Shopping: Sampo Camera (Meguro)

Hello, everybody! This is the first camera shopping article for 2018! I would like to start it by introducing you to Sampo Camera (三宝カメラ)! I used to visit their shop regularly but I now live a bit too far from their shop so I only go there if I’m in the mood. They are one of the best used camera shops in the business and they carry plenty of good stuff in their shop. Their inventory is also priced competitively by Japanese standards so their prices rival that of the shops in Shinjuku. If you are in the area or just visiting Tokyo then I will recommend that you drop by for a visit. A bonus for people who drive is that they have a parking area beside the shop and you can park there for free if you’re shopping.

IMG_7277This is the store front of Sampo Camera. They moved their shop from across the street. It is a very nice and spacious shop and they even have a space for smokers outside! Check the ashtray and the seats, this is my kind of shop! Pass me the lighter, please. More

Repair: Nikon SP 3/3

Hello, everybody! I’m glad that you have followed me in this series and this is the final part. I will only fix what I needed to do so I apologize if my article didn’t go deep enough but I am sure that this will still be welcome because there is a lack of information on the internet in all things Nikon rangefinder related. Sit back and be entertained by my post.


We’re at the last part of our Nikon SP repair series. Part 1 showed you how to take apart the front and do a quick clean and part 2 showed you how to remove the top panel. This part, we will be dealing with the rangefinder assembly. The Nikon SP can be vulnerable to dirt getting into its optics and this article will show you how to clean it properly.

IMG_4354What a beautiful machine. A clean rangefinder will help you focus properly because you can see the patch properly. The patch on the Nikon SP can be small and fuzzy and that is due to dirt fogging-up the mirrors and lenses of the Nikon SP. More

Repair: Nikkor-T 10.5cm f/4 (F-Mount)

Hello, everybody. I was listening to the Rolling Stones as I’m a big fan of the band. Their music still sounds great today, the grit and the sound never gets old. Mick is literally a geriatric now but boy can he still perform. He has the groove and Keith still has it in him. People call him a “living fossil” because he is still going and there seems to be not end to his energy. I would love to have his vitality at that age. Speaking of living fossils, I will show you a lens today that’s both archaic and old even when it debuted in the early 1960s. It is considered an oddity by many Nikon collectors and some find it obscure. I will walk you through this detailed article, please enjoy this.


We are going to look at the Nikkor-T 10.5cm f4. There is little information on this outside of its history so I hope I can shed some light into this weird lens and its characteristics when used in real-life scenarios. It debuted when the Nikon F was rocking the charts in the early 1960s. There is a rumor that this lens was made for Nikon’s rangefinder cameras but was also repurposed as an F-mount lens to cut cost. It’s hard to confirm it but it is easy to see where that came from. It looks goofy and is more in-line older rangefinder designs than a proper F-mount lens. it is a preset-iris type lens like the Micro-Nikkor 5.5cm f/3.5 and the PC-Nikkor 35mm f/3.5 but unlike those, this doesn’t have a real reason for being a preset-type design. A preset-type lens is where you manually close the iris before shooting since the camera won’t do it for you automatically. Its weird look and the preset-type aperture are the 2 features that define it but there’s another thing and that’s “cheapness”, it’s something that many people overlook. You see, this was designed to be made as cheap as possible. It was a bad marketing decision because people buy Nikkors for their quality. It had a reputation for cheapness that it hurt its own sales and that lead to its very low numbers, making it rare. Fast-forward 60 years and its rarity has made it a collector’s item and the price of this lens has inflated so much that it became a rich man’s toy. Luckily, I was able to purchase one for cheap. It was sold at a much lower price because of the wear and the old owner made a terrible repair job. It was so bad that even the screws did not match. I had to replace them with the ones from my scraps box. Needless to say, it was an expensive junk but it has been one of my dreams to showcase this lens to you.


The Nikkor-T 10.5cm f4 looks very odd. It’s small and thin but it flares at its base so that it can accommodate the wider throat of the F-mount. Despite it being short, the lens can extend almost 3cm when you focus it to its closest focus distance. If you want a small setup for a leisurely stroll around town then this lens is the one to take with you. It also has a weird nickname, the “Mountain Nikkor”. It got that name because people were linking this to the “Mountain Elmar” of Leica which is a lens that shares a few attributes with this one, they are both ugly lenses. It only has 3 elements, it was popular for lens makers to make 3-element lenses (triplets) for the low-end market and these lenses are usually cheap because they only have 3 elements and their construction usually revolved around cost-cutting. This was at a time when Nikon was already known for its quality and performance so this was really a misfit. It hurt Nikon’s reputation so much that they stopped this economy-driven non-sense and only did it again in the 1980s with the Series-E lenses but they never used the “Nikkor” brand this time around. There was even a magazine article with the title “Why Can’t We Sell This Lens” in a Japanese Nikon magazine back then, it detailed its unfortunate sales history and why nobody wanted it back then. The answer was very simple, it had the overall impression of “cheapness”. It felt like it was made by another company and people would just save-up to buy the legendary Nikkor-P 105mm f/2.5 Auto that’s a lot better and more popular with everybody back then. Needless to say, this poor thing was only sold for a short time. Branding is so important and this is just one example.


