Your Experience / Knowledge about Nikon Apollo Fakes

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by christian_fox, Oct 30, 2014.

  1. Nikon F Enthusiasts,
    I purchased a nice clean black Nikon F Apollo. As I matured with classic cameras, I favored nice user samples and decided to resell the pristine Apollo.
    During the resell, I have had to face discerning buyers, and explain why the prism release button does not have a thumbnail cutout. This led to the possibility of a fake on my hands. Serial number 727XXXX. Nikon F style sync socket. Apollo self timer and film rewind lever. Serial number is in the controversial zone of early Apollo numbers.
    For Nikon F Sherlockians out there, I am curious if this is an obvious fake, or if there is room for discussion.
  2. As far as I know NASA used no Nikons on any Apollo mission , with one or two possible exceptions as a Command Module camera during the very last
    Apollo missions.

    Highly modified matte black Motor driven Nikon F bodies were used on Skylab missions in the early 1970s. They have no self timer,a different shutterspeed dial and scale,a different ASA scale, and no strap lugs. There's more
    information at
  3. There a photo of one of the Nikon's that were modified to NASA's specifications at

    And as I wrote, and as Les's first link confirms , there Nikon F's used on the last three Apollo missions: 15, 16, and 17.
    But only in the CM that remained in orbit above the Moon and not in the LEM or by the two crew members who landed on
    the lunar surface.
  4. Apollo in the F's refers to the most updated F's, which included a plastic tipped winder knob, to "refresh' the F design to make it closer to the F2, so as to briefly keep it competitive during the transition. F prices have come down, but yes, there are indeed fake Apollos out there, and some see it as a way to fetch a premium over a more traditional F body.
    To the respondents here, I do not believe the OP was insinuating that F's were used on Apollo space missions. He was simply referring to the following, as noted on the excellent CameraQuest site:
    cosmetics changed late in production to match the then currently produced and just introduced F2. The F was updated with a plastic tipped F2 type advance lever and self timer, and stronger camera strap eyelets. The only Apollo variation that I know of is the PC connection. The earlier Apollos had the standard F flash connection. The later ones had the F2 type threaded PC connection. Shown is a black Apollo with the standard prism, F36 motor and cordless battery pack.
    Though popularly called the "Apollo" due to the USA Apollo space program of the early 1970's, I have never seen any evidence to link this variation with the space program.
    The earliest "Apollo" might be # 7256811 pictured in a Nikon instruction book. Nikon usually brought out a new instruction book with new changes. For some reason the change was actually made much later, probably about 7335000. That would make approximate "Apollo" production about 116,000 cameras--or at least that is my current best guess.
  5. If Arthur is correct in stating Christian's intent - Until now I had never heard of late model F's referred to as the Apollo
    model - my apologies for my presumption. When I lived in Houston ('81-'02) I frequently saw for sale both genuine NASA
    used Nikon and Hasselblad gear and plenty of fakes as well.
  6. I have several F's, all pre "Apollo" vintage, and as far as I know they began putting the fingernail slot in when the FTn finder was introduced in the late 1960's. I am pretty sure that feature was present in all FTn era bodies. One possibility exists that this camera was sent to Nikon and got a replacement top plate along with other updates. I have read that later top plates were kept in stock for repairs, so if one was badly dented this possibility exists.
    I have, for example, one F body that was definitely older than any "Apollo" model, but that was apparently refurbished, and has the late style wind lever and eyelet lugs. I also have a parts camera that was apparently in that gray period, which had the standard wind lever, but the reinforced lugs.

