Friday, April 4, 2014

Nikon Rangefinder - I Finally Bought In

I have sworn off owning any Nikon rangefinder cameras, since it means yet another lens mount system. However, I've always wanted to try one. Not too long ago, I talked myself out of buying a Nikon S3 2000 set, which was in mint condition. A reintroduction of the classic S3 by Nikon in the year 2000, this would have been one gorgeous camera. But, I didn't want a collector's item; I wanted a Nikon rangefinder that I could take out and shoot.
Well, I recently found a very nice Nikon S with the legendary Nikkor 5cm f1.4 rangefinder lens for a reasonable price.
Nikon S
Image Source:,_M_and_S
Mine happens to be one of the rare "8 digit serial number" cameras. Interesting story. Nikon started the Nikon rangefinders with a serial number of the form 609XXXX, which allowed them to go up to camera number 6099999 before they had to change. Well, they liked the 609 prefix, so for about 1230 cameras (mine's number 60911216), they just added an eighth digit. So, mine's one of about 1230 cameras of this particular series.
(Click here) to read about the S and the 8 digit cameras.
I'm part of the way through my first roll of film in the S. At first, I felt that the focusing patch was a little squinty as compared to my Leicas, especially my Leica Ms. Now that I've used it a little, I don't notice much of a difference. I think I was simply trained on the Leica and the Nikon is different, not worse, especially compared to Barnack (screwmount) Leicas.
Of course, I found it necessary to buy an adapter so that I can use the Nikkor 5cm f1.4 (Sonnar design) on my Leica M bodies. I bought one directly from Amedeo in Venezuela.
(Click Here) to find Amedeo on the web.
Amedeo responded to my email quickly. He told me that the economy in his country is very bad right now, and finding shops to chrome plate his adapters has been an issue. He sold me one with minor cosmetic issues for a discounted price. It arrived in just a few days, free Fedex shipping. Amedeo is working on setting up his own chroming process, so maybe this problem will go away soon.
I've now tested the Amedeo adapter on my Leica M9, and found the focus to be spot-on with the Nikkor 5cm lens, even wide open at f1.4. Note that these adapters are for Nikkor rangefinder lenses of 5cm (50mm) or longer focal length. I'll share some test shots from the Nikkor on the M9 in my next post.
So, I broke my own rule and decided to give the Nikon rangefinder a try. Even if I decide I don't like the camera, I'm pretty impressed with what the lens produces on my Leica M9.