Tag Archives: Nikon

Nikomat FTn

I found this Nikomat FTn at a local thrift store in October. After purchasing the camera, I searched through the bag it came in, and found that it was purchased in the Tokyo Airport in 1971 by a Mormon (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint) missionary returning home to Utah. The camera and lens are in excellent condition, and based on the film that was also in the bag, it likely hasn’t been used since the late 1980’s.

The Nikomat FTn was manufactured and sold by Nikon from 1967 to 1975 in Japan. The FTn was part of the Nikon F and F2 family and was based on the original Nikkomat FT that was commonly used by professional photographers. Nikon marketed the FTn to the consumer and prosumer markets as a cost-effective alternative. The camera came with a card that reads: On the “Nikomat” camera name… The brand name of this camera “NIKOMAT” Is used for the cameras being sold in Japan, while “NIKKORMAT” for the export model only. There is, however, no difference at all between the two in specifications, functions and performance.”

It’s a fantastic camera with all the features and specs you might expect: ISO 12 – 1600, metal focal plane shutter with speeds from 1 sec to 1/1000th, bulb, TTL metering center-weighted average with a CdS cell powered by a 1.3v battery, visible meter in the viewfinder and the top of the camera body. The camera came with a Nikkor SC Auto f/1.4 50mm lens. While the FTn is built like a tank, it’s not as heavy as the Nikon F with FTn Viewfinder.

This is probably the first film camera I’ve reviewed on UTFP that I will be sharing almost the entire test roll. I’m not a “car guy,” but I do enjoy photographing car shows to mainly shoot the details. These images are from the annual Kulture Krash Car Show in Clearfield, Utah. I was accompanied by my friend, Baily, who was shooting film for the very first time. I’ll save that story for another day. For a review of the exported Nikkormat FTn, head over to Jim Grey’s site.

Camera: Nikon Nikomat FTn (1967 – 1975)
Film: Ilford HP5 Plus 400
Process: Kodak D-76 (Stock) 7:30 @ 20c
Scanner: Epson Perfection V600 Photo

 

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Nikon F (1959 – 1973) and FTn Viewfinder

Up to this point, I’ve only ever used one other Nikon film camera, the Nikon EM. After spending a few weeks talking with friends, I decided it was time to get a proper Nikon SLR. Something a little older. A classic Nikon. That’s when I learned that I really didn’t know a lot about Nikon SLR’s. My friend Maurice Greeson suggested I start with the Nikon F. Before I continue, I’m sure a seasoned Nikonian will correct me if I describe something inaccurately. Please do, no offense taken.

Maurice gave me a Nikon FTn viewfinder/exposure meter with a 50mm Nikkor-S f/1.4 lens. All I had to do was find a Nikon F body, which isn’t hard to do. What is slightly hard to do is find one on eBay in acceptable condition. As I was searching, I’d send Maurice an email and ask, “What about this one? Or, this one? This one?” What I didn’t understand is the F was originally sold with a standard prism viewfinder. The eye-level penta-prism can be interchanged with a waist-level viewfinder, as well as the FTn. The FTn is essentially a viewfinder with a built-in light meter. When changing the lens on the camera, the meter coupling pins must be indexed with the lens. To summarize, the FTn needs to know what aperture values are available on the lens you are mounting. This was something entirely new to me, but it makes sense.

The Nikon F was manufactured from March 1959 to October 1973. The F was known in the 1960’s as the camera used by photo journalists, capturing images from Vietnam, the US exploration of Mt. Everest, and the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space programs. There were eight types of viewfinder screens available, as well as interchangeable high capacity backs and motor drives. Originally priced at $186 USD (camera and 50mm f/2 lens), that’s about $498 today, the camera attracted both professional and amateur photographers.

According to the serial number on my Nikon F, it was produced between April – July 1970. This camera is a tank! According to kenrockwell.com, the camera and FTn viewfinder alone weigh 1.92 lbs. When you add the lens, it’s easily over 2 pounds. If I were a photojournalist in Vietnam and found myself in a dangerous situation, I think I would have used this camera as a weapon.

The FTn viewfinder and photographic screen both have 100% coverage, giving the photographer a bright viewing area. The camera has a split-image focal screen and a titanium foil focal-plane shutter. The FTn has an ASA range from 6 to 6400, shutter speeds are 1 sec – 1/1000th sec and bulb.

The Nikon F is a classic camera. This camera set the bar for SLR cameras and showed the world that Nikon, and Japanese camera manufactures, were capable of producing exceptional photographic equipment. Special thanks to Maurice Greeson for donating the FTn, lens, and book Nikon F Handbook of Photography (1971 Edition) by Joseph D. Cooper and Joseph C. Abbott.

Camera: Nikon F (with FTn Viewfinder) (1959 – 1984)
Film: Kodak BW400CN
Process: RepliColor SLC
Scanner: Epson Perfection V600 Photo


Nikon EM & Nikkor-S 50mm 1.4

Nikon EM (1979 - 1982) with Nikkor-S 50mm 1.4

Last year my film-photographer-partner-in-crime, Mike Williams, sent me a Nikon N2000 with Nikkor 50mm lens. Mike had wrapped the camera and lens in several layers of bubble wrap before placing in the box. That however didn’t stop USPS from damaging the contents. When I received the box, one side was damaged to the point that it looked like someone had taken an axe to it. The camera appeared to be fine, but the lens had a noticeable dent where you would thread on a filter. Fast forward eight months, Mike reminds me to test the camera. I hadn’t told him about the damage (because I knew he’d be pissed), but intended to use the camera and lens despite the damage. The N2000 body that appeared to be un-wounded, and working, was now dead. I still wanted to use the lens despite its new dimple, so I mounted it on my Nikon EM. I refer to this camera and lens combination as, “like putting an engine from a Mustang in a Pinto.” The images were shot on FPP High Speed Retrochrome 320 and processed E6. The resulting colorcast is very retro, warm, with medium grain.


