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Pre-AI Nikkor Group

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  1. crb
    Hi guys

    For many years a standard F2 was my only camera and I still love them. I have several now including a F2SB. Also have a cute black Nikkormat Ftn with a very fine 50 f2 Nikkor-H. Still a great photographic tool. I am playing with lots of film kit, so glad to find APUG and this group.

  2. Ralph Javins
    Ralph Javins
    Good morning, Chris;

    Welcome to the Pre-AI NIKKOR Group. Between Uncle Bill and John Nikon HP, the early Nikons are well represented here with a proper home to come to, relax, and share information.

    I also have some Nikon F and F2, with the F2AS being my latest in the line. There is also a Nikomat FTN that is a delight to use. The Copal Square metal shutter in the Nikomat FTN is almost good enough for me to use in checking the calibration of my camera testing equipment. There is a virtue in equipment that does work properly without the need for electricity to function. Light meters are nice, I agree, but knowing that the camera will work is truly comforting.

    Enjoy; Ralph, Latte Land, Washington
  3. shoe
    Hi Everyone

    Its nice to find a group so dedicated to these old relics. I shoot 35mm with basically 2 systems 1-Pre ai nikkors 2- Ai Nikkors . I keep my comments to the pre-ai nikkors for now.

    I think it is important to note that this system of Nikkormats/Nikons with F mount lenses was the most advanced 35mm system for pro photographers during its time. These Lenses and Cameras are the ones that almost put leica out of buisness, and for good reason . The Nikons were feature rich and very adaptable for specific needs. The Nikkormats although embrased by serious amateurs, was built for professionals who needed a solid workhorse camera without all the features of the Nikons. These Pre ai lenses and cameras were built before the era of planned obsolesence, they were built to last. The fact that we are still using them today proves that.

    With all the advances that have come since then, most involving useless automation, most were geared to appeal to the masses not the serious photographers .These cameras are still pure , automatic means indexing , the light meter is built in the camera, but we can still dig into our brains, bracket and come up with a shot that we are proud of if need be.


  4. BobSnoody
    Hi, Let me introduce my self. My name is Bob and I got my first Nikormat in 1971. I bought it from my father when he bought an F. At the time he was living and working in Japan. Over the years I have acquired a nice collection of Nikkormats, F's and a list of lenses that will follow. My question is recently I have purchased a F3, F4 and a N90. I know I can stop down on all but the N90 but would prefer not to if possible. I bought some AI lenses. A 35mm f1.4 , 35-105 zoom, 24-120 AF and an 80-200 AF so I pretty much have it covered, but I would love to throw my 24 or 85 on the F3 or F4 or N90 and take off for the day. The list to follow are not AI'ed. I think I have some nice glass here and just some average glass, but I love them all I would like to AI them but I'm concerned as to devaluing and mutilating the more expensive lenses. Example the 85 f1.8 KEH has BRG's for over $300.00. I have heard of John Whites work but I'm not crazy about cutting up a really nice lens. I'm not sure I want to try and reproduce my collection with AI'ed versions. Is there anyone that can AI lenses without the taped on white strip? I guess I'm just a purist and just not sure what I should do. I'm interested in your highly regarded options. Here is the list:

    1) 24mm f2.8
    2) 28mm f3.5
    3) 2 - 35mm f2.8
    4) 43-86 mm f3.5
    5) 50 mm f1.4
    6) 55 mm macro
    7) 85mm f1.8
    8) 105mm f2.5
    9) 135mm f3.5
    10) 200mm f4.0

    Thanks for your suggestions and options.

    Bob Snoody
  5. John_Nikon_F
    Check with some of the local camera repair shops, on eBay, and on the Pacific Rim Camera website. You may come across someone who has the factory AI conversion rings for your lenses. I probably wouldn't bother converting the 43-86, unless it's the final non-AI version. Nikon did change the formula a bit when they did the final non-AI version. An AI version can be had fairly cheaply. I'd do the same with respect to the 28f3.5. The baffle around the rear element can damage an F4 or an FA (possibly the FG/N2000 bodies as well), if the lens is mounted. Both the 24 and the 85 are well-worth having converted.

  6. Ralph Javins
    Ralph Javins
    Good morning, Bob Snoody;

    Welcome to the Pre-AI Nikor group.

