Sunday, December 1, 2013

What is it About These Old Nikon Film Cameras?

Nikon Addiction, by Frontman on Range Finder Forum
Image Source:
Poster "Frontman" on Range Finder Forum has posted about his addiction to old Nikon film cameras. Just reading the responses shows he's not alone in his malady. And neither am I.
(Click Here) to read the post on RFF.
I have such a strong attraction to old Nikon gear. This post hit me at the opportune moment. Having recently read about the new Nikon Df (Click Here to read about the Df), which can use the very oldest of F mount lenses (pre-AI) to the very latest, I've been wondering how many people like me still have the old pre-AI lenses. I have almost what I consider a full set (still on the lookout for the right 35mm lens), and continue to add once in a while. In fact, I recently bought an absolutely gorgeous Nikkor pre-AI 200mm f4 lens for $75, at a big name camera store. Just too much beautiful glass and metal to walk past.
I have not preordered a Df. That doesn't mean I'm not interested. I'm simply not sure that the intersection of what I love about an old Nikon FM2, say, and the awesome D700, is really what I want. It may be mixing the two worlds too much. I've experienced this with my current main camera (if you can call it that, amongst all the others I shoot), the Leica M9. The M9 is a spectacular camera. However, I'm not sure that the overlap between what I love about Leica rangefinders and what's great about digital capture is the perfect marriage for me. I recently proved to myself that I enjoy shooting a film M just as much as the M9. If I were using it for selling images, or events that I had to capture well, then digital would be a requirement. As it is, I use the M9 as I use my film Leicas - out and about with the hope of getting an outstanding image, not a list of images that I must make. I'm thinking the Df may be a similar situation for me.
So, in the meantime, I'm hoping to receive today my latest Nikon - an EX condition F2 that I purchased from KEH. Really, $129 for such a machine is just not debatable. For more fun, I also bought what is reputed to be the worst Nikon lens ever, the 43-86mm f3.5 zoom (pre-AI). $29 in EX condition. How can I pass up the chance to try the low end of the price and performance spectrum? I'm sure it won't become my go-to lens. I'm also sure I'll have some fun with it.
One possible reason for my attraction to this equipment is simply that as a kid, Nikon was the unreachable golden ring for me. Shooting Pentax SLRs (which, yes, I still love and use), I was in awe of the equipment that pros of the day used. I remember doing a work-study day with our local newspaper's photographers, who both shot F2s. I thought "one day." Well, that day's here, and it only cost me 35 years and now $129.
As evidence that I do still have a modicum of restraint, I have so far avoided going into the Nikon rangefinder world. Even though I know they're excellent cameras, and have seen some amazing deals. Mixing what I see as the SLR world (mastered by Nikon, in my opinion) and rangefinders (Leica territory, again in my opinion) may just not be necessary.
So, get ready for some Nikon film images in the coming weeks and months here on DMC-365!