How important is Nikon's past to you?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by Ian Rance, Feb 6, 2010.

  1. Just wondering what all your thoughts are on this...
    The reason I ask is that whilst perusing the completed listings on eBay I saw an absolute MINT 2.8cm f/3.5 Nikkor-H that had gone under the hammer. Whilst this is an old and mostly forgotten item I got a real thrill out of seeing it (even though I have one very similar). The fit, finish, glass and whole presentation of the older Nikon lenses and cameras appeals to me greatly. The feel of fine machined threads, the flash of fluoride coating and the etched numerics. Whilst I can see the appeal of AF-S, VR and Nano-Coating (and I do own some), it is the older items that really have the most appeal to me - the modern stuff seems functional but not so 'desirable'.
    Now, in the photo shops I see people purchacing Nikon goods, but they have no interest whatsoever in the old stuff. They check to see if it meets all their needs such as GPS tagging, frames per second and how punchy the photos are and leave the shop well happy. Absolutely nothing wrong with that - it is what keeps Nikon afloat and in business after all. The new camera/lens feel is very nice as I can attest.
    So, how important is the Nikon past to you? Does it have stong appeal or do you just give it a passing glance?
    Thanks, Ian
  2. I love the look, feel and build quality of the old Nikon and Leica film bodies and lenses. Nikon's past to me is as important as its present and future. I get just as much enjoyment out of collecting old cameras as I do acquiring and shooting with new equipment. Two different but closely related hobbies. Both provide me with a great deal of pleasure.
  3. Ian -
    I've lost two Nikon FM due to theft. One was stolen out of my apartment & the second one my mother-in-law was in control of while we were on a plane & I had my 4 month old daughter in my arms.
    I've been very upset from this. I finally bought a used FM last year. It's not mint - but it looks like my first one I got in 1980. I've also got the 50mm f/1.2 AiS which I got because I like the old build of the lenses. Granted I probably had a f/2 or f/1.8, but I love the old build.
    I love the old build & really always keep thinking of buying old Ai or AiS lenses. I love the old build. Unfortunately that's gotten me in trouble by once getting a non-Ai lens. Still have to either sell it or have it Ai'ed.
    But, I love the build & many of them have such wonderful color. So - yes I love the old lenses. I find it amusing that my old FM weighs about the same amount as my new D300 & D700. There's nothing like build. :)
  4. I like both the longevity of Nikon products and the companies' loyalty to the "F" lens mount. Makes me loyal to them.
  5. If any of you ever feel that the old Nikons are not sufficiently appreciated on the Nikon forum, don't forget that Nikon history and old Nikon cameras and lenses "of a certain age" are always welcome too on the Classic Manual Cameras forum. :)
    I'm still shooting a fairly large library of Nikkor lenses on both my pre-AI Nikons and on modern digital cameras with adapters. The incomparable Nikkor 105mm f/2.5, the Reflex-Nikkor 500mm f/8, the Nikkor-S 55mm f/1.2, and a bunch of others are still my treasures, with the PC-Nikkor 35mm f/2.8 my most precious.
    Hmm, the last bit sounds a little like "one lens in the darkness to bind them", but that would apply more to the f/1.2, I guess..
  6. I personaly like to use my old Nikkor 105 2.5. It is one of the earlier 105 2.5 lenses for the F mount the older sonnar version. The build is great and it is a joy to use.
  7. I use Nikon products because they meet my photographic needs. I use "classic" lenses because they meet my photographic needs. If Nikon products cease to meet my photographic needs, then I will no longer use them and find something else that does.
    So, Nikon's past is of no particular importance to me.
  8. Not very important. Cameras are just a tool. I don't get emotionally involved with them. I use what works best for me at a price I'm willing to pay.
    Kent in SD
  9. I use them because I like the user interface design, I have an investment in their lenses, and I happen to like the IQ of the camera I have now. No other reasons. If Nikon had started up in business in 1990, I'd have the same items for the same reasons.
  10. I like older Nikon gear a lot. It's great. The future of film camera's with Nikon looks bleak so I am probably just going to purchase older stuff when the need arises. However my next purchase is going to be a Touring Bicycle. I was thinking of a Surly Long Haul Trucker or the Fuji Touring Bicycle.
