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Nikon S2 vs Nikon S3? what is your preference?
Old 10-24-2011   #1
Vsanzbajo
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Nikon S2 vs Nikon S3? what is your preference?

Which one would you get and why? If you could pick one, forget about the price. I am interested in which one is a better camera.
Thanks

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Old 10-24-2011   #2
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Depends what focal length you prefer as your standard focal length.

If you mainly shoot a 50mm > S2

If you mainly shoot a 35mm > S3

Due to the darker tint of the finder, the S2 has an easier to see focus patch, so is probably easier to focus for most people.

But the S3 is basically a Nikon F with a rangefinder added on so is mechanically a little more advanced than the S2 (main improvement being easier shutter speed adjustment).
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Old 10-24-2011   #3
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S2 every time. I have borrowed the S3 for some time and the VF with all frame-lines visible at the same time drove me nuts. Since the S2 has no parallax compensation, using an external VF for 35mm (or 28mm) is no big deal.
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Old 10-25-2011   #4
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Do you wear glasses ?

If yes you won't see the 35mm frame in the S3 viewfinder and will need to either remove your glasses for each shot or use an external viewfinder.

So in that case the S2 is a more clever option (cheaper and having a better and more pleasant viewfinder as for contrast and RF patch).

If you don't wear glasses and use a 35mm very often go for the S3, but try to find a S3 with a RF patch which has not faded and a viewfinder which is not flaring like a drool.
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Old 11-30-2019   #5
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Just checked out an S3 at Fireside Camera in San Fran.
I way prefer my S2 as I only have a 50mm lens in the Nikon RF mount, and the S2’s vf is much clearer as it only has the 50mm lines.
Also this S3’s rf patch was really indistinct while my S2’s is bright and contrasty. I’ve heard that a lot of S3s are like this, did Nikon change something or are S2s similarly afflicted?
Interestingly I’ve never seen this issue on Leicas.

I did prefer the shutter speed dial on the S3 but that is not enough of an advantage for me to pick one over an S2, even if its rf patch was better.
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Old 11-30-2019   #6
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Another vote for the S2, for reasons already listed above. Have had both and the findings of others here mirror my experience pretty much exactly.
S2 is lovely, but would actually recommend saving up a bit more money and getting the SP. Because that’s where it’s at. Seriously.
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Old 11-30-2019   #7
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If you shoot 35mm a lot and don’t wear glasses, the life size viewfinder of the S3 is a joy to behold. No other built-in viewfinder is nearly as large for that focal length, not even the SP. yeah, the extra frame lines can be distracting but you get used to it.

I’ve had Leicas and Nikons with dim or non existent RF patches, really has nothing to do with the cameras, rather, how well or poorly they have been stored over the decades.
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Old 11-30-2019   #8
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Deliberately chose an S2 because I knew I'd have only the 50mm lens.
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Old 11-30-2019   #9
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S2 all the time. Put a good 35mm finder on top and you are done for 50mm and 35mm.

The best 50mm for the Nikon rangefinders is the S Skopar 50mm f/2.5.

Nilkon S2, S Skopar 50mm f/2.5, 400-2TMY printed on Adox MCC 110.

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Old 11-30-2019   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
S2 all the time. Put a good 35mm finder on top and you are done for 50mm and 35mm.

The best 50mm for the Nikon rangefinders is the S Skopar 50mm f/2.5.

Nilkon S2, S Skopar 50mm f/2.5, 400-2TMY printed on Adox MCC 110.

Erik.
Lovely shot.
Erik, how do you rate the CV 50 2.5 vs the CV 50 3.5?

I have the 2.5 in ltm/M mount but for some reason unbeknownst to me do not use it much.
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Old 11-30-2019   #11
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Old 12-01-2019   #12
Erik van Straten
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
Lovely shot.
Erik, how do you rate the CV 50 2.5 vs the CV 50 3.5?

I have the 2.5 in ltm/M mount but for some reason unbeknownst to me do not use it much.
The Color-Skopar f/2.5 50mm LTM in black paint is one of my big favorites in 35mm photography. I prefer it to the Summicron rigid 50mm; in fact it is very difficult to see any differences between the two but the Color-Skopar is much handier and focuses closer.

The S Skopar 50mm f/2.5 (Nikon/Contax) is even sharper, but focuses only to 1 m. Both lenses are free of any distortion.

Nikon S2, S Skopar 50mm f/2.5, 400-2TMY/Adox MCC 110.

Erik.

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Old 12-01-2019   #13
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Leica M3, Color Skopar 50mm f/2.5 LTM, 400-2TMY/Adox MCC 110.

Erik.

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Old 12-01-2019   #14
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S3 does do away with the separate slow-speed selector, which is something to consider. I've owned three chrome-dial S2s in the past, two of which wouldn't go down to 1/30s or slower.

