This is the digital Nikon F3 everybody wants

This is a Nikon F3 camera with a Kodak DCS100 digital back currently listed on eBay:

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  • Max Archer

    I can’t exactly imagine the performance being particularly high. I’ve always wanted to do this, though.

    • Max Archer

      Actually, I just read the actual listing, this appears to me to be something that Kodak actually manufactured, even if it wasn’t mass-produced, so I’m not sure where the “homemade” comes in.

      • I thought it was “homemade”.

        • Just A Thought

          Quite possibly the seller picked this up from a US Govt auction – NASA for one would have played with these as would the military.

          One can buy some amazing stuff from such auctions. I recall one article where the auction material was in an inspection yard (US west coast) and a knowledgeable buyer found a brand new live surface to air missile available for sale. He informed them and missile was removed.

          One can get some super telephotos from Airforce auctions. The huge Nikkors were used for taking pics of targets and other stuff beyond me. Gears were attached to barrels for remote focusing.
          Navy auctions can also have specialty optics available.

          Just have to have the time and spare change. Most are sold where is, so you need to arrange shipping or fly in to pickup your Stinger Missile from auction storage locations.

  • broxibear

    I think this one is the Kodak made one? and the one above is homemade…I think ?

    • broxibear

      Now that I’ve looked at it again, it might be the same model ?…they’re too weird lol.

  • Jimmy Lamont

    This isn’t really news.

  • bisaiah

    Uh, so where does the power for the digital back come from? And I don’t think they’d just place the sensor there, making it very prone to dust and all that.

    • bt

      Power and memory was carried in a separate, shoulder slung unit. A 200MB hard disk that held 600 JPEGs. =D

      • Panfruit

        Wow, that makes me feel so spoiled with my d300. 🙂

    • the dog

      but very easy to clean

  • The invisible man

    First 🙂
    Does it take SDHC cards ?

    • Panfruit

      This is why calling out First! makes people look silly. 😛

  • Vic

    If this is not full frame, I don’t want it!

  • Joe

    If everybody wants it, how come there are no bids?

  • If Nikon makes a digital camera the size and functionality of an F3, I’ll buy it, period. And I’d bet money lots of other photographers would too.

    • broxibear

      Hi Ansel Olson,
      I think you’re right.
      A digital F3 or FM2 with a FX sensor is something many photographers would love.

      • It’s called a D700?

        • It’s really not though. The FM and FM2 are a fraction of the size and weight of the D700.

          • burak

            the size of an M body?

          • Elton

            They say they don’t want the size and weight of the digital bodies but they do want the sensor, which goes behind the film plane, and the LCD which goes behind the sensor, and the auto focus unit which goes in the extended bottom, and they want a battery big enough to run it for more than two shots, and on and on, and when they’re done, you’ve got a D700.

            • broxibear

              Hi Elton,
              What you’ve listed are needed for it to be a dgital camera but they don’t have to be as bulky, the M9 shows you it doesn’t.
              It’s not a camera that would be used for sports so it doesn’t need the D3 series AF system, the idea is that it’s a stripped down camera just like the FM2 so it doesn’t need the extra functions and controls of a D700. There’s no reason it couldn’t have an AF system similar to GF1 or NEX, an F mount and a battery of similar size.
              I’d love a smaller body that could still use my 50mm f1.8 AFD with it’s aperture ring…Nikon would see a boost in sales of their AFD series lenses.
              It may not be a camera for you but I definitely think there’s a market for it.
              Get the styling right, keep the functions to a minimum, price it right and Nikon could have their X100.
              There isn’t a single camera out there that’s right for everyone…that’s why they have a product range.

            • ThylEngelhardt

              This “they” is not me. I don’t need AF, nor an LCD, provided the sensor delivers 12 stops of lattitude. Hence, please only raw (NEF) recording. An LCD could be made an Option that could be coupled with the camera, if need be.

  • R R

    lol everybody is going crazy and posting dumb stuff while waiting for the D800

  • I’d rather have the F4 and use my G lenses.


  • alex

    987 units were sold… if this is an original camera, it’s a collectors item and will be worth a lot of money some day.

  • Anonymus Maximus

    Well without a DSU it is really not more than a nice piece of metal for a glass cabinet or a museum.

