1980's Olympus

Olympus OM-3

Olympus OM-3

Talk about hard to find.

The Olympus OM-3 is the second rarest Olympus camera – after the M-1.

Produced between 1983 and 1986, the OM-3 is a “cult camera”—most manual camera collectors will pay top dollar for it.

But what’s so amazing about this camera?

Unique Features

Olympus cameras never fall short of unique features.

The OM-1 was known for its legendary small size and excellent viewfinder. The OM-2 became the first camera to have the Automatic Dynamic Metering (ADM) TTL system.

The OM-3 was not any different.

The Olympus OM-3 came with the multi-spot metering in addition to the center-weighted metering that was available in OM-1 and OM-2 cameras.

By including a multi-spot metering feature, the OM-3 was able to calculate a more accurate ideal exposure for every image.

And that’s not all

The Olympus OM-3 also came with highlight and shadow buttons. With these buttons, a photographer was able to identify which parts of the image could be exposed as black or white.

The camera also featured an LCD readout that replaced the needle in the viewfinder.

If you didn’t like the automatic exposure feature in the OM-2, the OM-3 went back to being fully mechanical.

Being fully mechanical, the OM-3 allows you to shoot in sunny 16 and still get the exposure right without using batteries. But if you can’t guess the exposure, the metering modes are always at your disposal.

What about Shutter Speed?

The OM-3 comes with a shutter speed of 1/2000 that makes this camera ideal for outdoor shots. With the extra shutter speed, you can comfortably use a fast lens with the OM-3.

As if that’s not enough

The OM-3 also featured improvements to the high-speed sync flash

Design Features

The OM-3 features the same minimalist design as its predecessors. The body is mainly composed of aluminum, with the top and bottom plates being made from Titanium. 

Unlike its predecessors which featured a removable hot-shoe, the OM-3 came with a fixed hot-shoe.

The face of the OM-3 did not feature a self-timer switch.

Most buttons are located at the top of the camera.

Shortcomings of the camera

If you’re used to the other OM cameras, you might have some trouble getting used to the OM-3.

One of the first differences you’ll notice is the harsh film advance. Unlike the OM-1 and OM-2, which have a particular slick advance, the OM-3 features steel gears, which makes advancing the film feel a bit harsh.

It also lacks the self-timer; you can forget about taking photographs of yourself and with your friends.

The OM-3 is also not the best for beginners. It was designed to provide specific advanced features to more experienced photographers.

Few of them were released, which makes it extremely hard to find.

Final thoughts

It’s fair to say that the OM-3 was an upgraded version of the OM-1 and the mechanical sister to the OM-4.

Despite lacking some features, the OM-3 is an excellent camera for any outdoor photographer.

It doesn’t disappoint. Being fully mechanical, you can keep shooting even when the battery runs out.

And that’s not all

The mechanical shutter gives this camera a sense of swiss watch perfection and artistry.

If you’re looking for a rare mechanical camera with impressive features, the OM-3 is your best bet—if you can find one.

1980's Nikon

Nikon F3

Nikon F3

The Nikon F3 was Nikon’s third professional camera after the F and F2. First introduced in 1980, the F3 was a fully electronic 35mm SLR camera.

Now here’s a camera that has stood the test of time.

Despite an initial backlash due to the fully electronic system, the F3 became one of the most successful cameras in the Nikon line, with production lasting for 21 years. It even outlasted the Nikon F4 and F5.

But what made this camera so popular?

Keep reading to find out.

Features of the Camera

The F3 didn’t feature any new technological advancements. It didn’t have any new features. Instead, Nikon consolidated all the best features of the best cameras at the time to create one of the greatest cameras of all time. 

One of these features was the use of modular parts that could be easily interchanged. The F3 came with a choice of five interchangeable viewfinders, namely:

  • DE-2 Standard
  • DE-3 High Eye-Point (HP)
  • DA-2 Action Finder
  • DW-3 Waist-Level
  • DW-4 6x Magnifying

If you wear glasses, this is the camera for you. The High Eye Point (HP) eyepiece is a slightly larger eyepiece with a slightly reduced magnification, making it perfect to use if you wear glasses. 

All the viewfinders are bright and are a pleasure to look through. The F3 also featured a digital LCD meter that was visible when looking through the viewfinder.

Talking about metering, how was the F3 metering?

The F3 used the center-weighted metering system. Unlike the F2, which had the metering system in the eyepiece, the F3 metering is located in the body. This feature brought back the ability for Through the Lens (TTL) metering.

Other Features

Another feature that makes the F3 one of the most excellent SLR cameras of all time is its ease of use. The Nikon F3 is an aperture priority camera, which is superb.

