Talk:Nikon rangefinder models

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Discussion pages are for discussing improvements to the article itself, not for discussions about the subject of the article.

Reason for keeping the 24×34mm size

I'm pretty sure that the reason for keeping the 24×34mm size on the Nikon M and S is that the body casting did not allow a longer exposure frame, and the company did not want to have a new casting made specially for that. There was certainly no doubt on the corner sharpness of the Nikkor lenses, which were originally computed to cover the full 24×36mm format on the Canon, and were also sold in Leica mount. --rebollo_fr 10:49, 25 May 2009 (EDT)

Answer to Rebollo_fr:

The body casting aperture width of Nikon S measures 33.8mm close to the film plane and the material thickness is about 1mm. Immediately in front of the shutter curtain there is no body casting what-so-ever which could possibly conflict with the light path from either side of the lens mount opening. The closest objects are the shutter curtains on the drums either side, but they are not likely to disturb the light passing them, although the right-hand drum at open shutter is full. Making the opening in the film gate casting 35,8mm is completely realistic at that time.

However I find it difficult to understand that either reason currently proposed, would make Nikon reluctant to change the gate size, considering the importance for them to comply with international standards. I'm pretty sure though, that their lens specifications dictate caution increasing the image circle, this being dictated by design rules and rooted in their pride as lens makers. The situation my possibly be rooted in a conflict between different departments in the house.

I see your point regarding Canon, but the lenses for the Nikon were new developments for the Nikon, not for Canon, and I don’t really believe Nikon worried too much about these things if customers wanted to use their lenses on Leicas, Canons or Contaxes for that matter.

With regards, Jan 25 May 2009

I read the story of the body casting not accepting the full 24×36mm format in a Japanese book on Nikon, otherwise very well sourced and documented. Close examination of the position of the curtain drums relative to the light path would be required, for the various lenses intended for the camera.
On the other hand, I find it very difficult to believe that Nikkor lenses had insufficient coverage. This would be a very contradictory situation where Nikon applied extreme caution on the lens quality on their own bodies, and very little on other cameras, whereas the Leica-mount versions were official Nikon products as well.
Moreover, I'm not convinced that the Nikkor lenses for the Nikon were new developments. (On the contrary, I heard that the main reason for the incompatibility between Nikon and Contax mounts was that the company did not recompute the "50mm" lenses to the same precise focal length specs as the Contax standard lenses.)
I'm not 100% sure of any of the things I said above, and would not add them to an article now. But I think we should not add that story of corner quality either, or at least we should make clear that this is a guess only.
--rebollo_fr 10:28, 26 May 2009 (EDT)

To: Rebollo_fr.

Thank your for your valuable input. I fully agree it would not be prudent to make unsubstantiated statements on Camerapedia. I also agree that my statement may easily be misinterpreted. On the other hand, the problem at hand is relevant, and I hoped someone might contribute. I can assure you that I base most of my opinions with respect to cameras on first hand information. The question in this case, however, is not about the performance of the Nikkor lenses as such, but rather wether the Nikon lens department would approve a change to the camera, which possibly was not anticipated or included in the lens specifications. I cannot say, but the issue seems most likely related to the lenses, as stated. I am well aware this seems far fetched, but as I se it after thorough investigation, the problem is that every other conceivable explanation for this irrational behaviour on the part of Nikon, seems even less probable.

I shall, all the same, reword my article on the Nikon as requested. I would very much like to be informed if any information should turn up from your vast resources which might enlighten the matter any further.

Best regards, Jan - 26. May 2009

Thank you for your answer. The article is fine, and we can add thoughts on 24×32mm and 24×34mm gradually in the future, after checking the sources first.
It is well known that cameras using 24×32mm format were banned by the US occupation authorities (at least for export). It is said that this was motivated by complaints from Kodak, either because the resulting pictures were not matching standard slide mounts, or because exposed film rolls were badly cut by the Kodachrome automatic processing machines, which were adjusted for 24×36mm (of course this would be a problem of frame spacing, not frame size). This is quite credible, although we should check the original sources.
Other than Nikon, the format was used at the time by Minolta, Topcon and Olympus. The latter two directly switched to 24×36mm, but Minolta took the same steps as Nikon, intermediate Minolta 35 versions having 24×33mm or 24×34mm format. I would guess that the exposure spacing was immediately standardized by adapting the rotation of the sprocket shaft. Then why not standardize the exposure format too?
I was ready to believe the story of incompatible body castings but it it invalidated by your own observations. I can see no real good explanation, but I have two ideas:
  1. Viewfinders were originally designed for 24×32mm format, and were perhaps unmodified at the beginning. Extending the format all the way to 24×36mm might have made too big a difference between the field of view and the actual picture, and some compromise was made.
  2. The 24×32mm size was adopted by Minolta first, then by Nikon and Topcon, and was called "Nihon-size", i.e. Japanese size, at least by some companies. I think that the key engineers who decided to use that format were motivated by two main reasons: on the one hand, some of them sincerely believed that 24×36mm pictures were too elongated, on the other, they wanted to create a special format to distinguish themselves from the Leica and Leica copies (such as the Canon, Nicca or Leotax). When the format was forbidden by the US authorities, Minolta and Nikon engineers perhaps dragged their feet for these two reasons, and created intermediate formats.
Regards, --rebollo_fr 12:40, 27 May 2009 (EDT)

At the outset, I was fascinated by the constructional inconsistencies found on the Nikon M and S. It seemed like NK did not know what to do. NK launched the Nikon S one and a half year after the Nikon M, yet only adding the sync. contact, not addressing any other major issue.

