I was mighty bummed when I picked up my Nikon F3 a few months ago and found its meter dead and its winder locked up. If I could own only one camera, it would be this one. I reach for my Pentax ME and Olympus OM-2n more often because they’re smaller and lighter. But as a pro camera, the F3’s robustness outclasses them. With proper care, it might well outlast me.
I sent it to James Holman at International Camera Technicians. $275 and a couple weeks later, it was back in my hands, good as new.
I put a couple rolls of color negative film through it to test it, with my 55mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor lens mounted. I enjoy moving in close to things, which the Micro-Nikkor lets me do. For other subjects in good light, leaving it focused at infinity delivers enough depth of field that I don’t have to do any fine focusing.
As expected, the F3 performed beautifully. All of the controls were smooth and sure. They were all pretty smooth and pretty sure before the winder locked up — my F3 was in good condition in the first place. The only trouble I’ve had with it before this is failed light seals; last year I replaced them myself.
James charges $50 to diagnose a camera, but applies that fee to the final bill if you go ahead with the repair. After I paid the fee, James let me know within a day what work my F3 needed and what the work would cost. After I authorized the work, James completed it in a few days. My camera spent more time with the USPS than it did in James’s shop.
James services 35mm, medium format, and large format film cameras, as well as lenses. When I’ve sent some of my other cameras out for repair and CLA, I’ve always looked for the One True Expert for that kind of camera: Eric Hendrickson for my Pentax SLRs, Sover Wong for my Nikon F2, John Hermanson for my Olympus OM-series SLRs. There doesn’t appear to be One True F3 Expert, and my buddy John has always sung James’s praises, so I gave James a whirl. Verdict: Recommended. I’m sure I’ll send more cameras his way, as more of my old gear needs work.
For my test roll I did what I like to call “la-de-da photography” — walking around photographing anything that even remotely catches my fancy. It was early spring, so I moved in close on a lot of flowers.
These photos are on Agfa Agfacolor Vista 400. I was gifted two rolls of this stuff; I shared images from the other roll here. This film hasn’t been made in some time, and my rolls are expired. Last time I shot this film at box speed and got grainy, color-shifted results. This time I shot it at EI 200 and got much better performance.
I’m relieved to have my F3 back and working again!
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