.
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Old 10-07-2010   #27
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Originally Posted by JayGannon View Post
I love my F3 (Non HP) but have been told I should try the HP viewfinder as I wear glasses, what does RFF think.
Jay,

I also wear glasses, and I have both HP and non HP finders. The non HP finder besides having a lower profile also has a higher magnification. For critical focus, especially notacible under dim lighting conditions the non HP finder offers higher contrast for more acurate focusing. This is why I use the non HP finder with my 58/1.2 Noct-Nikkor. For low light/ shallow DOF work you have the best finder IMHO.

The HP finder is kinda like when you project slides from a further distance; the image is projected larger, but the contrast and colors become diluted and slightly more washed out.

On my third F3 I use a DA-2 Action Finder. With the huge image in the viewfinder the focus becomes vauge; but since I have a 24/2.0 AIS permanently mounted, and I scale focus, this camera, even though its a SLR is used like a point and shoot. I call this rig my "Street Machine." Here in NYC. I have no problem getting close to my subject because of all the crowding.

I use to also own two F2AS's that were great examples of a savagely overbuilt all mechanical cameras. The body alone weighed about as much as a F3 with motordrive WITHOUT BATTERIES. I loved the highly sensitive LED metering, but the mirror slap, shutter release that required a firm push, and the need for service led me to sell the F2AS's. IMHO the F3's have a smoother shutter, smoother film advance, lighter shutter release, and overall better durability. I chose not to pay to get them serviced and decided to move on.

Also because the metering is in the body in a F3 the viewfinder is brighter in a F3 non HP than a F2 (Magnification is the same in these two finders). This is another reason I sold my two F2AS's.

I'm thinking of getting another F3 body with MD-4 because they are so inexpensive. I will have it modified so that the light switch is always closed to be used for shooting exclusively at night. The severe battery drain is not an issue because power is supplied by the MD-4. This will intergrate nicely with the current activation of the meter with the shutter release.

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Old 10-07-2010   #28
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My F3HP press edition's serial no. is P9022381. Any idea when it was made? Recently got it 2nd hand, but it looks virtually unused. It shares slr duty with an FE2, 2 F4s, and a brace of Canon A1s.

It really is a lovely camera, especially with the MD4 attached.
Check the CameraQuest link. Stephen has an article on the F3P. As I remember F3P's were only available for about 5 years and initially for the first three years or so F3P's were only available to pro's with Press Credentials.

Moose Peterson's book "The Nikon System" can give you an accurate date of manufacture. Prices on F3P's are all over the place. Currently B&H has one for around $600.00, but minty collectable ones go for thousands.

My F3P is nicely brassed, but not hammered. Very aggressive and tough looking. Funny thing is that in NYC over the years I've seen very few F3's on the street, although when I did see them it was generally one photographer carrying two F3's. Haven't seen anyone else but me carry either one or two F3's with motordrives. Its not a subtle camera and is not descrete like a Leica.

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Old 10-07-2010   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Calzone View Post
Check the CameraQuest link. Stephen has an article on the F3P. As I remember F3P's were only available for about 5 years and initially for the first three years or so F3P's were only available to pro's with Press Credentials.

Moose Peterson's book "The Nikon System" can give you an accurate date of manufacture. Prices on F3P's are all over the place. Currently B&H has one for around $600.00, but minty collectable ones go for thousands.

My F3P is nicely brassed, but not hammered. Very aggressive and tough looking. Funny thing is that in NYC over the years I've seen very few F3's on the street, although when I did see them it was generally one photographer carrying two F3's. Haven't seen anyone else but me carry either one or two F3's with motordrives. Its not a subtle camera and is not descrete like a Leica.

Cal
Wow, I didn't know the press editions were so dear! Mine came with the MD4 and the film-leader-out back. It really looks virtually unused save for a tiny dent in the memo holder. Got it for a song. Actually, even, for just a stanza...
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Old 10-07-2010   #30
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F3 rocks.

A lot of FM2s and FEs came and gone through trading, but I hung on to one F3. Beat up, but working flawlessly, just the way I like it.

It shares lenses with the Fuji S3 that I got for cheap:

Nikon AF 24/2.8
Leica Telyt 200mm + Adapter
Ai'd Nikkor-S and Nikkor-Q

And when I want attendees to know that I'm covering the event, I just switch on the "Battleaxe-mode" :

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Old 10-07-2010   #31
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And when I want attendees to know that I'm covering the event, I just switch on the "Battleaxe-mode" :

Clearly a deadly weapon that commands attention, especially with a hand strap I rigged together with a modded AH-2 tripod base plate.

Its a camera... its a blackjack... its a pair of brass knuckles...

Also loud and obnoxious in a very New York kinda way. LOL.

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Old 10-07-2010   #32
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Oh guys, you crack me up!
Cal, you really mouth watered the F3 to me!

A nice, black FM3a has brought me to film a bit over a year ago - I never liked the tiny viewfinder much, especially after having to revert to left eye shooting with fast glass.
I like the MD12 though, when being loud is not an issue.

I like, to use the Leicas a lot better, but now, that I got that Noct and it is so much easier to focus on a MF film body, I lust after a few F3s in different outfits - IS THAT NORMAL - lust after a few of the same bodies?

The bad thing is, they go a lot more expensive here in Shanghai and do not particularly look very trustful, half beaten up for high prices.

@ Will, love that "Battleaxe" of yours ;-)
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Old 10-07-2010   #33
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Oh guys, you crack me up!
Cal, you really mouth watered the F3 to me!