    As John has indicated, finding the proper AI-conversion rings can be a challenge, but it is not impossible. Doing the conversion with the original Nikon parts is the cleanest way to go with it, and they still fit on the Pre-AI bodies also. There does seem to be two variants in the "AI'ed" lens description category; done with the original Nikon parts, and done by third parties who mill the back of the aperture ring and glue on the supplemental aperture indicating strip, usually in black print on a white adhesive tape, but I have seen one done with white print on black adhesive tape.

    Your selection of lenses is surprising. It is almost a direct match for the lenses in "The 1960's Nikon Project" here. All of them are pre-AI and will remain so for use on the black body Nikon F in that bag.

    Enjoy; Ralph, Latte Land, Washington
  7. BobSnoody
    John, Ralph,
    Thanks for the reply. I guess the best to do would be to find the Nikon conversion kits. As of now I will use them as stop down on the F3 and F4. The N90 will be a different animal. I think I will start to buy some prime AI lenses. I have been pretty lucky finding AI stuff, I got the 35mm 1.4 for $149.00 here at Tempe Camera which I thought was a steal. The front filter ring is bent, but I can still put the filter on it. It is the older radiation glass and has a yellow tint. I have read that this can be cured by letting it sit in the sun for a while, not a problem here in Arizona. I just bought a chrome F2 Phototomic from KEH and will use the non AI with it. Ralph, I've seen you mention your "1960's Nikon Project" I guess I'm there because 1971 was when I got my first Nikon (Nikormat FTN) my Dad was working in Japan at the time and would bring back stuff when he visited the states. I'm a hoarder and rarely sell stuff, just add to my collection. Also, I traveled allot for my job and would check out the camera shops in the towns I was in and pick stuff that interested me. John, I've noticed you have a nice collection also. I need a good place to get some of my older stuff refurbished. Where do you guys go for repairs? No one here in Phoenix is interested in working on the older stuff. I haven't tried Tucson but, I know they have some really good swap meets there and there might be someone there who does these repairs. I have heard of the other places (International Camera in Oakland) but would prefer to have a recommendation from some one I trust. I currently have 4 Nikkormats and 4 F's that I would like to refurbish. They are in good shape but I would like to make sure they are up to spec. If you have any suggestion I would love to hear. Thanks again for your valued options.


    Bob Snoody
  8. Ralph Javins
    Ralph Javins
    Good morning, Bob;

    The place that John and I use (it turns out that we live in the same region) is called Camera Clinic, 518 NE 165th Street, Shoreline, Washington, 98155, telephone 206-367-2440. The main fellow there is Doug Daily who used to work on cameras in the San Francisco Bay area diagonally across the road from EPOI, Ehrenreich Photo Optical Industries, the importer of Nikon back when the Nikon SP, F, F2, and others were in vogue. I could ask Doug about International Camera when he gets back next week.

    Yes, older lenses with lanthanum, thorium, and a few similar elements in their glass formulations do seem to respond to just being left on a south facing window sill for a few days or a week or two. The Ultra Violet radiation does seem to make the yellow color cast go away. It may not be that much of a problem if you shoot mainly black and white. And, this quirk does not affect just Nikkor lenses only. My Minolta Rokkor and Asahi-Pentax Takumar lenses also seem to develop a yellow cast if left in the camera bag for months at a time and are not taken out and exposed to sunlight with UV radiation in it. My Minolta Auto Rokkor-PF 1.4/58mm lenses were the first where I noticed this characteristic.

    The 1960's Nikon Project. Yes, it is a collection of pieces that will represent what a professional or advanced amateur might have carried in his bag back in that era. As mentioned earlier, your selection of lenses is very similar to what is in that group. It is not what EPOI had available as the best of their offerings, but it is probably representative of what people actually did afford and carry as a working set of lenses. I still like them. And, yes, they are all prime single focal length lenses. Zoom lens technology was not highly developed at that time, and usually prime lenses were chosen for their superior optical performance.

    The F's might be able to benefit from some attention, but the Nikkormats with the Copal Square shutter just seem to keep going. The one in my Nikomat FTN is just about accurate enough to use in checking the calibration of my camera test equipment. Cleaning and Lubrication do seem to help, along with a new light seal here or there, but the need for adjustment to the shutter in the Nikomat has not been required. All of them may need attention for the light meters, but that is another topic, including what path to take for getting around the loss of the PX-625 mercury formula photographic battery.


    Ralph, Latte Land, Washington
  9. John_Nikon_F
    Like Ralph, I do seem to have a '60s Nikon project going on, although, my body is a late '72 vintage F with a late eyelevel finder, some of my lenses are from the late '60s, some from the '70s, and one is from the '80s.