With this camera, you only have to think about the depth of field and how creative you want the shot to be. The camera sets the shutter speed for you.

And that’s not all…

The F3 comes with a high range of shutter speeds, which makes it perfect for shooting at different speeds. You can set the shutter speed manually using the shutter speed dial on the top plate. You get a range of 1/2000 sec to 8 sec.

The shutter sound is also quite distinctive. Not silent or noisy, but very unique. Some even claim that the F3 shutter noise was the go-to camera sound for mid-1980s commercials and films.

What about lenses?

The F3 accommodates a large chunk of the Nikon lens lineup. With this camera, you can use all manual Nikon lens produced since 1959., as well as all autofocus lens including the AI-P, AF, AF-I, AF-D and AF-S lenses

Design and Physical Appearance

A universal agreement is that the F3 is a beautiful camera with an innovative design.

Designed by legendary car designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, the F3 features several cutting-edge design features.

First off, all the edges are perfectly rounded, making the camera feel natural to the hand. The F3 was also the first Nikon camera to feature the iconic red stripe that is present on all other Nikon cameras.

All controls are ergonomically placed to ensure ease of the camera.

When holding the camera, you can advance the film with your right thumb. Next to the film advance crank, you have the electromagnetic shutter release button and the shutter speed dial.

On the left top plate, you have the film rewind crank, and the exposure compensation and ISO dial.

The F3 does not have a hot or cold shoe.

Shortcomings of the Camera

One of the most common complaints about this camera comes from people who want to use a flash system with it.

This camera relies on a peripheral adapter that’s located near the film rewind. To rewind the film, you’ll need to remove the flash system.

Another shortcoming is that the LCD is hard to read in low light. Long time users have also reported LCD failure with some cameras.

Final Thoughts

The F3 is an incredible camera.

It’s easy to use, feels comfortable on the hand, and is not as heavy as the F2. Despite it being a professional camera, the F3 is also great for everyday use.

The shutter system is excellent, metering is spot on, and the viewfinder is a pleasure to look through. Not forgetting the wide range of accessories you can use with this camera.

What more could a photographer ask for?

1980's Nikon

Nikon F4

Nikon F4

Not many cameras had the kind of features you’d want in the 1980s, except for the Nikon F4. These included:

  • Tough, durable, and reliable
  • Has diverse metering modes,
  • Came with a wide array of creative controls, and
  • Featured Automatic Focusing.

Released in September 1988, the F4 was the camera that brought SLR into the modern world—a real game-changer.

Here are some of the features that made the F4 such a game-changer.

Features of the Camera

Previous cameras in the Nikon F series were mainly improvements of what existed at the time.

  • The Nikon F improved on what Leica and Contax already had in the market. 
  • The F2 was an improved and reworked version of the F
  • The F3 was an evolution of the F2. It was an electronic version of the F2.

The Nikon F4 was different. It was built from scratch. Unlike its predecessors who didn’t come with any new technological innovations, the F4 featured several first.

It was the world’s first professional autofocus camera.

Automatic focus cameras had just started gaining popularity, and many professional photographers were looking for a good AF camera. Being the first pro AF camera made the F4 the top sports and News camera from 1989-1990.

The Nikon F4 was also the world’s first professional camera to feature the modern multi-pattern metering system. Although Nikon had earlier introduced a matrix metering system in the FA, the F4 had a more improved and accurate version.

With the F4, a photographer could choose between three metering modes.

  • Matrix
  • Centre-weighted
  • Spot metering

It was also the first camera with an electronically controlled vertically traveling focal plane shutter, and a shutter release on the vertical and horizontal grip.

The electronic shutter speed allowed the camera to achieve shutter speeds of between 30 sec-1/8000 sec—faster than any camera at the time.

Other Features

The Nikon F4 was also the first camera to feature an in-built motor drive. Previous cameras relied on an external motor.

Other than being a first, the F4 also had several extraordinary features.

One of these features was the large and bright viewfinder. The F4 came with a removable multi-meter finder DP-20 pentaprism. If you thought the F3 had an excellent viewfinder, the F4 had a better one.

And it wasn’t just one viewfinder,

The F4 came with a choice of ten easily interchangeable finders.

Nikon wasn’t done.

The F4 also featured a record five exposure modes. You had the choice of

  • Manual mode
  • Shutter priority
  • Aperture priority
  • Program mode
  • High-speed program mode.

What about lenses?

The F4 could accommodate all Nikon lenses produced since 1959.

Design and Physical Appearance

Legendary car designer Giorgetto Giugiaro designed the Nikon F4. The camera followed Giorgetto’s philosophy of Form follows Function.

Every part of the camera had to have a useful function.

And the result? An ergonomic masterpiece.

