Nikon F3HP - best SLR of all time?

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Nikon F3HP - best SLR of all time?
I doubt it (and I used one for a couple of years). It was a decent piece of kit but for my money not a patch on the F4. I found the F4's finder superior and the built in winder made the general handling much better. Still: everyone's got their own opinion on such things.
 
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With Nikon they made and make so many good camera,s that everyone has their own favourite none wrong and maybe all right,but it is a personal choice.

Mine is the F3HP,but,that is not to say it is the best,or maybe the F5 or the FM2n. :) The list can go on. :)
 
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excalibur2

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I doubt it (and I used one for a couple of years). It was a decent piece of kit but for my money not a patch on the F4. I found the F4's finder superior and the built in winder made the general handling much better. Still: everyone's got their own opinion on such things.
It the F4 had the meter display in the view finder as the Canon T90 then it would indeed be a fantastic "all rounder" camera.
 
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Asha

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Having used many Nikon SLR bodies, the one I held onto the longest was my favourite and the one that I felt comfortable with in use…..the FE2

As Richard says, it's all about personal choice ( indeed with any kit not just SLRs)

Personally I didn't get on with the F3HP
 

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I have one, it’s a great camera to use but to my eye it’s the least aesthetically pleasing of all the single digit F’s
 
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For a top end camera aimed at press photographers it was about as good as it got in it's day, but for those who didn't need a heavy-duty SLR then the Nikon FE probably made a lot more sense, did pretty much the same job (providing you didn't need interchangeable finders, bulk film back, etc.) and was considerably cheaper.

However, the problem Nikon faced with 'ordinary' prosumer/consumer cameras in the late 70s early 80s was the competition from Canon, who had that end of the market pretty much sewn up with their reasonably affordable range of A series cameras. Their flagship, the Canon A1, was the most advanced 35mm SLR available at its time of launch (and for a couple of years afterwards too). It was the first 35mm SLR camera with a computer chip that gave the now familiar 'PASM' exposure options (inc full auto exposure and stopped down AE), in a nice compact body with a clear digital display in the viewfinder, and even had the option of a 5 frame per second motor drive... and that's faster than the Nikon F3's 4 FPS with its mirror down!

It's something of a mystery why the A1 seems to be somewhat overlooked these days, as it was a hugely important technological milestone camera that pretty much set the 'features' standard for modern SLRs; it was also reasonably affordable and, consequently, appealed to a much wider audience than something like a Nikon F3 or Canon F1n. So I believe the Canon A1 is a much stronger contender for 'The best SLR of all time'.
 
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So I believe the Canon A1 is a much stronger contender for 'The best SLR of all time'.
I don't think there's such a thing as 'The best SLR of all time'. There have been dozens of cameras with an enthusiastic following based on the different needs and desires of the owners.

If you went on sales figures the Soviet Zenith E is quite probably the winner with an alleged 3,334,540 units made over 21 years. Canon's AE-1 is claimed to have sold in the region of 1,000,000 units during its production run so it's probably the 'most liked' of the "good" film SLRs. The classic "professional" SLR was the Nikon F with a claimed 862,600 units sold between 1959 and the introduction of the F2 in 1971.
 

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excalibur2

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It's something of a mystery why the A1 seems to be somewhat overlooked these days, as it was a hugely important technological milestone camera that pretty much set the 'features' standard for modern SLRs; it was also reasonably affordable and, consequently, appealed to a much wider audience than something like a Nikon F3 or Canon F1n. So I believe the Canon A1 is a much stronger contender for 'The best SLR of all time'
ermm but the F4 can use nearly any Nikon (and others for Nikon) manual focus lenses... as well as AF. But would agree the Canon a1 was the start of a new age in it's day.
 
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I don't think there's such a thing as 'The best SLR of all time'. There have been dozens of cameras with an enthusiastic following based on the different needs and desires of the owners.

If you went on sales figures the Soviet Zenith E is quite probably the winner with an alleged 3,334,540 units made over 21 years. Canon's AE-1 is claimed to have sold in the region of 1,000,000 units during its production run so it's probably the 'most liked' of the "good" film SLRs. The classic "professional" SLR was the Nikon F with a claimed 862,600 units sold between 1959 and the introduction of the F2 in 1971.
If you only went off sales figures it would just be the most numerous SLR, not necessarily the 'greatest'. Same goes with the AE1 - it was popular, but I believe there would have to be more to it than that if we were to set criteria for 'the best SLR of all time'. Part of that criteria would surely have to be the sort of innovations that both set and became the future 'standard'? The A1 was loaded with such features: PASM (now standard), an alphanumerical digital display at the bottom of the viewfinder showing shutter speed and aperture info (now standard), a multi-function dial wheel on the top front of the camera (now standard), etc.

