Nikon F3 With Red D Mark In Serial Number
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The first two digits of the body's serial number often are close to the year that the body was made, but not exactly. It's just a coincidence which spawned folklore of the time that the first two digits are the year. Of course if a top plate was changed during repair, it will have a different serial number.
See the big 12mm circle in the finder? That's to mark where most of the meter's sensitivity lies. Just put that over something middle-toned, or at least with a mix of light and dark, and Bingo!, you can set perfect exposure.
Credit: Cameracourtesy of Mr. Phoon of Phoon Foto, Ipoh ® where he also operates a popular website (URL:www.phoofoto.com.my) trading new/used photo equipment. Picturewas from my Copyright-free © Images Collection, 2003. leofoo®ModificationsMade:1. Texturedtitanium-finish pentaprism viewfinder for increased sturdiness.2. A new finderDE-5 with an ISO-type accessory shoe with flash and ready light contacts locatedon the top of the pentaprism viewfinder.3. FocusingScreenType B (matte screen) as a standard accessory,4. New CameraBack MF-6Bas standard equipment for auto rewinding stop in conjunction with Motor Drive MD-4.5. New mechanicalshutter release lock. (Just push in and set the lock release lever at the red markto release the lock control.)6. Round filmcounter read-out window.7. Film counternumerals in white.8. ASA/ISOfilm speed setting dial window cover.9. Higherheight of shutter speed dial and shutter release button.
The Nikon FE is an advanced semi-professional level, interchangeable lens, 35 mm film, single-lens reflex (SLR) camera. It was manufactured by Nikon in Japan from 1978 to 1983, and was available new from dealer stock until c. 1984. The FE uses a metal-bladed, vertical-travel focal plane shutter with a speed range of 8 to 1/1000 second, plus Bulb, and flash X-sync of 1/125th second. It had dimensions of 89.5 millimetres (3.52 in) height, 142 mm (5.6 in) width, 57.5 mm (2.26 in) depth and 590 grams (21 oz) weight. It was available in two colors: black with chrome trim and all black. As on the FM, its model designation did not appear on the front of the camera, but was engraved as a small "FE" preceding the serial number on the rear of the housing.
The FM/FE chassis proved to be remarkably long-lived. Nikon used it, with incremental improvements, as the backbone of the compact F-series from 1977 to 2006. The other members of the compact F-series are the Nikon FM2 (introduced in 1982), FE2 (1983), FA (1983) and the limited production Nikon FM3A (2001). The FE was discontinued with the introduction of the visually similar FE2, which had faster top and sync shutter speeds, as well as TTL (through-the-lens) flash metering, but which was no longer compatible with non-AI lenses.
Beginning in 1977 with the advanced amateur Nikon FM, there was a complete overhaul of Nippon Kogaku's entire Nikon SLR line. The 1970s and 1980s were an era of intense competition between the major SLR brands: Nikon, Canon, Minolta, Pentax and Olympus. Between c. 1975 to 1985, there was a dramatic shift away from heavy all-metal manual mechanical camera bodies to much more compact bodies with microprocessor electronic automation. In addition, because of rapid advances in electronics, the brands continually leap-frogged each other with models having new or more automatic features. The industry was trying to expand out from the saturated high-end professional and advanced amateur market and appeal to the large mass of low-end amateur photographers itching to move up from compact automatic leaf shutter rangefinder (RF) cameras to the more versatile and glamorous SLR but were intimidated by the need to learn all the gritty details of operating a traditional SLR.
Curiously, the finder's engravings itself have the engraving SED33101572-003 which is the same as the F3 'Big' camera's finder which was a regular DE-2 type finder with no hot shoe installed. This is a bit of an anomaly, since NASA's part numbers usually differ if the part had a modification.
Note from the sample screen shown here: the Focusing Screen frame includes NASA's serial number (S/N) and NASA part number (P/N) - this example has the P/N on the opposite end of the frame. There is some variance to the engravings however as I have seen screens where the S/N and P/N appear on the long sides of the frame as opposed to the short ends like this one.