  • This ‘camera’ doesn’t have any connectors for power, or to get the images off it (or to attach the 200MB Winchester and keyboard. Kodak never made a DCS-100 in this size. Photograph of the ‘digital back’ looks totally ‘shopped.

    I pity anyone who actually bids on this, and I’m disappointed you’ve promoted this!

    • Jen Salik

      You don’t see the 20 pin connector on the bottom of the camera? – Should go to the optician…
      No, Kodak never made a DCS-100, it was simply called DCS as you easily can read at the linked Wikipedia-site and later named DCS-100 when the DCS-200 came out.

    • Jen Salik

      and NO – it’s not shopped…

      can’t hear that anymore, is there anything unusual out there where’s not at least one who cries out ‘shopped, shopped’ like a braindead parrot?


      Stephen- The listing on eBay that you have felt compelled to share your opinion on is mine. I took the photos myself and they are unmanaged other than cropping and resizing. I would hope in the future you would do some checking first before accusing someone in a public forum of intentionally manipulating photos with the intention of misleading the public.

      I don’t claim to be an expert on these cameras but I have owned a few and have no reason to not believe it is not genuine.

      The idea that a camera like this might be homemade is rather amusing. It is beyond my limited imagination to understand how someone could possibly create the item you see in my photos in some home workshop.

      As a few of the more knowledgeable members of this forum have accurately stated, less than 1000 of these cameras were known to have been produced. Their specifications vary widely. I think it is an interesting piece for any Nikon collector.

      • broxibear

        Hi NSXDREAM,
        Have you taken any images with it and if so what were they like ?

        • Juha

          Nice flashback! I´ve used this for a day in the beginning of the ´90s while working for a sports photographer but only saw the images on the DSC-100´s screen.

  • Ron V

    Kodak never made a DCS-100. Only when Kodak released the DCS-200 did journalists decide to rename the DCS-DC3 the DCS-100.
    The EBay listing is in fact legitimate. The hybrid listed is the very first version of the DCS-DC3. Kodak House actually has one on display in their museum. It looks very similar to the Kodak Hawkeye, made for the US army.

    • broxibear

      Ron V ?…Is that your flickr link I posted ?

      • Ron V

        @ broxibear
        Yes, that is my DC3 set on Flickr.

  • I dream with a Digital FM3A!

    • chris

      I’d be very pleased to see Nikon produce a modern digital F3 or digital FM2n (I prefer the look of the FM2n to the F3a). Put a real shutter speed dial on it, a real aperture ring, manual and perhaps aperture-priority modes, and no other exposure modes. They could even leave autofocus out entirely … no AF sensor, no built-in AF motor. Put a good screen in with a microprism and split-image rangefinder. Use the advance lever to re-cock the shutter thus saving battery power. They could even rig the advance lever up to a geared generator which could charge a small capacitor inside the camera enough to take a single exposure or two. So one stroke would provide enough power to take a photo … no need for batteries! Just like the FM2n. They could even make it 100% compatible with the MD-12/MD-4 motor drives.

      • Just A Thought

        Just buy a D3s while you still can. Then visit B&H or Adorama or eBay and pickup some clean minty Nikkors – AIS only. Do not buy non-AI Nikkors, unless you have a Canon DSLR where they work just fine (with adapter of course).

        You will then have most of your wishes granted. No need for the compatibility with MD motor drive as the D3s is way faster just by itself. You can run Aperture priority.

        Oh, you will likely want to get a split rangefinder screen – Katz Eye would do it – though regular screen does work. Then move the switch by the lens mount to M for manual focus and you will be set.

        You can go with the smaller D700 but the older lenses are big and handle much better on a D3S – like the F3 with motor drive handled large lenses better – aka 50-300mm f4.5 zoom which is huge and super sharp (again buy the AIS version).

        You will also get superb flash control which was not available back in the F3 days.

        Ya see Nikon already have made your wishes come true – just gotta buy the right stuff – no need to wait.

        • chris

          D3s: lacks a film advance lever. Lacks a real shutter speed dial. It has that generic bulbous modern aesthetic rather than the classic lines of a traditional 35mm SLR.

          The D700 has a built-in flash … that sort of stuff belongs on Canon Rebels.

          • Just A Thought

            “D3s: lacks a film advance lever.”

            True but then if you add a MD drive to an F3 you would not be using the film advance lever either. Would a flim advance leaver not be redundant considering that the D3s does not use film??