Like you, I doubt there can be a single 'greatest SLR of all time' as it depends on the era, the specification and the target market. Having said that, the Canon A1 must surely be regarded as being a highly significant milestone in the history of the 35mm SLR camera. The Nikon F3(variants), despite it's appeal to Nikon fans, could not hope to compete in that respect.
 
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ermm but the F4 can use nearly any Nikon (and others for Nikon) manual focus lenses... as well as AF.
Yes, but with varying degrees of functionality. So too can a lot of other models of Nikon SLR (and other camera makes too if a suitable adaptor is used). So I don't think that can really be counted as standard-setting innovation in 35mm SLR design?
 
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Like you, I doubt there can be a single 'greatest SLR of all time' as it depends on the era, the specification and the target market.
...and most of all the person who's making the claim. The choice is entirely personal and one person's opinion will definitely not meet with the approval of others.
 
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...and most of all the person who's making the claim. The choice is entirely personal and one person's opinion will definitely not meet with the approval of others.
Unless the others happen to be members of the same team's fan club, and even then they are often divided in opinion as to the best player and/or piece of kit.
 

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Yes, but with varying degrees of functionality. So too can a lot of other models of Nikon SLR (and other camera makes too if a suitable adaptor is used). So I don't think that can really be counted as standard setting innovation in 35mm SLR design?
Well Canon and Minolta? AF cameras can't take their own manual focus lenses...but Nikon cameras are not perfect in that they cannot use M42 screw lenses. But if you won't a perfect combo that covers nearly everything for filmies it would be to carry a F4 and Canon T90 o_O;)
 
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Well Canon and Minolta? AF cameras can't take their own manual focus lenses...but Nikon cameras are not perfect in that they cannot use M42 screw lenses. But if you won't a perfect combo that covers nearly everything for filmies it would be to carry a F4 and Canon T90 o_O;)
Or an A1 and an EOS 30, and those two are smaller and lighter, and work with full functionality with all their respective FD and EF lenses. ;)

Banter and camera 'top trumps' (did I mention that the dial on the A1 goes up to 12,800 ISO - OK, I'll stop! :giggle:) aside, I don't think there's ever been a 'perfect' 35mm SLR. We may have our favourites, but I'm sure they all have something we'd choose to change, or an additional feature we'd like to add, if we could. For instance, the A1 shutter has a max speed of 1/1000 and a flash sync of 1/60, a speed or two higher on both those would look better on the spec sheet... but in real life I've never found either of those perceived 'limitations' to be a problem in the 40 or so years I've owned the camera; and I think that's the crux of the matter: the more consumers are given, the more they expect!

Regardless of statements such as 'the best SLR of all time' being banded about, perhaps we of a certain age should just be grateful that we lived during they heyday of film SLRs (and probably the heyday of the DSLR too) and we've had so many great cameras to choose from? That goes for Zenith and Praktica too, without which I'm sure many a high school photography department would have been a poorer place. Perhaps we should be celebrating them all, rather than the frankly rather ridiculous notion that just one of them is best?
 

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It's very subjective and I've only used a few of the SLRs that were available back in their heyday.

My best SLR? The Nikon F2, for personal reasons.
 
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Well, if we're going for the more obscure approach...
Aaaaarrrggghhhh! The dreaded Pentina. I've handled about half a dozen of those and only one worked properly. Well: for half a film anyway... :runaway:
 
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Aaaaarrrggghhhh! The dreaded Pentina. I've handled about half a dozen of those and only one worked properly. Well: for half a film anyway... :runaway:
:LOL: I think you're the only person I've spoken to that's heard of one, let alone used one! This one still works, providing I tilt it backwards with the lens facing the sky when I wind on!

