Nikon Nikormats

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by summitar, Aug 10, 2009.

  1. I am enamored of most classic and near classic cameras, and I am wondering why the Nikormats do not get more respect. They are heavy and solidly built, they have mirror lockup, which is not all that common, and they have a finish that really lasts. They have a convenient depth-of-field button, and a film counter that is easy to read. They have an exposure indicator not only visible through the viewfinder but also on the top of the body. Turning on the exposure meter is done by bringing the film wind lever slightly out from the body, and not by some forgettable switch as found on the Canon F1 and FTb, or the Minota SRTs and XEs.
    They are truly built like a brick outhouse, and the FT, FTn, and FT2 take all the non-AI lenses and the FT3 takes all the AI lenses. The FT2 and FT3 use the modern 1.5v silver batteries.
    Are the Nikormats the Rodney Dangerfields of classic cameras?
  2. Some of my best shots were taken on an FTn. It's one of those old classics that I won't ever part with. There are Nikkormats and Nikomats.
    I bought mine when everyone was dumping their old Ai and standard F mount glass. Slow shutter speeds still sound good and it has never been in the shop.
    As I got older, my eyes started to dry and had to ditch my contact lenses and wear glasses again. I shelf'ed the nikkormat & Fm and bought an F3hp.
    Great camera.
  3. I'm not sure that I accept your original premise. A lot of people like the Nikkormats, which are effective, tough cameras. I've used the FT, FTn and FT2 and now I have an EL, which I use with my older lenses. So far as I can tell, their prices are holding up as well as any equivalent camera, so the demand must be there.
  4. kerry, i don't know why/how i overlooked nikkormats for such a long tyme myself. and i agree that they don't seem to get enough attention. when i think of 1960's slr's spotmatic dominates my brain. i think the 1960's was more a tyme of fancy rangefinders. most slr shooters prefer 1970's model cameras because that was the heyday of these cameras--they became ultra fast to operate and all the best manufacturers were making them.
    the nikkormat really appeals to me because i wanted to bridge the gap between my boringly perfect 1970's slr's that i use for paid gigs and my love for quirky 1950's and 60's rangefinders. the spotmatic has never appealed to me because of the whole stop-down metering thing and until i stumbled across a cheap ftn at a pawn shop, i assumed all these 60's slrs required stop down.
    i love my ultra dependable nikon fm/fe's but the nikkormat is tougher and has more character. it's a fun camera that i can still take precise photos with.
    plus, i just feel like a man when i'm carrying my ftn by its beefy 135mm 2.8 nikkor q!
  5. There's no bastard like an old bastard ...
    I have two of the damn things, FT2's, bought in the mid 70's, and have used them a lot. They haven't aged a day. They're great.
  6. Hi, Kerry Like you, I'm a fan of the Nikkormat/Nikomat series, especially the 'FTn'. I actually have one sitting above my computer desk as a sort of paperweight, to remind me what a classic heavyweight early 70s 35mm SLR looked like. Its a little unusual in that it came via our local Fleabay Oz, with an F3.5 28mm Nikkor, not the usual 50mm F2 or F1.4. Better still, the lens has a 'JCII' oval gold sticker reading 'Inspected', not the usual 'Passed'. First time I've ever seen that!
    Regarding values today, there's no doubt that these solid workhorses don't have the collectability status of the Nikon F, which has a definate cult following and consequential high prices especially if in nice nick. Yet they share the same lenses and legendary Nikon reliability. I've long since given up making sense out of just why camera 'X' sells today for much more than camera 'Y', when they share similar characteristics and cost about the same when new. For example, although these Nikkormat/Nikomats don't sell for anything like the amount that Nikon F's do, they still fetch far more than Konica Autoreflexes do - yet the Autoreflex shared the same Copal Square metal shutter, weighs about the same, cost the same, and has an excellent reputation lens-wise, etc, etc. Are we collectors a weird lot or what ......
  7. My ex recently gave me a Nikkormat FTN, a bit dented and brassed but working well otherwise - with a 50mm 1.4 Nikkor-S with perfect glass, which had been rescued from a metal dumpster! Talk about no respect! At any rate, I've cleaned it up and am totally enjoying it, and I occasionally also lend it out to students.
  8. Probably the reason we don't hear as much about Nikkormats is that the folks that have and use them have more heavily developed upper body muscles than most, due to the workout of lifting and carrying these cameras, and they may be somewhat muscle-bound as a result, which may interfere with typing on websites. :)
