Repair: Nikon SP 2/3

Hello, everybody! We’re now going to begin part 2 of our Nikon SP repair series. In part 1 we discussed how to open up the front part of the Nikon SP and also how to clean and do some minor calibration of the things that you can access there. In this part, we will go to the more gritty part and that’s the removal of the top panel. Our partial overhaul of the Nikon SP is not going to be complete without opening the top panel and any serious work has to involve removing the top panel. This article is not a complete overhaul article but it’s deep enough to cover general CLA for the Nikon SP. Remember, this article is just for your entertainment and education and if yours need attention, send it to a technician so that it can properly be repaired. This is not a DIY kind of thing for the beginner!

IMG_4327.JPGSuch a lovely machine with all those chrome, dials and engraving. Shooting with this can help you improve your photography skills because it slows you down and think. If you’re really into it and want to go even slower then consider shooting medium format film!

My Nikon SP was a junk. I fixed most of the important things in part 1 but I cannot leave the viewfinders riddled with fungi. This required me to open the camera even further so I can reach the intricate mechanisms inside and clean them. I also lubricated some of the parts found on the film advance mechanism and that helped smooth the operation a bit. It’s far from like-new condition but it’s certainly much better than how I got it.

This part require that you have special tools to open things. If you don’t have those then I recommend that you purchase or make them first before you proceed. I’ll show you what I used and how I made them (if possible). Camera repair is in a different league and lens repair is so easy compared to fixing these. Small mistakes can become costly and end up being frustrating. Like I mentioned in my previous blog post, I will never attempt doing this without a guide. I have an excellent Japanese repair manual and that is what helped me get through this project. If you understand where I’m coming from then let’s begin!

Before We Begin:

If this is the first attempt at opening a lens then I suggest that you read my previous posts regarding screws & driversgrease and other things. Also read regarding the tools that you will need in order to fix your Nikkors.

I highly suggest that you read these primers before you begin (for beginners):

Reading these primers should lessen the chance of ruining your lens if you are a beginner. Also before opening up any lens, always look for other people who have done so in Youtube and the internet. Information is scarce, vague and scattered (that is why I started this) but you can still find some information if you search carefully.

I highly recommend that you also read my working with helicoids post because this is very important and getting it wrong can ruin your day. If I can force you to read this, I would. It is that important!

For more advanced topics, you can read my fungus removal post as a start. This post has a lot of useful information here and there and it will be beneficial for you to read this.


Before you begin, make sure that you have an organizer. I use a pills organizer and they are perfect because they come with small cells and I can put my screws and other small parts in each cell to correspond to each step. Remember, this is a camera, it’s a precision equipment and the screws will never be the same for every assembly. Some may appear to be similar but on closer inspection, they’re just a few tenths of a millimeter shorter! It is very important that you keep notes and organize your screws to keep track of things.

Again, make sure that you use the proper drivers and you will need several ones. If you haven’t read part 1, I talked about how important having the correct drivers are so read it before you begin. Please do not simply browse through my pictures and assume that it is easy. Read my commentaries even if they are repetitive or boring.

IMG_4274To remove the A/R ring, you will need to remove a tiny set screw that can be accessed by turning the A/R ring until the set screw is visible through a small hole. Use a small driver to unscrew that little set screw and set it aside. Let’s now go to the next step.

IMG_4275That screw that we just removed in the previous step secures the A/R ring’s cover. It has to be removed by using a special tool. Read my article about the DIY A/R Ring Opener and find out how to make and use one. Alternatively, a DIY Pipe Key Alternative is also a good tool to use. Whichever tool you ended up using should be OK so long as you don’t scar the surface of the cover. Remember, all you want is to loosen the cover with these tools. You then unscrew it by using a needle or a pin. You also retighten the cover with the very tool that you have used to open it. There’s no need to apply glue or lacquer to secure this.

IMG_4276We can now safely remove the A/R ring (or crown) and its cover. You can also remove the plunger button at this point if you wish but I’m leaving it there for now.

IMG_4277Next is the frame counter’s housing. I’m not sure if there are 3 set screws here but they’ll have to be removed in order for you to lift away the housing.

IMG_4278The housing comes off just like this. The window for the frame counter is just glued on to the inner surface of the housing so be careful not to push it off.

IMG_4279The frame count selector can be carefully removed using your fingernails. These are just indicators for your film capacity and they aren’t connected to any mechanism.

IMG_4280Ok, I think I should remove the plunger now before I lose it! Remember that it has a key underneath it that should fit into a square slot on the plunger’s mechanism.

IMG_4281This collar can be safely removed with just your fingers. It’s basically just a spacer so the housing doesn’t press on the film count selector.

IMG_4282This protective ring can be easily removed by lifting it with your fingernail and carefully removing it with your fingers. They cover the screws underneath so don’t look unsightly. Remember which way should face up by the way and also take good care of this thing.