  11. When I went digital I decided on Nikon because I had inherited several lenses from my dad. Oddly I don't use them much, but, do occasionally. So, yea it matters, I need to get a life now.​
  12. It's not just the history of Nikon that's important to me, but the history of photography in general. I have several books on the topic and I collect SLR's from the 60's and 70's. I'm a history buff in general, so the history of photography has a double appeal to me.
  13. Not as important as Nikon's present.
    I like getting Nikon presents. Little boxes under the tree with lenses and flashes and cameras and stuff...
  14. The best thing about Nikon's past to me, is that it is still relevant today. I can still use lenses that are 30 years old. I've already bought one AI lens, and I plan on buying more. Most of the high quality lenses that Nikon makes today are well out of my price range. I don't mind giving up metering and AF to get better IQ.
  15. After a number of years shooting digital, I've returned to film largely because I love using older film cameras (mainly F3HP and F4S - not that old, occasionally F2s and an old Canon F-1). I love the cold metal, the heft, the "angularity" and the mechanical-ness - knobs, switches, and the clunky yet cool add-ons - motor drives, Photomic heads etc - and IMO the F2 with a DE-1 plain finder is the best looking camera ever built. I have a couple of AF zooms that I use on the dSLR - otherwise all of my lenses AI or AI-S primes. I think digital is great - I just find older cameras more fun to use - and I particularly love the fact that I can change lenses as often as I like without having to obsess about getting dirt on the sensor.
  16. David,
    "....and IMO the F2 with a DE-1 plain finder is the best looking camera ever built."
    I agree most enthusiastically. I am in love with the Nikon F2 Photomic. In fact I can never pass up any fine looking one I come across that's for sale. My other camera mistress is the Leica M2. I could wear either of these cameras out just by fondling it. ;-)
  17. Though I own and have read several books on the Nikon history, the pre-AI area is irrelevant to me and I would not purchase any camera or lens from it; I don't particularly like the looks of them either.
    My history with Nikon started 2 years after the introduction of AI with a Nikon FM and a 105/2.5, though my oldest Nikon lens is a 20/4 AI from 1977; the youngest is a 28/2.8 AI-S. I like the fact that I can still use these lenses on my D200/D300 today - but I would not purchase another one to add to those three I still own.
    Neither would I consider purchasing another film body - my only remaining Nikon film camera is a Nikon F3HP and it is rather unlikely that it will ever be loaded with film again. I recently inherited a Leica M5 (from 1975) and a M6 (from 1984) - handling them reminded me of the poor ergonomics of the camera bodies of that area; my favorite in that aspect has always been the Nikon F4 (though I probably would like the F6 as well but never even touched one). The price for best looking Nikon film camera to me undoubtedly goes to the F5.
    I do like the look and feel of the AI/AI-S area lenses better than the modern designs - strangely enough, my Tokina 11-16/2.8 reminds me of their feel. The AF 16/2.8, AF-28/1.4, AF 105/2 DC, AF 135/2 DC, AF-180/2.8, and AF 80-200/2.8 D demonstrate that the MF look and feel can be transferred to AF lenses - alas Nikon chooses not do so for the rest of the bunch.
    So is the Nikon history important to me - yes and no. Yes because it is quite unique and demonstrates Nikon's commitment to deliver quality products. No, because I am no going to dwell on the past and I am not a camera/lens collector. I am glad that Nikon never changed the lens mount (unlike Canon) and I am also glad that Nikon didn't get stuck in its own history (like Leica with the M system) or left their customers stranded (Leica R).
  18. I also love my F2. Got an absolutely fantastic repair service from Sover Wong
    - but stupid me sold my DP-1, so cannot use my beautiful pre-AI 35/2 any more without using stop-down metering!
  19. How important is Nikon past to me? Well, I'll let you judge.
    My current inventory consists of : A pristine Nikon F2A (bought from Sover Wong too) with the following Nikkors 16mm f/3.5, 24mm f/2.8, 28mm f/2.8, 35mm f/2, 50mm f/1.4, 105mm f/2.5. I also have a (more modern) F5 I use too. Since I have twins (to which all these goodies will be passed on, when they learn to appreciate them), maybe I should call Sover for another F2?!?!
    And don't just think I am an old traditionalist only, I also own and shoot a D700, a D40X and a Canon S90.
