View Full Version : What a beauty. Nikon S3

MP Guy
01-29-2004, 11:45
As you all probably know, this is old news. But I would love to see this NIkon S3 2000 widely accepted and available here in the U.S






01-29-2004, 12:09
It sort of is: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=2982838706&category=15234

01-29-2004, 12:17
The price is just too much. I do think the old Nikon and Contax rangefinders are the prettiest cameras out there. Nikons are just too expensive, and generally not usable, and now the Contax cameras are 50+ years old. I am definately tempted to buy a Kiev, if it didn't require I start a new lens system (the madness has to stop somewhere). If Nikon committed to actually producing this camera they could lower the price, but how low? And are they willing, if they price it wrong, to eat 10,000 units and loose money? Heck, this has to be a loosing proposition for them as it is.

01-29-2004, 12:18
If that's the Nikon re-issue, I think B & H is selling it already. And you can find the older versions at a lower price in KEH too...

01-29-2004, 15:53
Most of these Nikons will go to collectors who will never run a roll of film through them (even the slightest sign of use detracts from the collectible value). The "beauty" of Nikon rangefinders is based on the fact that their external styling is largely copied from the Contax II. If you like this look (and I do) and want a user get a mint or mint- Kiev 2 or 4a for about $70-80.

Rich Silfver
01-29-2004, 21:54
THAT is a VERY pretty camera!

01-30-2004, 00:18
Lovely camera, one which I used briefly when I worked in a small camera shop in the mid-60's.

I am studying the third picture down to determine if the shutter is cloth or metal. Looks like a regular cloth FP shutter from here. Some have previously claimed it had a metal shutter.

The one I borrowed turned out to have pinholes in the shutter curtain. Probably from sitting too long in the store's front west-facing display window, tilted up for easy examination by passers-by.

Those who say these camers had metal shutters logically doubt the pinholes story. But I can put my hands on the negatives with a little effort!

Brian Sweeney
01-30-2004, 03:32
Hello, My first Post. This seems an appropriate thread! I have an S3 which I use on a regular basis, it is a great "shooter". I wear glasses, so the VF intended for 35mm lenses works out great for 50mm "I can see the whole thing without squinting".

How many others of you shoot with Nikon RF gear? If not many, count on me to try pursuade you into it. The prices on S2's are dropping on EBay; I picked up a user with a 5cm F1.4 lens for under $400 recently...

Nikon S3 w 5cm F1.4 Lens at Cox Farms Halloween Festival, Northern Virginia

Brian Sweeney
01-30-2004, 03:36
Well That Worked!

Almost forgot; Only the late run S3's and SP's had Titanium Foil Shutters like the Nikon F. The Re-Issue has the Cloth Curtainsl. A good repair shop like Essex in New Jersey can put Titanium Foil Shutters into any S2->S4.
My S3 is an early one, cloth shutters, original, no Problems.

01-30-2004, 03:45
Hey Brian, welcome to the forum !

lucky you with that S3 ! :)

A lovely picture, btw !

Hope to read more from you soon !


01-30-2004, 04:00
I am sure someone around here has some Nikon gear, but no names are jumping into my mind. So you are looking for someone to pursuade. Target Francisco, I bet you can get him to buy one. It took him just about a year to jump from a Canonet to a Leica, so Nikon should be next. It would look nice with your N80 Francisco.

Ok everyone, the over/under is 6 months. I bet Brian can get Francisco to buy a Nikon in less than months.

Welcome Brian.

back alley
01-30-2004, 07:48
you are bad!!
i say over 6 months...
...and then comes the divorce,lol!


btw - welcome brian!

