Mod: Converting Gadgets to Use 1.5v Batteries

Hello, everybody! I am in the process of fixing the pipeline of our studio at the moment. I am spending many hours evaluating and creating new tools for our artists and throwing away what the previous guy did. He basically made everything too-complicated and now he can’t fix it himself and so he had to quit! Making something more complicated so that only you know how to fix it can backfire, too. Instead of giving him job security, it made things more difficult for him and everybody else so the company is losing millions of yen in wasted time and missed-schedules. Being a tinker, I am used to seeing what others did and how and where things can be improved or fixed. Today, I’m going to show you a little mod that you can do to save yourself some money.


Many useful photography gadgets like light meters, cameras, etc that were made several decades ago all share something in common that limits their use today – the use of an old battery type that has a different size, voltage and chemistry to mainstream batteries that you can buy today. These are the old mercury-type cells that went out-of-fashion around the late 1980s. It was a very good battery type because the power drop-off is steep so this will allow it to function near its nominal voltage for longer until it exhausts itself. Newer ones that use different chemistry has a smoother fall-off curve so they’ll emit lower and lower voltage gradually until they die. This leads to erratic operation like inaccurate and intermitent operation. The call for greener batteries resulted in the end for this because it has a scary-sounding name and so these batteries are now scarce. Sure, you can buy a few alternatives like the Wein cell but they’re not cheap at all and they usually die within a few months whether you use it or not. Hearing aid batteries share similar dimensions but the voltage is different and they can be hard-to-obtain in an emergency. The best way I know of is use the common and cheap 1.5v batteries and modify your gadget so they’ll work with them with as little fuss as possible. This is a popular mod that any people do, I am sure that you have seen or heard this done somewhere, I personally learned about it some time ago in the 1990s when these batteries are beginning to become scarce.

img_1116You will have to open your gadget just like what you see in this picture. It looks scary but it’s one of the easiest things you can do if you’re an intermediate-level repairer. This is an old Sekonic Apex light meter, it’s one of my favorite meters because it’s easy-to-use and it is still reasonably-accurate in everything but poor lighting conditions where light ratios and other things may affect its performance. The only thing that I hate about it is it uses the older 625/MR-9 mercury-cells. Somebody stole my trusty Sekonic L-308 that I’ve been using for many years and so I had to bring this old meter back from retirement.


Repair: Nikkorex F part 2

Hello, everybody! How are you today? I am busy today and my head is painful but I have to write something for you today. I am currently busy with work so I cannot maintain the blog like how I used to and it doesn’t make any sense for me to do so I will be writing less than usual from now on but I will keep this blog online as much as I can. Now, for more light-hearted news, I will continue with our Nikkorex F series today in this article so read it to know more aout what’s going on inside this little camera.


In part 1, we talked about how to clean the camera inside-and-out. While we will only do minimal cleaning and lubrication, it’s enough to make this camera work again and it’s a good exercise for those who wanted to get into camera repair as these cameras are cheap and simple to take-apart. In this part, we’ll go deeper and work on the mirror box. This is a common problem with many older cameras because the lubricants may have dried up or the wrong type of oil or grease was used by anybody who opened the camera before. I had to dig-deep into this camera to extract the mirror box in order to clean and oil it but it’s still relatively easy compared to the Nikkormat series of cameras.

img_5243Here’s the camera with the Nikkor-P 10.5cm f/1.25 Auto, it’s the “tick-mark” version of this lens and it makes a good partner for the Nikkorex F because both of them represent early Nikon F-mount products. While the lens is certainly of a slightly-older vintage this combo is still representative of that exciting era in 35mm photography history when the Nikon F showed the world what’s possible with the “small” format. More

Repair: Nikkorex F part 1

Hello, everybody! I don’t know if all of my readers are aware that I work for the Japanese animation industry. I am currently working on the latest season of “Ghost in the Shell” so I am currently busy with so many things that I cannot publish a lot these days. It’s a show with characters who had their consciousness “downloaded” to synthetic / robotic bodies. While they’re actually “people”, they’re not “humans” in the true sense of the word. This makes us question what it really means to be “human”. If you ask people who grew up in the New Wave era like me, my answer will be The Human League song and its lyrics! This may sound too simplistic but the chorus goes like “I’m only human, of flesh and blood I’m made.” and then it goes “Human. Born to make mistakes…” – this is where things get more profound. The last line of the female part goes “While we were apart, I was human, too.“, this line is the most powerful line in the song, it cements the idea that making mistakes is part of the whole package of being “human”. Before I get carried-away and sound like an old man contemplating about life I’ll show you something today that makes you question what it means to be a “Nikon” and how mistakes from its marketing and experience gave Nikon a lot of valuable lessons that they used to make one of their best cameras, read on.


Today, I will talk about the Nikkorex F, it’s a camera that’s not being talked much about in many photography circles and many people are even ignorant of this camera. This is not a rare camera at all so its vagueness cannot come from its rarity, the reason probably lie in the fact that many people don’t consider this to be a real “Nikon” at all! Yes, this wasn’t made by Nikon but it carries the Nippon Kogaku brand so who made this and why? Well, the answer to the first question is Mamiya made it, the answer to the next question is the need to make a cheaper F-mount camera to sell along with the expensive Nikon F so that people will buy more Nikkors to use with their new “budget F“. Who proposed this idea is not really clear but one thing is sure, the late Joe Ehrenreich distributed both Nikon and Mamiya in America so he probably had a hand in this decision and so the Nikkorex F was unveiled in 1962, the 2nd F-mount camera to be ever sold!

img_3464The Nikkorex F is a solid camera despite feeling “hollow” in your hands and not as dense as true Nikons tend to be. This is due to the numerous cost-cutting decisions so materials and assembly had to be compromised in some ways. It actually feels much like a Canon 7 or a Yashica to be honest, solid cameras that feel like a tin toys due to cheaper materials and simpler construction. You’ll definitely feel that this isn’t a “Nikon” right away. More