I love my F3. And I say that in the true sense of the word. I've used a number of other cameras: an elderly Mamiya DSX 1000 35mm SLR in Pentax screw mount, Pentax K-1000, Fujica ST-605 35mm, a Nikon FM-10, Olympus OM-2n. The F3 is the only one that I have truly loved.

I bought it from a business associate, who purchased it in Japan when he worked there some years ago. He mentioned that he had a camera that he wanted to sell. I asked him what it was, and how much he wanted for it. When he told me, I leaped at it. It was in mint condition, not a single mark on it anywhere. I don't believe that it had had more than 1 or 2 rolls through it. It had a Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4 on it, also in absolutely perfect condition, and an SB-17 speedlight.

It has a few more marks now. I bought a used MD-4, a Micro-Nikkor 105 1:4, a Tamron 60-300... the list goes on. I love this camera. I love the smooth, utterly precise action of the manual winder. I love the thought that went into the design of the body/motor drive interface. I love the sheer solid precise weight of the beast. But most of all I love how it has become as familiar to me as a part of my own body, how I can adjust shutter speed and aperture in the dark, how the important things are just exactly where they should be. I even love the quirky flash mount, which, once you get used to it, is stronger and more secure than a standard ISO mount.

It's tough, which is a good part of the reason that it has been, and continues to be, a favourite among photojournalists. I dropped mine (not intentionally) from a height of about 5 feet onto concrete. The base of the MD-4 aquired some healthy scratches, and the edge of the battery door was a bit deformed, but that was it.

Bottom line: if you want a tough, reliable, flexible system with a staggering array of viewfinders, accessories and above all top-quality lenses, and you don't need (or want) autofocus, this is the camera for you.