A few weeks ago, I finally broke down and ordered an F3HP from KEH (in EX condition), having been curious for years about the "high-eyepoint" viewfinder that supposedly makes life easier for people who, like me, wear glasses. I was also interested in picking up a Nikon zoom lens; although I mostly shoot with primes, zoom lenses are undeniably convenient as long as they aren't too big and their limitations (small maximum apertures, geometric distortion, etc.) don't get in the way. KEH's "camera outfits" section, where you can buy a camera with a lens for less than what you'd pay for the two separately, offered me the choice of either the Zoom-Nikkor 35-105mm f/3.5-4.5, the Zoom-Nikkor 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5, or the Zoom-Nikkor 35-200mm f/3.5-4.5 with the F3HP. All three lenses offer macro modes. I chose between them based primarily on knowing that I mostly shoot at wider focal lengths; it might have been nice once in a while to reach 200mm, but I wouldn't use it often enough to make it worth the extra size and weight. Also, I tend to be suspicious of zooms with more than 3x difference between shortest and longest focal lengths (especially older ones). Lastly, the 35-105mm takes 52mm filters, like nearly all my other Nikon lenses; the other two take 62mm filters, of which I have none. So I went with the 35-105mm. I don't suppose many people around here really need an introduction to the F3HP. Suffice it to say that when it appeared in 1980, the industry was in the midst of the transition from mechanical to electronic cameras, and Nikon, which tended to favor rock-solid reliability over technological innovation, was starting to look just a little old-fashioned. Minolta had introduced the XK, an electronic system camera with aperture-priority auto-exposure, in 1972. The XK competed directly against Nikon's F2 in features and build quality; it might have had a better chance at dominating the market if Minolta had not inexplicably neglected to offer a motor drive for it until 1976. Other manufacturers also introduced aperture- or shutter-priority SLRs during the 1970s. By the decade's end, the leading edge of technology was represented by the Canon A-1, the first camera to offer a full set of AE modes (aperture-priority, shutter-priority, and program). Against all this, Nikon had only the FE, an excellent mid-range SLR with aperture-priority AE. The F2, a purely mechanical manual camera that needed a battery only to power its light meter, was still a perfectly good camera, but it could no longer compete on features. The electronic F3, with its aperture-priority mode, was Nikon's answer to the advances other companies had made during the 1970s. It proved so successful that it remained in production for 21 years, the longest run of any of Nikon's F-mount cameras. It even outlasted its own successor, the F4, by five years. My F3 was made about 1986, judging by its serial number (177xxxx). 1. Nikon F3HP with Zoom-Nikkor 35-105mm f/3.5-4.5 AI-S (Camera photographed with an Olympus E-P2 and an OM 24mm f/2.8) The DE-3 high-eyepoint viewfinder (which is what makes an F3 an F3HP) was introduced a couple of years after the F3 and is perhaps the most common F3 finder. It offers a larger window and slightly lower magnification than most other Nikon SLR viewfinders in order to allow the eye to view the full image from farther away -- specifically, from behind glasses. I find that it works well. The Zoom-Nikkor 35-105mm f/3.5-4.5 AI-S turns out to be a very acceptable zoom lens. Not only does it produce very nice images, it isn't uncomfortably large or heavy and doesn't throw the camera off balance. The macro mode goes to about 1/4 life size and is sharper than I expected. The level of geometrical distortion is not unreasonable for a lens of this type and age. 2. Macro Flower My initial inspection of my F3 suggested that its meter was about a stop off, so for my first roll of Provia 100F, I set the camera's ISO to 200. This proved to be a mistake; the lab gave me a box of slides that were clearly underexposed. This camera clearly knows better than I do when it comes to exposures. This next image is from that first roll. I will have to take this picture again sometime with proper settings, because I rather like it. 3. Church at Sunrise This next shot shows a little pincushion distortion. I'm not sure what the exact focal length was, but it was definitely toward the long end. 3. Benches I don't eat at Taxi's (I may have been there once, years ago. but I must not have been impressed; we have no shortage of good burger joints around here), but on a recent morning walk I noticed for the first time that they actually have a vintage taxi cab parked in their lot. 4. Taxi at Taxi's We'll end today's presentation with a rousing patriotic finale... 5. Flag So, in the end, what do I think of the F3HP? It's a great camera. I like it even more than I had expected to. Everything seems to work just right, every control is just where it should be, and it's build very solidly. I have two minor cavils: (1) the meter doesn't turn on until the frame counter reaches 1, so you can't squeeze in an extra frame or two as I usually do with other non-motorized film cameras; (2) I'm not wild about the LCD that displays shutter speed in the viewfinder, because reading numbers (in the ugly seven-segment type face that was once regarded as the essence of high tech) is less convenient (and harder to do out of the corner of your eye) than looking at the position of a needle, as in the Nikon FE, or a column of LED dots, as in the Minolta X-700. Neither of these are even close to being deal-breakers for me, though.