Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by Donald Harpold, Apr 26, 2021.

  1. Hello
    I purchased a couple of "new" cameras one a Nikomat FTn with the 50mm 1.4 for 10.00 which appears in very good condition, I installed a new old Varta 625 1.35v battery and the meter was way off so I tried an epx625 1.5 akaline and the meter seems to be on, does it sound like it was redone for the 1.5v battery?

    The second one is a black body Nikon F, and a 50mm 1.4 and a 28mm 2, with an FTN finder, is there a known issue with these as the one on the camera does not function, I have installed the two Varta 625 1.35v batteries and get nothing, is there a place to get repaired if necc. Another thought could I be doing something wrong, I know how to turn the meter on, does it take a certain lens, the ones I have seem to couple with the pin.

  2. I think you just have to accept that lightmeters of any sort don't last forever. Cells lose sensitivity, meter coils go open-circuit, solder joints crack, switch and battery contacts get corroded, and potentiometer tracks get dirty or just wear out.

    Newer solid-state (i.e. fewer moving parts) meters fair better, but there still has to be some mechanical coupling between lens and meter for TTL reading.

    Personally, I think throwing professional repair money at a camera that cost peanuts is a false economy. Just use a handheld meter and forget the camera has one built in.

    If you're using B&W film, just guesstimating the exposure with a wet finger stuck in the air will likely be close enough anyway.
  3. The Nikkormat could have been adjusted to correct for the different voltage. Or it may be that the metering has lost sensitivity over time and the extra voltage by some fortunate coincidence is correcting for it. It may not be accurate at all light levels, however.

    The FTN finders are failing these days, that's why the plain unmetered finders are in such demand.
  4. There is also the possibility that the Varta 625 1.35v is near depleted - did you try the 1.5v in the FTn finder?
    The probability of a defective FTn is high and you should expect to pay around $175 + tax/shipping to have it overhauled. It will also need to have removed the deteriorating foam touching the prism as it will eat its way through the silvering.
    If 1.5V batteries brings life to the F meter and if it is still off, you could use a pair of 1.4V hearing aid batteries and some of those brass adapters widely available on auction sites. It works great for my F.
  5. I can't say about the FTn but I have a Nikkormat FT2 that uses 1.5 volt batteries.
    erichsande likes this.
  6. If you really want the FTN meter repaired Kanto Camera (Japan) can do it. rodeo joe makes a good point, but only you know if it's worth it.
    ] likes this.
  7. Nikkormat FTn and the Nikon F FTn finder uses 1.35v mercury cells unless modified.
    The FTn finder is worth the cost of restoring, but only if otherwise pristine IMO. The Nikkormat is nice but not really worth the price of a full qualified overhaul.
    James Bryant likes this.
  8. I should note that this comment is especially appropriate for Nikkormat FTn and the early Nikon F photomic heads.

    Unless you are doing 'through-the-lens' stuff, just get a separate meter.

    Frankly. with wide latitude films like color negative and the chromogenic B&W (e.g., Ilford XP2) films all you really need is to use "Sunny-16"(LINK), especially if you are digitizing the negatives.
    ] and James Bryant like this.
  9. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Yesterday Roberts Used Photo Pro had an FTN meter for sale in working condition. Can't recall the price, but not a lot.
  10. Both of these cameras require you to do the "Nikon shuffle" when you mount the lens on the camera. This will index the lens aperture to the meter. Before you mount a lens set the aperture of the lens to 5.6. Mount the lens and then rotate the aperture ring in both directions until it stops. It sounds more complicated than it actually is. Just Google it and I am sure you will find a demonstration on how to do it. You could also get an instruction manual which is probably the best thing to do. As for the batteries I use the battery adapters from CRIS camera repair service. They use a 1.5 volt silver battery and reduce the voltage to 1.3 volts and they work really well in my Nikons and Nikkormats. You will need 2 adapters for the Nikon and 1 adapter for the Nikkormat. They are not cheap but they work better than any of the alternatives. Of course you need to make sure that all of the battery contacts are clean. The weak spot in these meters is usually the variable resistor ring. When it gets dirty you will get a meter that does not work or a meter that has a jumpy meter needle. I have revived several of the FTn meters for the Nikon by just cleaning the resistor ring. I have never had to do it for my Nikkormats yet. It is not a difficult job to do if you are careful. You can find a lot of information on doing it on the internet. If you don't want to get into trying to repair them yourself you can always just use a hand-held meter. The good thing about these cameras is that they are all mechanical and do not require batteries to work. The batteries just power the light meters.
    ] likes this.
  11. Again, in my part of the world we called it the "Nikon Twist" (Chubby's Twist was 1960. Can be coincidence? I think not.)
    ] and robert_bowring like this.
  12. Thanks All
    The FTN metered prism is in excellent condition so I may look into getting repaired based on the prices of the unmetered black prisms.
    I do have two Cris units on the way and have ordered some more EPX625 for the Nikomat
    I did figure out how to mount the lens so they are coupled, took a minute to figure out.
    robert_bowring likes this.
  13. I must add that repairing old cameras and meters are not easy job and not fast either. I don't think it's possible to make a living doing so as you must charge a lot more than whatever you fix is worth in order to make money.
  14. If it does not say Leica or Rollei somewhere on the camera it is probably not worth getting serviced or repaired. Much cheaper to find another used.
  15. ]


    That's why I do the "Nikon Shuffle".
  16. FWIW, I think genuine mercury batteries with the chemistry that produces 1.35 VDC are pretty much gone or dead by now. Offers for them are usually scams and the batteries don't produce 1.35 VDC. Conversions and recalibrations are often problematic. Probably best to buy a more modern light meter, which will be a better light meter in all regards.
  17. As I had an alkaline 625 batterie nearing the end of its life and giving only 1.35V, I tried to compare the measurements of my Gossen Sixtar equipped with it and with a new alkaline 625 that gives 1,65V : the difference in several situations (sunny, cloudy,very low light) is always around 1/2 to 2/3 f-stops. So to say, there is almost no need to correct the setting of this lightmeter. I have also another lightmeter, a Gossen Polysix, that uses ordinary AAA batteries and works by equalising two leds, and this meter is by design completely unaware of batterie tension.
  18. ]


    Polka, we call this "Close Enough For Negative Film"
  19. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

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