Modern Classic SLRs Series
Nikon F - Variations & Special Models


Well, I have to admit I don't know all of the available Nikon F variation, as there are literally many other models, one-offs, and custom modifications to the F floating around out there. These are a few of the more famous ones. A much nicer source of information is at Stephen Gandy's Cameraquest. (* Also refer to some special and prototypes models of Nikon at MIR).

Nikon F Red Dot This is probably the most misrepresented special model, thanks to some inadvertent misinformation in Peterson's Nikon System Handbook. Red Dot models may be identified by a red dot next to the serial number; the appropriate serial numbers are 659xxxx and 660xxxx. When the Photomic T finder was introduced in 1965, the top plate of the camera body was slightly revised; the eyepiece of the T finder was slightly larger than on previous finders, to accomodate the relay prism and lenses which allowed for through-the-lens (reflected, continuous) light metering. Previous meters had a direct path to the source of light via either a light-gathering window ("Model x" meters) or a lens (Photomic prism). Thus, the red dot indicated those bodies shipped from the factory which originally had the eyelevel prism mounted, but which would take the Photomic T finder without modification. Previous serial number-model F's will require (or have had) modification to accept the T and later Photomic finders (Tn, FTn); this modification consists of grinding out the top plate slightly to accomodate the extra eyepiece size.

NikonF36RedDOTasml.JPG NikonF36RedDOTbsml.JPG NikonF36RedDOTcsml.JPG
<<< ---Credit: All images courtesy of Mr. Peter Kunst <> . Peter and Tina operate a pupular Ebay Store, selling many interesting used Photo equipment of various brands. Image copyright © 2003. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.
NikonF36RedDOTdsml.JPG NikonF36RedDOTesml.JPG ikonF36RedDOTgsml.JPG

Red Dots are neither rare nor specialised enough to warrant their rarefied prices. They are slightly more exceptional than your run-of-the-mill F, but all later bodies (67xxxxx +) incorporate their "refinement" and a lot of earlier bodies have been modified to the Red Dot spec. Personally, if I had $1 000 US to invest in a collectible F (I'd look for an interesting lens, first off, but that's a topic for later discussion ...), I'd rather get one of the early (6400xxx) models to trace the evolution of the F; heck, for $1000 US, I could almost afford an SP. One word of warning: for those of you shopping on eBay, virtually anything that is collectible will have an inflated price, whether calculators or cameras. It's nice to have whatever you want right at your fingertips, but remember that you're dealing with "experts", real and self-styled, who have plenty of money to throw at these auctions. Watch out for "shill" bidders; though eBay tries to control them, I have heard they're still operating.

Nikon F - High Speed Motor Drive Camera . There are two extremely rare F high speeds, 1971 and 1976 models. It is a testament to Nikon's fundamentally sound professional-body design that they are able to regularly offer slightly modified bodies and motors which far outperform their peers (and even some modern counterparts).

Front section view of 7 frames per second  Nikon F High Speed Camera w/ Special Zoom Finder, 1972
The 1971 F High Speed delivers 7 fps with the mirror locked up (regular F/F36 combinations offer 4fps with MLU). I am still sketchy on the details of this model, but it apparently ran off a (cordless?) pack containing sixteen "AA" cells (although 24V may seem like a lot of potential, the later F2 High Speed-MD would use four MN-1 packs, for 30V of potential).

The 1976's
version II Nikon F High Speed delivered 9 fps for photographers at the Montreal Winter Games. Although similar to the previous 1971 model, the 1976 model reputedly came in a 250-exposure subvariant, although very few of them were produced.

| Photo Showcase | on Nikon F high Speed Motor Drive camera (x3) models

Page 1 Nikon F High Speed Model 1 | Page 2 Nikon F High Speed Version 1 | Page 3 Nikon F High Speed Sapporo Winter Olympic Model

Credit: Image courtesy of Mr. Peter Coeln from LEICA Shop®, Austria who also operates a popular Westlicht Auction House. Image Copyright © 2008. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

F2 High Speed.jpg

F3 High Speed.jpg

However, it seems likely that, unless we see a Cine-Nikon in the future, the F3-H represents the pinnacle (13.8 fps) of manual focus high-speed design; the performance of the F5 (8 fps with AF tracking) is honestly not too far behind and, compared with the F3-High Speed Motor Drive Camera, seems a relative bargain (it's really strange to say "F5" and "bargain" in the same sentence ...).

