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Nikon RF This forum is dedicated to Nikon Rangefinders: the Nikon One, Nikon M, Nikon S, Nikon S2, Nikon SP, Nikon S3, Nikon S4, and Nikon S3M, Nikon S3 2000, Nikon SP 2005. Plus the ONLY production camera ever made in Nikon Rangefinder mount WITH TTL metering ... the Voigtlander Bessa R2S.

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Old 01-28-2017   #81
Larry Cloetta
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steveyork View Post
It was obviously a relative statement. Just search this forum. You'll find more then a few threads on how to fix the lousy contrast of Nikon rangefinders. That seems to be a common issue with these cameras, and it mirrors my experience with the half dozen cameras I've had through my hands.
I may be detecting a lack of total love here. And reading through this thread on Nikon rangefinders puts me in mind of the Danny O'Keefe song, "Catfish", if you substitute S2 for catfish.

"Catfish ain't expensive,
neither is it free.
Some folks crazy bout it,
others has to leave it be."
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Old 01-28-2017   #82
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this is a great and very interesting to read thread.
The timing of this thread coincides with my own very fresh experience of learning abuot Nikon rangefinder gear.

I have loved Nikkor lenses for a long time already on Leica cameras but only recently (reluctantly, as of known addictive behaivour related to RF gear) did I receive my first Nikon RF body.

A tip - if not mentioned before - to the OP to get a true perspective on what the best possible expectation about the Nikon RF viewfinders can be would be to simply find a fellow RF member or well stocked camera store and try one of the reissue Nikon SP or S3 bodies.

This is probably the best possible finder one can expect from a Nikon RF today.
On vintage cameras that finder will be expectadly somewhat degraded (as it does with any optics over so many decades).

The most important bit though is to experience just how very different the Nikon RF patch and finder works compared to other finders.
Some like it (I love it) others just cannot bare with it being so different).

It all comes down to what you are used to and if you are willing to adapt and learn.
Live is too short though to dick around with something you really dislike and force yourself to accept it, getting aggravated with its character all the time.
You find out that it isnt for you, boot it out the door and enjoy what is for you ;-)

I am loving the Nikon RF bodies and its quirks - they do not replace the Leica M gear though I am so used to. Whenever it has to be quick and the subjects are expected to move fast, I pick a Leica M any time (simply because I am used to it, not because it is a "better" camera).

I really wish Nikon would make a digital S3 with single selectable finder frames 35/50/85/135 and continue to make the 35/1.8 and by todays standards still phenomenal 50/1.4 Millennium (Gauss) + a selection of nice lenses as a modern 85/2.8 and 135/4 in compact, lightweight mounts.
Wouldnt that be fantastic ?

The finders are just wonderful (I have a SP and a S3 reissue) - slightly less contrasty focus patch than new, modern Leicas, but a true 1:1 finder (1:1 WITH 35mm frames - simply perfection !!!) and a "floating" rather than "obstructing" focus patch).

Its not better or worse, rather then different.
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Old 01-28-2017   #83
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As mentioned above somewhere, I have enhanced my Nikon RF patches on my S2 and even my S3 2K using flash gel. Simple to do and you don't need a screwdriver! Blue is the colour to go for as it creates a wonderful contrast with the RF patch.


S2 & S3 & Funky Straps by Philip McAllister, on Flickr
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Old 01-29-2017   #84
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I prefer the Nikon S2.

Cosina made a complete range of modern lenses for the Nikon rangefinders. The S Skopar 50mm f/2.5 is an superb optic. With its circular shade the lens is very compact.

Nikon S2, S Skopar 50mm f/2.5, 400-2TMY.

Erik.

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Old 01-29-2017   #85
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
I prefer the Nikon S2.

Cosina made a complete range of modern lenses for the Nikon rangefinders. The S Skopar 50mm f/2.5 is an superb optic. With its circular shade the lens is very compact.
Indeed it is a great compact lens but in performance the Voigtlander 50/1.5 S Nokton Aspherical has it beaten, IMHO. The Millennium 50s and the Olympic 50 are stand outs of course and as above the 35mm f1.8 where its size belies its performance, hard to tell the re-issue on most shots the original is so good, just the slightly higher contrast and a touch less flare give it the edge, if that;'s the edge you want of course.
The 1:1 finders are the killer feature once you master shooting with both eyes open you find it hard to to go back, even to a Leica.
https://www.cameraquest.com/nrfVClens.htm

Of course if you don't like the Nikons the best thing to do is not shoot one and move on.
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Old 01-29-2017   #86
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisLivsey View Post
Indeed it is a great compact lens but in performance the Voigtlander 50/1.5 S Nokton Aspherical has it beaten
Maybe on points but not on character.

