Nikon F

35mm MF film SLR camera


Production details
Announced:April 1959
System: Nikon F (1959)
Imaging plane
Maximum format:35mm full frame
Mount and Flange focal distance:Nikon F [46.5mm]
Imaging plane:36 × 24mm film
Speeds:1 - 1/1000 + B
Exposure metering:None
Exposure modes:Manual
Physical characteristics

Manufacturer description #1

There are many reasons why the Nikon F is the fastest selling big ticket 35mm camera, today.

Its remarkably brilliant finder and its extraordinary ease of handling by themselves distinguish the Nikon from other fine 35mm reflex cameras.

But in addition, the Nikon F offers more automatic features, more design innovations, more lenses - all Nikkors (ranging from 8mm super wide angle through 1000mm super tele-photo), and a wider range of unique accessories, than any other camera. For example, the Dealer can sell the Nikon F with the remarkable new Photomic Finder (Nikon F Photomic) which incorporates a meter and prism finder in the same housing, or he can sell the Nikon F with the conventional prism finder, and have the opportunity to sell the Photomic finder, or the conventional meter, afterwards.

The performance and durability of the Nikon F have been proved under the most demanding conditions 'man shoots' and satellite launchings, while attached to speed boats, racing cars and planes, in extremes of heat and cold. It has withstood the incredible demands of continuous motor operation - a performance matched by no other 35mm camera.

Today the Nikon F is the '35' used by more Professional, Scientific and Industrial photographers than any other camera. And it presents the Dealer with more opportunities for profitable lens and accessory sales.

NIKON "F" AUTOMATIC REFLEX CAMERA - 35mm; 36 exposure, 1 x 1 1/2 Available with interchangeable Photomic finder (Nikon F Photomic) - combining a meter and prism finder in one housing - or a conventional pentaprism eyelevel finder. Features instant return automatic mirror and instant reopen automatic diaphragm; built-in depth of field preview control; built-in ground glass rangefinder - interchangeable with standard ground glass. Provision for locking mirror up; accepts diaphragm and shutter coupled exposure meter; electric motor drive. Accepts accessory waist level finder; 13 shutter speeds, click-stop, from 1 to 1/1000 plus T & B, on single non-rotating dial; full synch plus electronic flash at 1/60; auto zero reset exposure counter; calibrated, delayed action self timer; removable back; fixed take up spool; single stroke rapid film advance; high speed film rewind; tripod socket built into camera body.


Eye-level photomic finder (meter and prism in one housing) provides full size image of the entire field even when wearing glasses. Interchanges with pentaprism finder or with accessory waist-level hood and magnifier. Finder field coincides precisely with film area - covers 100% of the image as it will record on the film.

Convex, lenticular focusing ground glass gives maximum and uniform brightness over the entire field. Has built-in prismatic, split-image rangefinder as a further aid to precise focusing. Interchanges easily with other types of Nikon ground glasses.


Whisper-quiet, lightning fast-the mirror returns to precise focusing-viewing position the instant the exposure is made, even with the camera held upside down. A special, patented brake helps eliminate vibration from the mirror's action.


Focus and view with the lens wide open. At the instant of exposure, the diaphragm automatically closes down to 'taking' aperture. Then, instantly, automatically it reopens again to full aperture. So unique is the design of the Nikon automatic diaphragm that even when pre-set for intermediate openings-between markings - the action of the diaphragm will not disturb the setting. When interchanging lenses, no attention need be paid as to whether or not the shutter had been previously wound. The diaphragm is fully automatic and foolproof.


Press the Preview Control button, and the diaphragm stops down. Permits you to see the depth-of-field at 'taking' aperture - or to select 'taking' aperture on the basis of desired depth-of-field. Release the button, and the diaphragm reopens instantly. The Preview Control is independent of the shutter release mechanism, and cannot cause accidental exposure.

