An SLR camera, made by Nikon (of course), first sold in 1980. It was the third of their top-of-the-line professional camera models. It was the first pro model with an electronic shutter. A testament to its design is that it is still available brand new.
Like the other Nikon F-models, the F3 has a removable prism. The most desirable one for utility is the HP, or High-eyePoint prism, which lets you see the whole frame without having to stick your eye-ball into the viewfinder. This is very nice for eyeglass wearers. Other prisms include the 'normal' one, which is a bit smaller, a 'sportsfinder' designed to make it easy to follow quickly moving subjects, and various high-magnification finders for careful work.
This camera can use all the Nikon F-mount lenses, though meter coupling is available only with AI and later lenses.
There is a separate motor winder for this camera, the Nikon MD-4.
The Nikon F3 is a tough camera, rumoured to be impervious to conventional weapons.
Features of the Nikon F3 include:
- shutter speeds of 8 seconds to 1/2000
- mirror lock up
- flash sync speed of 1/60 with metering, or 1/80 without
- a fully non-battery powered 1/60 shutter speed for emergencies
- +/- 2 stops of exposure compensation
- DOF preview
- multiple-exposure capability
- shutter release threaded for standard shutter cable
Things that are wrong with the F3 are:
- The flash shoe. It's weird. Because the prism is interchangeable, they didn't put the flash shoe on the prism, but on the rewind knob. And it's non-standard. There are adapters, the latest from Nikon which preserves the TTL flash sync, I believe. (Nikon SU-4)
- The 1/80 flash sync is a little slow. This is due to the horizontally travelling shutter.
- It's manual focus (which I'm used to, so...)
- It's manual winding, without the Nikon MD-4.
- There's no little window on the back to tell you what film you have in there, or if there's film in there at all...
- They are still expensive, even after 21 years on the market.
It's a neat little camera.
Like many other cameras that were sold or are still sold long after their initial introduction, the F3 has had a number of variants. Some variants, such as the F3HP, simply refer to the kind of prism that came with the camera, in this case the nice high-eyepoint model described above. Other variants include the F3T, which is the F3 clad in titanium, and the F3P, a especially ruggedized model that only "real" professional photographers were allowed to buy. I believe the F3P came with more weatherproofing seals, larger knobs for use with gloves, and a permanently affixed prism to which a standard flash shoe was attached. Some of the other variants include the F3AF, equipped with a very early attempt by Nikon to do autofocus (and failing...); the F3H high-speed model in which the flip-up mirror is replaced by a fixed pelicle mirror and equipped with the special MD-4H motordrive, capable of shooting 13 frames per second; and the F3 Limited, which is a repackaged F3P produced for (rich) amateur consumption.
Last bit of info from http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/hardwares/classics/nikonf3ver2/index.htm.