It was my first SLR and a hand-me-down from my father who'd used it for all our holiday photos before upgrading to an OM10 when they first came out, so it has some sentimental value. It actually produces some nice looking photos, but you can imagine the giant technological leap going from that to the Canon A1 I bought as an upgrade! o_O
 
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Interesting views (y)

I think the article covers most of the points raised and why it considers the F3 the top dog; in relation to the F4 he states this:

"While I mostly use a Nikon F4s with a manual focus Nikon 50mm f/1.2
, it is only because of the variable diopter. If my eyesight wasn’t such a moving target these days, I would have stuck with the F3.
"

In relation to other makes and more advanced cameras:

" While Olympus, Canon and Minolta were plowing ahead with “new” technology at the time, this camera screamed,…”No!”. No to program modes, no to autofocus, and no to idiot proofing. Not that Nikon wasn’t testing those waters with other Nikons. "

The build quality:

"The build quality was beyond exquisite. It was a tank, by which all other tanks would be measured. Nothing about this camera states other than, “I’m ready for war.” Or art. "

I do recall reading that the F3 was Nikon's most reliable camera ever and was also designed in conjunction with it's motor drive to make it not only fast but super efficient.

Then this:
"I would venture to guess more images of consequence in the 35mm realm were taken by this camera. "

It is Nikon's best selling Pro SLR ever and I do recall seeing all the PJ's & Sports photographers using them during the 80's - it was the poor performance of the F4 that broke Nikon's stranglehold on the Pro market.

The F3 wasn't around when NASA went to the moon but they did choose the F3 when it was released; infact it turns out NASA approached Nikon before it's release:

https://www.thephoblographer.com/2018/01/04/rare-nasa-nikon-f3-camera-24995/

All very hypothetical and we all have different tastes & it really makes no difference in the end; the article just appeared in a facebook link on Film.
 
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:LOL: I think you're the only person I've spoken to that's heard of one, let alone used one!
For some reason I came across quite a few of them around 1970. Just lucky I guess. :naughty:
 
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It is Nikon's best selling Pro SLR ever
Apparently fake news. The Wikipedia article claims 751,000 sold which puts it 111,600 units behind the original 'F' and 65,000 units behind the 'F2'.
 
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Snip:
In relation to other makes and more advanced cameras:

" While Olympus, Canon and Minolta were plowing ahead with “new” technology at the time, this camera screamed,…”No!”. No to program modes, no to autofocus, and no to idiot proofing. Not that Nikon wasn’t testing those waters with other Nikons. "
Yet it still needed a battery to fire at anything other than 1/80th of a second (and presumably in full manual only?). Why not add some other electronic features in that case?

Playing devil's advocate; in hindsight, did the F3 mark the beginning of the end for Nikon's iron grip on the press camera market? Perhaps Canon's experimentation and innovation was the way to move on to produce cameras like the Canon EOS 1? They could do the rugged clockwork professional stuff (F1 & F1n) but rather than stick at that they saw the future?
 
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Snip:

Yet it still needed a battery to fire at anything other than 1/80th of a second (and presumably in full manual only?). Why not add some other electronic features in that case?

Playing devil's advocate; in hindsight, did the F3 mark the beginning of the end for Nikon's iron grip on the press camera market? Perhaps Canon's experimentation and innovation was the way to move on to produce cameras like the Canon EOS 1? They could do the rugged clockwork professional stuff (F1 & F1n) but rather than stick at that they saw the future?
Being a canon fan I think it was the choice to use a larger lens mount that won it for Canon - they were wise enough to realise autofocus was the next big thing so didn't worry about their Manual focus lenses where as Nikon stuck with their mount. This allowed the Canon cameras to excel where the Nikon lagged behind for a very long time.

At the time Canon were criticised but it was the best thing they did?
 
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Being a canon fan I think it was the choice to use a larger lens mount that won it for Canon - they were wise enough to realise autofocus was the next big thing so didn't worry about their Manual focus lenses where as Nikon stuck with their mount. This allowed the Canon cameras to excel where the Nikon lagged behind for a very long time.

At the time Canon were criticised but it was the best thing they did?
I fully believe it was, as evidenced by the fact that they were the first to be able to introduce in-lens image stabilisation on a 35mm SLR (with the EF 75-300 IS lens). The foresight to include 7+ electronic contacts between the camera and lens provided a good degree of future proofing. Full functionality between just about every Canon EF lens and EOS SLR body (both 35mm and digital) ever made is no mean feat.
 
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I doubt it (and I used one for a couple of years). It was a decent piece of kit but for my money not a patch on the F4. I found the F4's finder superior and the built in winder made the general handling much better. Still: everyone's got their own opinion on such things.
I own an F3, an F3HP, and an F4S. I can't actually pick the F4 up, despite the fact that I'm as strong as three men, so I used it as a doorstop. Then I tripped over the bloody thing, and broke my toe.
 