    My lenses are currently:

    20mm f/3.5 Nikkor-UD Nippon Kogaku
    24mm f/2.8 Nikkor-NC
    35mm f/2 Nikkor-O Nippon Kogaku
    35mm f/2.8 Nikkor-S Nippon Kogaku
    50mm f/1.4 Nikkor-S Nippon Kogaku
    50mm f/1.4 Nikkor AI
    55mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor AIS
    85mm f/1.8 Nikkor
    200mm f/4 Nikkor AI

    Of the lenses without "AI" or "AIS" listed, all, but the 35mm f/2 O and the 50mm f/1.4 S, have AI conversion rings installed on them. I've kept the non-AI style coupling shoes on the lenses, since I don't think they look right with the AI shoe installed, unless a certain lens has a nearly identical looking AI version. I do plan to add another 50mm f/2 Nikkor-H to the pool, since the one I sold with my Nikkormat FT3 had some haze built up in the glass. That lens will receive a #2 ring as well, so it can be used on all my Nikons, including the FM2n. The other lens I'm planning to add, alas, is an AIS 300mm f/4.5 EDIF Nikkor.

  10. shoe
    I have never bothered converting my old nikkors to ai and go throuh all the hassels. I like to keep them the way they were meant to be . Usually for twice the price of a good ai conversion you can pick up an ai version on e-bay, and have 2 versions . I just dont see the point of converting.
  11. BobSnoody
    Shoe, AMEN
  12. blockend
    4 Nikkormats and an F2AS in the bag. Also had an immaculate early F that I stupidly sold a few years ago. A college friend had a 'mat back in '75 and got every ounce of detail from the 50mm lens. Pin sharp 16 x 12" prints that kinda stuck with me.
  13. Ralph Javins
    Ralph Javins
    Good morning;

    Well, the early Nikons are still going. And, there has been a recent addition or two. Courtesy of John Nikon F, and an intermediary photo shop (a place to look at and buy camera equipment; not a computer program), there is also a Nikon MD-1 Motor Drive with the MB-1 Battery Pack to go onto one of the Nikon F2 cameras. And, there are also a couple of early Tamron lenses with their first version of a changeable mount lens adapter system; not the Adaptall or Adaptall-2 lens mount system. The mounts on those lenses are for the Nikon F. The lenses are the common 2.8/35mm and 2.8/135mm representative of what an awful lot of photographers actually carried back in that time period, along with their Nikon NIKKOR-H Auto 2/50mm normal lens. Back then, a lot of us could not easily afford the Nikon NIKKOR lenses, and the financial savings when going to the "third party" lenses were noticeable. And, for much of the early period of the pre-AI lenses, the NIKKOR 135mm telephoto was only an f/3.5.

    Enjoy; Ralph, Latte Land, Washington
  14. John_Nikon_F
    A few things have changed since the last time I posted about my current gear selection.

    The F no longer has an eyelevel finder. Instead, it wears a chrome FTn finder that needs some work, but is functional.

    Changes in the lens lineup: 24/2.8 NC has been replaced with the final non-AI 24/2.8, but with factory AI ring, of course. The 35/2 and 50/1.4 S are gone. Will probably be replaced with factory AI'd versions soon. The 35/2.8 was traded for an AF Nikkor, which has been gone itself for a while. 55/2.8 was replaced with a 105/2.8 AIS Micro, and the 200/4 AI was replaced with a 300/4.5 EDIF AIS. I've also added a 50/2 Nikkor-H, which will be modified with a #2 ring sometime soon.

    I also recently readded a black Nikomat FT2 that I'd owned earlier this year, after my FTn developed some other issues with it. F2-wise, I'm now running a somewhat brassy black F2AS, instead of the F2A and F2 Photomic bodies I've used in the past. Attached to that body is a MD-2/MB-1 motor drive combo that I picked up from KEH. Both the F FTn and the F2AS have P screens installed with the diagonal split-image and composition lines splitting the screen into four segments.

    I do notice that Ralph forgot to mention a couple items I gave/sold him. :-) Gave him a NKT branded F-36 drive for one of his F's and sold him a black Nikkormat FT2 for $20.

  15. Ralph Javins
    Ralph Javins
    Good morning;

    John Nikon F does have a good memory. I admit to using his encyclopeadic knowledge of things Nikon to supplement my reference books here.

