The Nikon F

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by bgelfand, May 22, 2016.

  1. Here is a retrospective about the Nikon F from B & H:
    You may find it an interesting walk down memory lane; I did.
  2. Thanks.
    B&H seems to be trying to improve their catalogs and on-line posts, and this is a good example.
  3. I have a 1968 FTn that believe it or not the meter still works!
    The Nikon F was the camera that started it all!
  4. Richard I also have and use the FTn. Solid brick of a camera and yes the meter works as well. ( I still think of picking up an original F though.)
  5. In the late 60's, I used my dad's Contax 3A until he got me a Nikon F on a business trip to Hong Kong.
  6. I have had my FTn since 1970. A real workhorse of a camera. Everything including the meter still works. I have never had any problems with it. It comes from a time when cameras were still made of metal. Simple and straight forward to use. While my friends are fiddling with their digital camera controls I am taking pictures.
  7. Yeah, I really like my Nikon F, and yes, the meter still works and is quite accurate. Makes me nostalgic for the "good ol' days" when cameras really were work horses.
  8. Nostalgic memories of my first real 35mm camera, an Ftn with the 50mm f1.4 lens. It was about 1969. Shot Tri-X bulk loading it and developing in D-76 1:1. Lots of shots from this combo in my 70's folder.
  9. Aw shucks. Here's mine
  10. Your pictures of your FTn bring back fond memories. I purchased my FTn the Canadian PX in Germany (where I was stationed with the U.S. Army) in 1970. It was my second 35mm; my first was a Zeiss Contaflex IV, which I still have. The FTn served me well until it was stolen in a home burglary in 2003. The thief took the FTn but left my F100 - go figure.
  11. Looks like Tim has the newest body version, the "Apollo," with the plastic tip on the winding lever. He also has the latest FTn Photomic finder. I think JDM's body is older and he's showing the older Tn Photomic head too. He's also got the AR-1 soft shutter release.

    More here.
    Henry Posner
    B&H Photo-Video
  12. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

  13. Henry is right on all counts. The camera is marked Nippon Kogaku Tokyo. Only the lens is of slightly later vintage-- the original was a almost identical Nikkor-S f/2 instead of Nikkor-H.
    It, however, is not one of the highly expensive really early Nikon Fs.
  14. I have a couple of Nikon Fs with plain prism (non-metered) finders, which I use with a hand-held light meter, and a range of pre-AI Nikkor lenses. Those were professional workhorses during the 1960s and 1970s, are still capable of taking excellent photos, and are enjoyable to use. I now use one of its descendants, the digital Nikon Df, and newer AI, AIS, D and AF-S lenses, more often; but I still shoot some film with those old Nikon Fs and their pre-AI lenses.
    While there were a few earlier SLRs, the Nikon F was the camera that triggered the broad shift from rangefinder (RF) cameras to SLRs. Depending upon context, however, it might not be the camera "that started it all." Admittedly, that might be quibbling over semantics; but bear with me for an explanation.
    If you are talking about 35mm film photography, the first prototype 35mm still cameras were built by Oscar Barnack of E. Leitz (later Leica) in 1913. Leicas with fixed lenses went into production in 1924, Leica introduced interchangeable lenses in 1930 and built-in rangefinders in 1932, Leica introduced the greatly improved M3 in 1954, and Leica remained the dominant 35mm camera manufacturer until the late 1950s. Leica is still in business, making 35mm film and digital cameras and lenses, today.
    If you are talking about Nikon cameras, Nikon introduced the Nikon 1, a 35mm camera with interchangeable lenses and a built-in rangefinder, in 1948, and the slightly revised Nikon M in 1949. These were rather similar, in configuration and general appearance, to cameras made in the 1930s by one of Leica's German competitors, Contax. Nikon really hit its stride and started selling cameras in large numbers, though, with the Nikon S, introduced in 1951. An American photojournalist covering the Korean War for Life magazine, David Douglas Duncan, was one of the first to discover the high optical quality of the Nikkor lenses which Nikon made for its Nikon S rangefinder cameras. In addition to 50mm lenses, those included 85mm f/2 and 105mm f/2.5 rangefinder lenses which helped to make Nikon's reputation.
    Nikon subsequently introduced a line of 35mm interchangeable lens RF cameras of increasing quality -- the S2 in 1954, the professional-grade SP in 1957, the S3 in 1958 and the S4 in 1959. The Nikon SP, which competed with the Leica M2 and M3, was used fairly widely by professional photographers during the late 1950s and early 1960s. (If you look at the front cover of Bob Dylan's 1965 record album Highway 61 Revisited, the photographer standing behind him is holding a Nikon SP on a strap.) Nikon brought the S4 out in 1959, the same year as the Nikon F, and had a further new S-series rangefinder camera on the drawing boards when the Nikon F was released, but the success of the Nikon F was such that Nikon scrapped its plans to put any newer rangefinder cameras into production after the S4.
    Aside from the SLR features (moving mirror, prism, etc.), Nikon based the design of the Nikon F closely on the Nikon SP rangefinder camera, designed only a couple of years before the Nikon F. The size and shape of the body, the shutter, the shutter-speed dial, the shutter button, the film winding lever, and the rewind lever of the Nikon F were pretty much direct carry-overs from the Nikon SP. If you think this is an overstatement, take a look at this photo of the top of a Nikon SP: .
    Whether the Nikon F "started it all" or not, it was a revolutionary camera in many respects, ushered in a new era of 35mm cameras dominated by SLRs, was so precise and durable that it was the first choice of most professional news photographers during the 1960s, was the workhorse camera of American photojournalists during the Vietnam War and into the 1970s, and became an icon symbolizing not only Nikon but 35mm photography in general. It was such a good camera that some of us are still using it, and it still produces good results, today -- 57 years after it was first introduced in 1959.
  15. When I was looking to upgrade from my Nikkormat in 1974 I was looking at either the F or the F2. The F2 was still pretty new at the time so I went for it instead. Over the years I have thought about getting one just to add to my collection but finding one at this point that had not been owned by many different people and was kind of banged up is pretty tough and forget one with an CDS operable meter.
  16. Five years ago I was able to get a nice, cosmetically fine, black Nikon F2 with a 43-86mm zoom for a decent price.
    I did need to put in new light seals (a kit on eBay that worked fine). Otherwise, A-OK, a very nice camera ( ), although my black Nikkormat EL has a special place in my heart.
    I wouldn't give up on finding a nice one. Lots of people like me pretty much own every camera they've ever bought -- until they die, that is. :(

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