My Nikon collecting obsession escalated recently as my hunt for a 1965 Nikkormat FS was put on high alert as my search went global! Despite the fact the Nippon Kogaku (Nikon) manufactured the all mechanical FS between 1965 and 1971 it never really sold in great numbers, which means finding one today is a pretty tall order – finding a box one is near impossible!
Nonetheless, I never give up a challenge and so my Nikkormat project began just over a year ago, my plan, to collect all 8 Nikkormat models – 5 mechanical and 3 electronic. These were: FS, FT, FTN, FT2 & FT3. The electronic ones were: EL, EL-W & EL-2.
The used market at the moment is littered with FTN’s and FT2′s. The electronic EL and EL-2 seem plentiful at the moment too – so no real problems there either. In fact, I picked up these cameras in pretty fast succession, choosing the best I could find (and afford) from what was on offer.
What you have to watch out for are cameras being offered in “Mint” condition! Yes, we would all like shiny new examples, but beware, these cameras are now approaching middle age – 50 years old – they’ve had a life! Mint examples are very few and far between. Check that the mint example you’ve just been offered hasn’t spent the last 20 years sitting in someone’s loft because it got broken and was forgotten about and left there to rot! Only to be found again by its new owner and sold off on eBay!
I’ve been caught out twice, once with a beautiful chrome FA and then again with my Nikkormat FT3. Luckily for me both cameras were fixable, only because I know a retired camera technician, who still likes to dabble with old cameras.
I always knew the camera I was going to have trouble finding would be the FS. The reason it never sold as well as the FT was simply because it had no built-in meter. All light-meter readings had to be obtained with a separate hand-held meter. It is reported that Nikon had a large number of FS parts going spare that they started using them to repair later models. Whether this is fact or not I have witnessed a FT2 sporting an FS serial number! Clearly an indication that the top plate from an FS was used to repair the FT2.
Very Early NIkkormat FS
All the Nikkormat models were built like tanks! Made to last forever, from steel and brass. Many of which were probably assembled by hand like the Nikon F and F2. Looking at them now, today, its hard to tell the difference between the build quality of a Nikon F or the Nikkormat FT, both in my opinion are thoroughbred classics!
All three electronic models were relatively easy enough to track down. However, the AW-1 winders for the EL-W and EL-2 were proving a little more difficult. The thing to watch out for with these winders are the plastic gears Nikon used in their motors. Plastic, with age, turns brittle and cracks, as a result many of these drives, along with those of the MD-1, MD-2 and MD-3 are also susceptible to breakage.
NIkkormat FS #7400571
I now had a permanent search set up on eBay informing me daily of any Nikkormat FS activity – things were slow! Painfully so. . . Then, as if by magic all my Nikkormat dreams came true. Not only did I find an Nikkormat FS in excellent condition – it came serviced and warranted for 30 days, so at least I had the opportunity to check it out. The other thing that had me jumping for joy was the serial number, which I instantly remembered, FS 7400571
. This was the 571st Nikkormat to leave the factory, quite possibly en-route to America where I purchased it from, who knows? Anyway, The previous owner didn’t much care – he considered it to be just another old fashioned camera and sold it accordingly.
All 8 Nikkormats (1965-1972)