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Lomopedia: Nikon SP

Touted as Nikon's first professional camera, the Nikon SP was one of the most impressive rangefinder cameras one could ever have back in the days. Still, it remains a wonderfully functional and luxurious rangefinder that works smoother and quieter than today's SLR and DSLR cameras.

Photo by Ken Rockwell

Introduced by Nikon in 1957, the 35mm interchangeable lens Nikon SP was the culmination of the camera maker’s rangefinder development, which began with the Nikon I in 1948. The professional-level Nikon SP remains a notable beauty for its landmark features. It has dual viewfinders with precise frame lines that allow a total of six focal lengths (28 mm, 35 mm, 50 mm, 85 mm, 105 mm, and 135 mm). The viewfinder/rangefinder window is also optically neutral, which means the photographer can keep both eyes open even when peering through it.

The SP also achieved many firsts that made it a camera ahead of its time. It was the first Nikon camera with a self-timer, the first rangefinder camera to have a built-in 28mm viewfinder, the first 35mm camera to have titanium shutter curtains (equipped during the last half of its production; this was later carried over to the Nikon F), the first rangefinder system to accommodate a macro lens (50mm f/3.5 Micro-Nikkor), and the first rangefinder to have motorized film advance (when equipped with an S-36 motor drive). Rangefinder fans and camera enthusiasts have also noted that the Nikon SP operates smoother and quieter compared to today’s SLR and DSLR cameras.

Photo by Cameraquest

In January 2005, Nikon announced the production of the Black SP with 35mm f/1.8 lens, a gorgeous collector’s favorite. Only 2500 units were made and sold solely for the Japanese market, and were sold out at the factory in May 2005.

Technical Specifications:

  • Shutter: Horizontal running rubberized silk fabric curtain type focal plain shutter
  • Shutter speeds: T, B and 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500 and 1/1000 seconds (regular interval graduation)
  • Lens Mount: Nikon S bayonet lens mount
  • Range marker: M inscription (XXINF – 0.9)
  • Self-timer: Connect time variable system (the graduation of 3, 6 and 10 seconds it is attached)
  • PC socket: Time lag variable system, it aligns the synchronizer socket attachment and the speed light/write in 1/60 seconds less than
  • Finder: Rangefinder type fixed 1x magnification finder (wide angle finder for 28 mm and 35 mm finder)
  • Framelines: Auxiliary window: 28 mm, 35 mm; Main window (parallax corrected): 50 mm, 85 mm, 105 mm and 135 mm
  • Film wind: Hand operated lever system, 136 degree revolution (multiple winds possible), with 15 degree extra withdrawal angles
  • Film rewind: Manual Crank system
  • Film: 135 Film (35 mm film) with 36 mm × 24 mm image size

All information for this article were sourced from Wikipedia, Ken Rockwell, Cameraquest, and Sheldon Brown.

written by plasticpopsicle

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