Repair: Nikkormat FTn part 1

Hello, everybody! I was window-shopping at the watch section of the mall and something caught my eyes – a Seiko-5. The Seiko-5 movement is reliable and tough, it’s easy to fix so it’s not hard to see decades-old samples still working like they were new. It’s familiar to a lot of watch repairers because it sold very well and parts are easy to obtain. The bad side of this if you can call it that is they don’t hold value very well unless it’s special or rare. It is easy to find one for less than $100 used (and new!) so they’re popular for people who’s budget dictates what they wear. While we’re on the tangeant of cheap and reliable, I will share with you a camera that I believe has the same qualities as the Seiko-5 and it is one of the classic Nikons that every collector or Nikon user should have – the Nikkormat FTn.


The Nikkormat FTn is the most common Nikkormat variant you will ever encounter. This is probably the most successful one in terms of units produced and it’s not hard to figure out why because the Nikkormat FTn is a wel-rounded camera that’s still relevant today. It was developed from the earlier Nikkormat FT which is a good camera but it added things that made the original camera even better in terms of handling. Both models have built-in TTL meters that have an average 60/40 metering pattern that’s standard with Nikons. I also love how you can the meter’s needle without looking-through the eyepiece since it’s also visible at the top part of the camera. This makes it easy to measure your exposure so you don’t have to look like a creep pointing your camera at your subjects just to see if the exposure is right. It also has a handy mirror-up switch so you don’t have to waste a single exposure (like on the Nikon F) just to flip the damn mirror up. A self-time is also standard and you also have a useful DOF preview plunger for stop-down metering and checking if the DOF is right. You even get an auto-resetting film counter! I know that all these sound trivial today but they were considered to be premium back then.

IMG_1167The Nikkormat FTn’s are the cheapest Nikkormats you can get these days because they’re the most common type and as a consequence their value is highly depreciated. They also use the old 1.35v mercury cell batteries that are not made anymore these days and this is also another factor for their cheap price. The ones that were sold domestically (Japan) all use the Nikomat trade-name instead of Nikkormat but they’re basically the same. More


Repair: Nikon FE

Hello, everybody! I just got back from a trip from the ¥100 shop, it’s Japan’s version of a dollar shop and you can buy just about anything you need here for your daily needs. The products are cheap and flimsy but for people who have other priorities or those who are constrained by budget, these shops offer a means of survival in an expensive place such as Tokyo. We’re simple people with simple needs and so these shops are more than OK to help with easing the burden of upkeep. Some of the products offer great value and you’re not going to find anything better in a more expensive shop. I sometimes get my tools and equipment from these shops and many of them have served me very well. While we are on the topic of being cheap, I will show you a camera today that offers great value today, they are cheap not because they’re bad but mainly because they’re old and some people prefer cameras with different sets of features and specs. This is the perfect choice for art student who can’t afford much or a traveler who wants a capable camera to bring along with them on a trip but don’t want to bring their expensive cameras with them. Read my article to find out what this is.


The Nikon FE was released around 1978, roughly a year after the Nikon FM debuted. The Nikon FE shares many similarities with its mechanical sibling so accessories can be used with either models. Both cameras replace the popular mechanical Nikkormats as well as the all-electronic Nikkormat EL series in their respective categories. Both are smaller and lighter, built with newer technology, used newer materials and have better handling. The Nikon FE sold decently but the Nikon FM sold better because it’s all-mechanical and you’ll only need batteries to operate its meter. People didn’t trust electronic cameras those days but the Nikon FE proved to be a reliable machine and many can still be found today for a nice price and they still work as reliably as the day they were sold. Fewer moving parts means less things that can go wrong due to mechanical failure but the flip-side of this is you will need batteries to operate the Nikon FE or you’re going to be stuck with its 1/90s mechanical back-up speed that will let you fire the shutter even when you don’t have any batteries in the camera, this gives you a certain insurance in case things go wrong.

IMG_0735The Nikon FE has a beautiful silhouette that it inherits from the Nikon FM. Its design is its biggest asset because everything just makes sense once you hold the camera yourself. It’s also worth noting that it has a retractable Ai-coupling tab so you can use pre-Ai lenses if you choose to and meter with it using stopped-down metering. This is the only reason to choose the Nikon FE over its successor, the Nikon FE2. More

Repair: Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Series-E

Hello, everybody! Me and the family just had a Korean dinner at Daruma, one of the best shops for Japanese-style Korean food in Nakano. It’s not the cheapest shop around but it offers the best value when it comes to selection and quality. There are several shops near it that serve similar things for a bit less but this shop is hard-to-beat so we keep on going back to that place when we have the chance. Other shops may have better reviews on the food review sites or may have better/cleaner location but they’re all just hype and you’ll soon realize it as soon as the food is served before you. Some people probably just don’t know the difference or is ignorant about this shop so they thought that they had a decent deal when in fact they just got ripped-off. This also applies to photography gear and there are plenty of examples of a hyped product and I will show you one now.


The Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Series-E lens is very popular. It was made to be cheap so it carries the Series-E brand instead of the Nikkor name. Series-E lenses are basically Nikon lenses that were made with cost-cutting in mind while retaining acceptable performance and a decent build quality. Cost-cutting come in the form of using plastics instead of alloys and simplification of parts. The optics were also sometimes tweaked to give the impression of sharpness and contrast wide-open at the expense of other important but subtle factors. It will attract the attention of beginners but more experienced photographers will know if something is missing. The good news is this lens is one of the few Series-E lenses that did not have the optics watered-down in order to make it cheaper. This lens shares the same optical formula as the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 Ai-Sa lens that has a great reputation amongst the photography community for being sharp, small and well-rounded. This makes this a great lens because you get the same performance of the more expensive model for much less. That was generally true until the internet hyped this lens so much that you can buy the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 Ai-S at times for a bit less than this lens. It used to cost about half so buying this lens had a purpose but that line has been blurred today and I will explain everything to you in the introduction and the repair section so you can compare what’s inside this lens and the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 Ai-S.

IMG_0147The lens is small and can be considered one of Nikon’s smallest and lightest lenses ever. I personally prefer the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 Ai-S because it’s more durable and it feels better in my hands but I certainly won’t mind bringing this one out with me at all. In this photo, it’s mated to the Nikon EM. The Series-E lenses were made for the Nikon EM so Nikon can have a cheap line of lenses to sell to budget-conscious consumers. Produced from 1979 to around 1985, it has a moderate production life and is considered to be a successful lens. I am sure that this lens sold very well considering how common it is to find these.