NK had increased the gate to 34mm and the film advance to eight notches in order to meet Kodak's cutting and framing machine specifications, resulting in a 4mm space between frames on the film. Even though the film frames was only 34mm long, it was the same as the aperture in the Kodak paper frames, which might be acceptable to the user. Hence, MacArthur's administration approved the 24×34mm format cameras for export to the US. The Nikon S could easily have handled an even longer film gate, possibly quite close to the established standard, as already discussed. Yet it didn't. Why?

The advantage using the Nippon / Nihon size was already lost in the Nikon M and Nikon S cameras, one of the reasons for using that format! (Giving eight frames for every seven standard frames, and matching the common paper sizes better).

The point regarding the camera finder adds towards a solution: The Nikon S finder frame retains the original format (ca. 1:1.3 ratio). No effort has been made to match the finder frame to the film gate format.

To conclude; it seems likely NK was reluctant to do any modifications what so ever to the Nikon S which was not absolutely necessary, as evident in the cameras incoherent structure. The Nikon S being approved for export, it seems NK had decided to leave the design alone, and concentrate all their efforts building a new camera, the Nikon S2, and include their accumulated knowledge in that. This may explain the inconsistencies found on the Nikon S.

Thanks for your guidance!

Best regards, Jan - 28. May 2009

Re. adding an image to this page.

There is a nice Nikon S (f_nikon_S) image on the Camerapedia (Pool), uploaded by ricksoloway October 11, 2008, which would be a nice addition to this page, howerver I don't know how to do it correctly. Jan - 01.08.2009

I've just added the image. The easiest way to add an image is to use the template: Flickr image. There are explanations of how it works in the template page itself. The other way is to build your own layout in mediawiki syntax (as I did in that case); this gives more freedom but is usually unnecessary to insert a single image. --rebollo_fr 05:59, 2 August 2009 (EDT)

Thanks - Jan

The first Nikons' format and export outside Japan

The various discussions appearing below rely on web-based statements that have been mostly superseded by more recent research. If you are interested in the problems with the 24X32 formats and the early exportation of Nikon Camera, I strongly recommend that you read my book on the subject: The Nikon Camera in America, 1946-1953 (McFarland Press, 2008). To sum up: The first model Nikons were NOT banned from export by the Occupation Authorities, Virtually all the first model Nikons that were sold, were exported. What appeared to have actually happened is that the 24X32 format was a size advocated by the post-war Japanese government. Japanese optical Companies getting into the 35mm camera business for the first time took that as a directive and designed their cameras accordingly. 35mm camera manufacturers already in business (Canon, Nicca) did not change their size. Minolta was the first out of the gate and their cameras sold in the military exchanges briefly before complaints about the format led the CPO to ban the format in the PXs. This had no effect on overseas shipments. In April 1950, the Nikon M was accepted for sale in the military exchanges, and that became the camera's major market until American sales took off in 1951. The Nikon I and the Nikon M were both imported and sold in the United States in small numbers. Sales of the Nikon I in the United States ceased in May 1949 after the importer (Overseas Finance and Trading Company) told Nippon Kogaku that they had to change the format if they wished to sell in America.

The problems with focusing Nikkor long lenses on the Contax and visa-versa, appears to be due to the different rangefinder focusing systems the cameras use. Nikons use a Leica-style spring-loaded cam coupled to a rotating prism, while as Contaxes use a gear-driven shifting prism. As a result, the internal focusing mounts are pitched slightly different. This creates a problem for longer lenses which magnify the focusing differences. WES LODER

I have edited the entry on the early Nikon rangefinder cameras to bring the information more in-line with current knowledge. The statements made on the web that the military authorities banned the export of 24 X 32 format cameras is simply not true. The sales records of the early Nikons clearly indicate that overseas is where most of the early Nikons went. We have been unable to locate a ban by the CPO (central Purchasing Office) on Nikon sales to the military exchanges stores, but that apparently did exist since no 24X32 camera sales occurred after a few months of sales of the first model Minolta. Such a ban might be where the confusion on what was allowed to be "exported" might lie, since sales to the PXs were considered "exports."

If you have any other questions about these changes, please feel free to contact me. WES LODER

Lens Mount

The Nikon's have a mount that is similar to Contax but not the same - They rotate to opposite sides - There is a 0.31mm difference in the lens-to-film plane in the inner mount - Outer mount seems to be fully compatible

Anyone has another source to confirm this? Titrisol (talk) 18:23, 6 December 2021 (UTC)