  9. My Dad has a handful of Nikkormats and when I was shooting film full time I used Nikon's FTn, FM2n and F3/F3HP. IMO all the Nikkormats have one drawback compared to Nikon bodies -- dark, dim viewfinders. When I switch from any of Dad's Nikkormats to any of my Nikons it's as if someone cleaned the dreck of my eyeglass lenses.
    Your mileage may vary.
    Henry Posner
    B&H Photo-Video
  10. Collectors have not much been into the line, so in that sense, they don't get much respect. However, at the time they were made and used fresh, so to speak, they were very highly respected by professionals who found them a both cheaper and less "fussy" camera to use than the contemporary F series cameras.
    I still have my first Nikkormat, an FTn. Later, I bought a Nikkormat EL. Both are still working fine, although the meter died on the FTn. I do have to confess that the EL is my favorite film camera, although it has little in common with the earlier Nikkormats.
    My hands still want to do the pre-AI "twist" to index any lens I put on any camera.
  11. I have a Nikkormat FTn that I use all the time and I love it to death! It is not only a great preformer but it is really handsome. It is black. I love the ease of setting the shutter speed!
  12. I suspect that nostalgia may be a contributing factor for those of us of a certain age. I love my FTn which I bought off the 'bay a couple of years ago, and it gets quite a bit of use, however in the sixties the market positioning of the camera was a bit above what I or any of my school friends could usually afford. It seemed to be a second camera for the professional with a Nikon F (with a better flash sync than the F at that!) The most popular SLRs used at school were Practikas, Exas or the like, and I can see that the nostalgia factor could send one back towards these. In my case, having a bit more disposable income now than I had as a schoolboy I satisified the urge with the cameras I could not afford then, but fitted the same pattern, Pentax, Exakta, or the Nikon F that a professional used - the Nikkormat did not fit any of these (gross) stereotypes, but nostalgia always preys on stereotypes!
    Having said all that My Nikon F is very well worn, but works, the F2 has a broken spring in the winder and is awaiting repair, but the Nikkormat FTn need a few minutes exercise after being out of use for several years apparently and it was off an away!
  13. I think they get a little less respect because most of the Nikkormats out there numbers-wise (FT2 and FT3 excepted) take mercury batteries and do not have a flash shoe mounted solidly to the top deck.
    I think they are great cameras but I have never liked the interface with the speed setting around the lens mount.
  14. My only experience with a Nikon product is with this FT2 that I currently use and very much enjoy. It is heavy, feels good in my hands, has more features than I would normally use, the lenses that I have for it are great, and the shutter is still accurate. The meter contacts might be getting a little oxidized and finicky, but it still works. What's not to like?
  15. The only thing I don't like about Nikkormats is the fixed focusing screen. One of the cameras I took on vacation last week was an FE. It has an E screen and this made using a 55/3.5 for some macro shots a lot easier. If the light is good I enjoy using a Nikkormat. In January I took an FT2 to FL for a few days and shot some very nice slides. The FT2 and FT3 cameras have the combination split image/microprism focusing aids but the fine focusing area which surrounds the combination is very useful too. Late model FTN models, advertised as FTN "K" cameras had the then optional split image focusing aid. The K screen became standard in the later FT2 and FT3 cameras. The screen in the original FT of 1965 is more coarsely grained and if you close down a little with the depth of field preview button you can even see the fresnel lines sometimes. The FTN screen was an improvement but not as good as that of the later models. Of my many Nikkormats I usually use one of two overhauled FT2s and only occasionally an FT3. If it's working properly and if you don't need a different focusing screen, a Nikkormat can be enjoyable to use.
  16. I have used a Nikkormat FT3 as a back up to my F2's for over 25 years. You cannot find a better "consumer" grade full manual camera on the planet!!!<br><br>
    And you can quote me on that!!!!
  17. Our local newspaper used a pair of FT's with the 50mm f2 Nikkor for a couple of decades, at least. Looked really worn when they were retired from service, but they never missed a beat. Reporters, both gentle and "ham fisted" came and went, but the cameras survived.
  18. The Nikkormats were the "proams" of their day. Professionals used the "F". My second camera was a Nikkormat purchased in 1969. The only difference at the time of purchase was the motor drive and removable prism, both which I did not need. The camera provided more than adequate service for 25 years. (I even purchased a second. One was for B&W and the other for color.) Today both cameras are with my son. They are still in service, one for Tri-X and the other for color.

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