01-30-2004, 08:34
IIRC, he showed us a photo of his wife once, and I think she is to classy a lady to divorce him. She will just quietly shoot him and be done with it.:D

Brian Sweeney
01-30-2004, 08:47
If you like shooting with "Classic Glass", the Nikon Rangefinders will run you less than a similarly equipped Leica. It is true that the collector's that buy them up to lock them in drawers drive the prices up on the best looking ones. BUT if someone actually used it, got a few dings in it, the prices become affordable. The prices of good user S3's have come down under $1K with the re-issue of the new one. S2 prices are below $500. The 1x magnification viewfinder spoils you. And lens prices for the Nikons are reasonable. I have picked up an 8.5cm F2 for under $200; a 5cm f1.4 for under $100; a 13.5cm f3.5 Black/Chrome for under $50. It's hard to find Leica glass nearly that cheap. If a lens does not have some wierd serial number on it, stamped MIOJ, in-the-box, etc, it actually gets affordable. The lenses are sharp and contrasty; and have a personality that is different from Canon and Leica glass from the same period.

01-30-2004, 10:12
My! :eek: What a reputation I have! :p

I certainly considered Nikon, and got into thinking about it seriously enough to launch a small offensive. However, I wasn't as interested on it as I was on Leicas. Roger and Frances, the authors of the "Rangefinders" book, give it high marks, though. I, in turn, am concerned about the variety of lenses available. Wasn't Nikon an exclusive mount or didn't it share it for a while with Contax?

And yes, check those prices at KEH! After having seen it advertised in B&H for over $4000, when I saw the market price of a S3 the thought crossed my mind... :)

It's still at it, though... I mean, crossing my mind.

How big are these cameras? :confused:

back alley
01-30-2004, 10:28
it's all in fun francisco.


01-30-2004, 11:29
Oh Francisco, there are always CV lenses as they make an R2 in Nikon mount.

01-30-2004, 12:11
Brief note: my wife loved this thread... :) and I laughed myself silly! ;)

Brian Sweeney
01-30-2004, 13:59
The S3, and the other Nikon Rangefinders, are about the same size as a Nikon FM, FE, FM3a. The S3 will actually fit in a case for the FM2; if you drill a hole in the case for a screw it works. It is a "bit" smaller than the M3 and smaller than a Canon 7.

The mount is "physically" compatible with the Contax mount. But, the RF Cam is slightly different. This is a problem for the Telephoto lenses, but NOT for lenses up to and including the 5cm F1.5 Sonnar. I have used the Sonnar with my S2 with good results; wide-open and at minimum focus the DOF covers the critical focus. The Depth of the focus extends back; for instance if shooting a close-up of a person, focus on the nose. If you get a body, you can use a Jupiter-8 or Sonnar from a Contax.

See how easy this can be?

The Nikon is styled after the Contax; but the finder is better. I wish that Zeiss had upgraded their finder. I also have a Contax IIIa with the Zeiss-Opton Sonnar 5cm f1.5. The meter even works on it; and I love the precision of the shutter; but using a separate finder for telephoto lenses makes it difficult to get pictures of moving targets (my kid).

01-30-2004, 14:47
Tha nks, Brian, for the shutter info; now I know the answer! Also, nice shot of your favorite model!

01-30-2004, 16:26
I've an S-2, with the Nikkor 1.4.

I like it very much, and it works well along side my Kiev's.

It's much louder than my Kievs, though, as it's a very different shutter design. It's makes a KLAK(klak) sound that's not unpleasant, but... Well, louder.

I don't like the finder as much as the Kiev, which doesn't seem to cast quite as much green as the Nikon.

On my Nikon I've only used two lenses- the Nikor and the Jupiter 12. I recently shot a Holiday Party and I did it without flash, on 400 speed film. Lens was wide open, and shot at 1/30. I over exposed a few shots in the most brightly list places, but they came out O.K. on paper.
They looked simply wonderful. The lens has a lovely look to it wide open and close. I like it.

I've been trying to simplify my camera collection, but this is a real keeper and isn't going anywhere, if I can help it.

01-30-2004, 17:23
That Nikkor and Canon 50/1.4s are supposed to have been the best lenses of their day. The S2 and SPs are the cameras that made Nikon's reputation as a photojournalist's tool.