  20. the past is probably more important for grandiose slr brands such as nikon. many nonphotographers don't recognise leica as a brand with a more illustrious history and have heard nothng about it. nikon to them is the camera brand although, it must be admitted, many such individuals see canon as a 'better' make.
    i was walking along the bay yesterday morning carrying my olympus om4 and zuiko 50mm 1.4 loaded with ilford fp4 125. when around the bay i get off my bike and simply walk along the promenade close to the assembly area holding the bike with one hand and the camera with another. an elderly gentleman on a road bike and a canon g series camera was also taking pictures. when he approached me he said good morning and asked, 'what is that lovely old camera you are using? is it a nikon?'
    i held it up to him and he nodded. then he wanted to know what film i was using, whether i developed it at home, where i might sent it for processing, and lastly, whether i was shooting a project. in my biking gear i do look much younger and closer to 25 than 34 and he must have assumed that i was a photography student, carrying 'such an old camera'. so we had a chat about his g9. he said he wasn't into latest gadgets but such acquiring that about two years ago he had not bothered with his old nikon fm gear. he loves shooting raw and using the 'little software' that came with the camera to tweak his raw files. he was much encouraged by my black and white films and said that it was just the perfectday for it. we parted ways with him shouting from his bike, 'enjoy the light!'
  21. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Not very important. Cameras are just a tool. I don't get emotionally involved with them. I use what works best for me at a price I'm willing to pay.​
    I feel the same way as Kent. My interest is the images, and cameras are merely tool to achieve the goal.
    1. Nikon fell behind in terms of AF capability, from about 1990 to 1996, when Nikon finally introduced the F5 with state-of-the-art AF at that time and a bunch of AF-S lenses
    2. Nikon fell way behind in terms of digital SLR technology, from about 2002 to 2005/2006/2007, but the D2X and especially the D3 finally caught up and to some degree surpassed the competition
    a lot of professional/serious photographers switched to Canon out of necessity. Nikon's history is mostly meaningless.
  22. Old Nikons ? . . . They are rare classics, the only SLR cameras with usable to day to the oldest lenses, fort and back to old film cameras to the latest DSLRs. I happily tested them on my D700 and some of the non AI on the D40 with great results. I have the very first SLR, with the first original "Nippon Kogaku - Tokio" logo, the legendary "F" with prism only, no light meter, then Nikkormat with meter, FG, FM2, FM3a, FE2s The first multi metering FA, then F2, F3, then the D40, D300, D700. Half of the time I using the 16/3.5 Fish AI-S, 50/1.2 AI-s, 85/1.4AI-S, 105/1.8AI-S, 135/2AI-S, 180/2.8AI-S-ED, many time carry the 200/4AI-S instead of the big heavy AF-S 80-200/2.8 Also; 35-80/2.8 The quality of those old lenses are jewels, a real machined precision instruments, solid build, last for ever if you take care of them. It is a joy to use them. Modern plastic lenses/bodies never going to last as long, plastic degenerating, shrinking cracking in time, oil based products. I enjoy just to hold in my hand those old lenses. I have many more old Nikon lenses not listed here. I just shoot a couple of roll of bw film lately with my "Nikon F" with a 35mm non AI lens, walking around proudly with the camera, and shooting. 95 % of the images was right exposed. . . . O.k. 50 year of experience. When you have those old cameras in you hand, you feel, you head a precocious instrument, a real machine in you hand. Well. It is past, nostalgia, the future never going to be same again.
  23. Nikon's past..?
    Rather to very important!
    Still want to use older lenses and accessories.
    So also my next choice of camera will depend on its backwards compatibility.
  24. As Ian said, "The feel of fine machined threads, the flash of fluoride coating and the etched numerics". Indeed, that was it for me, I vividly remember being mesmerized by my father's precious Nikon F and lenses. Then what a joy it was, when I got to use it and learn with it. To this day, Nikon is the brand for me, and they have never disappointed, at least in what I needed from them at each stage of my photography. I have no more of the older line than what I started with, but to me the Nikon F is still the golden standard that I compare everything against. I couldn't be emotional about the subject and art of photography, yet be cold towards the metal and glass; that would be like having two different personalities.
  25. Although the final image is the most important objective of photography, I have a little bit of collector in me and really appreciate the finely crafted mechanical workings of my original Nikon F (standard prism) with 400 F5.6 PC attached. It just feels good. Not unlike a fine wine.
  26. Some people are into history and some aren't. I find that knowing the history of anything increases my enjoyment of it. One can enjoy a baseball game on it's own merits. I enjoy it more knowing the history of the game.
