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


Repair: Nikkormat FTn part 2

Hello, everybody! It’s getting cold now and the walls can get moist at times due to water droplets forming due to precipitation. While the air is generally dry around this time, it’s easy for fungus to form because of the said water droplets. You won’t know what’s there until you remove the furniture and see what’s under it. The same thing goes for cameras and clocks and I will show you once such camera today.


We’ll continue with our Nikkormat FTn series with this article. In part 1, we saw how the steps on how to remove the top cover properly. In this part, I’ll show you around what is inside of the top cover. Most, if not all Nikkormats require some work here so this is very important. There are a few articles online outlining what’s going on here but here’s what I do and I hope that I will make a better article.

IMG_1197Yuck, this is not my idea of a white Christmas! The good thing is it’s localized to this thing only and the other important things seem OK. More

Repair: Nikkor 35mm f/2.8 Ai-S

Hello, everybody! It’s going to be Christmas in a few days and I still haven’t received any fruitcakes! I used to get these back home and while many people don’t want one because they’re boring, I enjoy my fruitcakes for what they are. They are gifts that were given by friends and they last very long, too. A good fruitcake tastes just as good as any expensive and fancy cake from the fancy bakers and this just goes to show that they are not bad at all and can prove to be very enjoyable specially if they’re still moist. Still talking about fruitcakes and how many people find it boring, I will show you a Nikkor that many find boring but it has a certain appeal to it for people who love it and just like real fruitcakes, this lens is tough and will last a long time when serviced well. Read my article to see what this is.


The Nikkor 35mm f/2.8 Ai-S is an update of the Nikkor 35mm f/2.8 Ai and it retains the old lens’ optical design of 5-in-5 (5 elements/5 groups). The barrel has been updated to give it a new look as well as making it Ai-S compatible. It has a decent run from 1981-1989 so it’s considered a moderate success. It’s price made it popular for students and people who’s budget dictates what they buy. It’s great for most things and being Ai-S, it can work in all automatic modes with newer Nikons that provide the standard PSAM exposure modes. It also has a more modern construction so less materials were used to make it and it uses a more clever construction so some parts were optimized. This makes it less rugged when you compare it to the older lenses in its family but it’s still a solid lens compared to what we’re used to seeing these days.

IMG_8920The lens is the last iteration of the 35/2.8 lens family that began in 1959 when the Nikon F was introduced. It carried-on the spirit of this lens family to the ’80s and made it relevant in a time when people were used to faster 35mm lenses. Its light and compact design is a good selling-point for photographers who don’t want to bring anything heavy and f/2.8 is still decently-fast and should be adequate for most jobs. What ultimately killed this lens is probably the introduction of the AF-Nikkor 35mm f/2 which is just as small but is much faster at f/2 and it can also autofocus. Some will prefer manual focus lenses (like me) but the rage in those days was autofocus, very much the same way as VR today.


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.


Repair: Nikon FM2n

Hello, everybody! We bought some pearl shakes from a shack this afternoon because the little one likes it a lot. This tapioca and tea drink originated from Taiwan but you can see them everywhere across asia these days. I also heard that they’re quite popular in other regions and it’s young people who consume them the most these days. I can consider the humble tapioca tea to be a classic in this regard since it has remained almost unchanged and people still buy them to this day. The only things that changed so far is the inclusion of tapioca balls and flavoring. You now get to choose from a wide spectrum of flavors like fruits, chocolate, dairy, vegetables and other things. This makes the whole thing complete unlike the original ones which were basically just based on tapioca. Today, I’ll introduce to you a camera that many considered to be near-perfect but Nikon pushed the limits and gave us a masterpiece that has endured the test of time.


The Nikon FM2n is one of Nikon’s longest-selling cameras. It was introduced in 1983 as an update to the very popular Nikon FM2 and the differences are subtle but important. The flash sync is now 1/250s, an improved mirror box assembly was also installed and a new type of focusing screen replaced the older (dimmer) one and a host of other changes that are too minor to point out but improves the handling and reliability of the older design. I love this camera a lot and it’s easy to see why this camera became one of the best designs that ever came out of Japan. You can still find professional photographers today using it as a “hobby camera” and kids these days prefer using these over other models because it has a “modern” feel despite being a true manual camera. Its popularity is also its curse as these are often sold at inflated prices and are usually priced as much as a Nikon F3 for a nice sample with minimal surface blemishes and no defects. I was lucky to find one for a decent price, sold by a friend to me. It wasn’t in perfect shape but it is working properly and there aren’t any serious defects that needs to be repaired, all it needed is a thorough cleaning and changing of all of its foam seals and dampers. I will outline what I did here in this blog and I hope that this will help you see what’s inside of this camera.

IMG_2412The Nikon FM2n’s lines are simple and elegant. It’s a robust little camera that was mostly made using brass and aluminium alloys but some of the details and fittings were made of plastic. This is a departure from the Nikon Nikkormat series where it derived from since the Nikon Nikkormat cameras has nearly no plastic parts that you can find externally. It’s a small sacrifice to make since the new cameras are much smaller and lighter so they’re going to be better as all-day carry cameras since your neck won’t get as stressed.


Previous Older Entries