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  1. #1
    bruce terry's Avatar
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    Anybody using a Nikon S3??

    In 2000 thru 2003 or so, Nikon put a group of technicians to the task of reproducing (with original tooling) the S3 rangefinder of the late fifties. The new series features a brighter 1:1 (no parallax comp) viewfinder w/35/50/135 frames, plus the classic 50mm Nikkor f/1.4 (constructed slightly larger than original to utilize modern glass technology). From what I can determine 8000 were produced of which 2000 were black enamel and snapped-up in the blink of an eye by Japanese collectors. The chrome bodies are languishing and will probably never be "collectable". So the super-high-quality camera that cost Nikon 6K to manufacture is now 2.3K at B&H - a gift, I think.

    Don't care about the black-collectable-thing and the S3 has exactly what I want >> fast 50mm lens (no interest in additional lenses), big non-shrinking 1:1 viewfinder, and fast (but weird) wheeled-focusing.

    I missed out on an Nikon SP back in 1958 and settled-down (happily) with one Leica M after another until I totally comitted to LF years ago. Now I miss a 35 and need a new, high-quality, SIMPLE RF I can abuse without selling my first grandchild to a Leica dealer. I think this is it.

    Got one coming for a 14 day touch-&-feel and would like comments from anybody out there who might already have a new, old, Nikon S3!

  2. #2
    DBP
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    You may also want to consider the Zeiss-Ikon and the Voigtlanders, which have some excellent glass as well and are more modern designs. Personally I am only tempted by the S3 for historic reasons, and I scratch that itch with a Kiev 4a, which, incidentally, is a nice camera. You may want to do some reading on Stephen Gandy's web site http://www.cameraquest.com/, if you have not done so already. And there are two short blurbs about the S3 in Roger and Frances' book, Rangefinder.

  3. #3

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    Lucky dog you . . . I would definitely enjoy trying one out. I got to briefly borrow an old S2, and thoroughly enjoyed using it. My feeling is that it would have been a great camera to use, especially in my night images. While I am not so sure I would pay that much for a new S3, the benefit of getting a new camera would be the warranty and that you know everything is straight. There are some used deals on S2 and S3 rangefinders, though the possibility of needing service might be an issue. The S3 has a larger viewfinder, so probably better than using an S2.

    I think for the same money, I would be tempted to get a used 0.85x viewfinder Leica M6 TTL or M7, then add the 1.25x viewfinder magnifier. The Leica reps gave me an M7 set up that way with the 1.25x magnifier and a 90mm f2.0 . . . basically I was hooked in the first several minutes. The older Nikon is cool, but definitely larger, and without the light meter.

    I would be less sure about the newer Zeiss Ikon as a comparison, since I have not seen one. Seems like a very nice item on paper, and judging by a handful of reviews. Voigtländer also had a few lenses made to fit the old Nikon rangefinder mount, and manufacture most of the Zeiss ZM lenses, so perhaps some other future additions there.

    Anyway, hope you enjoy your trial run. Let us know your thoughts on the S3.

    Ciao!

    Gordon

  4. #4
    bruce terry's Avatar
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    DBP and Gordon - Thanks for your thoughts on the S3. I've given it a test-drive and it's an unbelievably well made camera in true original form:

    I was afraid the viewfinder frames for 35/50/105 might be too "busy" but my mind connected to the big well-illuminated middle frame without difficulty - and the 1:1 viewing is mind-boggling, ala Gordon's M.85+1.25 90mm experience.

    The rangefinder focusing area shows a gold-ish colored overlay to align with a subject edge. I'd say the S3's focusing clarity, thus speed, is about a 3.5 compared to an M's 9.99 - but fine for all normal conditions.

    The updated, slightly larger Nikkor 1.4 lense is a dainty thing of beauty, and it scales to the body perfectly - albeit with the original thin-necked base to sight the distance/DOF collar and lense release spring.

    Only problem was the middle-finger-operated focusing wheel setup which forces the forefinger-operated shutter release to the back of the port deck - no problem at all for most folks, but a big one for my chronic nerve degenerating rigtht middle finger (and no comments please :•). Yes I can easily spin the Nikkor left-handed-M-style, but that sends my right hand out of balance - out of Zen - when groping the release.

    So this sweet thing goes back to the Big Apple with great regret and I now ponder, weirdly, the O series Leica for it's essential rangefinder-less, non-standard f/stop and shutter speed simplicity.

    Large format has convinced me Life should be a stretch.

  5. #5
    Uncle Bill's Avatar
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    A Nikon S3, I wish I could find one at a garage sale for $50. I handled one once at the Thornhill Camera Show but the seller had the personality of the comic book guy from the Simpsons and dimensions to match.

    Bill
    "Life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop and look around once and a while, you might just miss it."
    Ferris Bueller

  6. #6
    narsuitus's Avatar
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    Bruce Terry,

    Congratulations on your 14-day “touch and feel” session with the S3.

    For some time, I have wanted (not needed) a high-quality rangefinder like the Nikon S3 or SP or the Leica M6 or MP. However, I could never justify the expense.

    Sorry to read that your trial period did not end in a purchase.

  7. #7
    naturephoto1's Avatar
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    Bruce has already reported above indicating that the camera was being returned.

    Rich
    Richard A. Nelridge
    http://www.nelridge.com



 

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