To compliment my Collectable Classics series I thought it would be a good idea to run though a check list of things you should lookout for if you are thinking of buying a classic Nikon 35mm camera.
1. Before you embark on your search, for whatever Nikon camera it is you want, make sure you have some idea of its worth. Just because someone is asked £500 for an F4 doesn’t mean they’ll get it!
2. Always check for signs of abuse or misuse. A lot of old Nikon were professionally used. Personally, I will avoid anything with dents or items sold as Not Tested!
3. Most cameras rely on batteries as their main power source, always check for corrosion and make sure you take fresh or newly charged batteries so that you can test the equipment before making your purchase. Don’t buy before you try.
4. Make a detailed inspection of the cameras light seals, in particular the mirror box foam, found within the camera body, behind the lens mount. This small foam strip acts as a shock absorber for the mirror, if the foam looks compressed or feels sticky – do not fire the camera, replace the foam strip as soon as possible. If the mirror box seal needs replacing then the chances are the film door seals will do too. Kits are ready available for around £15. If you need a kit let me know, I nearly always have them in stock.
5. Look for missing parts, small screws, strap lugs and plastic terminal covers. Replacing any of these can add pounds to your purchase later.
6. If the camera has a manual mode run though the shutter speeds. Don’t forget to check in the view finder to see if the meter is working and that the focusing screen isn’t too dusty.
7. Check that the shutter curtain isn’t damaged and that there is no visible signs of wear.
8. Pay close inspection to any lenses that may come with the camera. Check the front and rear elements for scratches and fungus, both will degrade image quality. Don’t store cameras or lenses in their old leather cases, leather is susceptible to damp, which is liable to causes fungus growth within your camera or lens.
9. It always pays to know what you’re looking for, do your homework, know your cameras and their value – don’t go over budget!
10. Finally, enjoy your classics, use them often and in doing so – keep film alive!