Manufacturer description #2

  • 35mm single lens reflex camera.
  • Picture size: 24mmx36mm.
  • Interchangeable Eye-Level finder with penta-prism supplied as standard equipment.
  • Interchangeable type A focusing screen supplied as standard fitment. Vibration-free, automatic instant return mirror which can be placed in locked up position.
  • Focal plane shutter using ball bearing and titanium foil curtain.
  • Built-in calibrated self-timer.
  • Flash synchronization for all speeds up to 1/1000 sec., with provisions for electronic flash up to 1/60 sec.
  • Press button type depth of field preview control.
  • Instant reopening automatic diaphragm, closes to preselected "taking" aperture at instant of exposure: automatically reopens to full aperture.
  • Bayonet lens mount.
  • Self-resetting type exposure counter. Film winding by single stroke lever which also cocks the shutter and operates the exposure counter.
  • Rapid film rewinding crank which folds down when not in use.
  • Detachable camera back which is interchangeable with Motor Drive Back.
  • Fixed take-up spool.
  • Tripod socket in body casting
  • Accepts Model 3 Nikon exposure meter
  • ASA ratings from 6 to 4,000.

Nikon F Photomic-T

With exception of the following, all other specifications remain exactly the same as in Nikon F.

  • Interchangeable Photomic-T finder supplied as standard equipment.
  • Film speeds range from ASA 25 to 6,400.
  • Dimensions: 147mm x 103mm x 101mm with 50mm f/1.4 lens.
  • Weight: body without lens 830 g (1.8 lbs.), body with 50mm f/1.4 lens 1,155 g (2.5 lbs.).

Manufacturer description #3

The Nikon F is a 35 mm single lens reflex precision camera. It inherits numerous proven features of the Nikon S-series rangefinder model, and also incorporates abundant outstanding mechanisms and advantages which have been originated and developed for the most advanced single lens reflex. These unique features and functions originated by Nikon include:

Inherited from Nikon S-series rangefinder model:

  1. Crank-type film rewinding lever.
  2. Film advance lever enabling winding in a single sweep or several short strokes.
  3. Titanium foil shutter curtain.
  4. Shutter mechanism utilizing ball bearing and steel friction balls.
  5. Color-coded flash synchronization system.
  6. Synchronization terminal accepting cordless flash.
  7. Regular camera back that is interchangeable with Motor Drive back.

Specially originated for Nikon F:

  1. Interchangeable through-the-Iens meter/finder system.
  2. Depth of field preview control.
  3. Mirror lock-up.
  4. Interchangeable viewfinders and focusing screens.
  5. Exposure meter coupled to both shutter speed and diaphragm aperture through the meter coupling prong.
  6. Color-coded depth of field scale on Nikkor lenses.

The camera body is composed of 918 pieces. These parts are precisely designed, processed, finished and assembled and are subject to strict inspections to bring out the matchless performance of the Nikon F camera.

From the editor

The following versions of the Nikon F were offered:

  • Nikon F (1959) - a standard model with conventional pentaprism eye-level finder;
  • Nikon F Photomic (1962) - as F, but with interchangeable Photomic eye-level finder, combining a window meter and prism finder in one housing;
  • Nikon F Photomic T (1965) - as F, but with interchangeable Photomic-T eye-level finder with built-in TTL exposure meter;
  • Nikon F Photomic TN (1967) - as F, but with interchangeable Photomic-TN eye-level finder with built-in TTL exposure meter and center-weighted metering;
  • Nikon F Photomic FTN (1968) - as F, but with interchangeable Photomic-FTN eye-level finder with built-in TTL exposure meter and center-weighted metering. Shutter speeds displayed in the finder.


The weight and dimensions are indicated for the camera body with the Nikkor-S Auto 50mm F/1.4 lens mounted.

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35mm full frame

43.27 24 36
  • Dimensions: 36 × 24mm
  • Aspect ratio: 3:2
  • Diagonal: 43.27mm
  • Area: 864mm2

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Image stabilizer

A technology used for reducing or even eliminating the effects of camera shake. Gyro sensors inside the lens detect camera shake and pass the data to a microcomputer. Then an image stabilization group of elements controlled by the microcomputer moves inside the lens and compensates camera shake in order to keep the image static on the imaging sensor or film.

