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Nikon F3 vs F3HP question
Old 04-25-2015   #1
Pfreddee
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Nikon F3 vs F3HP question

I am continuing to expand my collection, and I'm now looking at getting a Nikon F3 from my local pusher, er, camera shop. I wear glasses, and I suppose the F3HP would be a better buy for me, but what has been your experience with the F3 and wearing glasses? Pro Camera has a lovely F3THP (I think I got that right) and I"m willing to pay a premium, which isn't all that much, for the titanium version of the camera. Or an ordinary F3. Or F3HP.

Also, do any of you have the motor drive for it, and how do you like it?

I should be resisting GAS, but film Nikons are so much fun!

Thank you to all who reply.

With best regards,

Pfreddee(Stephen)
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Old 04-25-2015   #2
Paulbe
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Stephen--in my experience, the plain F3 finder is fine. I'm an eyeglass wearer, and I've never had an issue with the non-HP finder. And don't resist Nikon gas--F3s are great!
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Old 04-25-2015   #3
Paulbe
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Rats! Forgot to answer your question re the MD4--it adds a better ergonomic feel, but wow! Is that mutha heavy! Load 8 AAs in it and you'll feel it. If you aren't doing press work with the F3, I'd skip it. OTOH, they are so cheap now days--20-30 bux down here--buy one and see if you like it. They are almost indestructible...
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Old 04-25-2015   #4
jbrianfoto
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I have had them all, really love the F3HP alot. I live in Fredericksburg, VA - if you wanna try one out before you buy it, I'll loan you my F3P - it has an MD-4. As a kit they really feel natural in my large hands. Carrying one is not too bad, but back in the day I used to have three which, along with lenses, added up to a large load on my neck and shoulders.
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Old 04-25-2015   #5
Dwig
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There may be more than just the finder to consider. While there is much mix-and-match with used gear of this type, out of the box new the F3HP also had a brighter focusing screen. Additionally, just prior to the HP's introduction, Nikon made some significant changes to the body's flex circuit board.

I used to own an F3 that been updated due to the death of main flex board. After I got it I replaced the exposure lock button with the new version (higher dome and more reliable latch, early ones tended to pop out) and the focusing screen with the newer, bright "red dot" version. I also made what I feel is a small but worthwhile improvement in utility with my glasses. I replaced the F3/F2 style eyepiece with the more compact FM/FE... style which gives ~2mm more eye relief.
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Old 04-25-2015   #6
Jan Pedersen
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When i bought my F3 the HP finder was not out yet and at the time i did not wear eye glasses.
Since then i started wearing glasses and i found the standard finder limiting. A few years ago i bought a nice HP finder and that is just perfect.
I would highly recomend to get an F3 with the HP finder, the standard finder looks great but the HP is so much nicer to use with eye glasses.
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Old 04-25-2015   #7
mfogiel
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Calzone has introduced me to the best kept secret about the F3 - you will get a fantastic VF, even for a glass wearer like me, if you go for the HP prism and put a DK17M ocular on it. The end result is an extremely bright VF with high magnification, 100% coverage and good eye relief.
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Old 04-25-2015   #8
De_Corday
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The F3 is the best camera, hands down. It's my desert island camera.
I prefer a plain prism, and don't wear glasses, but the HP prism is superb.
The motor drive is a work of art, and a lovely addition for action shooting, but the film advance on the F3 is so smooth and pleasant to use that I only put the MD-4 on when I have to.
The only reason not to recommend this camera is to keep the prices low
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Old 04-25-2015   #9
Robert Lai
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I used an F3 (non HP) with MD-4 for many, many years. I bought the F3 in 1983, when the exposure compensation button used to pop out. They redesigned the shaft of the button so that it doesn't pop out anymore. After more than 30 years, my original LCD and circuit boards still work just fine. I wear glasses, and never had a problem composing with the original finder. The meter display is nice also, in spite of all the haters out there on the net. I have a Nikon F2A now, and I find the tiny meter needle and shutter speed readout hard to see.

The MD-4 is heavy, but when it is on its batteries power the camera too. I had the NiCd battery pack in it, which allowed speeds up to 5 frames per second (6 with mirror lock up). More importantly, you can shoot in temperatures down to -20C with the NiCd pack. Another benefit is that the motor can rewind your film for you - very fast. If you have the correct back on your F3, it will leave the leader out. This is useful if you change film types a lot.

Other benefits - TTL flash, automatic shutter speed setting to X-synch speed with Nikon flashes.
Easy double exposures merely by flicking a switch.

Cons - meter display light is difficult to activate - only works when the meter display is on, and you hold down that little red button at the same time. Well, the F2A doesn't have one of those at all (unless you buy the meter illumination accessory), so there!

Camera meter won't work until you get to frame 1. This is to prevent hours long exposures in AUTO mode when you have your lens cap on, and you are trying to wind on a freshly loaded film to frame 1.

Putting a Nikon flash unit on ruins your ability to use the TTL exposure compensation.

It's an electronic camera, which means it is battery dependent. Nikon did give you a 1/60 mechanical speed for emergency use. Worse, people discount electronic cameras in favor of mechanical ones, so the resale value is lower than that of a comparable F2 or F. There is no collectible value, compared to the Nikon RF cameras such as the M, S, S2, S3, SP, S4.
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Old 04-25-2015   #10
jim_jm
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Stephen -

The F3 is my favorite all-around Nikon body. Nice solid heft like the F2, but a bit smaller with better ergonomics. Has that solid "pro" Nikon feel that the FE/FM series don't, although they are also great cameras. I have an F3 and F3HP, and since I don't wear glasses I find the F3 viewfinder is perfect. For you, the F3HP might be preferable.

