This is my latest find; an early Nikon FM (Serial Number 2194502).

Nikon FM circa 1977

Nikon FM circa 1977

The FM was the successor of the Nikkormat range of cameras, labelled by Nikon as the first compact reflex camera. The FM is a fully manual camera with built-in exposure meter – similar to the one that Nikon used in the DP12 prism of the F2AS.

Nikon FM with Knurled Re-wind Lever

Nikon FM with Knurled Re-wind Lever

Early examples carried an engraved Nikon logo above the serial number. Having compared this early FM against a later FM in my collection it’s interesting to find several other slight differences between the bodies. Notably the re-wind knob is knurled on the early version, but not on the later. Likewise with the shutter button surround – knurled on the early version, but not on the later

Nikon FM with Knurled Shutter Button

Nikon FM with Knurled Shutter Button

The FM was an instant success due to the improvements made over previous Nikkormat models. The new camera included Ai metering, usable with both non-Ai and Ai Nikkor lenses.

Nikon FM Early Version on the left

Nikon FM Early Version on the left

The FM has gone through an amazing production cycle; over 20 years, the longest in Nikon’s history; the last model being the FM3A, a hybrid auto/mechanical camera.

The FM is still enthusiastically treasured by photographers today; some 36 year after it was launched – a timeless classic if ever there was one!

Nikon FM Shutter Button .. Early version on the left

Nikon FM Shutter Button .. Early version on the left

From a collectors point of view look for early examples that show the engraved Nikon logo above the serial number. If you’re looking to add a 50mm lens a good match would be a 50mm f2 with a serial number between 3500014 and 3700001 these were made between 1977 and 1979.

Nikon FM with Engraved Nikon Logo .. very early versions only

Nikon FM with Engraved Nikon Logo .. very early versions only

Price wise; expect to pay between £80-£120 for later bodies, plus another £60 to £80 for a 50mm lens.

Happy hunting!

I’m forever on the lookout for the cameras I once owned when I first started out in photography. Here’s one I picked up the other day for just £20 – the Lubitel 166 Universal (Lubitel means Amateur in Russian). Theses medium format cameras were made by Lomo in Leningrad, formerly St. Petersburg between 1984 and 1998. I owned and used one for a very brief period in the late eighties.

DSC_5384a

Lubitel 166 Universal .. circa 1988

This being the “universal” model it will take both 6×6 and 6×4.5 (with adapter) images on 120 roll film. Despite the 166 being made of plastic, it does have a glass lens and is capable of taking some pretty sharp images; Lubitels were made by Lomo in Leningrad, formerly St. Petersburg between 1984 and 1998.

Shutter speeds on the 166 can be set from Bulb to 1/250 of a second and Apertures vary from f/4.5 to f/22. Although focusing is difficult in all but the best conditions there is a small magnifying glass, which flips up from within the head should you need it. If  you do find focusing an issue you can always estimate the distance Holga-style.

Because the camera has no built-in light meter you’ll has to resort to the sunny 16 rule or get yourself a handheld light meter.

Specifications:
Camera type : 6×6, 6×4.5cm format TLR camera
Film : 120 roll film
Taking lens : T-22 75mm f/4.5
Sectors : eight
Shutter : B, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250 sec.
with built-in self-timer and flash sync contact.
Aperture range : f/4.5 – f/22
Viewfinder : focusing hood with direct-view finder built-in.
Focusing screen : Fresnel lens screen
Focusing : front-element focusing
Closest focusing distance : 1.4 meter
Filter accepted : 40.5 mm, screw-in type
Frame count : Film counting window
Body dimensions : H126 x W98 x D95mm
Body weight : 550 grams.
 

Although the Lubitel has a kind of toy-like appearance, it still attracts a large number of people, worldwide, for its compact body and unique lens performance. Unfortunately, Lomo no longer manufactures Lubitels, production ceased back in August 1998, making it now something of a cult classic!

Lubitel166U

Author & Son from 1988-89 .. Lubitel 166U

After a lengthy search I did manage to find one print that had been taken with my Lubitel back in 1988/89. Nonetheless, I hope to put a roll of film through this one very soon.

At last, I finally got my hands on a boxed and mint MB-23 battery pack for my F4. Finding anything for the F4 in mint condition these days takes time, but if you wait long enough you’ll find it.

The Nikon F4 was a 35mm autofocus (AF) single lens reflex (SLR) film camera, first introduced in 1988 as the next generation in Nikon’s line of F series professional cameras. With industrial design by Giorgetto Giugiaro, the F4 was the first professional Nikon to offer autofocus and is able to accept any of Nikon’s manual focus (MF) or AF lenses from 1959 to the present day, including the two F3AF lenses (in Autofocus mode). The F4 replaced the F3, which was a manual focus camera produced from 1980 to 2001. Nikon introduced its next flagship model, the F5, in 1996. All F4 models were discontinued soon after in May 1997.

Nikon F4e, with 16mm f2.8 Full Frame Fisheye

The F4 introduced many Nikon owners to autofocus (as well as focus tracking), and was the first professional Nikon to utilize a vertical-travel metal-blade shutter (with shutter balancer to minimize noise and camera bounce). As a fully electronic camera with motorized film transport (up to 5.7 frames per second), it required one of three available bottom-mounted battery packs to operate, using standard AA or rechargeable cells. For the first time on a Nikon SLR, two of those battery packs also offered an additional vertical shutter release button and grip for using the camera vertically.

Its controls were transitional between those of mechanical SLRs and future professional film and digital SLRs: the F4’s electronics, LCD viewfinder display, autofocus, programmed auto-exposure, and matrix meter looked to the future, but it also retained classic dedicated analog dials for shutter speed, lens aperture, metering pattern, and exposure compensation.

The F4 was the first Nikon F-series camera to lack a manual film-advance lever, though it offered both motor-driven and manual film rewinding. Like previous F-series cameras, the F4 featured a high degree of customization to specific tasks, with various remote controls, film backs, and viewfinders available. While it was a complex camera with over 1700 parts, the F4’s high-quality mechanical and electronic components, as well as weather sealing and tough construction, made for a reliable and long-lived professional SLR.

Nikon MF-23 Multi Control Back/ F4

The F4 will accept all autofocus lenses made for the F mount, as well as almost all manual focus F mount lenses excluding some very early fisheye lenses. The meter coupling cam can be moved out of the way for use with lenses manufactured prior to 1977 (non-AI lenses). The F4 is one of the few Nikon cameras offering full Matrix metering with AI manual focus lenses.

Nikon F4 Control Dials

Its lack of electronic aperture control limits the F4’s functionality with G type lenses, which do not have an aperture ring. With these lenses, exposure control is limited to program and shutter-priority modes. In addition, DX lenses are not designed to cover the full 35mm frame and will vignette when used with the F4 (or any other 35mm camera). The F4 also provides no support for Nikon’s later VR (Vibration Reduction) system; VR-equipped lenses will mount and function, but without image stabilization.

Nikon F4e

Eventually Nikon had three F4 models that were distinguished by which integrated battery pack was attached. All F4 bodies are interchangeable with all battery packs. Therefore none of the cameras includes a label for its particular model name—all use a simple “F4″ nameplate:

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