Erik.
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Old 01-30-2017   #87
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
Maybe on points but not on character.

Erik.


Plus as many unnecessary characters as are required.
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Old 01-30-2017   #88
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With all this talk about focus patches and threads about DIY repairs I'm left with a question;

Who is the go-to guy or gal for Nikon RF repair, and more specifically the best to clean/optimize a Nikon rangefinder?

Thanks,
Joe
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Old 01-30-2017   #89
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Only someone who has had multiple bodies serviced by a complete sampling of every technician providing this service would be in a position to venture a well founded judgment on who is the "best" nikon rf tech. Based on my much smaller sampling size, all I can say is that Cameraquest did a very nice job for me on my S2. All I could have asked for.
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Old 01-30-2017   #90
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Larry,

Was the focus patch something that Cameraquest worked on / fixed?

Joe
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Old 01-30-2017   #91
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jszokoli View Post
Larry,

Was the focus patch something that Cameraquest worked on / fixed?

Joe
Joe,

That might be something of a loaded question around here, as you might gather from some of the comments on this thread. Some feel that the Nikon rf focus patch, by virtue of it not being designed like the one on an M3, is inherently inferior because it is different from the one they like. They wonder if it can be "fixed". The OP sold his, which was, apparently, perfectly fine.
I'm in the other camp. I've got an M2 and an S2, and, for me, there is absolutely nothing deficient with the S2 focus patch if the goal is taking photos and focusing accurately and quickly. I don't find the M2 to be any 'better' for that purpose, and it's a nice M2. Yes, the edge of the Nikon focus patch is 'fuzzy'.. It's supposed to be, it doesn't matter. It's not a Leica, it's not the edge of the patch that's used to focus, it's the center. Quelle horreur.
I only write this so you know my bias, and can disregard my opinion, if necessary.
The answer to the question you asked is that my focus patch was fairly easy for me to use to begin with. The CLA that Cameraquest performed ensured that the shutter speeds were on, the operation was a bit smoother, and the vf was cleaned up and a little brighter, and the rf was aligned to factory specs. And they did it in a reasonable time period. I am happy with the service.
As I said above regarding Nikon rangefinders:
"Some folks crazy bout it,
others has to leave it be."
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Old 01-30-2017   #92
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Send it to Stephen at Cameraquest. A few months ago I sent him a Nikon SP with a barely visible rf patch and it came back in much better condition. Not as good as my M6 but quite usable. Good Luck, Joe in North Carolina.
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Old 01-30-2017   #93
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Nikon S2, S Skopar 50mm f/2.5, 400-TMY.

Erik.

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Old 01-30-2017   #94
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Larry/Joe,

Thanks, I was thinking Cameraquest, but was unsure.

With Leica, you get definite 'top dogs', DAG, Glolden touch, but for Nikon I've never seen a clear consensus.

Joe
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Old 01-31-2017   #95
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steveyork View Post
What's the black area that is around the rangefinder patch?
In a Nikon S3 viewfinder you can see the mobile RF patch (yellow) and the fixed RF patch (grey and a bit larger - this is how any rangefinder works). There is no "black area" around the yellow mobile rangefinder patch. Remember, this is a VF capture done with a cellphone. If you can provide us something better, that will be great.

