In April, 1959 Nikon introduced their first Single Lens Reflex (SLR) system camera; known simply as “the Nikon”. Nikon incorporated a host of improvements over the outgoing range-finders, such as interchangeable view finders, focusing screens and a motor driven film advance. The original F would have been fitted with a no frills, non-metered eye level finder; despite being the cheapest to buy when new, are now among the more expensive and hardest to find. Nonetheless, a Nikon F with eye level prism is one of the most elegant and stylish cameras ever made – a true icon of the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies! In fact, 862,600 Nikon F’s were made from 1959 to 1974 proving that Japan was the new leader in camera designs.

Despite my efforts to find a Nikon Eye Level Finder in good condition (and one that I can afford) to match my early F (S/N 6410855), I have managed to find a Photomic Finder (S/N 895055) from 1962, as a stand in until one comes along.

The Photomic finder was introduced by Nikon in April 1962. It was Nikon’s first metered finder for the F. Its main distinguishing figure is the round opaque window on the prism’s front, where incoming light is gathered onto a CdS photo-resistor. These Photomic Finders were discontinued in 1966.

Early F Collector Facts:

  • Early F’s are especially collectible, the earlier the serial, the better
  • The first 100 F’s had Cloth Shutter Curtains
  • The Self Timer has Slanted Serrations
  • The Advance Lever has two hollow cavities on the underside
  • Black #64 F’s are rarer than Chrome #64 F’s

Early F’s had “Nippon Kogaku Tokyo” stamped on the top plate of the camera, but later F’s (1965-onwards) had Nikon.