RIP Nikon F3

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by Henricvs, Apr 8, 2021.

  1. I broke out my Nikon F3 after a year on the shelf. I was looking forward to using that big ole viewfinder and snapping away. It was not to be, the electronics are gone and all the new batteries and clean contacts in the world, won’t bring her back. She went back on the shelf. I pulled my FE2 and settled for her. After about a week I decided to buy an FM3a from KEH to fill the hole in my F3 heart.
  2. SCL


    Sorry to hear about your F3, IMHO one of Nikon's real gems. Sitting a year on a shelf,without exercise can surface a lot of issues. I've learned the hard way to exercise all my cameras at least every 2 months. Early warning signs can sometimes help me avoid an old camera shutdown.
  3. Vincent Peri

    Vincent Peri Metairie, LA

    I just got back two F3HP's that my son borrowed years ago. I know the cameras haven't been used in about 5 years, but they still work perfectly.
    Henricvs likes this.
  4. Sorry about your F3. You got me curious so I stuck a set of batteries into the MD-4 of my F3HP (which started life as an F3 some 39 years ago) that sits unused on my bookshelf - still working fine, even the original LCD display.
    bradleycloven and Henricvs like this.
  5. Would that mine lived.
  6. Sad. I had a similar scare with a Nikon F-100 a couple of months ago. I use it with the MB-15 battery grip, usually loaded with alkaline AA cells. Picked it up, and it didn't show any sign of life when switched on. The batteries were relatively fresh, an in-house brand from the local hardware store, and they tested OK on my battery tester. I replaced them anyway, but still no action, so I cracked open a fresh set of Panasonic Evolta AA cells, fitted them into the battery pack and tried again. Eureka! The camera sprang into life. Perhaps the moral of the tale is that not all AA batteries are created equal...
  7. Was it the glass (STUPID choice of material!) resister underneath the rewind knob and ASA selector? I broke those twice banging a mounted flash that overstressed and cracked that piece, rendering the camera inoperable.

    At one point I considered buying 8-10 of those as they were only a $25 part during the 90's and I figured one day they'd be pretty valuable but I never did. If one ever uses a flash on the F3 it's actually pretty darn easy to kill one.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2021
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  8. I didn’t know that. I did mount a flash, but never took it out on a shoot. I’ve read that some folks have had luck with a motor drive. If I see a cheap one, I may try that.
  9. That resister is a wafer-thin piece of glass. The tech who fixed mine both times said it was a primary weakness of the cameras' design.
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  10. If I get the nerve I may look and see if I can fix it..
  11. Vincent Peri

    Vincent Peri Metairie, LA

    The F3 sold for 20 years, so I figure Nikon didn't see too much of a problem. Remember, this was back when Nikon cared about its products LOL. Just my opinion.
    Henricvs likes this.
  12. Functional Resistance Element, or FRE, is what the piece is called. You can see an image of it on this page about the F3 from the mir site..

    Modern Classic Camera Series - Nikon F3 - Part III

    Language from that page..

    "It is a silicon sealed metallic film resistor. Gold plated alloy conductive tabs and noise brushes were used to ensure maximum accuracy in conductivity. It is housed under the film rewind knob, providing the input of essential data, like film speed, aperture, shutter speed in use etc. A cracked FRE is one of the most common causes of erroneous metering or exposure. These sensitive electronics must have proper shielding from external changes in temperature and humidity. Important components inside the F3 have been made extra durable by the use of gold alloy and other precious metals in its connecting tapes and noise-free brushes to enhance its reliability."

    Yep, they sold it for 20 years, made parts available for it for a long period of time after it was discontinued, and more and more of them will turn up dead as that $25 part gets busted on more and more of them and is no longer available to fix it. If I owned one today, I would never mount a flash on it unless I had a "P" version with the hot shoe on top of the prism.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2021
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  13. It may be worth sending it out for repair. Any repair suggestions?
  14. I suppose you might ask if they would have that part if needed or ask them if they can repair if needed.
  15. I just got my FM3a. I think I’ll just put the F3 in my collection cabinet and use the FM3a as my top manual camera.
    James Bryant likes this.
  16. Nobody asked me to chime in, but anything after the F2 was of no interest to me. It was not only their best, but every other camera manufacturer's also. It had no peer or equal.
    Henricvs likes this.
  17. I like the F22 but my all time favorite is the FM2n.
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  18. I never thought to even look at the F2 series. I will now.
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  19. The F2as meters with ai or ais lenses and uses the standard MS76 or 357 battery that is still available. Same with the FM2n,
    Henricvs likes this.
  20. Several weeks ago I contacted Sover Wong, asking if he had any late serial numbered, black F2AS's for sale.

    Fully serviced, including his new resistor ring in the DP-12 and metering pattern adjusted to semi spot (all within the 12mm center circle), my new 1979 F2AS, with the lens outfit I used today shooting my first roll. The thing is just sweet..

    BTW, his suggestion for battery is 3V Lithium 1/3N as he says they are the only ones he's seen with no leakage problems, and he's seen more than most what battery leaks can do to the electronics of these bodies.

    Last edited: Apr 20, 2021
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