A nice, black FM3a has brought me to film a bit over a year ago - I never liked the tiny viewfinder much, especially after having to revert to left eye shooting with fast glass.
I like the MD12 though, when being loud is not an issue.

I like, to use the Leicas a lot better, but now, that I got that Noct and it is so much easier to focus on a MF film body, I lust after a few F3s in different outfits - IS THAT NORMAL - lust after a few of the same bodies?

The bad thing is, they go a lot more expensive here in Shanghai and do not particularly look very trustful, half beaten up for high prices.

@ Will, love that "Battleaxe" of yours ;-)
Dirk,

Come to New York and load up the truck with F3's. $185.00- $200 will get you a clean one at B&H or Adorama, and they have a huge selection. For about $240.00 get one with a MD-4 motordrive. Very handy for a left eyed shooter like yourself. I'm thinking of getting two more bodies so that I won't have to ever change lenses. How spoiled and entitled is that? LOL.

BTW I figured out a name for my F3 non HP Noct-Nikkor rig. I now will call it my Subway Rig. I've been shooting HP5 shot at 320 wide open. The shots happen so fast that I know the people around me know I took a picture, but they wonder what I shot. The prelude to shooting is metering off the back of my hand, but generally I'm always ready for a shot.

It takes a certain personality to get away with what I do. I've never been challenged or confronted BTW.

I find the MD-4 steadys the camera and negates any mirror slap. I favor the HR-2 rubber hood for the Noct-Nikkor- looks awesome.

Your other thread with your Noctilux also has me shooting Pan F at 50 wide open. The back that leaves the leader out comes in handy BTW when shooting partially exposed rolls of film. Highly recomended.

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Last edited by Calzone : 10-07-2010 at 11:21. Reason: typo
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Old 10-07-2010   #34
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About two years ago I bought a F3HP and a 2nd FM2 to complement my existing FM2. The plan was to try the F3HP and see how I liked it, and to pair the 2nd FM2 with the one I bought back in '86. My wife claimed the 2nd FM2 as soon as it came in.

I love the feel of the F3HP. Mine looks like it has been through a warzone, but it works like a champ. It is amazingly smooth compared to my FM2. Having said that, I tend to prefer the FM2 for two reasons, one is the size, and the other is I prefer the LED meter readout. I don't care for the LCD in the F3.

I figured I'd pretty much retire my FM2 and F3 once I got the Leica M6 TTL, but this last weekend I was out shooting with the F3HP as it seemed the better fit for what I was doing. While it is a MF camera, I use a lot of AF lenses on it, but do have a MF 50mm f/1.4 and a 135mm f/2.8 from the early 60's that has been AI'd. Later today I plan to pick up two of the rolls of Velvia 50 I shot on Sunday with the camera, and I can't wait to see the results, as it was my first time shooting with a 24mm lens.

If I were to find one for the right price, I would pick up a FE2 or FM3a. I'd also like to eventually add a different finder to the F3 for Macro work.
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Old 10-07-2010   #35
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I tend to prefer the FM2 for two reasons, one is the size, and the other is I prefer the LED meter readout. I don't care for the LCD in the F3.
I loved the meter on a Nikon F2AS (LED) which is kinda unbeatable are far as sensitivity is concerned. Another bonus of the F2AS meter is that the shutter speeds are infinately variable where as in the F3 they are not unless in auto mode, but the metering pattern is only 60% center weighted on the F2 vs. the 80% center weighting on the F3.

The light to view the LCD display under dim lighting conditions has very bad ergonomics, but a work around is to have the swithch shorted by a repaiman so that the light comes on anytime the meter is activated. Do this only on a F3 that has a dedicated MD-4 because the battery drain otherwise is too severe.

I figure F3 bodies are so inexpensive that I am considering getting a fourth one to do the above modification as my "Night Stalker."

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Old 10-07-2010   #36
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I prefer my Leica or my FM2 for low-light photography, so the LCD light isn't a huge issue for me. Besides I quite honestly wouldn't want to have to use the motor drive on the F3.
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Old 10-07-2010   #37
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Originally Posted by Calzone View Post
The light to view the LCD display under dim lighting conditions has very bad ergonomics,
The entire LCD is the weak point in the F3 ergonomics - the more so compared to its predecessors (dual match needle on the FE, mechanical time display plus LED or match needle on FM, F2) which conveyed the same information in a far neater, more reliable and legible way. The LCD got used in a more sensible way in the F4, but even there it still is somewhat cryptic and the Achilles heel of the camera.

Sevo
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Old 10-07-2010   #38
FrankS
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http://cgi.ebay.com/Nikon-F3-Body-On...item27b592b442

Ships to US only, otherwise I'd have 4 F3's. $80 wow. No connection etc.


edit: hey, somehow the BIN price jsut changed to $100. Still...
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Last edited by FrankS : 10-07-2010 at 14:35.
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Old 10-07-2010   #39
maggieo
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I've had my F3HP since I bought it new in 1986. It's a fantastic camera, even with the dookie meter display and everything. Speaking of the meter, it does a fantastic job with really, really long exposures. Set it on "A" and even with transparencies I was confident the shot would be good.

Here's mine, with my usual lens (28mm) of the last twenty years or so:
Nikon F3 And 28mm f/2.8 Nikkor Lens, January, 2010 by Maggie Osterberg, on Flickr

In action with the 105:
Maggie, Lincoln, Nebraska, May 11, 2010 by Michael Berch, on Flickr
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Old 10-07-2010   #40
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That went quick, good price for all the parts.

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