FT3- The Last Of The Nikkormats

I have always been curious about owning a Nikkormat. Always, since I can remember. To me, they represented a great “entry point” into the line of Nikkor lenses, and like the professional F-series, built like tanks, and all metal. One can only assume that “Nikkor”, and “Automatic” were the inspiration for the line, even though there is little to nothing that is automatic about them. In the dawn of SLR photography, “Automatic” meant an automatic diaphragm, and/or automatic mirror return. Otherwise, the camera is completely mechanical, manual exposure, manual focus, manual everything.

The earlier models (FT, FTN, etc) used mercury batteries for the light meter. Yes, of course there are workarounds and options, but I wanted something “easier”, without having to become another science project. The FT3 takes easily purchased silver oxide cells. And, the last of the line, the FT3 offer Automatic Indexing (Ai) coupling to the light meter. Very cool!

The first FT3 I received from KEH, a chrome model, had a few issues with it. The camera looked gorgeous. But, the back would not stay closed. And, the protective eyepiece, which keeps dust out of the prism optics, and makes photographing with glasses or sunglasses easier, was missing. Back to KEH it went for exchange. They replaced it with the less common black model.

FT-3, with accompanying everready case.

FT-3, with accompanying everready case, and mounted with an Ai 50 f/4. No rabbit ears necessary! 

From what I have read, this body had a rather brief run, and while not “rare” by any means, is a lot less common than the beautiful FM which quickly replaced it. A few quirks. The highly accurate, and easy to use light meter, is “upside down”. When you think you are over exposing, you are under exposing. and vice versa. it takes getting used to. The frame counter is gorgeous, and encased in a glass window which magnifies it, and makes it very easy to read. My guess is that Nikon took some cues from companies such as Leica, and used smaller, lighter torque, and less expensive gears for the counter, and gave it this to add a touch of class, while keeping costs down. The camera is indeed a lot of fun. and may have one of the most accurate 35mm light meters I have used, behind maybe only the F3 and FE2.

Here are a few results, Kodak Tri-X, developed in Rodinal 1:35. I love the exposures this camera can produce. Getting the needle to center, at what the camera calculates or guesses to be an accurate exposure, uses the tried and true center-weighted system. It still works, quite nicely. Amazingly, the Nikkormat line was designed for advanced amateurs who could not spring for the large upfront premium to purchase an F, or F2, and as a “backup” body to those two cameras. It was considered a “less expensive” entry to use Nikkor glass. Trust me, there is nothing “cheap” to this camera.

Taken last November in Melrose, MA, across from Hunt's Photo.

Taken last November in Melrose, MA, across from Hunt’s Photo.


Ensign Thomas Lynde plaque, at the entrance to the park. 


Old Water Fountain

I recently had surgery on my right hand, so left handed typing and working the mouse is indeed a challenge. But really want to start blogging again, and sharing more of what I love to do. I will.


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