Inside the regular back you would usually find the NASA part and serial numbers. Note that on this particular example, the pressure plate has been removed suggesting that this back was likely just a placeholder to protect the shutter curtains, when a data back was not in place.
The back pictured above is an MF-14 digital back. Similar in look and function to the consumer MF-14, with some NASA additions. The rear of the NASA modified version will include either a decal with the back's NASA's Part Number and Serial Number or, in some early versions of this back, the NASA part and serial numbers would be printed directly on the back, in the section where the LCD resides, but in the lower left corner. This location for the PN and SN did not last long when NASA decided to apply a 'cue card' decal with Astronaut instructions on how to operate the back, so the Part and Serial numbers were then changed to the decal and placed to the left as seen in the sample above. Many backs would also have a velcro patch applied, directly over the door to where the battery compartment is.
NASA also used another variation of the data back, the MF-18. Like the MF-14 before it, the MF-18 functioned similar to the consumer version, but NASA catalogued the back with its own part number and series of NASA serial numbers. Once again, decals for these numbers were applied on the left side of the back and a 'cue card' decal was on the center of the back. The velcro patch once again would normally appear on the battery compartment cover.
All of the F3 small camera bodies have the NASA Part Number (P/N) and Serial Number (S/N) engraved on the front of the camera at the bottom of the integrated motor drive. The P/N number was NASA's way of identifying their pieces destined for use in the space program. You will notice that the part number begins with the letters SED. 'S' always appears first for NASA's part numbers. The 'E' means that the piece was produced from the Engineering Diagrams. The 'D' is what NASA categorizes part of the Space Shuttle program. You may see other NASA parts that have a Part Number starting with 'SEA'; those refer to the Gemini program. 'SEB' is for the Apollo program, and 'SEC' is for Skylab
The Number that follows the Alpha characters is NASA's unique 8 digit part number for the particular piece. There are usually another 3 digits that follow separated by a dash. This refers to the variation of the particular part. The variation number on major parts, such as the camera above, usually starts with 301.
The '3' I believe refers to the 'entire' part, which is the camera, including all of its basic removable components, such as the finder, the focusing screen, the battery pack, the instructional decals, the velcro and the body cap. Each individual component would often share the same part number, but their variant number would usually start with a '0' instead of a '3'
To try to illustrate this, the camera depicted on this page is SED-33101585-303. That is the number for the entire unit with all its installed components. The camera's back door is a removable component, since there are variations of a door that could be used (learn more below). A regular back door would carry the same SED number but with a different extension, in this case SED33101585-002
Even the Velcro patches were identified internally by NASA with specific part numbers, such as the small square patch located just above the battery compartment which is SED33101585-008
The last two numbers I believe, indicate the variant level. As such, '01' indicates it is the first variation of that particular part. In the case of the F3 Small Camera, the -301 variation, had a regular DE-2 Type Finder, but with a hot shoe installed on it. When a major modification was made to the camera where the variant was changed, the camera's SED would reflect the change and show '-302'. Subsequent modification done after that would change the variant to '-303' and so on. The example seen here, is a -303 variant.
The Serial Number is NASA's serial number for the piece. Many of the Nikon pieces from the F and F3 era do not have Nikon serial numbers on them Instead, Nikon engraved the camera bodies with the NASA P/N and often just the the first two digits of the NASA Serial Number (almost always beginning with a '10', unless there were more than 100 pieces produced, where the serial number may extend to '11'. This enabled NASA to likely finish the engraving once they determined the Serial Number and the Variant Number for the piece. I have yet to see a NASA serial number greater than 4 digits long. There is a possibility that for some pieces NASA had Nikon engraved all numbers completely, but it has been difficult to determine. Later pieces after the F3 era opted for using decals instead of engravings
Topcon's Super D was very popular with the US Navy.Different versions were ordered 1) without the mirror lock up 2) with the mirror lock up3) the Super DM. The first two versions were ordered primarily in chrome, but some blackbodies have show up. All variations have "US NAVY" engrave on the baseplate.While the Navy ordered standard Topcon lenses, a few special US Navy lenses were orderedwith infinity lock and a red "N" preceding the serial number to indicate"Navy." One such lens is the 135/2.8 Black. 2b1af7f3a8