New light seals in the Nikon F3, tested on Adox HR-50

When I shot my Nikon F3 in January, I discovered that the light seals had failed. Actually, I discovered it when the scans came back from the processor and I saw the red streaks across my images. Isn’t that how it usually goes?


I immediately bought an F3 light-seal kit online, but it took me until August to get around to installing it. I put off things I don’t like to do. Fortunately, the kit I bought came with excellent instructions and everything I needed. It took me about a half hour to do the job, and then I had to wait a couple days for the adhesive to set.

Then I mounted my 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor lens and loaded my last roll of Adox HR-50 film. I took the F3 around with me on a couple walks and bike rides, and on our trip to Louisville. Here are the shots I like best.

Mc D

I shot the F3 in aperture-priority mode. About a third of the photos were a half or a full stop overexposed. I was able to fix it well enough in Photoshop most of the time. I hope the meter in my F3 isn’t going wonky.

Mazda in the parking lot

I whiffed focus on the photo above. When you look at it at full scan size it’s entirely out of focus. At blog size, it has a dreamy, tilt-shifty look that I like.

Live Music

I got stronger contrast this time than I did the last time I shot this film. I was impressed with its good middle grays last time. Perhaps this film doesn’t like overexposure.

Closed umbrella

The HR-50 just doesn’t look as good this time as it did last time I shot it. While we were in Louisville, I had no choice a couple times but to leave the F3 and the HR-50 in the trunk of my hot car. That may have affected the film as well.

Ghost sign

Downtown Louisville was still reeling from protests after the killing of Breonna Taylor when we visited. Between that and COVID-19, the streets were pretty empty.

Louisville building

I also took the F3 to New Augusta, which I hadn’t visited in a long time. Somewhere I have a photo of this house looking abandoned. Someone’s moved in and given it the attention it deserves.

Old house in New Augusta

It’s not a trip to New Augusta unless I photograph the old train station. It and an adjoining house were for sale a couple years ago. Margaret and I talked for a couple weeks about buying the property! What a great little guest house the train station would have made.

Augusta Station (in New Augusta)

I developed this film in Adox HR-DEV diluted to 1+49 and scanned it on my CanoScan 9000F Mark II. I’m growing more and more convinced that my scanner is the weak link in my 35mm workflow. These just need far too much unsharp masking.

On the tracks

It’s been fun to try Adox HR-50. I seldom reach for films this slow because they demand such good light. But under the right circumstaces, HR-50 looks very good. It’s worth finding the light that suits it.

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4 responses to “New light seals in the Nikon F3, tested on Adox HR-50”

  1. Joe shoots resurrected cameras Avatar

    Man even replacing light seals seems scary to me! Good on you for tackling this.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It’s really not hard – just tedious, and a little exacting. Not my kind of thing normally, but I hated to pay someone to do it when I knew that if I focused on it I could do it myself.

  2. arhphotographic Avatar

    Thank you for sharing some great photos. The 35mm 2.8 really delivers!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I like that lens a lot. 35mm might be my favorite focal length.

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