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I own an F3, an F3HP, and an F4S. I can't actually pick the F4 up, despite the fact that I'm as strong as three men, so I used it as a doorstop. Then I tripped over the bloody thing, and broke my toe.
Isn't it usually putting classic 80s/90s Nikon cameras down that's the problem...

because the rubber is stuck to your hand?! ;) :exit:
 
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Then I tripped over the bloody thing, and broke my toe.
In his book about collecting classic SLRs Ivor Matanle references the old calumny about the Nikon F with a FTn finder being "too great a burden for one man to bear alone". God alone knows what he thought of the F4E!
 
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ermm but the F4 can use nearly any Nikon (and others for Nikon) manual focus lenses... as well as AF. But would agree the Canon a1 was the start of a new age in it's day.
I had an EOS620 (still have it actually) absolutely groundbreaking when it & the 650 came out. I swapped my Nikon kit for the 620, I stayed with Canon up until a few years ago when I switched everything for lightweight Fuji's.

Good write up from Mr Rockwell here: https://www.kenrockwell.com/canon/film-bodies/eos620.htm

In pre digital terms, my 620 was the best I'd ever used.
 

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I never understood the love for the F3, personally. As an impoverished student, my 'dream' camera was a Nikon F4. I owned an FM2 and an F801s (a very underrated camera imo, if a bit 'lightweight' for professional use, but always gave me great results, and was exceptionally well featured). A couple of friends owned F3s. I wasn't enamoured with the handling, and why no hotshoe? Daft. And then the FM@ had a faster top shutter speed, and a much more useable top flash sync speed. And a hotshoe. And was smaller and lighter, yet just as tough. And was fully mechanical, and needed no battery. I don't remember F3s as being exceptionally reliable, in fact I knew at least a couple of professionals who preferred the F2, until newer cameras appeared. Surely the FA was what the F3 should have been? By comparison, the F4 has everything a photographer could want or need, and was exquisitely built, as well as having a hotshoe (no seriously; what was that all about?)!

I aim one day to have a full collection of pro F model cameras. So far I have just the F4 and F5 (the pinnacle of film SLR design?), but I hope to get the others soon. Plus a Canon F1. And a Pentax LX. And a Canon A1. And a Contax RTS3. And a Canon T90. And a Nikon FM3A. And a Hasselblad. And a Leica. And and and....
 
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I never understood the love for the F3, personally. As an impoverished student, my 'dream' camera was a Nikon F4. I owned an FM2 and an F801s (a very underrated camera imo, if a bit 'lightweight' for professional use, but always gave me great results, and was exceptionally well featured). A couple of friends owned F3s. I wasn't enamoured with the handling, and why no hotshoe? Daft. And then the FM@ had a faster top shutter speed, and a much more useable top flash sync speed. And a hotshoe. And was smaller and lighter, yet just as tough. And was fully mechanical, and needed no battery. I don't remember F3s as being exceptionally reliable, in fact I knew at least a couple of professionals who preferred the F2, until newer cameras appeared. Surely the FA was what the F3 should have been? By comparison, the F4 has everything a photographer could want or need, and was exquisitely built, as well as having a hotshoe (no seriously; what was that all about?)!

I aim one day to have a full collection of pro F model cameras. So far I have just the F4 and F5 (the pinnacle of film SLR design?), but I hope to get the others soon. Plus a Canon F1. And a Pentax LX. And a Canon A1. And a Contax RTS3. And a Canon T90. And a Nikon FM3A. And a Hasselblad. And a Leica. And and and....
I'm with you on the FM2. I always carried 2 bodies. An F2 or F3 and an FM2. Got one in college and kept a copy my whole career. The F4 came out before I left the business, but I never shot with one.

And what are you, a paparazzi or something? What the hell you need a hot shoe for? PC socket is right there in front. Yeah, your flash ends up at arm's length a lot of times. Just like it needs to. (They made an adapter. I just left mine on the flash. :) )

IMG_0562_edited-1.jpg

Here's mine. Beat to s***, but we went everywhere together.

It doesn't work. I didn't know that until just a minute ago when I took its picture. Worked the last time I used it, but many moons have passed since then.

Doesn't matter. It's really just a tchotchke now. I try to keep it dusted out of respect, but even that task gets neglected too often.

I inherited a pristine F2 from my father. Can't imagine he put more than a few dozen rolls of film through it. It works nicely. I don't use that one either.
 
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MartynK

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I think there are two ways of looking at this. There's the user, and particularly professional user, perspective and the nostalgia that surrounds Nikon's F cameras. They were iconic for so many reasons.
 
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