Quote:
Originally Posted by steveyork View Post
It was obviously a relative statement. Just search this forum. You'll find more then a few threads on how to fix the lousy contrast of Nikon rangefinders. That seems to be a common issue with these cameras, and it mirrors my experience with the half dozen cameras I've had through my hands.
Nikon rangefinders are not by themselves of a "lousy contrast". They just get dirty over time, which is a common issue with all vintage rangefinder cameras, and it mirrors my experience with the half dozen cameras I've had through my hands, and some were made by Canon and Leica. Just search this forum. You'll find more than a few threads on how to clean the vintage rangefinders, whatever their brand is. Having to clean now some half-mirrored optics made in the 1950s isn't considered as a problem by normal people standards.
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Old 02-05-2017   #96
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Even the rangefinder patch in the Nikon S3 2000 I examined was low contrast. That's not a 50 year old camera. Maybe that's why there are more than a few threads on this site that have discussed how to improve the contrast on those cameras. And old SP's are known to have a faint secondary image. The one S2 I owned was pretty low contrast too, and that was after cleaning. And this is the same issue that the original poster apparently faced.
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Old 02-05-2017   #97
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steveyork View Post
Even the rangefinder patch in the Nikon S3 2000 I examined was low contrast. That's not a 50 year old camera. Maybe that's why there are more than a few threads on this site that have discussed how to improve the contrast on those cameras. And old SP's are known to have a faint secondary image. The one S2 I owned was pretty low contrast too, and that was after cleaning. And this is the same issue that the original poster apparently faced.
I have thus far not have a great quantity of Nikon S body sample experience.
The only ones I have handled thus far were a handful of Nikon SP and S3 re-issues and a few really beaten S2s and SPs in local shops.

The only Nikon bodies I have owned so far are the S3 and SP reissue, both bought in like new condition (likely camera shop stock or collectors keepers before I received them and started to use them as intended).

I have used a wide selection of Leica rangefinders before that and still own a few - new and old, some odd ~50 y old ones and some just a few months old.

The Nikon SP reissue I have has about the same high contrast as the Leica MM (M240), which is the newest Leica body I have owned.
The Leica S3 reissue does have a slightly lower contrast finder than the SP or the modern digital Leicas (but it also des have a different color tint to the finder compared to the SP which might confuse my eye into thinking it has slightly lower contrast compared to the SP).

The reissue S3 finder does not have in any way lower contrast or more difficult to see rangefinder image as my just recently rebuilt M7 x85.

The modern film Leica bodies I have used (say MP, M7) have comparable finders when it comes to contrast but are in some ways different from the MM finder.

What some may perceive as the Nikon rangefinder bodies having a "lower contrast finder" surely has to do with the appearance of the sharp edged rangefinder spot finders as the Leica M have vs the fuzzy / floating Nikon rangefinder patch leading one to perceive the Nikon finder as "lower contrast" where it is really not (at least when comparing apples to apples - cameras made approximately around the same time and in similar condition).

As mentioned earlier - age does influence finders negatively too of corse - the finder of my 1.1Mio M3 everyone praises so much is not really that much of a revelation (lower contrast than both the S3 and SP Nikons I have used) but that surely has to do with the fact it never has been cleaned so far. I have seen Kanto rebuilt M3 finders which were spectacular and at least as clear and contrasty as latest Leica digitals.

Another point I have found with the S3 and SP finders is that the actual alignment of the eye to the center of the finder is rather critical - certainly more critical than on the Leica M bodies. If positioned properly though finder contrast and focussing are no issues at all and they compare nicely to the most modern of Leica M finders in actual use.

I can imagine that for some people it simply is not the right finder with the "floating" rangefinder patch vs a sharply defined rectangle.

I really like the Nikon finders (and wouldn't have bought a second body if my experience with the first one - the SP - would have been in any way negative).
They are a joy to use and the more I use them and get used to the long focus throw of the Nikon S lenses, the more I like them (the lenses are without the slightest doubt wonderful, but I knew that from the beginning as I have used many of the Nikon lenses in LTM mount before).
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Old 02-05-2017   #98
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I think you may be right about the fuzzy edge making the appearance less contrasty, I love my s3 olympic and the more I use it the more I like it, but comparing it to my M2 which is four years older I've got to say Leica really nailed the whole rangefinder thing!
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Old 02-05-2017   #99
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Lots of nice mambo jambo here for sure.
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Old 02-05-2017   #100
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fraser View Post
I think you may be right about the fuzzy edge making the appearance less contrasty, I love my s3 olympic and the more I use it the more I like it, but comparing it to my M2 which is four years older I've got to say Leica really nailed the whole rangefinder thing!
Yes, I think if someone has a negative initial moment with a Nikon S - any camera really and just does not feel it, it is simply better to move on and use the gear one likes rather than shoehorning something into working but actually not enjoying it.

If you find you like something the moment you experience it the first time and then actually find you like it more and more you use it - jackpot! That is the thing to stick with.

I found out about rangefinders with Leicas and it took my hands and brain a few years to learn how to operate my first Leica.
With the Nikon S bodies it is all bassackwards - everything about them, so it takes a lot of unlearning and relearning (which somehow makes them even more interesting to me as you see some things differently with them).

