The Kodak Brownie Target Six-20

Not to be confused with the Target Brownie 620 made in 1941, the Kodak Brownie Target Six-20 was made from 1946 until 1952. It has the Art Deco stripe design on the front plate that was common back in the era of skyscrapers.

 Kodak Brownie Target Six-20 Box Camera
The Kodak Brownie Target Six-20 Box Camera

Kodak created the Brownie box camera in 1900 as a way to offer photography to the masses at a time when taking photos was largely left to professionals. For $1 the average consumer could take their own snapshots using one of these simple devices. It came preloaded with film and gave you 8 shots. This could be comparable to the disposable cameras we all used in the 1990’s.

Kodak Brownie
The Original Brownie Circa 1900 ad

Kodak improved the design of their box camera over the years, and by 1932 they decided to create their own film to corner the market even further. Taking the popular 120 film, they changed the 1 to a 6 for the 6 shots the film originally would include, and they rolled the 120 film onto their slightly smaller 620 spool. They even stopped making cameras that took 120 film until they finally realized 120 film was more popular.

Although some 620 cameras can take 120 film if the spool will fit into the film holder, this camera does not. You will have to buy the 620 film from a supplier who hand rolls it like I did from Film Photography Project, or you can respool the film yourself. Doing this second option opens your film up to scratches and dust, but it is the cheaper option.

How to load film into the Kodak Brownie Target Six-20
Loading Film into the Brownie Target from the manual
Back view of the Kodak Brownie Target Six-20
Back view of the Kodak Brownie Target Six-20 where the red window is located to read your films frame number

The Specs

By the time the Kodak Brownie Target Six-20 was produced in 1946, the price for taking your own pictures was $3.50. Like most of the box cameras, it has a meniscus lens, meaning it has one convex side and one concave side like a crescent moon. This lens doesn’t have the best quality, but it does its job and often gives that soft focus, vintage look that instagram tries to duplicate with filters.

The fixed focus keeps you limited to staying 8 feet or more from your subject, unless you have a Kodak portrait lens attachment.

Kodak's Close Up lens attachment
Kodak’s Close Up lens attachment

The camera is made up of two parts: the sleeve made of cardboard and leatherette, and the inner works and faceplate made of metal and wood.

The simple rotary shutter is set at one speed of around 1/40th of a second, which matched the slower film speeds at the time it was made. The aperture is set by pulling a slider on the top of the metal faceplate. Pulling up gives you an aperture of f/22 for brighter subjects like snow, and keeping it pushed in gives you an opening of f/16 for ordinary shots.

top view of Kodak Brownie Target Six-20
The aperture switch is seen here next to the viewfinder

There is an instant setting and a timed setting switch on the side of the camera above the shutter release lever. You pull it out for the timed setting. The timed setting really is just bulb because you have to hold down the shutter release to keep the shutter open for a timed shot.

the side of the camera where the shutter release lever is located, & above it is the switch for the timed/instant settings.

The camera has two viewfinders, one on top for portrait style shots and one on the side for landscapes. These viewfinders are often found unusable on old box cameras because the old glue lets go and the mirrors inside end up loose and broken.

My Experience

I got the opportunity to use one of these Kodak Brownie Target Six-20 cameras because my girlfriend Kelsey was given one by her grandmother. Hers had the common issue mentioned above. One of the mirrors was detached and everything was very dirty and dusty from storage and age.

I removed the front faceplate and easily glued the mirror back on with Gorilla glue after I cleaned everything up. You can see more on this on my YouTube video.

My YouTube Video about the Kodak Brownie Target Six-20 Please go check it out and Subscribe to my channel

Kelsey’s grandmother sent her some pictures taken of herself and her family with this camera when she was a little girl in 1950’s Missouri.

I wanted to use the camera for the same type of photos that were taken of Grammie, so I had Kelsey pose around our yard the way her family had.

To take a picture with this camera and its very slow shutter, you have to hold it firmly against your body, and hold your breath before releasing the shutter. I didn’t want to take any chances because the sun was going in and out that day, and I have an unsteady hand. So I sat the box on a tripod. I also measured my distance from her using a tape measurer to make sure she would be in focus.

I previously wrote about the lot next door being cleared, and on the day I took these photos the giant trees had just been knocked down. Kelsey had the idea to take a shot of her standing amongst the giants. So I followed her out there with my tripod and took these shots through our fence.

Black and white film today is more sensitive to light than it was back then when they used the red film counter windows on their cameras, so sometimes you will have to tape over these windows to prevent light leaks. I didn’t take this measure in order to see if it was necessary. Only one of my shots had what appeared to be a light leak (picture above), but I can’t be sure if that was the cause.