            “It has that generic bulbous modern aesthetic rather than the classic lines of a traditional 35mm SLR.”

            Consider yourself lucky that you were born before most of the other posters and were able to play with appreciate a classic SLR. The younger ones grew up with plastic fantastic gear. Classics like the Ftn, F2 and F3 were made from thousands of parts and with a clean and lube every once in while will work for decades. The good old days.

      • Chris! That sounds absolutely genious! Why cant any tech guys at Nikon read these great ideas!? It would surely fit into this echological and energy-saving times.

  • Dweeb

    Think of the stress of having to cock the shutter.

  • Tatu

    Why can’t I have a digital back for my film SLRs? I’ll carry a “separate shoulder carried Digital Storage Unit (DSU)” battery/hard drive bag thingy if that’s what it takes.
    And where is that “digital film” that was supposed to make a film SLR into a DSLR?
    Surely the technology is ready for it now.
    Instead, they’re trying to sell us complete cameras just because the sensor has become obsolete. I’ll come with you to the future, but I want to take my old stuff with me!

    • Just A Thought

      “but I want to take my old stuff with me!”

      But if you were able to take your old stuff with you, you just might find out that the manual focus lenses on your old gear provided sharper results than AF lenses. You might also find that you had far fewer out of focus shots.

      Heck you might end up preferring your old gear and not want to spend money on the new bodies every few years. Not wanting to buy new lenses to get lastest AF version – Screw drive variants and then AFS. Can’t have that can we…

  • “Just a Thought”, I converted to AF in 1994, when I bought an N90 to augment my FM2, and some AF lenses. I bought it based on a heavy weekend of shooting with a rented N90. Examining the processed film, it was clear that I got fewer out-of-focus shots with AF, and got lots of shots that I’d previously been too slow to get.

    Today, I’ve still got 50/1.8 and 35/2 and 24/2 AIS lenses that I bought in 1980-1983. They’re not impressive compared to my 24-70/2.8 — except for being a stop faster, which is why I still use them sometimes.

    • Just A Thought

      “got lots of shots that I’d previously been too slow to get.”

      Taking quick snaps vs carefully composed photographs is one area where AF might be better – everyone’s mileage will vary on that. Sports and BIF come to mind aswell – though there were amazing Sports anf BIF photos prior to AF, so again everyone’s mileage will vary depending on their experience with their gear.

      Mr Keppler (now deceased of Pop Photography) did an editorial on MF vs AF years back – interesting read if you can find it. Take an AF lens and see how much the lens focus ring will rotate (1/2 turn to say 3/4 of a turn for ex). Now take the same mm but in a MF Nikkor and see how much the focus ring will rotate (two to three full turns). The finer the focus ability the more the focus ring will turn.

      MF because it has finer focus ability should provide sharper photos. Sure that is affected by the prism finder & focus screen in the camera – older gear had larger finders (compared to DX finders) and were much brighter and had split image screens compared to flat mat screen – assuming that photog had good eyes, the old gear made manual focus more accurate. I suspect that one must now use Live View to manual focus off the LCD screen as finders/focus screen are not made for MF in the plastic fantastic cameras.

      “I’ve still got 50/1.8 and 35/2 and 24/2 AIS lenses that I bought in 1980-1983. They’re not impressive compared to my 24-70/2.8”

      Your MF AIS Nikkors have already been doing their job for about two decades. Do you think that your AF 24-70/2.8 will still be useable two decades after purchase date? The pre-AF-S AF Nikkors can no longer be AFd on some Nikon bodies and suspect that eventually the whole range of bodies will not have built in focus servo motors.

  • Mike

    I wonder why they stopped making digital backs for 35mm camera. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, using your good old Nikon F2, with the ginourmous viewfinder and those smooth manual primes, whilst enjoying the convenience of digital output?

  • smog

    The price in my city = 650$(camera+ battery block)

  • Barry

    As an electronics engineer since 1966 and owner of several SLR’s, the circuitry in photo, appears machine made, not a home build. These are tiny resistors and capacitors inserted by a programed machine, VERY difficult to do by hand properly, as the track tends to lift and fail. That’s why boards are usually binned when a component fails. However, think I’ll dig out a couple of bodies from the loft and have a go at this myself. Duct tape and ABS, here I come! Thanks for the heads up guys, some excellent ideas well worth a private home build. Hope somebody commercialises these and markets at a sensible price.

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