My Camera Equipment - therion256

Here is my Nikon Photomic F. This is Nikon's entry into the professional 35mm film SLR camera market from 1959 to 1974. My particular camera was manufactured in 1962, and I got it at a real bargain rate off of eBay. The serial number of the body is 6478189, and an internet lookup of that number along with the fact that the body is topped by the Photomic viewfinder and meter indicates the year. The camera is fully manual. You choose aperture on the lens ring, and the shutter speed on the dial next to the shutter release and viewfinder. The camera is fully modular, with interchangeable viewfinders, focus screens, and lenses of course. What's more, it has mirror lockup (standard feature for professional cameras), and a mechanical self-timer. All of the shutter settings work great, and this is built like a tank. I'm sure it will be able to shoot for another 44 years. From the looks of the pictures off the test roll, it's ready for many more great pictures.

The lens is the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 by Nippon Kogaku (the old name for Nikon way back then.) The word "Auto" on the lens ring refers to the fact that when the shutter is released, the aperture is automatically stopped down to the one chosen on the lens ring (This was considered an innovative and novel SLR technology back in 1959.) Otherwise, these are manual focus lenses. A fork-like attachment on the aperture ring couples with a pin in the Photomic viewfinder (under the "Nikon" logo) to mechanically transfer the aperture setting to the meter.

Unfortunately, the initial lens that came with the camera had fungus inside and oil on the aperture blades (yeck!) which made the action sticky. Rather than try to get the lens serviced (lots of $$$ to disassemble, clean then reassemble the whole thing precisely) I simply chose to get another 50mm f/1.4 lens from eBay for $46...problems solved!

The other issue is that of the meter. Back in 1962, when on-camera metering was being refined, many of the first meters required a mercury battery to provide 1.35 volts. Mercury batteries also had a nearly constant voltage slope throughout battery life. Unfortunately, mercury batteries are illegal in the US and many other countries. A viable substitute is to use a 1.55v alkaline battery, however, the increased voltage throws off the metering, so either you need to get the meter recalibrated, or compensate with a different ISO setting. These days, I prefer to use a separate hand-held meter to figure out my exposure. The alkaline batteries also degrade in voltage steeply near the end of battery life. Zinc-air batteries (hearing aid) can provide the correct voltage, but once they're exposed to air, they only last a few months at most before they dry out and die. Silver-oxide batteries require a fairly expensive adaptation process, but is regarded to be perhaps the most elegant solution. Personally, I like to have a hand-held meter around. Also, metering was not through-the-lens. Incident metering is provided by a small screw-in translucent disc which is affixed to the meter "eye" next to the large "F" on the viewfinder. I currently feel as though the Photomic viewfinder/meter is clunky (in both looks and usage), and would ditch it for the standard Nikon F meterless eye-level prism viewfinder if they weren't so expensive, since I use a Weston hand-held meter with this camera.

Several accessories accompanied this camera, including a threaded cable release, a tripod (old kind with screw-lock legs), a Nikon Yellow filter for B&W shooting, a Honeywell Tilt-a-Mite flash, and a Vivitar 85-205 f/3.8 zoom lens.