The technology allows to increase the shutter speed by several stops and shoot handheld in such lighting conditions and at such focal lengths where without image stabilizer you have to use tripod, decrease the shutter speed and/or increase the ISO setting which can lead to blurry and noisy images.

Original name

Lens name as indicated on the lens barrel (usually on the front ring). With lenses from film era, may vary slightly from batch to batch.


Format refers to the shape and size of film or image sensor.

35mm is the common name of the 36x24mm film format or image sensor format. It has an aspect ratio of 3:2, and a diagonal measurement of approximately 43mm. The name originates with the total width of the 135 film which was the primary medium of the format prior to the invention of the full frame digital SLR. Historically the 35mm format was sometimes called small format to distinguish it from the medium and large formats.

APS-C is an image sensor format approximately equivalent in size to the film negatives of 25.1x16.7mm with an aspect ratio of 3:2.

Medium format is a film format or image sensor format larger than 36x24mm (35mm) but smaller than 4x5in (large format).

Angle of view

Angle of view describes the angular extent of a given scene that is imaged by a camera. It is used interchangeably with the more general term field of view.

As the focal length changes, the angle of view also changes. The shorter the focal length (eg 18mm), the wider the angle of view. Conversely, the longer the focal length (eg 55mm), the smaller the angle of view.

A camera's angle of view depends not only on the lens, but also on the sensor. Imaging sensors are sometimes smaller than 35mm film frame, and this causes the lens to have a narrower angle of view than with 35mm film, by a certain factor for each sensor (called the crop factor).

This website does not use the angles of view provided by lens manufacturers, but calculates them automatically by the following formula: 114.6 * arctan (21.622 / CF * FL),


CF – crop-factor of a sensor,
FL – focal length of a lens.


A lens mount is an interface — mechanical and often also electrical — between a camera body and a lens.

A lens mount may be a screw-threaded type, a bayonet-type, or a breech-lock type. Modern camera lens mounts are of the bayonet type, because the bayonet mechanism precisely aligns mechanical and electrical features between lens and body, unlike screw-threaded mounts.

Lens mounts of competing manufacturers (Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony etc.) are always incompatible. In addition to the mechanical and electrical interface variations, the flange focal distance can also be different.

The flange focal distance (FFD) is the distance from the mechanical rear end surface of the lens mount to the focal plane.

Lens construction

Lens construction – a specific arrangement of elements and groups that make up the optical design, including type and size of elements, type of used materials etc.

Element - an individual piece of glass which makes up one component of a photographic lens. Photographic lenses are nearly always built up of multiple such elements.

Group – a cemented together pieces of glass which form a single unit or an individual piece of glass. The advantage is that there is no glass-air surfaces between cemented together pieces of glass, which reduces reflections.

Focal length

The focal length is the factor that determines the size of the image reproduced on the focal plane, picture angle which covers the area of the subject to be photographed, depth of field, etc.


The largest opening or stop at which a lens can be used is referred to as the speed of the lens. The larger the maximum aperture is, the faster the lens is considered to be. Lenses that offer a large maximum aperture are commonly referred to as fast lenses, and lenses with smaller maximum aperture are regarded as slow.

In low-light situations, having a wider maximum aperture means that you can shoot at a faster shutter speed or work at a lower ISO, or both.

Closest focusing distance

The minimum distance from the focal plane (film or sensor) to the subject where the lens is still able to focus.

Closest working distance

The distance from the front edge of the lens to the subject at the maximum magnification.

Magnification ratio

Determines how large the subject will appear in the final image. For example, a magnification ratio of 1:1 means that the image of the subject formed on the film or sensor will be the same size as the subject in real life. For this reason, a 1:1 ratio is often called "life-size".

Manual focus override in autofocus mode

Allows to perform final focusing manually after the camera has locked the focus automatically. Note that you don't have to switch camera and/or lens to manual focus mode.

