Repair: Checking Nikkormats

Hello, everybody! I’m tired from work and it’s getting so damn cold now here in Tokyo! I was sick last week from fatigue and I’m recuperating. I have managed to muster enough strength to make a video on how to check Nikkormats (Nikomat here in Japan) for faults and some simple solutions that you can do on your own. Please pardon my speech in the video as I’m tired and it’s almost past my bedtime. And no, I’m not drunk this time like in the previous video from a couple of months ago. I am sober this time, I promise.

IMG_1167.JPGNikkormats are great cameras. They’re tougher than the Nikon F series in most cases and they’re a joy to use. The key to their toughness is their simplicity and the reliable Copal-S (Square) shutter used in them. They’re heavy and when properly cared for will last more than a lifetime. I would even say that they are tougher than the Pentax Spotmatics that’s known to be tough so that’s saying a lot about this humble camera. The Nikkormats are the predecessors of the great Nikon FM/FE family of reliable cameras made for amateurs and professionals alike. They share many similarities and you can see the pedigree.Nikkormats were made for the amateur market but their reliability and performance has earned it the respect of professionals and many pros used these as backup cameras. You can hear many stories about how tough this camera is from many photographers like the time when a Nikkormat fell from the edge of a cliff and lost its shutter plunger and it was replaced with a toothpick and it was left in that state for 2 decades and the camera kept on working as it did. I forgot who told me this so if you’re reading this, please raise your hand. They are easy to repair as well if you know what you’re doing and since they’re not expensive you can get one for little money and use it to swap parts when needed. I have rebuilt 2 Nikkormats in this manner and they’re both very reliable.

In this video, I will show you how to check any problems and some solutions for the lazy photographer. I will also show you some fundamental differences between the popular mechanical variants of the Nikkormats. The video is long so please bear with me.

The video isn’t enough to show what I usually do to service a Nikkormat for my personal use so I will be making a couple of companion articles after this when I have the time. It is also worth reading my article on how to replace foam seals and how to check cameras found on the junk shop for added information because much of what’s mentioned there are also relevant to this article. These are very important information for the potential Nikkormat owner so I hope that these will help you weed-out the bad ones from the ones that are worth saving. To make things short, make sure that the shutter is good and that the electronics are still working. If the viewfinder is dirty inside then you will need more time and skill just to clean that because there’s no other way around it but to open it up just to access the viewfinder assembly and it can get delicate once you get to that stage.

IMG_1197.JPGThis is not even half of what you need to do just to remove the junk in the screen. If your Nikkormat has a dirty screen then just forget about it unless you want to pay a pro just to clean that up or do it yourself if you have the proper tools. This is not an easy task!

Thank you for supporting my blog and as always, if you enjoyed this post please share it with your friends! Our community is growing and it’s all thanks to you! We started small but we are getting bigger and bigger! I aim to make this the best Nikon-related repair and “infotainment” site and we are getting close to it month-after-month. See you guys again and I’m sorry for the poor video quality and the ads on my site. The ads help pay for the majority of the blog’s overhead like hosting and storage so I can’t do much about them. If you do get those annoying ones that automatically play or show inappropriate content or the ones that generate pop-ups then please get a screen shot and send it to me so I can do a formal complaint to WordPress. This is unacceptable and if this continues then we will have to look for another platform to host our blog. You are the reason why this blog and community is where it’s at now and that matters more to me. It’s going to be a pain just to migrate and we may have some downtime but if that’s what’s needed then we’ll have to go that route. Thank you guys again and see you in the next blog post, 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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Helping support this site will ensure that this will be kept going as long as I have the time and energy for this. I would appreciate it if you just leave out your name or details like your country and other information so that the donations will totally be anonymous it is at all possible. This is a labor of love and I intend to keep it that way for as long as I can. Ric.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. retrocrank
    Feb 06, 2018 @ 18:13:04

    Without getting into the long story, my FTn (which I’ve had since new in ’74) suffered an injury to the matte black piece that connects the bayonet mount to the camera body. The casting cracked where the two bottom screws fasten the piece to the body – the upper two are OK. But there was enough distortion with this that I couldn’t get infinity focus. Bolstered by confidence inspired by your writing, I was able to use a high-quality epoxy to repair the piece, and have re-assembled the camera, and now it works fine.
    But I’ve purchased a non-functioning FTn from which I plan to harvest the part to replace the broken/repaired part in my camera. To do this it looks like I will have to de-solder the green wire from the copper ring on that part, and re-solder it onto the new piece. Is this as straightforward as it appears?
    thank you.


    • richardhaw
      Feb 10, 2018 @ 00:59:10

      if it’s the main chassis, i would just buy another Nikkormat and use that one instead. they are cheap anyway. the eletricals are simple so it shouldnt matter but you will need to calibrate it again.


  2. retrocrank
    Feb 12, 2018 @ 21:46:30

    some followup – The casting is the piece that connects the bayonet to the main chassis. I bought a set of Vessel tools and took my time and got it all done. The biggest hurdle was figuring out how to reassemble so everything goes together and works correctly. The soldering was a fiddle but do-able. I checked the light meter against my F3 and a Gossen Luna Pro, and it’s all in agreement. thanks.


  3. Juan Manuel
    Mar 23, 2018 @ 20:36:01

    Hello, I need to replace the focus screen of my nikkormat ft2, could you sell me a spare one and send it to Argentina? or in any case, would you tell me where I can get it? From already thank you very much!


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