Repair: Nikon SP 2/3

Hello, everybody! We’re now going to continue 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. Today, we’ll go to the more gritty part, that is the removal of the top panel. This partial overhaul is never going to be complete without opening the top panel, any serious work has to involve it. This article isn’t a complete overhaul article but it’s deep-enough to cover simpler CLA for the Nikon SP. This is just for your entertainment and education so if yours need attention, send it to a technician so that it can properly be repaired. This is not a DIY project for the beginner or even an experience repairer. You have to make sure that the technician you’re sending your camera to is qualified and is of good repute in the camera community. He has to be well-versed in classic Nikon repair, if not then he’s not the right person for the job.


Such a lovely machine with all those chrome dials and engraving. Shooting with this can help you improve your photography skills, it slows you down and think. If you’re really into it and want to go even slower then consider shooting medium format film. Shown here is the Nikkor-P•C 10.5cm f/2.5, it is the perfect partner for the Nikon SP.


Repair: Nikon SP 1/3

Hello, everybody! Have you been to a Burger King lately? I love their food, it is the luxury version of McDonald’s for me. The burgers are grilled and they have better quality, too. They’re juicier, fresher and thicker in my opinion. I always crave for a Whopper whenever I see one of their restaurants. Do you like onion rings with that? Hell, yes. Speaking of luxury, today’s camera was the luxury version of any Japanese camera back in its day. It has set the bar so high that it remained as the king of Japanese rangefinder cameras to this day. Some people will be upset by my last statement but I’m sure that many people will agree with me.


We are going to talk about the awesome Nikon SP today. This is Nikon’s best rangefinder camera, this represented the ultimate development of Nikon’s rangefinder camera system. The Nikon S3 came after this, it’s just a cheaper derivative so a few things were omitted. There were prototypes made that will surpass the Nikon SP but none went into production so we can consider this to be the last of its kind. The rangefinder camera system (35mm format) that had so far dominated the market in the years leading to 1960 was met with a big challenger in the form of the Nikon F and the SLR system quickly overtook rangefinder camera sales until it became the the dominant system in 35mm photography. This spelled the end for the Nikon SP but many still use them well into the 1980s up until today because of its nice handling and reliability. It was then reissued in 2005 together with the W-Nikkor.C 3.5cm f/1.8 as a kit for a limited time. You can find the original or reissued ones for sale online, these are never sold cheap and they’ll appreciate in the coming decades.


The Nikon SP is a very handsome camera and many photographers consider it to be the Cadillac of Nikon’s rangefinder system. This is a fine machine but acquiring one in nice shape can be a bit difficult these days but you can get lucky. They don’t cost as much as Leicas so their prices are still realistic and within-reach for most photographers.


Repair: W-Nikkor•C 2.8cm f/3.5

Hello, everybody! I hope that you’re all doing well despite the coronavirus scare. I’ve never experienced this in my entire life, I do not even recall that the SARS epidemic back then to be this severe. I hope that this thing will go away in the coming months, it’s making people act irrationally and you get news of people panic-buying disinfectants and toilet paper. The only thing this does is frustrate people who actually need them. Toilet paper is now a luxury, it’s something that we took for granted but now that it’s starting to become a valuable commodity we have to make the most of what we have. Speaking of luxury, I will show you something that’s fast-becoming one, it’s not a rare lens at all but the prices of these things are going-up in the used market since collectors and casual shooter are finding that these lenses are superb. These will become scarce in the coming years, too.


The W-Nikkor•C 2.8cm f/3.5 debuted in 1952 and it was considered to be the fastest lens of its class when it came out. At a time when wide-angle lenses for the 35mm film format were as slow as f/6.3 or less, this lens surely made things more interesting. This was based on an old aerial photography lens made by Nikon for the Imperial Japanese Military, it had low distortion and good resolution. It was miniaturized and that became the W-Nikkor•C 2.8cm f/3.5. This is a compact lens, its simple 6-element construction is really small and delicate. I’m sure that Nikon could’ve made this even faster but I do not know what’s keeping them from doing it since there is enough space in the barrel for a bigger objective, your guess is as good as mine.


The W-Nikkor•C 2.8cm f/3.5 is a very compact lens. If you think that this lens looks similar to the W-Nikkor•C 3.5cm f/3.5 then you’re guess is correct. This lens’ barrel was based on the W-Nikkor.C 3.5cm f/3.5 so the handling is very similar between them. It’s easy to mistake one for the other, you can end up bringing the wrong lens with you if you’re not careful.


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