Great cameras otherwise, just be sure to shop around for a good one.
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Old 12-01-2019   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ruby.monkey View Post
S3 does do away with the separate slow-speed selector, which is something to consider. I've owned three chrome-dial S2s in the past, two of which wouldn't go down to 1/30s or slower.

Great cameras otherwise, just be sure to shop around for a good one.
Ya i prefer the shutter speed dial of the S3 but the vf and rf patch of the S2.
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Old 12-18-2019   #16
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I think the S3's viewfinder is easier to use with 50mm than with 35mm - it's really hard to see anything beyond the 35mm frame - but I value the ability to have both in the viewfinder. Even more, I really like having the parallax tick-marks. I wish the S2 had that. I also use a Nikon F and it's so easy to go between that and the S3.
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Old 12-18-2019   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keytarjunkie View Post
I think the S3's viewfinder is easier to use with 50mm than with 35mm - it's really hard to see anything beyond the 35mm frame - but I value the ability to have both in the viewfinder. Even more, I really like having the parallax tick-marks. I wish the S2 had that. I also use a Nikon F and it's so easy to go between that and the S3.
The S2 only has a 50mm frame, but the finder eyepiece is so very close to the optical axis of the lens that there is hardly any parallax up to 1 m.

For the 35mm I would coose a SBLOO or the black Nikon 35mm finder.



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Old 12-18-2019   #18
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For anyone that likes to shoot with a 35mm lens, the S3 viewfinder is life-size even at that focal length. Are there any other rangefinders that have such a large view for that focal length? I'm unaware of any other.
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Old 12-18-2019   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
The S2 only has a 50mm frame, but the finder eyepiece is so very close to the optical axis of the lens that there is hardly any parallax up to 1 m.

For the 35mm I would choose a SBLOO or the black Nikon 35mm finder.



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Ah, that makes sense. Nice viewfinders!
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Old 12-18-2019   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by splitimageview View Post
For anyone that likes to shoot with a 35mm lens, the S3 viewfinder is life-size even at that focal length. Are there any other rangefinders that have such a large view for that focal length? I'm unaware of any other.
Such a viewfinder has the Canon P, too.

For instance see this and (or versus) that. Old (by the Internet age standards) but still good personal pages.
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Old 12-18-2019   #21
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How does the S3-2000 compare with the S2 or S3? This is all I have for Nikon RF cameras.

Camera Quest has this to say about it: "In February 2000 Nikon surprised the rangefinder world by introducing the S3 2000, a near duplicate of their classic 1958 S3 in chrome finish. In June 2002 the black paint S3 2000 was introduced, with a production of 2000. Nikon discontinued their rangefinder line in 1964. For hardcore Nikon Rangefinder collectors, who had given up on the idea of ever buying a classic new Nikon Rangefinder decades ago, this was a dream come true. So far other classic Nikon Rangefinder bodies and lenses have not been announced by Nikon. Very surprisingly Cosina Voigtlander introduced a trio of multi-coated 21, 25, and 35 wide angles in Nikon rangefinder mount in 2001. Hmm. Maybe the venerable Nikon Rangefinder mount is not dead after all.

Introduced with the S3 was a new formula multicoated 50/1.4 Nikkor lens. It is the only multi-coated normal yet made in Nikon rangefinder mount, and is presumably the sharpest ever, the beneficiary of over four decades of optical improvements. "
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Old 12-18-2019   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raid View Post
How does the S3-2000 compare with the S2 or S3? This is all I have for Nikon RF cameras.

Camera Quest has this to say about it: "In February 2000 Nikon surprised the rangefinder world by introducing the S3 2000, a near duplicate of their classic 1958 S3 in chrome finish. In June 2002 the black paint S3 2000 was introduced, with a production of 2000. Nikon discontinued their rangefinder line in 1964. For hardcore Nikon Rangefinder collectors, who had given up on the idea of ever buying a classic new Nikon Rangefinder decades ago, this was a dream come true. So far other classic Nikon Rangefinder bodies and lenses have not been announced by Nikon. Very surprisingly Cosina Voigtlander introduced a trio of multi-coated 21, 25, and 35 wide angles in Nikon rangefinder mount in 2001. Hmm. Maybe the venerable Nikon Rangefinder mount is not dead after all.