With the MD4 attached it feels like you have a weapon in your hand, but I am able to hand-hold it for long periods very comfortably with the strap wrapped around my wrist for security.

Also, the meter is heavily center-weighted at 80/20 and it's the best in-camera meter I've ever used. I've shot hundreds of rolls of Velvia and Provia in my F3's and have a much better ratio of correct exposures than with other cameras.

Don't spend the extra money for an F3/T unless you really wanted it, or the price is almost the same. No difference functionally and the weight savings is negligible.
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Old 04-25-2015   #11
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I like the F3P, which is something between the regular F3 and the F3T. The P or Press model, has a titanium HP finder with a flash hot shoe, but with no viewfinder shutter. I also like being able to open the film door by simply pulling up on the rewind knob, without having to fumble with the safety catch as well. And the larger shutter speed knob is handy when wearing gloves.

Having shot other "Pro" cameras of the same era, like the Canon F1, Pentax LX, and Minolta X1, I find the F3 to be far superior in terms of flexibility and reliability. Two of the three LX cameras I had developed the sticking mirror problem, neither of the X1 bodies I have work at all now, the F1 is a great camera, but not as flexible as the F3.

Without the MD4 motor drive attached, the F3 is compact and light, not a great deal larger than any other SLR camera. And the F3 can mount all manual focus and many autofocus Nikkor lenses. I have several F3 cameras, and will always have at least one on hand. It is "the" camera to have when you need the ultimate in reliability and shootability.
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Old 04-25-2015   #12
Vincent.G
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I have the F3T (black). Nice film SLR.
I just find its AE lock button awkwardly positioned in front of the camera. I prefer to have shutter button half press for AE lock.
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F2 vs F3
Old 10-11-2019   #13
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F2 vs F3

They're both great cameras. Each with their own merits. Each showing 100% in the viewfinder. I like the 100% option!!!
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Old 03-01-2020   #14
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I had both the F3 and F3HP at the same time for one summer about 7-8 years ago. I wear glasses and preferred the eye-level finder because it had sufficient eye relief and a higher viewfinder magnification. I came from an SLR with a 0.9 viewfinder mag., and the HP version with the .75 viewfinder mag. was a noticeable limitation. When dealing manual focus, the higher the viewfinder magnification, the better. Yet, the F3 is an iconic camera and I encourage everyone to try one. They're getting old now, I'm not sure of the availability of electronic parts, but they're plenty on the used market. The availability and cost of used F mount lenses is a plus. The electronic shutter of the F3 probably produces less shake then the mechanical shutters of F's and F2's. And one of the few old Nikons, in my experience, that didn't need service (the eye level from the early 1980's and the HP form the late 1980's). In the end I didn't keep the Nikons because I liked my existing SLR system better (Leicaflex SL). Good cameras though.
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Old 03-02-2020   #15
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I bought an early F3, right after introduction. It was pre-HP with the motor drive. Nikon had problems with some of the early F3 cameras and mine was one of the problem children. Mine would intermittently shut down, especially in damp or humid conditions. NPS received it for repairs several times but never got it to work properly. I seldom used it because it was unreliable, replacing it with a used F2.

The later cameras, especially the HP models, were more reliable and better sealed. If I were to buy an F3 today, I would definitely get the HP. And, yes, the HP is a better option for eyeglass wearers.
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Old 03-02-2020   #16
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I realize this is an old thread and Stephen has likely long since resolved this, but for those who may be shopping for one,

I can only recommend trying the different finders, as the benefits will largely be unique to your vision and eye relief.

I can offer my input on the MD-4, however. I just weighed my MD-4 alone, loaded with batteries, and it weighs 676g, or nearly a pound and a half. It is not light. For shooting static subjects or with a tripod, I leave it at home. For more dynamic subjects in the studio or outdoors, I like to keep my eye to the viewfinder and not have to fiddle with film advance. That helps me maintain visual contact (minus the mirror blackout) and anticipate moments I want to capture. If I were still shooting college sports, I wouldn't be without it. In a slow, serene studio shoot, all it does is interrupt the background music. The sound it makes is not subtle; it is far more appropriate for "Girls on Film" by Duran Duran than "Here Comes the Bride" by Wagner. Your type of shooting will determine its usefulness.

Its build quality is remarkable, and I think the heft helps stability and may dampen some of the vibration from the mirror. I have always wished that it had a second shutter release so I could maintain my usual posture when shooting vertically. I never did like the Nikon-recommended method of rotating the camera clockwise, right elbow down, thumb on release. It would help on a monopod as well.

Best of luck in your chase.
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Last edited by Schuter : 03-02-2020 at 13:09. Reason: old thread
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Old 03-02-2020   #17
Phil_F_NM
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You can always put the MR3 shutter release button on the MD-4. I have one on my MD-15 and switch it to my MD-4 when I want.
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Old 03-02-2020   #18
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Thank you--I will find one and try it.
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Old 03-02-2020   #19
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You can also find the MK-1 to gain another vertical shutter release.

As a glasses wearer sometimes I use the F3 but most use over the years has been with the HP finder. I just obtained the DK-17m mentioned above and will try it.
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