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Friday, 02 December 2016


That's chump change. You can't even buy a good watch for that kind of money. :-)


You can get a working Contax that looks pretty much the same for € 250 at the photo flea markets here (Hamburg, Germany). There is usually half a dozen for sale each time.

...the camera's unusual 3:4 ratio (these were 24x32mm if memory serves...

Perfect aspect ratio -- exactly the same as whole plate! If only it had become an industry standard, as opposed to the too-rectangular 24x36mm we ended up with. Even today, my temptation to finally go FX digital is kept in check by that same format still being used.

I still think back to my first "real" film camera - a Nikon F - with very fond memories. It took great pictures and was rugged enough to take my backpacking and boating activities in stride - until I dumped it and myself into a swollen muddy river!

Back in the 1970s, while a starving college student, I bought a Nikon rangefinder with a 50mm lens from Olden Camera in NYC. These were the days when the Herald Square area of NYC was the camera district, with maybe a dozen stores -- Willoughby Peerless, Camera Barn, Olden, Spiratone and others that I cannot remember. I think I paid $100 for it with the lens.

I'm not even sure which model it was. S? SP? Who knows. But I loved that camera, shot b+w and color like crazy with that single lens, and even took it to England in 1976 and used it touring the country.

I'm not sure exactly where that camera ended up, maybe with my ex-wife. I would love to have it back. It was quirky, I had to figure out the dials and knobs on my own (you could cock the shutter without advancing the film, I seem to recall), and could focus either using the little wheel sticking out of the top plate or rotate the lens itself.

Donating this Nikon to the George Eastman House, what a nice idea!

I visited the place last May. They have a most gorgeous collection of old and famous cameras, all in pristine condition. And there are photo exhibitions as well. Plus the visit of Mr. Eastman's home... What a story has been his life. It does worth a visit.


Heck, I've got a Praktica LTL from High School that I'd let go for half that. I'll even throw in the "stunning" Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Domiplan 2.8/50!

Photo dawg brain teaser:

Although that may be the oldest Nikon known to exist, it is not the oldest existing camera made by the company called Nikon. Say what?

Well, "Nikon" was, in those days, simply a brand name created by the company, Nippon Kogaku. And Nippon Kogaku made a variety of aerial reconnaissance cameras for the Imperial Japanese Navy going back to the 1930s. The U.S. Smithsonian Air & Space Museum happens to have one of the relatively few that survived the Second World War:


I have a visually identical Nikon S rangefinder camera on my desk, on loan from a friend. (His late father-in-law brought it back from Japan during the Korean War.) It needs restoration, which would cost more than its current value... which is about 1/10 of 1% of the camera shown above. "So much in life depends on who gets born first."

...the 911R is sold :-(

Who would want a Nikon when it is a direct copy of the the Contax, built under licence, I believe?

Why not get a Contax -- the original and the best?

Wonderful camera. I always wanted one, never got one. I was just behind the wave in both time and fortune.

Cheers, Geoff

Oh, now I shoot a Panasonic GX7. have I found nirvana at last? And while I still prefer 3:2, I realized with horror last night thatI had just shot something over 1000 pix in the day on assignment in 4:3. Oh buggerit!!! I've been captured!

Cheers, Geoff

This is quite an interesting camera. The H.C lens caught my eye at first because I had never noticed the Nikon rangefinder lens model numbers included the lens coating designation from that early of a time. My copy of the Robert Rotoloni guide does indeed show the 50/2 H lens as having the H.C designation. From there though, the serial numbers get a little confusing with the first batch of 50/2 lenses supposedly having "609" batch numbers to match the first run "609" series of the I cameras. The "708" batch was the second of the 50/2 lenses. Rotoloni does mention Nikon's early serial numbering system as being based on date of manufacture which doesn't help much and then page 95 of the guide includes a photo of 50/2 No. 708915 with the note that it was supplied on Nikon I No. 60939 in 1948.

I think I'll stick with searching for the obscure accessories for my Nikon 1 digital gear.

This camera sports an early version of the distinctive type face Nikon used for many years. Any ideas where this font came from?

It's worth noting that Nikon made themselves a success by managing to copy both of the leading 35mm cameras of the time. By combining a copy of the Zeiss Contax body with a copy of the simple and reliable Leica focal-plane shutter, they made, in one sense, the best of both worlds. Of course the excellent optics were the main reason the cameras were a success- the story of David Douglas Duncan and other LIFE photographers discovering them while covering the Korean War is well known- but the early Nikon (and Canon) cameras helped to dispel the notion in the West that Japanese cameras were all cheap junk. And the rest is history...

I was trying to find out when the format changed to 24mmx36mm and found this interesting article on the Nikon web site about the early development of the rangefinders. <http://imaging.nikon.com/history/chronicle/history_e/>
So, the 24x32mm format was chosen to differentiate it from Leicas and Contax cameras, but was changed to 24x36 because all the film cutting machines in the USA (the cameras were only produced for export initially) cut in the 24x36mm format.

Kodak actively tried to prevent the Nikon One from coming into the country -- they didn't want to have to deal with the odd format and frame spacing in processing and mounting Kodachrome. The S changed to full 8 sprocket holes per frame, but the film gate was still slightly undersize.

If I wanted an "S mount" camera, I'd rather have the Nikon over the Contax. The Contax shutter is just not practical, the engineering is incredibly complex because they had to avoid Leica's very solid patents on their simple shutter design. Zeiss-Ikon could barely build the Contax shutter. As Henry Scherer admits, many Contax cameras never worked right from the factory.

Unfortunately, there's the difference in focusing calibration between Nikon and Contax versions of the lens mount.

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