|The Nikomat FTn is Nikon's mid-range SLR built for consumers and hobbyists.|
Some time ago, I bought myself a Film SLR with the intent to venture into film photography. It's intriguing to read that film is a dying art because digital photography is more popular in terms of quick preview, unlimited shots and the latest features.
However, after a while of using my Digital SLR (I started August 2015), I noticed some limitations that made me want to look at other options:
- Being APS-C means that edges of the frame are cropped out. You won't see the beautiful distortions, vignetting and softness on the edges that you would in full frame. Looking at my Nikomat FTn's viewfinder for the first time suddenly opened up a new world for me!
- The viewfinder on my Nikon D5200 is a tad too dark and tiny. This is crucial for me since I always rely on the viewfinder for focusing, and I'm always on manual focus.
- An old Film SLR body costs no more than the cheapest modern lens.
- Developing and printing film may be more expensive in the long run, but forces you to be more thoughtful and calculating before hitting the shutter button. A few shots where many are useable is worth more than a thousand shots where only a few are useable.
- Film is tangible, and I remember the feeling of excitement as a kid when anticipating an envelop of newly developed and printed film.
- The biggest reason probably, is that I think anything vintage is cool and exciting. Thus, my venture into film photography.
Why the Nikkormat FTn?
Looking at many choices for Nikon Film SLRs, the Nikomat/Nikkormat FTn won my heart. It is a fully manual SLR produced between 1967 to 1975, and built like a battle tank. It can take pictures without batteries (it's used for light metering) and it just feels more precious.
In the old days, the Nikon F was a professional SLR and cost quite alot. In order to gain the mid-range market, Nikon came up with the timeless classic Nikomat FTn for consumers and hobbyists.
This Nikomat FTn that I have doesn't seem to age even when it's decades old, unlike the newer plastic body ones that tend to look dirty and have faded markings after many years.
Bundled with this beautiful camera was a Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5 (Nikon's most popular zoom lens, according to them), a neck strap and leather protective case. Isn't that a sweet deal!
My first ever roll of film used with this Nikomat FTn, is an Ilford HP5+ ISO 400. I already felt excited and nervous as I put on the film and took my first shots... Did I put the film right? Will my exposure be correct? Keeping my fingers crossed...
This item is up for sale and discounted (another unit, not this one)
Before we close this articles, here's a quick run through of the features:
1) It's made of metal and weighs a ton. The type of metal that will make the flooring crack when you drop it. It actually had a dent on the side, but I didn't mind.
2) Defects? Lots of dust when I got it, but cleaning was easy. There's a dent on the metal beside the back cover hinge. Sticky shutter at 1" and 1/2" (I rarely use those speeds anyway) while the other shutter speeds work fine.
3) It's 100% manual so you wind the film forward by cranking the lever beside the shutter button.
4) It doesn't have a built-in flash, and if I want to mount an external flash on it, would need to find a detachable accessory shoe that is screwed onto the viewfinder window... but parts are hard to find!
5) The shutter speed can be adjusted by rotating the dial on the mount. Speeds vary from Bulb, 1" to 1/1000". I often find myself using 1/4" to 1/30"
6) The timer can be set by pulling the lever left of the lens mount, then clicking on the shutter button.
7) The Depth of Field Preview Button located beside the shutter button is the equivalent of Nikon cameras' Live View feature of today. It lets you see the actual image when set to a certain aperture.
8) To open the back cover, simply pull the metal lever on the left side of the body.
9) The viewfinder uses a pentaprism. It's large and bright so it's easy to manual focus.
10) There's an M and X Port for flash sync, but I would hardly need to use one.
11) There's an aperture feeler/pin that you need to match when mounting the lens. This is for light metering.