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Early Nikon F's
862,600 Nikon F's were made from 1959 to
1974. The F was Nikon's best seller to date and proved that
Japan was the new leader in camera design. The F established Nikon as the
Professional's #1 choice, a position that Nikon would keep until the advent AF
SLRs. Nikon didn't see AF coming, and it took years to catch up with the
F5. See Nikon F History. Early F's are especially collectible, the earlier the
serial number, the better.
Early F Features include:
- The first 100 or so F's had cloth shutter curtains before the
titanium curtains became available. They may have been a separate,
earlier production run. Originally the American importer of Nikon was strongly
against the new Nikon SLR, and fought against its introduction.
- A self timer with slanted serrations and sharp edges
- The prism is engraved Nippon Kogaku
rather than silk screened.
- The advance lever is machined and has two hollow cavities on the
underside. This early type lasted only about the first 1000-1100 cameras.
Close examination will show the machining marks on the underside of the advance lever.
- The shutter speeds and counter frame numbers are engraved,
not printed on
- The back has six patent pending numbers
- The back is marked Made in Japan on the closing lock, not
on the baseplate near
the tripod socket
- The aperture activating lever is 3mm high, not 4mm as on the
- The original bodies could mount the original Photomic finders,
but not the later Photomic T, FT, and FTN meters. The early bodies could be modified
to take the later meters, but from a collector's standpoint, the unmodified bodies are
- The early focusing screens clearly show fresnel rings which are
not visible on the later screens.
- The four film guide rails are of identical width all the way
across. On later cameras the two inner film guide rails have small extensions going
outward from the film path on the rewind side of the camera.
- Early F lenses have a heavier chrome and deeper luster than the
later lenses. The early 28/3.5, 35/2.8, 50/2, 105/2.5 and 135/3.5 lenses have
"Tick Marks" on their aperture ring which indicate the f/stop. It was soon
realized Tick Marks were unnecessary with click stopped aperture rings, and they were
discontinued. Today Tick Mark lenses make assembling a proper Early F outfit that
much more difficult to accomplish, and that more enjoyable once attained.
I'm trying to determine the production of Tick marked lenses. If
you have one, please email the serial number.
Further identify it by 1) number of aperture leaves 2) Whether or not is has
a red R for infrared 3) Whether or not the focusing scale is feet or meters 4) Whether or
not it is marked "PAT. PEND," 4) the color of the lens coating. THANKS !!
- Black 64 F's are much rarer than chrome 64 F's. The
earliest Black F I know of is # 6400675.
- Early F's that have been modified to take the FTN finder by
replacing the original nameplate and by machining the back edge of the focusing screen box
to be flush with top plate, are worth less than unmodified cameras.
- Early F's with mismatched parts are worth much less than
complete, original F's. The parts most likely to get lost or replaced over four
decades are 1) the original prism 2) the original focusing screen 3) the original lens 4)
the original back.
- 64 F's comprise a block of 100,000 cameras. Just
because it's a 64 F, doesn't mean much to most serious collectors unless it's at least in
in the first 15,000 cameras.
- Contrary to some written reports, early F's were certainly not of
inferior workmanship. Quite the opposite, in fact. From the start,
the Nikon F was beyond any other Japanese SLR in terms of precision and finish.
Articles FOR SALE
I Buy / Wants Repairs
November 26, 2003
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