Nikon EM

Nikon EM - 35mm Film (1979 - 1982)

The Nikon EM was produced in Japan from 1979 – 1982. The EM series of cameras was introduced as an entry-level SLR camera for budget minded photographers, $231 (USD). It’s interesting to learn, the EM was designed for, and marketed to, a growing market of female photographers. The camera weighs 16 ounces, has no manual exposure mode, and features a shutter speed from f/1 – 1/1000, bulb, and flash X-sync of 1/90 second. The thought was beginners had not mastered exposure, shutter speeds and f-stops. This section of the market was also moving up from rangefinders and compacts, but were intimidated by traditional SLR features. In the viewfinder is an exposure meter that beeps at the photographer if the exposure is too high or low, very cute. All Nikon F bayonet mount lenses can be used on the EM. To distinguish the EM from other Nikon cameras, the Series E line of lenses were created to differentiate between professional Nikkor ones. I bought this EM at a local pawn shop for $20. It’s the first Nikon product I’ve ever owned. Why? Not because I haven’t wanted to own a Nikon camera. It’s because every time I find a Nikon camera, they never have a lens! There’s nothing more depressing than a box of lensless Nikon cameras. You Nikon fanatics have the ability to hold on to your glass longer than any other camera manufacturer has allowed. I say that jokingly, but I mean it as a sincere compliment. I really enjoy this camera. I like the small footprint and weight. My first roll of film through the EM was 35mm Kodak Hawekeye Super Color, also known as Film Photography Project hand rolled Kodak Hawkeye Traffic Surveillance Film. Unfortunately, as you can see from photos, my EM has a light leak. I’m going to replace the light seals next week.

 

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Nikon FE & Nikon N8008

This week we’re featuring a guest post from Mike Williams, a film photographer from Hickory, North Carolina. While writing this, Mike confided in me that he was afraid his comments about the Nikon FE would be perceived as negative. Before you jump to that conclusion, read the entire post. I think at some point we’ve all owned a piece of gear that we wanted to love, but just couldn’t get beyond something that simply wasn’t working for us. I appreciate Mike’s honesty and I’m glad he found another Nikon that was a better fit for his photography.

So there I was, looking at the scans from my 5th or 6th roll of film through my Nikon FE. The FE is a super cool looking machine. It’s black and chrome and it just has that “look” of an awesome vintage camera. But as much as I wanted to love this camera and everything about it, I hated it.

Why you ask? Two reasons: First, about 1/3 (at least) of the shots I had taken with it were out of focus. I am still not sure if it was the camera’s focusing screen or maybe my 45 year old eyes, but focusing at f/1.4 just was not happening for me. The second reason was the shutter speeds maxed out at 1/1000. I like the look of Tri-X pushed up a couple of stops, so there was another reason I couldn’t shoot with the lens wide open.

So I decided to find a camera with auto focus and capable of higher shutter speeds. It was eBay time, of course. I didn’t have a specific camera in mind. It just needed to be a Nikon (only because I have a ton of Nikon glass) and I wasn’t looking to spend a lot of cash. I came across a Nikon N8008. I honestly had no clue about this model, so I turned to the expert, Google. I quickly learned that this late 1980’s SLR had the things I wanted; auto focus and shutter speeds up to 1/8000. I bid on it. Turned out I was the only bidder and got it for $10 plus $8 shipping. When I received the camera, it appeared to be in pretty good shape, actually a little better than I had expected. I put in the AA batteries, popped on a 50mm f/1.8 lens, grabbed a roll of Ilford Delta 100, and made my kids model for the test roll. I shot that roll in my favorite little alley downtown Hickory, North Carolina.

The very next day, that roll of Delta 100 was on its way to San Clemente, California, for the guys at TheDarkroom.com to process and scan. It was only a few days but it seemed like an eternity before I got the email that my scans were ready. I logged on, checked them out, and I was thrilled! The auto focus was perfect and the meter was dead on. The only bad images were the ones that I screwed up with poor composition.

Now my Nikon N8008 is one of my favorite cameras to shoot. And I was able to overcome wanting to shoot the “cool” camera and realize all that matters to me is the end product. I love the images I have been getting from the N8008. Images that I personally just wasn’t capable of getting from the FE.

Here are a few images from my first roll with the Nikon N8008.

 

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Camera Collection

For the past month I’ve been running test film through various cameras so I can share the results here. This week, I want to show off some of the most recent additions to my collection.
 

Yashica A - 120 Film (1959 - 1969)Yashica A – 120 Film (1959 – 1969)

 

Pentax Spotmatic - 35mm Film (1964 - 1973)Pentax Spotmatic – 35mm Film (1964 – 1973)

 

Nikon EM - 35mm Film (1979 - 1982)Nikon EM – 35mm Film (1979 – 1982)

 

Pentax ME Super - 35mm Film (1980 - 1986)Pentax ME Super – 35mm Film (1980 – 1986)

 

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