The development of the electronically controlled shutter
The Nikon F2 was introduced in Sep. of 1971, and it has enjoyed a degree of success rivaling that of its predecessor.
However, some critics said that the new model represented only "conservative improvements" (although it was actually a full-scale model change --- we'll discuss that in the next issue).
Hence, the Development Section decided to show a "significant improvement" in the next model, the Nikon F3.
The development of the F3 began with a question regarding the electronically controlled focal-plane shutter, which was the latest technology at that time --- "How can we make use of the electronically controlled shutter to simplify the use of the camera and its functions ?".
The two(2) advantages of the electronically controlled shutter are 1) automatic exposure (AE), and 2) its ability to hold an accurate long-time exposure.
There were practically no requests made to include the automatic exposure function in the F2. In spite of this, Nippon Kogaku K.K. (now known as Nikon Corporation) planned to incorporate the automatic exposure (AE) function by the electronically controlled shutter into the F3.
It was quite obvious that the automatic exposure function would not be welcomed initially.
However, this was based on the assumption that, in the future, automatic exposure would become a significant factor even in profesionally oriented SLR cameras.
The Nikon F2 Series has already tried to incorporate automatic exposure and accurate long-time exposure by adopting 1) the "EE Control Unit" Series, which enables shutter-priority AE, and 2) mechanical long-time exposure using the self-timer.
These two(2) features were also adopted by the Nikon F3.
Also, since F Series cameras rely rather heavily on the external motor drive, the shutter movement and film advance should be done electronically instead of mechanically.
This ensures more accurate camera operation.
The Nikkormat(Nikomat) EL, an earlier AE SLR released in 1972 (one year following the debut of the Nikon F2), also adopted the electronically controlled shutter.
Electronic control of SLR camera shutters has become the norm rather than the exception.
The F3, however, did not include electronic shutter control in order to follow the trend.
This feature had been slated to be part of the camera from early in the F3's development.
Following the completion of the initial plan, the actual development of the F3 started in 1973.
It kept the interchangeable viewfinder, which was also used in the F2 .
It also adopted new technologies, like the electronically controlled focal-plane shutter, as standard features. As with the F2, the TTL and the AE circuit were incorporated into the interchangeable Photomic viewfinder.
The electronically controlled shutter, a breakthrough in camera technology, took some time to develop due to the simultaneous development of the electromagnetic shutter release system.
This system, released later, disables the camera --- even during shooting --- when the battery has fully discharged.
This might have been a better solution to the above problem.
Anyway, almost all of the problems were solved --- including those in the AE circuits --- and the "F3 Photomic AE" (a name which might have been used if released) camera was about to be released as a Nikon product.
This was considered to be a reasonable successor to the F2. It was solid, practical, and well conceived.
But it was never released.