January 16, 2011 § Leave a comment


Nikkormat FTn


This was my first “real” camera, which I bought sometime in the mid 1970s. Before that, I had an Argus C3 and a Zeiss Contaflex, both of which temporarily fed my growing hunger for photography. But finally I knew I needed to step up to something better. I was working at the University of New Hampshire at the time and asked Gary Samson, who was one of the university photographers, about which brand to buy. He said that if I could afford the Nikkormat, I should get into the Nikon system.

Opening that box with the brand-new Nikkormat was exciting! I had bought it one afternoon on my way to have dinner with friends. When I arrived at their house, I sat in the driveway for a long time, reading the instruction book and trying out all of the knobs and dials. I think someone finally had to come out and get me to come in to dinner!

For a long time, I was afraid to take the camera out of my living room. It was so expensive! My other cameras were second-hand and already had a few bumps and scratches, but the Nikkormat didn’t have a mark on it. Eventually, I could see that it was ridiculous to just keep this beautiful thing on the coffee table, and I began to take it with me wherever I went.

The Nikkormat was the first in a long line of Nikons. There were several more Nikkormats . . . the FT2 and the EL. Then there were a couple of battered, tough old Nikon Fs, several Nikon FEs, and finally a couple of F3s, which were glorious cameras. The chapter ends with a series of digital Nikons . . . D40, D70, D80.

But I never was completely happy with the 35mm format. The frame was always too long and narrow for me (in the picture above, you can see that I have cropped the image down a bit), and the quality of the images was not up to the 120 film that I liked so much. I did, however, appreciate the ability to use different lenses, so 35mm cameras stayed in my arsenal for a long time.

As it happened, when digital came along, I found myself drawn more and more to compact cameras, and actually sold off my Nikons in favor of smaller Canons, Panasonics, and Ricohs that fit easily into my pocket. Still, what a feeling it was to set off along the New Hampshire seacoast on a Saturday morning, with a pocketful of film and that shining Nikkormat slung across my shoulder!


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