Manual focus override in autofocus mode

Allows to perform final focusing manually after the camera has locked the focus automatically. Note that you don't have to switch camera and/or lens to manual focus mode.

Electronic manual focus override is performed in the following way: half-press the shutter button, wait until the camera has finished the autofocusing and then focus manually without releasing the shutter button using the focusing ring.

Manual diaphragm

The diaphragm must be stopped down manually by rotating the detent aperture ring.

Preset diaphragm

The lens has two rings, one is for pre-setting, while the other is for normal diaphragm adjustment. The first ring must be set at the desired aperture, the second ring then should be fully opened for focusing, and turned back for stop down to the pre-set value.

Semi-automatic diaphragm

The lens features spring mechanism in the diaphragm, triggered by the shutter release, which stops down the diaphragm to the pre-set value. The spring needs to be reset manually after each exposure to re-open diaphragm to its maximum value.

Automatic diaphragm

The camera automatically closes the diaphragm down during the shutter operation. On completion of the exposure, the diaphragm re-opens to its maximum value.

Fixed diaphragm

The aperture setting is fixed at F/ on this lens, and cannot be adjusted.

Number of blades

As a general rule, the more blades that are used to create the aperture opening in the lens, the rounder the out-of-focus highlights will be.

Some lenses are designed with curved diaphragm blades, so the roundness of the aperture comes not from the number of blades, but from their shape. However, the fewer blades the diaphragm has, the more difficult it is to form a circle, regardless of rounded edges.

At maximum aperture, the opening will be circular regardless of the number of blades.


Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

Maximum diameter x Length

Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

For lenses with collapsible design, the length is indicated for the working (retracted) state.

Weather sealing

A rubber material which is inserted in between each externally exposed part (manual focus and zoom rings, buttons, switch panels etc.) to ensure it is properly sealed against dust and moisture.

Lenses that accept front mounted filters typically do not have gaskets behind the filter mount. It is recommended to use a filter for complete weather resistance when desired.

Fluorine coating

Helps keep lenses clean by reducing the possibility of dust and dirt adhering to the lens and by facilitating cleaning should the need arise. Applied to the outer surface of the front and/or rear lens elements over multi-coatings.


Lens filters are accessories that can protect lenses from dirt and damage, enhance colors, minimize glare and reflections, and add creative effects to images.

Lens hood

A lens hood or lens shade is a device used on the end of a lens to block the sun or other light source in order to prevent glare and lens flare. Flare occurs when stray light strikes the front element of a lens and then bounces around within the lens. This stray light often comes from very bright light sources, such as the sun, bright studio lights, or a bright white background.

The geometry of the lens hood can vary from a plain cylindrical or conical section to a more complex shape, sometimes called a petal, tulip, or flower hood. This allows the lens hood to block stray light with the higher portions of the lens hood, while allowing more light into the corners of the image through the lowered portions of the hood.

Lens hoods are more prominent in long focus lenses because they have a smaller viewing angle than that of wide-angle lenses. For wide angle lenses, the length of the hood cannot be as long as those for telephoto lenses, as a longer hood would enter the wider field of view of the lens.

Lens hoods are often designed to fit onto the matching lens facing either forward, for normal use, or backwards, so that the hood may be stored with the lens without occupying much additional space. In addition, lens hoods can offer some degree of physical protection for the lens due to the hood extending farther than the lens itself.


Teleconverters increase the effective focal length of lenses. They also usually maintain the closest focusing distance of lenses, thus increasing the magnification significantly. A lens combined with a teleconverter is normally smaller, lighter and cheaper than a "direct" telephoto lens of the same focal length and speed.

Teleconverters are a convenient way of enhancing telephoto capability, but it comes at a cost − reduced maximum aperture. Also, since teleconverters magnify every detail in the image, they logically also magnify residual aberrations of the lens.

Lens caps

Scratched lens surfaces can spoil the definition and contrast of even the finest lenses. Lens covers are the best and most inexpensive protection available against dust, moisture and abrasion. Safeguard lens elements - both front and rear - whenever the lens is not in use.