    Yes, there is an F-36 Motor Drive on the bottom of one of the Nikon F bodies that had been adapted to accept that motor drive. And the black body Nikkormat FT2 is here still also. I admit that I have not done anything with the FT2 as yet; the Nikomat FTN has been working so nicely. I have not yet felt a need to take out the FT2. And the MD-1/MB-1 Motor Drive combination for the F2 is a bit of a handful. Not only does it make the F2 much taller, the combination really is noticeably heavier. Now I wonder how John carried around his F2HP with Motor Drive for as long as he did. It reminds me of my 120 roll film cameras.

    While there are also things digital in operation here (and they were in use just this weekend), the cameras from the 1960s and 1070s seem to be the ones that provide me with the nicest feeling of satisfaction when using them. I will continue using them while I can. There are some friends who are selling their manually focusing equipment and going to automatic focusing gear as their eyesight has been changing with their developing an excessive accumulation of years. At some point, I too may be passing along my older gear to some appreciative young person whose eyesight is still fresh. I can only hope that they at least understand the volume of my resources that have gone into acquiring all of this photographic stuff. Maybe I should write a book.

    Enjoy; Ralph, Latte Land, Washington
  16. LunoLuno
    Hi, everyone,

    It's nice to find the pre-Ai group in the forum. My F is the Photomic FTn which I inherited from my father. He bought it in 1969 when I was becoming a year old, and he had never renewed his camera ever since; He liked it soooo much. He took the F everywhere and shot thousands of family pictures with Kodachromes. So, it's kind of I grew up with the F, as it had been always near me. He had never let me touch it when I was too small, but when I became the age of going to school he started to let me use it under his close observation, and tought me all the basics about photography. So, by the time I went up to junior high, I got very usued to shooting with the F. I added some newer Ai lenses to the original set of father's pre-Ai's after I inherited the F, but none fo them suited my feeling, somehow. That unfamiliar feeling was the same with some newer nikon bodies I purchased myself. Maybe, the experience in my youth made me an F guy through and through. LOL I recently added a Nikkor-P 105/2.5 sonnar to the set, and now enjoying shooting with it so much. I had wanted one for a long time, but never got a chance to have one. I just finished the first roll with it today, so I'm really looking forward to the results.


  17. John Austin
    John Austin
    Wow - More old fogies using F/F2s, I thought I was the last to admit to still using my very early commercal gear now I am unretired

    I am returning to my Nikon gear after having become tired of the Leica M Myth, 'though for snapshots I use a Voigtlander Vitessa, which is the same age but vastly more reliable than my Leica

  18. John Austin
    John Austin
    PS - I have lots of Nikon F/F2 fitting bits that will never again be used by me - No Photomic heads 'though, I had the sense to destroy these as soon as I found a replacement plain prism every time I got another F/F2 with one of the metering heads

    If there is anything you need please contact me
  19. Ralph Javins
    Ralph Javins
    Good morning, JBAPhoto;

    Welcome to the early Nikon Group. As you can tell from reading the messages, there are still some people who like using what many consider to be the best camera that Nippon Kogaku K. K. produced.

    You made an offer. I have a need, but it is a bit obscure: The SN-1 Ni-Cad battery pack that went into the handle or grip of the Nikon SB-1 Electronic Flash. This is the old "potato masher" style from around 1970. The main thing that is needed is the plastic case of the battery pack itself. I can replace the old Ni-Cad cells in the battery pack, but I need the plastic case that holds them. At this point, I would buy an entire SB-1 to get a battery pack case I can rebuild.


    Ralph, Latte Land, Washington
  20. greenbank
    Hi everyone, new member here (Torquay, UK). Today I took delivery of my dream machine - a black F2 with DP-1 head, s/n 7544597 (so made in 1975). To hang on it there's a Nikkor P 105mm f/2.5, s/n 246083 (1969-70, so definitely non-AI).

    I'm not a Nikon cultist - my main cameras are Olympus OM-1s - or a collector as such, but ever since I could pronounce the word "photojournalist" I have yearned to own one of the legendary Nikon SLRs. And now I do. Just owning such a iconic beast is a great feeling - but hey, this is a Nikon F2, so it still works perfectly well and will take pictures as good as I can make them. Brilliant!

    As I said, this is not my main camera, but it will certainly get used. I might even be able to spring for another non-AI lens or two, in the fullness of time - probably a 28 or 35. Nevertheless - oh, what a feeling! Maybe I should change my user name to Manual Man - I just adore these wonderful machines and their hands-on experience.
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