Introduced with the S3 was a new formula multicoated 50/1.4 Nikkor lens. It is the only multi-coated normal yet made in Nikon rangefinder mount, and is presumably the sharpest ever, the beneficiary of over four decades of optical improvements. "

Raid, that same site also has this:

https://www.cameraquest.com/NRFS3%202000.htm

The 2000 is a new (now 20 years old new!!) slightly improved S3. In black it is one of the sexiest cameras ever. After my Zenit 212K.
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Old 12-18-2019   #23
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Quote:
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How does the S3-2000 compare with the S2 or S3?
Comparing the S3-2000 with the S2 would sound a bit weird, Raid, but if you want my grain of salt when it comes to comparing the S3 made in the late 1950's with the S3-2000, let's say that :

- the original S3 viewfinder may now have a faded RF patch (but it can be cleaned and rejuvenated easily in most cases) but has thinner and more nicely etched 35-50-105 frames (the etched frames in the S3-2000 viewfinder are very Cosina-like),
- the original S3 chrome finish is smoother and nicer (the S3 2000 has a dull and a bit unpleasant chrome finish which reminds me the Nikkormat matte chrome finish),
- the original S3 shutter curtains material ("Habutae silk") is almost undestructible while the S3-2000 shutter curtains fabric may suddenly develop holes which are not sun burnt,
- the general feeling of the original S3 is that of a real Nikon while the S3-2000 rather feels like a replica (not bad, but not as well made : for instance the focusing helicoid is way more pleasant on the orginal S3 than on the S3-2000 even with a bit of liithium grease added between the threads).

The black paint version of the re-issue S3 may be a bit better made than the chrome one - this, I don't know. I have handled one in a shop once, but for too short to tell.

I have owned a S3-2000 (chrome) and re-sold it without many regrets and without having really used it. I had an original S3 which I sold out at a time I was in need of cash and very quickly regretted it although it was not a mint example. A few years later and thanks to some members here I could put my hands on another one, fortunately. Combined with the small and humble yet wonderful black Nikkor-H-C 50mm f/2, this is my daily camera, it's always in my bag even when I only go to the office. It has been with me as my only 24x36 camera for many trips to Italy.
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Old 12-18-2019   #24
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Thanks for the link! I oonce bought a S3-2000 set just to get my hands on the 50/1.4 Millenium lens.


Differences between the S3 2000 and the original S3

Classic S3 serial numbers begin with "63xxxx." S3 2000 serial numbers begin with "S3 20xxxx" for chrome bodies and "S3 30xxxx" for black bodies.

The black S3 2000 has a duller paint finish than the original, and does not appear to be sprayed on like the original

Film reminder is "24/36" instead of "20/36"

Film speed reminder is calibrated in "ISO" instead of "ASA"

The baseplate has "MADE IN JAPAN" on the bottom near the tripod socket, instead of "Japan" on the back opening / closing latch.

The back has no patent numbers inside, the original has 6 patent numbers

The film advance lever is Nikon F style, larger and solid, instead of being hollow underneath.

The film counter top is Nikon F style with 6 concentric rings on top, instead of 3

The interior of the PC connection is slightly different

Stainless steel strap lugs larger than original

The knob on the rewind lever is slightly larger

Different boxes and camera cases

There are probably other differences as well, especially internally
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Old 12-18-2019   #25
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Quote:
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Comparing the S3-2000 with the S2 would sound a bit weird, Raid, but if you want my grain of salt when it comes to comparing the S3 made in the late 1950's with the S3-2000, let's say that :

- the original S3 viewfinder may now have a faded RF patch (but it can be cleaned and rejuvenated easily in most cases) but has thinner and more nicely etched 35-50-105 frames (the etched frames in the S3-2000 viewfinder are very Cosina-like),
- the original S3 chrome finish is smoother and nicer (the S3 2000 has a dull and a bit unpleasant chrome finish which reminds me the Nikkormat matte chrome finish),
- the original S3 shutter curtains material ("Habutae silk") is almost undestructible while the S3-2000 shutter curtains fabric may suddenly develop holes which are not sun burnt,
- the general feeling of the original S3 is that of a real Nikon while the S3-2000 rather feels like a replica (not bad, but not as well made : for instance the focusing helicoid is way more pleasant on the original S3 than on the S3-2000 even with a bit of lithium grease added between the threads).

The black paint version of the re-issue S3 may be a bit better made than the chrome one - this, I don't know. I have handled one in a shop once, but for too short to tell.

I have owned a S3-2000 (chrome) and re-sold it without many regrets and without having really used it. I had an original S3 which I sold out at a time I was in need of cash and very quickly regretted it although it was not a mint example. A few years later and thanks to some members here I could put my hands on another one, fortunately. Combined with the small and humble yet wonderful black Nikkor-H-C 50mm f/2, this is my daily camera, it's always in my bag even when I only go to the office.
I bought the set to get the lens. I use an adapter with the lens for Leica M.
I have not once used the camera so far.
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Old 12-18-2019   #26
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Quote:
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I bought the set to get the lens. I use an adapter with the lens for Leica M.
The "Millenium Nikkor" is nice but at the end of the day it's too large and too heavy for a 50mm RF lens without any built-in focusing helical. You would be surprised with what the somehow underrated, old and relatively cheap Nikkor-H-C 50mm f/2 can do even by modern standards when compared with the expensive "Millenium Nikkor" (okay it's a f/2 not a f/1.4 but... it is so small and so good).