  27. I still own and occasionally use a 1970 F. I have it because it was my first SLR. I also have and use a large group of older lenses I have a 55 f/1.2 that has been AI modified. I also have and use a 58 f/1.4 from 1960. I really like this lens on my D300 and my Kodak Pro 14 NX. That lens has a look all its own..
    I like the old glass for its build quality and for its look. I like the fact that with a simple modification I can use almost any lens that they have made on there newest cameras today.
  28. Lil,
    "Unfortunately that's gotten me in trouble by once getting a non-Ai lens. Still have to either sell it or have it Ai'ed."
    Which poor orphaned non-AI lens do you have? Maybe we can come to some arrangement for me to give it a new home? I have several Nikon F2 Photomic bodies. I hate to see pre-AI lenses undergo the messy back room AI conversion operations unless it's with a genuine Nikon conversion ring kit. I always keep the old non-AI ring whenever I convert so it can be restored on the lens should some future owner want to.
    Contrary to Kent and Shun, I am a sentimentalist to the max.
  29. I was recently reading something in a magazine while waiting for a doctors appointment about Geomagnetic Storms which originate on the sun and blast the earth every century or so. I guess the last big one we had was in 1859. The author was saying that if earth experienced another one of these periodic storms today, it would burn out everything computer operated. Even cars wouldn't run and all communications, satellites, electric power grids, etc., would be toast. I wonder if digital cameras would be reduced to fist sized chunks of charcoal? :-(
    I also wonder if only those of us with old mechanical cameras and some film in the freezer would be able to record such an event if it ever happens again. They say the aurora borealis could be seen even in Hawaii during the 1859 storm. I'd like to get a shot of the aurora over Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach with my Nikon F2 and Leica M2. I couldn't be accused of photo shopping it into the image, either. ;-)
  30. So, how important is the Nikon past to you?​
    I find assurance in Nikon's long-standing history of innovation, quality, and reliability. Also, when I first started taking photography seriously the people whose work I admired most used Nikons. Does that count?
  31. different folks, different strokes!
    for some, nikon or any other brand, is simply a means to an end.
    for others, including to me, it's a means to an end but much more than that! a part of my biography, part of my memories ie. any "thing" is obviously a physical entity, but the same thing also has a "social" life too...herein lies our attachment to some products that for us, appear to be more than simply products. think about it: maybe the quality of an "image" is most important. but an image can be broken down simply to physical entities ie. pixels, paper, color etc. But really, what is it that attracts us to an image? both the physical attributes AND the emotions it unleashes. Same when it comes to "gadgets" (at least for me). it is never simply a tool, but of course, it is a tool too, no question about that. since nikon was the first camera i bought, classic nikons take me back and help me relive, partially, the past. subjective emotions? you bet! but then again, this is what "design" is all about!
  32. The older Nikon lenses exude quality and precision. I can take my 300mm f/4.5 (non-If and non-ED), turn the focusing ring all the way to the minimum focusing distance, place it on the counter and watch the focusing ring turn under the weight of the internal barrels and lenses. I have looked at some of Nikon's latest stuff, even some of the more high end stuff and my first impression is they construction wise they are junk. And don't EVEN get me started on plastic male bayonet fittings!
  33. If Brand X released a camera system (body and lenses) that suited that way I wanted to take (read create) and print shots (read minimal photoshop) and was a quantum leap superior to anything on the market today and was affordable I would ditch all my current camera gear in favour of Brand X.
    So much for history.
  34. I too love the older Nikon bodies/lenses. I think it's easy to form emotional ties to that era of photography when camera's were built to last and didn't have plastic parts. I am glad that I can still use a lot of the older lenses with the newer digital bodies. I also appreciate and still hold on to classic Canon and Minolta bodies/lenses. The craftsmanship and attention to detail can still very much be appreciated today.
  35. Nikon could make a digital FM3a with a full frame 12mp sensor and do well. So many folks still love the feel of well crafted cameras and lenses. Rich guys pay $7000 for M9's. In these tough times companies need to think outside the box. Canon long ago abandoned quality MF cameras and could not compete with Nikon if they decided to build the camera suggested above.
  36. To me it`s very important. Back in 1968 I had a classmate - a son of of a famous finnish pressphotographer - who was dreaming of Leica M4 meanwhile I was dreaming of Nikon F. We both had brochures with us and compared eagerly those legendary cameras (without any deeper knowledge, of course).
