So I finally got around to shooting with the oldest film camera I currently own. I purchased from ebay last year for approx. £35.
The Nikkormat first appeared in 1965 with the FS. This was an all manual camera with no built in exposure meter and was aimed at the enthusiast amateur photographer. The FS is quite a rarity now as not many were produced as they were soon replaced with the FT which included a TTL (through the lens) exposure meter. The FT was upgraded in 1967 to the model here the FTN. It has the letter ‘N’ engraved on the top plate next to the exposure needle window. Judging by the serial number mine dates to the early 70’s. The FTN meter was ‘centre weighted’, a type of exposure metering still in use today where light levels are measured from the central part of the image area.
The FTN is the most common of the Nikkormats, and there always some to be found on ebay in various condition.
The meter was powered by a single PX625 Mercury Oxide coin type battery, which are now no longer made because of toxicity and environmental fears. Luckily a replacement is available – a Zinc Air Cell – the WeinCELL MRB625. The downside to these batteries is they don’t last very long, mine is over 6 months old but still working at the moment. They can be obtained from The Small Battery Company for £5.50 each.
The lens pictured with the camera is the Nikkor H 50mm F2, but the shots below were taken with a Nikkor H 28mm F3.5.
Notice the ‘rabbit ears’ metal prong behind the aperture scale on the lens. When attaching the lens to the camera, the aperture needs to be set at F5.6, the lug on the camera lines up inside the prong and the lens is fitted. As soon as the lens is on, it is necessary to twist the aperture through the full range to calibrate the light meter.
Focussing is of course manual – you have to turn the focus ring on the camera and use your eyes! Apertures are set by turning the aperture ring and unusually the shutter speed is set by turning a lever on the lens mounting flange. In the viewfinder it is possible to see the shutter speed set but not the aperture. Correct exposure is obtained with a combination of aperture and shutter speed and the speed (ISO, ASA) of the film in use. There is a small needle inside the viewfinder which needs to be centered. Hey! Back to basics, that’s all you need to do!!!!
For the shots below, I set the aperture to F8 and varied the shutter speed accordingly, generally 500th to 1000th of a second. There were some blank exposures on the film. I think I may have ‘wound on’ and the shutter fired whilst in the bag with the lens cap on. Apart from those, every single exposure was perfect. Some results are shown below, taken on the Wareham bypass of the recent flooding. Processed and scanned by Jonathan at Snaps Photo Services. They have been slightly adjusted in Lightroom just to increase the saturation and contrast a little.
A 40 year old camera and even older lens – amazing results!
coming next……………a true classic camera the Nikon FM with Ilford Delta 400, and Nikon F601 and Nikon F55D with Fuji Superia 400.