I like my coffee black — no cream, no sugar, and certainly no fancy flavors that stand between me and the rich taste of a cup of good coffee. When I pull up a stool at my favorite diner and order coffee, I know exactly what I’ll get. I don’t need a fancy Starbucks menu.
When I pick up my F3 I know what to expect. No wait for the camera to “boot up.” I simply switch on the built in meter (if it’s not already on), put my eye to the viewfinder and begin taking photographs. My left hand cradles the lens, my thumb and fingers select the aperture and focus. My right hand controls the shutter, shutter speed and film advance — all without ever taking my eye away from the viewfinder.
Press 1 for English… Press 2 to clear up a billing mess… Press 3 to inquire about your order… and on and on. When I use the telephone, I expect to speak to a human being thank you. Press the thingy wheel on the right to access menu 1… Press the dooflinger on the right while depressing tiny switch “A” with your fingernail to enable pseudo manual focus…
Please! When I pick up my camera, I want to make images. When I pick up my camera, I want it to disappear so I can concentrate on pictures. A good camera should be an extension of the photographer’s vision, an able assistant who knows when to shut up, do their job and stay out of the way.
It’s not rocket science. Set the camera so the proper amount of light hits the film (sensor), frame your subject, focus and press the shutter release. OK, so I’m lazy sometimes. I set my shutter speed dial to “A” (automatic), select the aperture I want (to control depth of field) and my F3 selects the appropriate shutter speed for me. All I need to do is frame, focus and shoot.
How about auto-focus? Manual focusing is easy enough, but I have another Nikon body (N8008s) that’s AF and I finally sprung for a nice new Nikon AF 35mm f2.0 lens. When I want auto-focus, I have it. If I don’t, I flip a simple switch and focus the lens manually. Piece of cake.
Did I mention that my F3 is tough enough to survive combat photography? And that the two tiny silver oxide batteries last a year or more and never need recharging? I can change focusing screens in seconds and if I want automatic film advance, I just attach my MD-4 motor drive. My F3 is the heart of a modular system that I tailor to suit my needs.
Nikon produced this top of the line, pro level camera for 20 years. I’ve had mine for almost 9 years and it never once let me down. I paid $290 for it on ebay. A few years after I bought it, I put it in the shop for a CLA (clean, lube and adjust) that cost me less than $100. No problems, I simply wanted assurance and got it. Everything was on spec and the repairman cleaned, lubed, adjusted and replaced all the light seals and mirror damping foam.
These days, Nikon and every other camera manufacturer come out with new & “improved” cameras every 18 months that “obsolete” the old models. Their top pro models are big, heavy, carry huge price tags and are so complex (with multiple, deep menu systems) that they can get in your way.
Digital cameras are finally catching up with film (almost). When I pick up my F3 loaded with black and white film, we work together as partners. We eliminate all the bloat and get down to the basics of making images, good B&W images. Even the finest, most expensive digital cameras on the planet can’t match the richness of black and white film.
And we do it simply and elegantly. Photography with a top of the line camera, fine optics and quality sensors (film) is pure joy and an extension of my vision — never an obstacle.