Black NIKON F/F36 cordless TRIBUNE High Speed Motor Drive camera. Credit: Mr Douglas of Made possible by Mr Khoking, Koh.

Nikon F2 High Speed-Motor Drive Camera

F3-High Speed Motor Drive Camera (MIR's Pix)


Whenever collectible F's are mentioned, and especially F High Speeds, I continue to hear the name of the late Jose Wu Chang; perhaps one of you out there would be so kind to shed some light on his collection. These cameras had a pellicle mirror.

Nikon F APOLLO | Click here for Nikon F Apollo Model | Courtesy of Mr Marc Vorgers <> Apollo is the nickname given to the F's in the last year(s) of production, 1972-74, and refers to the use of plastic-tipped winding and self-timer levers. Although it's useful to know that such F's incorporate all of the lessons Nikon learned from its devoted corps of photojournalists and users, and are fairly refined, it again seems to be a source of overinflated prices. The plastic tips are a bit nicer on your fingers and thumb, but for similar or lower prices, both the F2 and F3 offer the same refinement as well as shorter winding strokes and smoother overall operation. Then again, if you're assembling a collection of F's ...

Nikon F NASA You can pick up one of the rarest Nikon F's in existence for free; the only catch is that it's on the moon ... Hasselblad advertised something similar a few years ago, but the Nikon F's that the Apollo astronauts brought there were just as rare and rugged as those 'blads.

The later professional bodies were also featured on space missions, and I've seen pictures of the space shuttle version of the F3: very purposeful and massive; probably easy to operate with gloves on. NOTE;- There is a showcase on NIKON F3 NASA 250 with NASA-modified Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 in MIR site.

<<<---- Picture Courtesy of HIURA Shinsaku of Nikomat Club, Japan.

Nikon F NATO I don't know much about these other than that they were produced in either white or olive and distributed for NATO use. It is possible that their specifications were similar to those made for the US military (KS-8xA series). "Did you know there some Nikons F with a "T" ingraved in the film rewind crank? This means that such a camera is bought as taxfree on a militairy base." - Ted Wengelaar - [Updated info] (any conrbution ?)

Nikon F White Leather These are the rarest F's that I know of: total production of two. They were built on request for John Faber Mountain Lakes, New Jersey in 1963, serial numbers 6507770 and 6507771. The production count was later confirmed by Nippon Kogaku in 1982. (any conrbution ?)
Nikon F US Navy KS-80A special edition model, image provided by Matthew Lin  matthewcclin(AT)
Nikon F Navy KS-80A This F came with an F36, the pistol grip, and a 43-86f/3.5. It was built mainly for the US military as a "grab shot" kind of camera -- i.e., with one hand driving/flying/whatever, you could use the other to take pictures with it. Actually, I think that it was used mainly for aerial photography, with the 43-86 sporting an infinity lock of some kind (it would make sense, too, that you wouldn't want to take both hands off of the airplane's controls). Stephen Gandy knows a lot more about the KS-8xA series (apparently, different models were built by a single person, to fulfill a contract that EPOI had taken out with the military), and his much better page dealing with these cameras is the best reference that I know of.

