Lomopedia: Nikon S3

Nikon knows more than a thing or two about making rangefinder cameras. Case in point, their S3 rangefinder is still coveted by a lot of collectors for its timeless appeal and great selling value. The camera company merged good quality build and beautiful design into one neat package.

Nikon S3 © Neal Wellons via Flickr, Image used under Creative Commons license

The Nikon S3 was a 35 mm rangefinder introduced to the market in 1958. Six decades later, it’s still a good choice for photographers who are looking for a dependable camera. The S3 is fully mechanical that is a certified performer in every aspect. It's reliable, durable, and has noteworthy features. Regardless of its age, the S3 still fares quite well when compared with more modern cameras. The shutter is commended for its smooth operation and its viewfinder offers 100% magnification and has three bright frame lines for better composition.

Image quality is also one of the S3’s strong suits. Its Nikkor-S 50 mm f/1.4 lens captures clear and crisp images with good color reproduction. It uses the Nikon S bayonet mount which makes it compatible with a lot of good Nikon rangefinder lenses (consequentially the Nikon S3 can also use Contax lenses).

Styling is also something that the S3 can boast about. The version from 1958 sports a classic chrome finish and rich leather wraps. It has decently sized control knobs, making changes in configuration quite easy (settings are easy to access since the controls are well placed). Nikon also released a newer version of the S3 in February of 2000. Both versions are almost identical save for a few things like color, serial numbers, and the number of units released. Only 2000 units of the special edition Nikon S3 were produced, making it quite a rare piece.

Technical Specifications:

Film: 35 mm
Lens: Nikkor-S 50 mm f/1.4
Lens Mount: Nikon S bayonet mount
Viewfinder: 1.00x magnification, no parallax correction, fixed frames for 35 mm, 50 mm, 105 mm
Rangefinder: 60.5 mm actual and effective
Shutter: Horizontal focal-plane
Shutter Material: 1957-1958 Habutae silk, 1959-1962 titanium foil, 2000 rubberized silk
Shutter Speed: 1-1000th of a second, Time, Bulb
Self-timer: 3 to 10 seconds
Film Advance: single or multiple strokes
Weight: 590 g without film or strap lugs


All information used in this article was sourced from Ken Rockwell, Camera Quest, and Wikipedia.

written by cheeo on 2018-07-24 #gear #35mm #rangefinder #camera #gear #lomopedia #nikon-s3

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