IMG_4283The film advance lever is being secured by these 3 screws. You should carefully remove them in order to proceed. These are made of brass so be careful not to damage them.

IMG_4284The film advance lever can now be safely removed. These aren’t solid like the ones found on the Nikon F and they can easily be bent. I actually find these to be flimsy so be careful.

IMG_4285This brass collar can now be safely removed. If yours is stuck, make sure that they aren’t engaging the film advance mechanism. If they are, just turn them counter-clockwise and they should be free. Be careful putting these back because the flanges that take them can be flimsy and easily bent since they are made of brass.

IMG_4286You can finally get to this retention collar. These can be tricky to remove and you’ll need a proper pipe key for these. I personally don’t want to risk ruining the surrounding metal part of the top panel so I avoid using shortcuts but if you really must you can also utilize the pipe key alternative that I showed you a few steps back.

IMG_4287And here it is. These can be difficult to put back and you should also be very careful with how it has meshed with the thread on the film advance mechanism. Make sure that it is seated properly and not at an angle before you retighten it or you’ll strip the threads!

IMG_4288Carefully remove this screw to open the shutter speed dial. Make sure that you don’t scar the dial with your driver.

IMG_4289The dial can then be safely removed just like this. The paint can easily be rubbed-off and I will caution you against scrubbing it with a toothbrush. I washed mine with some soap and warm water and then scrub it with a soft paint brush until the dirt came off.

IMG_4290Carefully remove this spring and make sure you take note of its orientation.

IMG_4291When the screw hole is at this position, it’s  in the time (T) mode.

IMG_4292To set a standard, I always set my speed to bulb (B) when I remove the shutter speed dial or when I’m going to separate an assembly that’s connected to the shutter assembly. This is the position for bulb, always remember it.

IMG_4293The shutter speed dial’s crown can then be safely lifted off from the camera.

IMG_4294The contact terminal can be removed by using a friction wrench. If you don’t have it you can fabricate one yourself. A cheap alternative is to cover the tips of a pair of long-nosed pliers with some rubber tubing for aquarium aerators. Be careful with those as they can scratch the metal of you slip. The key to using these is you only loosen them with the tool and the continue unscrewing them with your fingers until they come off.

IMG_4295And out it goes. Be careful not to damage the plastic insulation because they crack easily.

IMG_4296Removing the winder crank is easy. Just slip a wooden peg into the fork to jam it and you can turn the crank until it unscrews.

IMG_4297Don’t force it if it doesn’t move or else you will do some irreversible harm to the sprocket and this is one of the weaker points of the Nikon SP as you will soon see why on part 3 of this article (it uses a bypass system). The rewind crank is a very elegant work of art.

IMG_4298This is the frame line selector dial and it can be removed by unscrewing these 2.

IMG_4299The frame line selector dial is adjustable as evident by the elongated holes. Later when it is time to put things back together, you will have to adjust the dial to accurately match its frame lines while peeking into the viewfinder and it should match the arrow indicator in the top panel. If it is off by a bit then just nudge it and tighten its screws when it’s OK.

IMG_4300Under the dial are 2 more screws. These screws are the last things that secure the whole top panel to the camera. You’re almost there, well done!

IMG_4301Congratulations! You have just removed the top panel! It’s a lot of effort but it’s all worth it! Admire the engineering that went into this masterpiece and witness how the Japanese camera manufacturers overtook their foreign rivals in camera manufacturing! I’m never going to get tired at looking at the insides of the Nikon SP because it’s such a work of art!

That’s all for the top panel. If you think that it’s too much hassle just to remove the panel then I have succeeded in scaring you. I don’t want to give people the impression that the work I do is easy and that everybody else can make it. Truth be told, I screw up always. I spend plenty of money making mistakes in the hopes that you don’t make the same thing as I did and flood the market with badly-repaired equipment. Again, send it to a repairer! Just make sure that he is competent or else he won’t be doing a better job than me.


We have now removed the top panel. Any serious repair will have to start with removing the top panel or at least involve removing it. It protects the sensitive mechanisms of the Nikon SP such as the rangefinder assembly and film advance mechanisms.

IMG_4302.JPGHere is a preview of part 3. Just look at how complicated it can get. See how cramped the inside of the Nikon SP is? There is practically no wasted space in this camera! If you look at the Canon 7 that came about 4 years after the Nikon SP, it basically rivaled this camera in almost every aspect but it is a much bigger camera. Achieving this in such a small and compact form is most impressive!

I hope that you have enjoyed this blog post and see you guys again in part 3! Thanks a lot for the support and I always strive to give you the best that I can. Until next time, Ric.

Help Support this Blog:

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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Thank you very much for your continued support!


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.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Repair: Nikon SP 3/3 | Richard Haw's Nikon Maintenance Site
  2. Trackback: Repair: Nikon SP 1/3 | Richard Haw's Nikon Maintenance Site

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