There used to be test shots to show this here at some point, in a thread by Jonmanjiro.
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Old 12-18-2019   #27
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I also use the "old and relatively cheap" Nikkor-H-C 50/2. It is an excellent lens.
Sometimes, we buy stuff because at the time it felt the thing to do. Maybe I did not really need the Millenium 50/1.4.
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Old 12-18-2019   #28
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Such a viewfinder has the Canon P, too.

For instance see this and (or versus) that. Old (by the Internet age standards) but still good personal pages.
Thanks, I was unaware the P was life-size. How much extra is visible outside the frame on the P? The S3 frames are pretty close to the edge of the viewfinder.
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Old 12-18-2019   #29
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I have had 3 of the S3-2000s, two chrome and one black. I found them to be superb. I've never owned an original S3, although I've had several SPs, including the SP 2005.

@Highway61's description above is accurate, in my view. Although I don't have first-hand knowledge of curtain differences, I found the handling and feel of the re-issues to be just as good as original Nikon RFs. Never had any problems with the helicals, although @jonmanjiro had several replaced, back in the day. There are probably threads that still exist that mention this...
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Old 12-18-2019   #30
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Quote:
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The "Millenium Nikkor" is nice but at the end of the day it's too large and too heavy for a 50mm RF lens without any built-in focusing helical. You would be surprised with what the somehow underrated, old and relatively cheap Nikkor-H-C 50mm f/2 can do even by modern standards when compared with the expensive "Millenium Nikkor" (okay it's a f/2 not a f/1.4 but... it is so small and so good).

There used to be test shots to show this here at some point, in a thread by Jonmanjiro.

Agreed with regards to the size of the Millenium. Great optic, but I didn't need an f/1.4 lens, so now use a perfect example of the much smaller f/2.
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Old 12-18-2019   #31
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Thanks, I was unaware the P was life-size. How much extra is visible outside the frame on the P? The S3 frames are pretty close to the edge of the viewfinder.
The 35mm frame on the Canon P is also tough to see, even without glasses on. The camera has a lot of nice features though, putting it at the top of any LTM-compatible cameras in terms of usability.
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Old 12-18-2019   #32
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I bought the set to get the lens. I use an adapter with the lens for Leica M.
I have not once used the camera so far.
What finish is your camera? black?
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Old 12-18-2019   #33
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Not much love here for the separate slow speed selector. It's a bit charming, I think. Represents a different era.
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Old 12-18-2019   #34
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What finish is your camera? black?
It is not in black Huss. I still would not use a black S3 2000, I think.
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Old 12-18-2019   #35
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It is not in black Huss. I still would not use a black S3 2000, I think.
Darn. I was going to throw cash at you.
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Old 12-18-2019   #36
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I agree that the S2 is the better user. I had an S3 and didn't like it very much. The 35mm view is near damn useless even when I'm not wearing glasses you still have to roll your eyes to see the entire frame. Somehow (I guess due to the larger size of the eyepiece) the Canon P is a bit better in this department, but either way I am not a fan of life-size 35mm finders.

I already looked at the thing that I want to photograph in life-size, with my own two eyes before I lift the camera to my face.

If money is no object and you hate external finders I'd recommend a Nikon SP. All the good points of the S3 with an actually usable 35mm finder and a bonus 28mm

Edit: Damn just saw the original thread start-date
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Old 12-19-2019   #37
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Hmm. I never had to move my eyeball around to see the 35mm frames using an S3. I don't shoot with glasses, I could see that happening with the eye farther from the eyepiece however.

I used to shoot an M3 with a 35mm lens without an external viewfinder and using the 'roving eyeball' method for framing actually caused eyestrain, it was uncomfortable.
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Old 12-19-2019   #38
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Darn. I was going to throw cash at you.
Do! Please do!
Throw tons of cash at me anyways!
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Old 12-19-2019   #39
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When I was considering getting a higher grade of rangefinder than what I had been shooting with, TomA steered me towards the S2. I got a black dial with the 50/2, and really can't find a reason to get any of the other models.

I upgraded the lens though to a 50/1.4 because the f2 was showing separation. However, after doing a test shoot with the f2, I actually didn't need to get the f1.4, but will have it for when the f2 does finally cave in.

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Old 12-19-2019   #40
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Posts: 8,863
The S2 is very much like the Nikon F, more than the other Nikon rangefinders.

This one has the Skopar S 50mm mounted, the best 50mm for the Nikon rangefinders.

Erik.

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