Users found it hard to resist the camera's sleek appearance, aperture priority exposure automation, TTL-flash capabilities, ball-bearing shutter advance, quartz-timed shutter, mirror lock-up, and rugged durability.
System Compatibility with Nikkor Lenses: Many long-time Nikonians were delighted to find that the F3 could mount even their oldest Nikkor lenses.
Usually, new aperture selection rings with AI tabs were mounted, enabling even the oldest Nikkors to be used like AI lenses.
Today, though AI conversion is no longer available from Nikon, it is available from a number of repair shops.
The camera meters at full aperture with AI and AIS lenses, and in manual stopped-down mode with Non-AI lenses.
To fully appreciate the F3 and the Nikon system, one must be familiar with the famous Nikkor lenses. The first Nikkor SLR lenses had fully automatic diaphragms, and a prong was affixed to the aperture selection ring that engaged the metering system of the camera on which it was mounted. 1977, Nikon introduced the AI or "Automatic Indexing" cameras and lenses.
Eyepiece Correction Lenses in diopters from 3 to -5 were available for standard eye level finders, and 2 to -3 for the HP finders.
Sophisticated Electronic Metering: The F3 was the first camera in the Nikon F series to locate the meter in the body of the camera, not the prism.
At the same time Nikon offered a service for converting older Non-AI lenses to AI specifications.
There was a screen for almost every purpose from the standard central split-image rangefinder screen with surrounding microprism to screens designed specifically for architectural photography, astrophotography, and TV broadcast simulation.
Accurate and Robust Shutter: The quartz-timed titanium shutter of the F3 is famous for its durability and accuracy.
As this is written, some New Old Stock F3's are starting to command prices approaching those associated with the F5.
Less pristine examples of the F3, especially early ones, cost much less, and represent one of the great bargains in manual SLR photography.
In the context of this review it is sufficient to note that AIS lenses added a small semi-circular notch in the base that enabled cameras like the FA and F4 to identify the fact that the lenses had a linear aperture actuating lever, needed for the programme mode.