Talk about different shutter sounds, I took some shots with a Minolta X-700. After using my rangefinders and my EOS 10s, I wasn't ready to fire the shutter of a machanical SLR. What a difference. I am sure some of the shots will be blurry, at least the first few until I got used to the "clunk snap."

01-31-2004, 16:20
What I thought was funny was the sound of my mother's Canon FTBn, a 70's SLR, with the mirror up. KLACK! To heck with the mirror, Canon obviously did little to get rid of the shutter noise. Loud, but that's in contrast to my rangefinders.

01-31-2004, 16:39
How lucky I am! My Nikon F80 is surprisingly silent... for an SLR.

I used to have a Minolta X370s. Talk about a rotund KLAK-up sound. It just made me snicker, though... for some reason, it sounded like the camera had something stuck in its throat... :p

Brian Sweeney
01-31-2004, 17:56
Okay, found a Nikon RF User!

The S2 finder does have a green cast to it; I think they looked at the Contax and did a "If a little is good, a lot is better" engineering job. Remember when Pink and Green were "In" as preppy colors? Obviously a tribute to the Contax Rangefinder. The S3 dropped this approach. According to Newcombe, "35mm Photo Technique", 1948, the Pink and Green helped with low-light situations.

I also have a Kiev 4a in good working condition- even the meter-. At $45 including shipping, it is impossible to beat. The finder is not as tinted as the Contax.

02-12-2004, 16:20
I received my March '04 issue of Popular Photography and on the bottom of page 16 is a picture of the Nikon SP2. Herb Keppler put in a paragraph of what could have been if Nikon had not scrapped its rangefinder line. He talks too of the SPX with TTL metering.

Is it just me, or do you think they can whip one of these up on the FM3A body or frame that would work just fine?

Brian Sweeney
02-12-2004, 17:24
The SPX was based on a Nikon F and the advance off of a Nikkormat!

If Cosina can base the R , R2, and R2s off of the SLR mainframe, I cannot see why Nikon could not do an S3a. Except economics.

Does anyone on the forum use an R2s or R2c?

02-12-2004, 18:42
I got my copy today and when I read that bit I thought "Hmmm... what's Brian got to say about this...?"

Now I know...

As to R2s or R2c users... let's see what jumps out of this forum. I'm curious too...

Brian Sweeney
02-13-2004, 03:12
For those who have never seen a photo of one; Stephen Gandy has a page with photo's of it:


Although technically superior to the SP; it certainly is not as pretty. The camera incorporated a Zoom finder like the Kodak Ektra.

As nice as the Millenium S3 is; I sure wish that it was a Millenium SP. Even dropping the 28/35 finder, having the parallax corrected finder lines for the 8.5, 10.5, and 13.5 would have been nice.

02-13-2004, 07:56
I've thought about buying an R2c, if only to use some of my FSU lenses, and then thought of buying an R2s, if only to have the automation and the great look of the Nikkor, but...

I've settled on a light meter. AND I can still use my Jupiter-12 on all bodies.

I'd have saved my money for a Millenium SP. Even if it cost a grand more. THAT would have been worth it- an immediate cult classic, and brand new lenses are currently available from Cameraquest. The S3 didn't quite make it.

I wish Nikon would release a couple lenses for these little gems.

Brian Sweeney
02-23-2004, 03:28
I have noticed that the Jupiter-8 does not "want to go onto" my S2. it goes onto the Contax IIIa easily. The Zeiss-Opton Sonnar goes easily into the S2. I filed the Jupiter's retaining pin slightly, as it is thicker than what Nikon uses, but that was not the problem. It seems as if the internal bayonet is slightly different. I solved the problem by leaving the Jupiter on the Contax and the Sonnar on the Nikon.

Anyone else notice an issue?

BTW. I noticed Nina's credit card bill on her "allowance" account. We have each taken the same monthly allowance for 20 years to spend as we want. Pays the bills and no surprises. There will be an SP in my future with no complaints. I have the money set aside for an S3-2000 (saving for a while), but that SP...