A beautifully captured photo of the Nikon F US Navy KS-80A model by Matthew Lin. Image courtesy of Matthew Lin®. Matthew also maintains an excellent Nikon/Nikkor personal site where you can access to some oldies. Images copyright 2008. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

Nikon F KS-80A Kit 'U.S. NAVY' Nikon F black Tokyo  engraved: U.S. NAVY with prism finder, raised rewind knob, back with all U.S. NAVY details, modified F-36 motor Tokyo engraved U.S. NAVY, hand grip with electric release, spare back. Approx. Year: c.1964
Nikon F KS-80A Kit 'U.S. NAVY'

Nikon F black Tokyo engraved: U.S. NAVY with prism finder, raised rewind knob, back with all U.S. NAVY details, modified F-36 motor Tokyo engraved U.S. NAVY, hand grip with electric release, spare back. Approx. Year: c.1964

Credit: Image courtesy of Mr. Peter Coeln from LEICA Shop®, Austria who also operates a popular Westlicht Auction House. Image Copyright © 2008. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.
Early/Prototypes on Nikon F Early Nikon F's have a hollow winding lever, a squarely-shaped and cross-hatched (knurled) self-timer lever (rather than the usual "stripes" along the lever's length), "Nippon Kogaku" engraving inside the eyelevel prism, a fairly coarse Fresnel pattern on the screen, which should be notched on both the left and right sides (sot that you can insert it in either orientation), and some patent numbers engraved inside the slip-off back. See also Cover III (inside back cover) of the September 1969 Modern Photography. Some of the very earliest F's have cloth shutters, instead of titanium foil. Of all the collectible Nikon F's, I would most want this one (of all the collectible Nikon products, I'd most like a 300f/2.8 Preset Nikkor-H ED, but that's not happening any time soon). I feel that, along with the KS-8xA's and High Speeds, these are the most mechanically distinctive and, as such, deserve the highish prices I'm beginning to see for them. (any conrbution ?)

Nikon F Gold with matching 50mm f/2

Nikon F Specially Numbered

Similar to Leica's issuing the MP to famous Leica users, such as Eisenstaedt, Nikon gave the 500 000th F to the American photographer who perhaps most aided the ascendance of Nikon: David Douglas Duncan. I believe that there was no mechanical or functional distinction of this camera, unlike the MP. (any conrbution ?)

Nikon F Gold Finish body

| Photo Showcase | on Nikon F Gold with Non-Ai 50mm f/2.0 standard lens.

NIKKOR-F camera body for German Market
| Photo Showcase | on "NIKKOR" F camera models

A Black NIKKOR FTn and Chtome Photomic Body with Non-Ai 50mm f/2.0; these were believed to be made for German export market.

Credit: Image courtesy of Mr. Peter Coeln from LEICA Shop®, Austria who also operates a popular Westlicht Auction House. Image Copyright © 2008. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

With a lot of help from my friends:

Contributing Site: Nikon F in Black outfit by Marc Vorgers <

JohnFBrittenFTn1sml.jpg JohnFBrittenFTn2SML.jpg JohnFBrittenFTn4sml.jpg JohnFBrittenFTn3sml.jpg JohnFBrittenFTn5SML.jpg
Nikon F all-Black finished - courtesy of John F Britten

Nikon F Olive -LINK
Nikon F Olive NIKON F camera with nikkor auto 50mm f1.4 lens. It is in OLIVE PAINT finish. It was painted by professional worker, cost 50,000YEN, in JAPAN. It is a Masterpiece, really an artware!!! It comes with the cap in oliver paint too!


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Recommended links to understand more technical details related to the Nikkor F-mount and production Serial Number: by: my friend, Rick Oleson by: Hansen, Lars Holst

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Copyright © 1998. Michael C. Liu ®

Site rearranged by: leofoo ®. Credit: Hiura Shinsaku® from Nikomat Club of Japan for feeding some useful inputs on the introductory page. The great 3D logo by Kiasu; Ted Wengelaar®, Holland for his continuous flow of input of early Nikon bodies. Stephen Gandy's Cameraquest; Marc Vorgers from Holland for his additinal images on Nikon F Apollo; Hayao Tanabe corrected my Red Dot and Early F assertions. Gray Levett, Grays of Westminster publishes an excellent monthly historical look at Nikon products, from where I learned about the high-speed F's. Made with a PowerMac, broadcast with a Redhat Linux powered server.

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