Advice on old SLR (Nikkormat FTN)

Discussion in 'Collector's Corner' started by mimstrel, Jun 27, 2008.

  1. mimstrel

    mimstrel TPF Noob!

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    (Newbie here looking for some advice)
    I've been learning about photography on my two P&S digital cameras (both have manual settings, my pana has a fully manual mode). I've been dying to try an SLR but don't have money for one of the new dSLRs I've been drooling over, so instead thought I'd try film.
    My dad inherited my grandpa's old Nikkormat FTn, so I asked if I could get it out. It's over 30 years old and the film in it -which I destroyed while checking that all of the parts still work- is labled "develop before 11/1982". Guess I didn't destroy it after all! Dad thought that it didn't rewind right but everything moves and seems to work (I think dad wasn't pushing the rewind button on the bottom). It has a 50mm f/1.4 lens, which is shorter than I could hope (I love telephoto, my favorite subjects are birds) but beggers can't be choosers. I also have a flash but we'll see if that is even salvagable after so many years with batteries in it. The light meter battery was also still in and corroded but once I removed it and wiped off the contacts it looks pretty much undamaged. The light seal is dead, but seems superfluous given the case that it goes in.

    First off, any advice at all would be much appreciated. I've only gone hands on with dSLR, and that only a couple of times, despite plenty of theoretical knowledge.
    Secondly, are there any parts that I might not notice that may have deteriorated over the years? Would I still be able to replace the battery for the meter (its a mercury 1.3 volt - if not I'll just live without the meter)? If I get everything working and like using it, is there anywhere I can find a resource to see which lenses are compatable? I'd like to at least get a decent telephoto.
    I think thats all for now.
    Thanks!
     
  2. Helen B

    Helen B TPF Noob!

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    Welcome to TPF.

    The Nikkormat FTN is a great camera - very robust.

    You can use 675 zinc/air cells made for hearing aids. I used to have two Nikkormat FTNs and the only real problem I had with them was the shutter speed metering 'track' - the electrical component that represents the shutter speed in the meter circuit.

    Here is a link to a lens compatibility chart, and another link with pictures.

    How long a telephoto do you want? Among the short ones, the 105 mm f/2.5 is a classic.

    Good luck,
    Helen
     
  3. mimstrel

    mimstrel TPF Noob!

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    Helen - Thank you SO much for the lens compatibility charts (bookmarked both), and the answer to my battery question.

    For the telephoto, (for now) I'd like to get something mid-range. 200 to 300 maybe? I'll probably end up buying a couple of different lengths, and someday when I have children I'll sell one or two so I can afford a super-telephoto (lol).
     
  4. Mitica100

    Mitica100 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Great little SLR you got there! As for degradation, I would check the film door seals and the mirror damper. If they're sticky then they need replacing or you'll fog any film you put in there. That would be my #1 concern.
     
  5. Helen B

    Helen B TPF Noob!

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    You mentioned a flash. Do you have the flash shoe adaptor? It screws into the eyepiece, and sits over the pentaprism. It's not as good as using a baseplate flash mount, but it is handy sometimes.

    I don't have a lot of experience with lenses over 200 mm. My favourite around that length was the Angenieux 180 mm f/2.3 Apo, which I sold only recently. There are plenty of good Nikon lenses around that length. One source of opinion on Nikon lenses, including the older ones that are comparatively inexpensive, is here.

    I don't know where you are, but Keh is a good source of manual Nikon lenses. They ship worldwide, and they are reliable.

    Good luck,
    Helen
    PS My FTNs, a Nikkormat and Nikomat (the Japanese market version), were very dear to me and I had both of them for over thirty years. I'm always happy to talk about them. My Nikomat was previously owned by the guy I was assisting at the time I got it - Jock Sturges.
     
  6. mimstrel

    mimstrel TPF Noob!

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    Mitica- Thank you. I'll see if there are any places around that can take a look at the mirror damper, I know that the film door seal is pretty much gone. I'm going to try it out anyway because of the design of the case - I'll arrange to get the seal replaced but in the meantime can't wait!

    I do have a flash shoe adapter. The flash is not the best design IMO, some kind of old Canon model (that may not ever work again after 26 years with the same batteries and bulb inside... gotta clean that up today).

    Thanks for the links for lenses, I'll check it out a little later when I have time.
     
  7. yellowjeep

    yellowjeep TPF Noob!

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    I don't know how handy you are or if you would feel up to the task but seals are realitivly easy to replace yourself.

    Jon Goodman (not the actor) sells his seals on ebay under the user name Interslice. (http://search.ebay.com/_W0QQsassZinterslice). It is a great product.
    Jon is a great guy to talk to and extremely helpful. His advice was worth the $12 by itself.

    The large kit is enough to do about 3-4 cameras.

    Also see here:
    http://www.kyphoto.com/classics/sealreplacement.html

    These are Jon's instructions and although the FTN isn't listed I am sure he can help you out but atleast this gives you an idea.
     
  8. mimstrel

    mimstrel TPF Noob!

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    Thanks, yellowjeep. Good to know its a DIY job.
    Yeah, I do tend to enjoy doing things myself. I bought a 12 roll today to try out.
    My grandma said grandpa had problems with only getting half the photo (i.e. part would come out black). I've read that this can result from too fast of a shutter speed used with flash. What else can cause this? It appeared that the shutter and mirror moved correctly/fully.
     
  9. yellowjeep

    yellowjeep TPF Noob!

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    It was an awesome feeling when I brought my S2 back from the dead myself. As far as the incomplete exposure I have nothing for you. I would just shoot that short roll and see how the come out and post a sample or two where they come out good or not.
     
  10. mimstrel

    mimstrel TPF Noob!

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    Well my photos all came out (aside from being shaky, but that's my fault). In fact I was amazed at how bright they were - even indoors without flash. None of them were half photos (so I have no idea what Grandpa was doing wrong).

    I'll post some of the photos once I get some that aren't so shaky!
     
  11. dinodan

    dinodan TPF Noob!

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    That is almost certainly a flash synchronization problem. With an incorrect flash synchro setting or the wrong shutter speed, you end up with a "picture" of the shutter curtain as it moves across the frame, resulting in a photo that is partially black along a vertical line.

    I'm not sure about the Nikkormat, but most newer cameras will show the optimum flash synchronization shutter speed in a different color on the selector dial (my 80s Nikons have it in red). Also, older cameras (again not sure about yours) will often have a selector switch, usually marked 'M' and 'X'. 'M' is for old-fashioned "hot bulb" flash attachments, and 'X' is for electronic flash. Having this switch in the incorrect position could also cause the problem.

    Practice holding the camera steady (with both hands, it's no P&S lightweight!) and gently squeezing the shutter button rather than pressing it suddenly. Of course, shutter speed is a key factor here as well. If, as you've mentioned, you were shooting indoors without flash, you were likely using a shutter speed that was, at best, marginal for hand-held shooting. As a general rule, 1/60 of a second is considered the slowest useable speed for hand-held with a normal to wide-angle lens (50mm or less focal length). With longer lenses, camera movement is magnified (along with the image), so the shutter speed needs to be faster, which is the reason that one often sees tripods being used with telephoto lenses.

    And have fun! I'm looking forward to seeing some photos.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2008
  12. AndrewG

    AndrewG TPF Noob!

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    Google 'photography in Malaysia'; this is a fantastic resource for all things Nikon-related with masses of useful technical info on cameras and lenses-including Nikkormat.
     

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