Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Beauty From Tokyo

 When I use to go to camera swap meets a few years ago I would
always admire the Nikon rangefinder cameras some sellers were
offering but their incredible high prices was a turn off for me.
How can these cameras be as expensive as the Leica cameras I thought? If I had the money, I always tell myself, I would buy a Leica instead. A few months ago, a friend showed me his newly acquired Nikon S2. As soon as I held it I was smitten, it was beautiful! It felt great in my hands, solid but lighter than my Leica Ms. Another G.A.S attack came over me.
The Nikon S2 is the 4th rangefinder camera the Nikon corporation (Nippon Kogaku) had produced and the second of the S series between 1954 -1958.
Browsing my favorite online auction site, I saw this S2 with a black Nikkor S-C 5cm f 1.4 lens. It was described as in excellent condition and although the bidding time was only a few minutes left, the highest bid was still very low compared to other listings I've seen. I noticed that the seller was the Salvation Army. Maybe not many bidders trust the seller because it's not a normal camera dealer.
I added $50 more to the highest bid and went to bed, expecting to be out-bid by a few hundred dollars more in the end. To my pleasant surprise in the morning I had won the darn thing.
The camera's viewfinder is very bright with a light greenish tint. Focusing is done by either turning the focusing ring on the lens or the focusing wheel on the body just above the rangefinder window.
Some quirks I noticed while using the camera. During focusing, the whole lens mount turns with the lens. Changing the aperture setting is a little tricky because as you turn the aperture ring the whole lens barrel rotates with it unless you lock the lens to the infinity setting or press on to the infinity lock of the focusing wheel. Although the lens is interchangeable, this camera is primarily designed for 50mm lens. You will need an accessory viewfinder for other focal lengths. The shutter speed dial rotates as you make the exposure so care must be done not to touch the dial as you shoot or it will affect your exposure. In spite of these, this camera is a joy to use and will be one of my favorite shooters. For more information on the Nikon S2 and the other S series of rangefinder cameras, please check out Camera Quest.
Here are some results from my first test roll. Kodak BW400CN


  1. Wow. You're going to enjoy that one.
    I had an S model forty years ago. Been kicking myself daily ever since for selling it. Terrific glass.

  2. Thanks, Mike. Looking forward to more shooting this weekend.