When it has to be quick and uncomplicated, when it has to be modern or exotic glass, or digital a Leica is always quicker and easier but in the end it is all about conditioning and learning.
I am sure when someone likes her/his Nikon S (whatever flavor) and sticks with it for some years, they are as quick and easy as any other camera there is - the quality is all there they have nothing in short of their contemporary competition - they are just different (which makes 'em even more interesting).
I love them and every day using them I love them a bit more!
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Old 02-05-2017   #101
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steveyork View Post
Even the rangefinder patch in the Nikon S3 2000 I examined was low contrast. That's not a 50 year old camera. Maybe that's why there are more than a few threads on this site that have discussed how to improve the contrast on those cameras. And old SP's are known to have a faint secondary image. The one S2 I owned was pretty low contrast too, and that was after cleaning. And this is the same issue that the original poster apparently faced.
FWIW, the rf on the nice S3 2000 I owned was not as contrasty as the rf on my ancient S2 or SP. Others have noted this in the past regarding S3s of any vintage. Not saying that is everywhere and always the case, but was noticeable with my samples, and a laborious google search will second this (though a google search will validate anything one wants to believe.)
Even then, it never presented any difficulty in quick focusing. FWIW.
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Old 02-05-2017   #102
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Nikon S2, Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f/1.5 uncoated, 400-2TMY.

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Old 2 Days Ago   #103
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arrived late. apart from the previously mentioned mod wherein the glass is tinted (some people actually cut a piece of glass panel from a warming filter for that), I was advised that dirt is the main culprit that can make the RF look fuzzy. I opened up a Kuribayashi (Petri) RF before and found this to be exactly the case. It may be what many Nikon RFs need now, a good cleaning. I have seen this done before and the space in between the prism varies from almost non to the width of a lens tissue.

I am going to service my S and S3, I will definitely clean the halfmirror if I have the time and probably do the warming filter glass mod that I mentioned. I dont know why it has to be amber but it may be because the S2's tinted that way but what do I know.

most Japanese RF of the time and probably after have feathered edges. do note that this observation come from observing junk cameras so please correct me if I am wrong.

personally, I like the S2 patch the most. Leica's patch is bright and contrasty but may be a little too much for me.
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Old 2 Days Ago   #104
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The only difference between Nikon and Leica rangefinders that really matters is the fact that Leicas can focus closer, up to 0.70 m. For Nikons the limit is 0.90 m.

Erik.
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Old 2 Days Ago   #105
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richardHaw View Post

I am going to service my S and S3, I will definitely clean the halfmirror if I have the time and probably do the warming filter glass mod that I mentioned. I dont know why it has to be amber but it may be because the S2's tinted that way but what do I know.
The warming filter glass trick won't work in a Nikon RF. It will darken the RF patch but won't inhance its contrast. Their beamplitter prisms are of a different design than the Leica screwmounts'.

The only aftermarket tip which has proved to work so far is a blue filter all over the Nikon S3 front VF main window. But you have to like how the camera looks then, and to accept to frame using a blue tinted viewfinder.

Other than that, a good cleaning of the rear 45 side of the RF half-mirror is what must be done in all cases.

The S2 RF patch is amber tinted because the beamsplitter prism is gold layered, as were the Contax rangefinders (but for the late series of the IIa and IIIa Contaxes which had a platinum layered beamsplitter prism).
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Old 2 Days Ago   #106
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Highway 61 View Post
The warming filter glass trick won't work in a Nikon RF. It will darken the RF patch but won't inhance its contrast. Their beamplitter prisms are of a different design than the Leica screwmounts'.

The only aftermarket tip which has proved to work so far is a blue filter all over the Nikon S3 front VF main window. But you have to like how the camera looks then, and to accept to frame using a blue tinted viewfinder.

Other than that, a good cleaning of the rear 45 side of the RF half-mirror is what must be done in all cases.

The S2 RF patch is amber tinted because the beamsplitter prism is gold layered, as were the Contax rangefinders (but for the late series of the IIa and IIIa Contaxes which had a platinum layered beamsplitter prism).
Thanks, Highway (Sorry, I don't know your name.).

That should save me a bit of headache
Thanks for the tip! As for amber, I have no idea, really. Is it because people prefer that? Or they don't know any better?

I have a cooling filter somewhere in my spares box...let me look for it.
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