Ever faithful, virtually indestructible, I affectionately refer to this camera as “The Tank”. I purchased my first F3HP in the early 1980s and it served as my constant companion during deployments aboard the USS Norfolk (SSN-714), the USS America (CV-66), and the USS LaSalle (AGF-3). Every photograph I made from 1982 through 1994 I did so with a Nikon F3HP. Many of the following images were made using the venerable Zoom-Nikkor 35-105mm, a lens many consider to be rather dodgy, but I like it just fine.

Nikon F3HP w/Zoom-Nikkor 35-105

Nikon F3HP w/Zoom-Nikkor 35-105mm


Fiery Sunset, Norfolk, VA, 1984 – Nikon F3HP w/Zoom-Nikkor 35-105

The Nikon F3, designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, seduces your eye and instinctively, as if driven by a primordial force, you want to pick it up and hold it in your hands. The F3, more than any other camera I am personally aware of, is so ergonomically well built it gives one a feeling of pure power.

McFarland Regatta

OCC McFarland Regatta, 4 July 1987 – Nikon F3HP w/Zoom-Nikkor 35-105

I never remove the camera from the motor winder. Together they form a synergistic one. If two mechanical components were ever meant to forever bond it is the F3 and the MD-4. Even when I don’t need automated film advance the MD-4 still serves as the camera’s power source. And the added heft aids in camera stabilization as well as fending off an attack.

Still Life

Still Life – Nikon F3HP w/Zoom-Nikkor 35-105

What I like best about the F3HP is its big, bright viewfinder. I like to wear sunglasses when I’m out and about. I can, with the HP viewfinder, see the complete image from nearly an inch away.

Flight Deck

Flight Deck USS America CV-66, Persian Gulf, Operation Desert Storm – Nikon F3HP w/Zoom-Nikkor 35-105

I prefer to use an architectural focusing screen with the F3HP. (Focusing screen E) These have grids and no center prism.

K-Street Blur

K-Street Blur – Nikon F3HP w/Nikkor 35mm f1.4