The F4 was the last professional camera with knobs and levers. Professional cameras after the F4 made use of menus and dials.

Thanks to the use of an in-built motor drive, the F4 didn’t come with a film advance lever.

Shortcomings of the Camera

One of the most significant complaints among F4 users is its weight. The F4 was a beast of a camera with a weight of 1280g without batteries.

It’s not the camera for a daily shooter.

The F4 autofocus was also not the best. It was slow and performed poorly in low light—the main reason the F4 didn’t experience much success.

Compared to the F5, the F4 matrix metering system was not the best.

Final Thoughts

The Nikon F4 was a revolutionary camera. It sits at the epicenter of the modern camera revolution.

Is the Nikon F a good camera for 2020?

Short answer, yes.

Not only is the F4 compatible with all manual and autofocus lenses manufactured since 1959, but it’s also still a great camera to carry and shoot with.

1980's Nikon

Nikon F3AF

Nikon F3AF

The Nikon F3AF was born. A special and unique version of the highly famous F3. However, unlike other models in the F3 line, the F3AF came with some unique features.

The year is 1983.

Camera manufacturers are experimenting with prototype autofocus SLR cameras. Pentax, Olympus, and Canon already have experimental AF SLR models in the market.

Nikon, on the other hand, chooses a more radical approach. Rather than launching AF in a new flagship model, they choose their top of the line Nikon F3 as the template for their first autofocus camera.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the features of the Nikon F3AF

Features of the Camera

We’ll start with the most obvious.

The Nikon F3AF was an autofocus (AF)35mm SLR camera.

And not just any other AF 35mm SLR camera. It was among the first if not the first SLR to have an AF system based on Through The Lens (TTL) detection. Previous AF cameras from companies such as Canon used active infrared sensors for their AF system.

Another unique feature of the Nikon F3AF was the unique pentaprism.

The camera came with an AF finder DX, which featured a bright viewfinder with a 92% coverage—unlike other F3 models that had a 100% coverage on the viewfinder.

And that’s not all

The F3AF featured a superb 80/20 center-weighted metering system. It also came with a 150,000 cycle shutter reliability rating.

Talk about a camera built to last.

And there’s more

The F3AF was launched together with two AF lenses. These were:

  • AF Nikkor 80mm f/2.8
  • AF Nikorr 200mm f 3.6 EDIF

Despite having its lenses, Nikon maintained the F-mount, which meant that the F3AF could use all other Nikon lenses since 1959. The two lenses could also be used in manual Nikon SLRs.

As if that’s not enough…

The lenses also came with a revolutionary design. A feature that wouldn’t catch on until 15 years later.

Both lenses came with an in-lens motor that drew power from the camera. Cameras at the time and many cameras until the early 2000s had the motor inside the body and not the lens. 

The autofocus feature of the lens, as well as the increased zoom capability, made the lenses and the camera quite popular among sport and action photographers.

Design and Physical Appearance

The Nikon F3AF had the same design as the F3.

The F3AF was easy to handle and comfortable on the hand. It featured a subtle bump at the face of the camera to aid with your grip.

Most of the controls were located at the top.

On the top plate, you had:

  • The frame advance crank on the right
  • The shutter speed dial on the right
  • The shutter release button on the right.
  • The top left plate housed the Exposure compensation and ISO dial.

Shortcomings of the Camera

One of the most significant shortcomings with the F3AF was the weight of the AF lens. The AF lenses were heavier than other Nikon manual lenses.

Like the F3, the F3AF also has problems with the LCD, which seems to lose functionality in time. You may have to replace it after prolonged use.

The autofocus system was also not perfect as compared to other later cameras. However, the F3AF also featured a manual focus mode. 

Final Thoughts

The F3AF was the most unique of the F3 series. Although it didn’t experience as much success as other F3 cameras, it is still an incredible camera.

A trendsetter for the Nikon AF family and a worthy addition to your vintage camera collection.

1980's Canon

Canon T90

Canon T90
Release Year1986
Release Price148,000 yen (~$1,350)
Lens MountFD Mount
1980's Canon

Canon T80

Canon T80
Release Year1985
Release Price85,000 yen (~$775)
Lens MountFD Mount
1980's Canon

Canon T70

Canon T70
Release Year1984
Release Price69,000 yen (~$630)
Lens MountFD Mount
1980's Canon

Canon T50

Canon T50
Release Year1983
Release Price45,000 yen (~$410)
Lens MountFD Mount
1980's Canon

Canon AL-1

Canon AL-1
Release Year1982
Release Price58,000 yen (~$530)
Lens MountFD Mount
1980's Canon

Canon AE-1 Program

Canon AE-1 Program
Release Year1981
Release Price60,000 yen (~$550)
Lens MountFD Mount