Report: Nikon 100th Anniversary (Part 2)

Hello, everybody! I went to the Nikon Museum yesterday afternoon and went to the small conference room under it to listen to a talk about the prototypes found at the Nikon’s Ohi Plant before it began being demolished due to the building’s age. The talk was by Nikon’s head of professional camera development from the Nikon F3 to the Nikon Df, a great guy by the name of Mr. Goto Tetsuro. There were around 60 people in the cramped room and we sat there for around 2 hours of Nikon geekery. There were lots of information, trivia and insights that were shared yesterday afternoon that would have been inaccessible to people who are not working at Nikon or the Nikon employees who don’t have anything to do with camera development. It was a good afternoon despite the heat and hunger.

The talk was light-hearted and can be compared to a journal recollection of some sort so there were many small things that were inserted into the program that weren’t originally planned. There were many important information shared about the development of the F-mount, the Nikon F and the Nikon F2 and I will share them one of these days in my blog so come back here everyday to add to my click counts! Do click the ads when I have them here in the future to help me pay for the overhead and server stuff!

IMG_4970Look at all these beauties! If only I can take them home! What you see here is definitely worth hundreds of thousands of dollars! This is the closest thing we can get to traveling back in time to Nikon’s early years in consumer camera production. It is as if I can see, smell and even contact the very people who were involved in these prototype cameras.


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Here are views from another angle. Please pardon my pictures because I took these with an iPhone and there was a frenzy in the room to take pictures of these empty hulls. Wish I can document these at my own leisure but that’s not going to be. I consider myself to be lucky just to be able to come face-to-face to these objects of great historical significance!


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I am not sure about the significance of this item. It is basically a chassis for the Nikon S. I suspect that its a mockup of the new chassis that is going to be on the Nikon S. The earlier Nikon I and the Nikon M that followed it doesn’t have standard contacts for a flash gun.


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Now, this would have been a hit if Nikon got these cameras into production! The M39/L39 lens mount will allow you to use a wide selection of lenses from a variety of brands! Your options can also include the bizarre USSR brands and even obscure equipment made by Communist Mainland China under the Mao years. Too bad these never saw production as these would have been very useful and this, popular!

Notice that the hole for the saw-toothed wheel was plugged in these prototypes since they don’t need it anyway. Only Contax-like cameras have them as far as I know. The base for the rangefinder is also longer than Leica’s so this should be more accurate. Interestingly, the Nikon logo is a bit different on one of the prototypes.


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Here are some more prototypes of what appear to be cameras that were going to be the Nikon S or Nikon S2. I am not really sure about this, maybe these were made just to test new possibilities or what we call “proof of concept” in engineering. There are very minor differences between these and the production model so these are probably later samples. Do note that some of the dials are different.


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These prototypes are probably pre-producton Nikon S2 prototype cameras. Notice that there is a button at the back that is absent from the production model and it also doesn’t have the advance lever and sync speed selector. That odd dial at the back is possibly for a frame selector or parallax-correction gimmick.


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This is one of the more interesting prototypes on display. This appears to be a prototype for the Nikon S3. This is probably made at the same time as the Nikon SP prototypes due the archaic features like the much simpler buttons and crude advance lever. The dial for the shutter speeds also looked like it was salvaged from another camera to be honest. Curiously, it shows 1/2000s as an option


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I am not sure what this is supposed to be. It looks like a production model Nikon SP with the wide angle absent and the ports for it blocked. The attachments you see here were all sold as accessories and the illuminator you see here fetches a high price. Notice the logo on the battery cover of the illuminator. That is absent on the production model. You will also notice small differences on the details of the illuminator.


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What you are seeing here are the original plans for a 16mm camera. It was a clever and interesting designed encased in a metal shell. I will show you how the prototype looks in the coming weeks so come back regularly for updates! This would have been a great spy camera or for the ladies to bring anywhere. Too bad that 16mm images were not up to snuff when compared to 35mm but it sure has it’s uses where image quality is not a big deal like the art of up-skirt photography. I said that in jest but you get what I mean.


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This is the Nikon F2 collector’s wet dream! What we see here is special prototype made to shoot a contiguous frame in one burst. In short, you can have a roll of film with just one frame exposed and that frame has no breaks in between exposures. This also came with a control unit and a special repeating strobe so you can sync the camera and the strobe.

This camera has huge scientific potential as you can record something walking in-place. I saw the exposed roll shot by this camera and I was instantly reminded of the pioneering work done by Eadweard Muybridge around a century ago. He would’ve been amazed at how his work could be achieved by these gadgets many decades after his work!

IMG_4966The Nikon F3 is my favourite amongst the professional manual F cameras when it comes to it’s general handling characteristics and I was happy to see these. These are harnesses that were made during the Nikon F3’s preproduction to see how much can be fit into the small chassis of the Nikon F3. You have to remember that one of the guidelines from the Nikon management was that the Nikon F3 should be smaller than the Nikon F2. Go back in time 40 years ago from 2017 and this task becomes difficult! The advances in analog and digital miniaturization that we enjoy and take for granted these days simply weren’t available back then so the choice of materials and power had to be carefully considered. I would call the Nikon F3 a masterpiece of it’s time because of this.

Notice that there were several revisions made on the viewfinder LCD and what looks like the ISO sensitivity FRE module. It was very interesting listening to Mr. Goto Tetsuro talk about the Nikon F3’s (and Nikon F4’s) development which he oversaw. I just had a better appreciation for all of the cameras he talked about and every time I turn a knob of a dial I am instantly reminded of the difficulty the engineers had to undergo back then in order to give us this camera. I can understand this because I am a designer and engineer,too!

IMG_4969This is the prototype for the Nikon 35ti “Carib”. This is the rugged version of the popular Nikon 35Ti “Pikaichi” camera and is the direct ancestor of today’s Nikon COOLPIX AW130 rugged camera. I am not aware if this went to production or not but it would have been a hit for young and active people who are into extreme sports or simply for moms who like to have a camera to shoot their kids on the beach. This was ahead of it’s time.

Before we forget, thank you very much to Nikon, Nikon Museum (Mr. Iwata) and also to Mr. Goto Tetsuro most specially for spending their Saturday afternoon with us to share and to enlighten us Nikon geeks. All of you are doing us a great service!

Thank you again for reading my blog post! Do share this in social media or around your office and to your friends who love anything Nikon! I am going to be busy next July due to the centennial celebrations of Nikon and covering it for you so please come back here and see what’s up. See you again next time, Ric.

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Maintaining this blog requires money to operate. If you think that this site has helped you or you want to show your support by helping with the upkeep of this site, you can simple make a small donation to my account ( Money is not my prime motivation for this blog and I believe that I have enough to run this but you can help me make this site (and the companion facebook page) grow.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Articles Index | Richard Haw's Classic Nikkor Maintenance Site
  2. 76Bret
    Aug 06, 2017 @ 04:08:11

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