It is nothing new to say that the Nikon F3 is an excellent camera, indeed it has been known to be so to anyone who is interested in photography and has read a little about cameras.
In my personal experience, the F3 has been a trustworthy friend that has accompanied me on many trips throughout the past 10 years. I bought my F3 over 10 years ago and it was second hand, I also have another Nikon camera and 2 Canons, but the F3 is the one I always chose when I don't want to carry too much gear and when I want to make sure the pictures will be excellent, and especially when I know I will be walking, trekking or going up and down treacherous grounds.
I use mainly Nikon lenses with it but I very often use a Sigma zoom as well. Although the F3 does not have many of the countless special features that most new SLRs and indeed most new cameras have, I feel that it has more than enough for any serious photographer, it does not have automatic focus, but it does have an automatic metering system which I find to be very reliable in most situations, unless you are shooting in special lightning conditions, when you can go for the shutter priority mode or aperture priority, or simply manual mode when you have more experience or have a separate hand held meter.
I like the feel of it, although it is a bit heavy, it is not big and is quite slim and easy to handle. The viewfinder is easy to use as well.
I have dropped my F3 three times with lens and everthing on solid rock, and was amazed to find out that on these three consecutive occasions, it suffered absolutely no "injuries".
In 10 years, I have personally groomed it as often as possible, cleaning it on the outside and the inside, but I have never had to have it professionally cleaned or repaired.
It has been to 3 deserts, visited many Patagonian glaciers, seen so many beaches, oceans and lakes that I can harldy remember them myself, and countless cities and mountains and forests and is still proudly standing.
It has never failed me (I do carry a extra supply of batteries all the time though) and its picture quality is superb. I would not change it for any other, even if I do use other cameras sometimes.
Sadly, the F3 has been discontinued and Nikon informed me that no Professional Manual focus camera exists to replace it, as all PRO cameras are now Auto Focus (fair enough).
The FM3A is the only manual focus camera that Nikon still make, but it isn't PRO.
Nikon F3s are still relatively easy to find second hand though and the searches I have made show me that the price (for the body alone) can range from £180 to about £400, depending on the camera's condition.
I hope this helps.
Professionals have used the F3 since the time Stonehenge was built, and what made it so special was you could still take pictures with it after using it as a hammer to built your own construction! One of the most robust and reliable cameras ever built and with all the important features that a pro SLR needs. Basically it?s a manual camera, with a simple auto exposure option for brain off situations. The removable viewfinder is 100% accurate, so no nasty surprises at the edge of the frame, and so is the film wind on mechanism. If you like to pose, a fast motor can be added for the right sounds, and the Nikon choice of lenses is as immense as the prices they ask for them. If you want a bomb proof working camera, then look out for a second-hand F3, it will probably outlive most owners.