    Anyway, I have four F's, serial numbers 65xxxxx (plain prism, no slot, early hot shoe), 69xxxxx (early FTn, slot, early hot shoe), 7123497 (FTn, slot, late hot shoe), and 7175498 (unknown finder, slot, late hot shoe, reinforced lugs, Apollo wind lever). I also have a parts machine in parts, 7296920, (FTn, slot, late hot shoe, reinforced lugs, otherwise standard).
    A fake seems a definite possibility, but it is also possible that Nikon refurbished it to a later standard. Either way, though, I cannot see how an F with no slot could have been made anywhere near to the "Apollo" era.
    A definite sign of an earlier model, whatever its provenance, should be the hot shoe contact. As I said, the earliest FTn's had the old style contact even though they had a slotted release button bezel. But any one with a serial number that late should have the later contact.
    Here is my oldest F, showing the old style contact.
  7. And here is the later one, showing (for those not familiar with what the OP is about) the slotted bezel for the release button, and the later style contact, which is energized only when pushed down, so as not to shock you when using a PC flash. This appeared some time in 1968, it seems.
    edit to add - by the way, none of these has a threaded PC socket, said to be part of the last "Apollo" iteration of the F.
  8. My Nikon F was a 1969 model which came with a sportsfinder prism. It was stolen in 1991 when the house/studio I was
    living in was burgled by the junkie/crackhead son of a fellow photographer in Houston.
  9. I have/had four F's. They went as follows
    #653xxxx - old style flash contact - no slot
    #657xxxx - new style flash contact - no slot
    #707xxxx - new style flash contact - slot
    #740xxxx - new style flash contact - slot
    So, based on these, the flash contact was updated quite early - earlier than the the prism release. The interesting thing is that Matthew Currie quoted a #69xxxxx model with an old style flash, while my #657xxxx has a new style flash
  10. Sorry, I fell asleep early. Reading this string in the morning.
    I apologize for leading anyone astray on the NASA Apollo mission - I had no intent to link the history of NASA and the Nikon F. I am referring to a late Nikon F body style.
    To update my specs, I have a non-slotted circular flange around the prism release button. I believe it is the oldest version on the Nikon F. I also have black open semicircular insulation around my flash contact. The evolution of this insulation appears to be numerous.
    I am a neophyte, but I have seen enough discussion to realize that there are no hard rules when referring to transitional Nikon F serial numbers. I am safe to say that my serial number 727XXXX is a transitional period.
    I appear to have three possibilities:
    1. Tampering to increase sales.
    2. Nikon retrofit.
    3. An original transitional camera.
    I can imagine it would take years to become a Nikon F expert and fully categorize Nikon F variations, and attempt to explain each. I never see a discussion of internal changes, as reported by repair guys. Perhaps more clues as we look in the SLR mirror chamber, etc. . .
  11. The truth is that prices have gone down on F's about 20-25%, even on black non-metered F's, and people online are trying to get a premium by claiming that their models are the later Apollo versions.
    My guess is #1, "Tampering to increase sales". I have seen it quite a bit, even at recent shows such as Photographica. I had one guy tell me what he had was a black Apollo, even though there was no plastic tip on the winder.
    "Not my 1st rodeo."
  12. I am a bit mystified by the old style flash contact on my earliest FTn, since I have seem numerous other pictures that suggest it was updated much earlier. The rest of the camera appears to be as expected, so I'm guessing that a repair may have been made at some point with old parts.
    I had thought that the second type of contact was the last, which supposedly had a little switch in it, but an ohmmeter confirms that it's always live relative to the PC connector despite being spring loaded. I have read that the Apollo had a micro switch, but have not seen it. In the few poor pictures I've seen of that one, the plastic surround appears to be black, where in the earlier versions it was white, even on black bodies.
    I notice also that on the Apollo, not only is the self timer lever different, but the body beneath has timer marks that differ from the original. Here is a link with nice clear photographs of that:
    e.t.a. I forgot to mention too that the ASA reminder dial on the bottom changed at some point. My FTn's all go to ASA 1600, but the old early one only goes to ASA 400. I have yet to find out when that change occurred, but clearly, if you have a dial that goes to 400, it's not a late one.
    Final ETA: here, I think, is a link that contains all the information on slight version changes that is needed for this kind of thing. It's very exhaustive:
  13. 1968 to 1969 was supposedly the last use of the 'no fingernail" slot for the prism release button.
    Yet Christian's "Apollo" unit with a 7374219 (1973) serial number, has the slotless style of release.
    The same inconsistency occurs with the PC input, the last know non-threaded PC was used up until mid-1972.
    Certain people out there, all too often throw out the word "FAKE", when it comes to these particular Nikon's.
    Even though I proudly own an uncontested "Apollo" unit. (Less than 14K from end of run, stainless insert strap lugs, newer PC, self-timer marker and finder release),
    Nikon isn't Leica; they simply don't have strict standards when it comes to their "collectibles"...
    "sign of an earlier model, whatever its provenance, should be the hot shoe contact" Matthew C.
    Matthew, your serial #6563253 Nikon F that you picture, is simply missing it's white "slip-on" insulator. (They crack with age and then become loose/lost)
  14. Gus, now that I look more closely, it's clear that both the examples I have without that guard have lost it. The original insulator had a larger diameter than these. One of my others has a crack in the guard and it's clear I could pop it right off if I chose to. So that certainly explains what would otherwise be a strange anomaly in the 69~ example especially.

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