    Two years later I started my working career in one of the largest chains of true camera shops in Finland. there I was surrounded by Nikons, Leicas, Hasselblads etc. Unfortunately I couldn`t afford my dream camera Nikon Photomic FTn so I bought Nikkormat instead and became a Nikon user.
    Esa Kivivuori
    See also:,-Esa-ARPS
  37. Nikon could make a digital FM3a with a full frame 12mp sensor and do well. So many folks still love the feel of well crafted cameras and lenses. Rich guys pay $7000 for M9's. In these tough times companies need to think outside the box. Canon long ago abandoned quality MF cameras and could not compete with Nikon if they decided to build the camera suggested above.​
    What a great idea! I would spring for a digital Nikon F2 chrome body in a snap. How cool would that be, especially if it was compatible with pre-AI lenses.
  38. Nikon's past is quite important to me on several fronts. First and foremost is the fact that I am "living in the past" in that I still shoot primarily film, using now discontinued Nikon bodies and lenses. I shoot as a hobby, just for fun not for profit, so I've never felt the need to be at the very cutting edge of technology. Film produced wonderful images for decades, and it still does. It works for me.
    Having said all that I do appreciate the advantages of newer technology. I have a lot of MF gear, but I also have some AF bodies, and I certainly see the benefits of digital imaging. I've waited quite patiently for Nikon to produce a full frame digital camera that is fully compatible with most of my older lenses and the D700 seems to that camera. However, since I shoot strictly as a hobby, I can wait a bit longer. Given the rapid "obsolescence" of digital cameras Nikon's next full frame digital should make the D700 affordable for me. That's how I've been able to acquire the collection of fine old equipment that I am currently using. The advent of AF made some of the best MF lenses affordable, digital cameras made top quality film bodies affordable, and the need for DX lenses coupled with the desire for the very latest technology (faster AF, vibration reduction, etc.) has made some pretty nice AF lenses affordable. One brand new pro body and two or three of the latest zooms would probably cost more than I have invested in my entire collection. Some might argue that would be the better deal, but I'd sure miss the variety.
    One of Nikon's most notable features for many decades has been the backwards/forwards compatibility of their lenses/bodies. The F mount has withstood the test of time. Some of my lenses are 30+ years old, but all 12 of my Nikkor primes and all 12 of my Nikkor Zooms (both MF and AF) will work on all of my 8 film bodies, and I believe many of them would be equally at home on a D700 or a D3. That means a lot to me, and I expect it does to many other photographers who own fine old lenses.
    The other impressive things about much of Nikon's older gear was their great design and quality construction. I appreciate fine machinery, elegant precision engineering, and first rate materials and construction. A brand new Toyota or a vintage Mercedes-Benz will each take you from here to there; the Toyota may do it more efficiently but the Mercedes provides the looks, the feel, and the quality materials and construction that I prefer. Sadly these qualities are not always as evident in some of the newer Nikon gear.
    Finally, let's not forget that Nikon's reputation as a purveyor of fine photo equipment was built over the past half a century or so. Without that sterling reputation the company as we now know it would not be here to provide the newest generation of photographers with the hi-tech DSLR's and lenses that they are purchasing today.
  39. Ok, I didn't read most of this, but I am voicing my opinion. I love old glass. I shoot with a Nikkor 55mm (although it may be marked 5.5cm) micro f3.5 pre-AI on a regular basis. Fantastic lens. The feal of manual focusing these are second to none. And the different optical qualities of theses lenses, well, that is half the beauty.
  40. I was a Nikon-for-life convert before I realized what different brands there were out there. When I started learning photography my Dad and Grandad handed me one of their Nikkormat FTn's with a 55/3.5 and away I went. By the time I realized there were Pentax K1000's and Canon XYZ's out there I was already hooked on Nikon. My Grandfather worked in satellite optics in the 50's and to this day talks about how superior the Japanese Nikon lenses were at the time, that is what got him started.
    Randall - I love your philosophy of letting the current tech drive down prices on truely great lenses and cameras, sounds like you have a fantastic collection!
  41. Here I got a used Nikon F with standard prism and 5.8cm F1.4 back in 1962. Before that my slr was the Exakta VX series. I got into the Nikon F slr system because of the lenses. I liked the fast change bayonet like my Exakta system had; plus the wide range of lenses; bellows; focusing screens.

Share This Page