02-23-2004, 08:18
Yeah, I'd like an SP someday too- the lack of bright lenses that the camera deserves keeps me thinking it might not be the best way, though- the only reason I have 35mm gear is because the lenses work in lower light than my old Mamiya 7, or at least, they should and one stop is only a slight difference...

I've not had trouble mounting any lenses between my Kiev and my Nikon, with the strange observation that some of my J-12's are MUCH smoother on the Nikon, they rub somewhere on all of my Kievs.

Brian Sweeney
02-23-2004, 08:43
I have no complaints about the original 5cm F1.4 Nikkor wide-open on the S3. According to Pop Photo, wide-open (and only wide-open) it was sharper than the Summilux. The newer "olympic" Nikon 5cm f1.4 lens improved on it.

Nikon did make a 5cm F1.1 and a 8.5cm F1.5. The F1.1 was a nine-element lens that makes the Noctilux look small. It goes for the price of a new Noctilux.

Brian Sweeney
02-23-2004, 08:50
Nikki painting by window light; recovering from illness, so very pale.

Nikon S3 w 5cm F1.4

02-24-2004, 08:58
I misstated- I'd rather say "bright, easily available lenses," but even that's not quite right. I guess I'm hoping for a f1.9 28mm, or an f1.2 35mm from Stephen Gandy/Cosina!

Thinking about trying to wheel-and-deal to get an SP instead of the S2. Moving brightlines, integrated finder, &c. all call to me.

Brian Sweeney
03-12-2004, 03:34
Last week was a SPecial week. The SP that I bought arrived AND the SP that I sent to Shintaro arrived. Both are functionally perfect, late model SP's.

This now Black-Painted SP had the proverbial $600 dent in the front plate and top plate; the reason that I could afford it several years ago. If there is interest, I will post a thread under the camera review section featuring the details of this paint job. The incredible thing about it is how he matched the paint of the front, top, and bottom plates to the existing paint on the body casting- which is not repainted. The dents are gone.

Brian Sweeney
03-12-2004, 03:40
This is the chrome SP. I think most Nikon collectors are very happy about the S3-2000 but always ask why was it not the SP-2000. The main finder of the SP accommodates up to 50mm viewing, but effectively can be used for 35mm lenses. It does not have the flare problems of the S3 finder. The second finder on the SP is used for 35mm and 28mm lenses. The SP's finder lines for the 5cm, 8.5cm, 10.5cm, and 13.5cm allows the use of the whole RF coupled Telephoto line-up. It and the M3 are easy to use right out to 13.5cm.

These two cameras represent "profit-taking" on about four-years of "low-volume" selling on EBay for me. The pair, with the paint job, ran $4,500.

03-12-2004, 09:04
VERY attractive cameras, Brian. Nicely done.

I keep a-lookin'. Garage sales are coming up...


Brian Sweeney
03-12-2004, 13:14
Another one of Sonny Bono's came up on EBay and is not in the stratosphere. This is a VERY late SP with a 7-ring cap over the counter, bright colors on the shutter dial, and titanium curtains. The Serial Number is 623xxxx which puts it at the end of the line.

As you can guess, I am spent out.

Somebody get it Quick!


03-12-2004, 13:22
I put in a $1,000 bid on that one. Not enough, and for me looking for a user... No.

03-12-2004, 16:11
a black SP... hmmm...

03-12-2004, 16:17
Originally posted by jdos2
I've not had trouble mounting any lenses between my Kiev and my Nikon, with the strange observation that some of my J-12's are MUCH smoother on the Nikon, they rub somewhere on all of my Kievs.

Noticed that also, the 2-2.5 meter range is particulary hard to turn...

03-12-2004, 19:03
Mine seems pretty smooth and even all the way through, very slightly tightening up below 1m, and there's a "click-stop" at about 1.1m.

This is a Cyrillic-marked silver J-12 with a '57 serial number, on a '69 Kiev 4a.