Final Thoughts

In the end, I enjoyed using this camera. It was made more enjoyable by knowing the history of the camera and its past. Even though it is considered a “primitive” camera compared to today’s tech, you really have to give people from that era credit as good photographers considering what they had to work with. It is a good challenge for a photographer. Working with a set focus, set slow shutter speed, only two apertures, and no flash really makes it challenging to get good shots. Remember that back in the early 1950’s when this camera was used, they were taking pictures of their kids and around their homes. This isn’t easy with these limited specs. You had to know what you were doing if you didn’t want to waste film. I recommend you give it a try.

I will be posting more box camera reviews this year because I have joined a Facebook group called Project Box Camera. Go check it out. We will be offering a Zine at the end of the year with some of our favorite shots.

The Fujica ST801 and My Dad’s Birthday

My dad passed away from a massive heart attack when I was eleven years old and although that is now 22 years ago, it is a loss that was burned into the genetic makeup of my life. It is a loss I still feel today.

I have mentioned in my posts before that photography is a medium I use to feel close to him, because he loved cameras. He was always taking pictures from the time he was a kid, up until he passed away. In fact, the last camera he owned was a Canon Sure Shot WP-1 and he was taking pictures with it right before he died. I will hopefully own one of those cameras in the future.

When I was growing up, he was always taking pictures of my siblings and I with a Canon SLR. I can’t for the life of me remember what model it was. I only know he purchased it new around 1989. I wish so badly I knew what camera that was, but I did find this picture of him in my Grandmother’s photo albums and I was excited to see a camera around his neck.

Now at first, I didn’t know what this camera was because these were taken way before I was born. I posted it on a vintage camera page on Facebook and they steered me in the direction of the Fujica ST series of cameras. Through the deduction of the time this was taken and the two ports clearly on the side by the lens, I found that this was the Fujica ST801. So I of course went on Ebay and bought one.

The first one I got I loved shooting with right away. I shot a whole roll up until the end. I wound on the last picture and the advance lever let go. Thinking back now I am not sure if I just didn’t push the lever all the way to make it bounce back or if it really let go, but I returned it. The second one I bought came to me described as “like new” but showed up with brown crud smeared all over the mirror and camera. Third times a charm, and I finally have one in great shape and I love it.

The Specs

The Fujica ST801 was produced from 1972-1978. It doesn’t have a lot of features, but it has everything you need.

Fujica ST801

It was the first 35mm SLR camera to use viewfinder LED lights for its meter, replacing the popular center needle meter. The LEDs made it easier to see in low lighting conditions and it eliminated the mechanical failure often experienced with the needle meter.

The meter is TTL Average (through the lens), and the 7 LEDs light up the scale inside the viewfinder as you compose your picture. It also has open aperture metering which means the camera can take a reading at any aperture while still keeping the viewfinder bright and open to the widest aperture of the mounted lens. It does this through a small tab on the back of the lens that couples to the meter, allowing it to communicate what the lens widest aperture is while at the same time metering according to your settings.

Fujinon Lens

The Fujinon lens I have is the 50mm F/1.4. These lenses are EBC coated (Electron Beam Coating), with 11 layers to make sure it doesn’t get sun flare or ghost imaging. It also gives your pictures great color definition. The wide aperture gives this lens great bokeh or shallow depth of field, which I really love.

The lens mount is an M42 screw mount which was a universal mount being used a lot at the time. Fuji decided to make their Fujinon lenses non-standard by adding that tab. You will often find these great lenses with these tabs filed down because people want to use them on other M42 mount cameras and some digital cameras. You can use other M42 lenses on the Fujica ST801, but you would have to stop down meter.

The meter also uses Silicon photocells instead of Cds, which makes it, according to the manual, ten times faster and more accurate than the previously used Cds cells.

The shutter speeds on this camera are Bulb, and 1 second up to 1/2000th of a second. The ASA speeds are built into the speed dial, and you change the ISO by lifting it up and turning it.

It conveniently takes a 6V PX28L/4LR44 battery instead of the dreaded mercury batteries.

The flash syncs at 1/60th of a second, and it has two PC ports on the side next to the lens for electronic flash or for a bulb flash.

The shutter release button can be turned to the right to lock it. I like this feature because it prevents accidental shots, which I tend to do.

The left side of the lens has the depth of field preview button next to the self timer lever.

My Thoughts

I loved this camera right away. I of course purchased it because of its connection to my dad, and honestly I was afraid I wouldn’t like it, but I fell in love with this camera and the results I have gotten with it.

The Fujica ST801 is small and compact. I take it in my purse with me to doctors appointments and shoot pictures inside the hospital and around town. I am excited to be documenting my life now the way my father did with this same camera back when he was around my age (he was younger then I am now when he owned this camera).

Stuart Florida
The view by the hospital
Kodak Portra 400
Kodak Portra 400
Kodak Portra 400
Kodak Portra 400
Kodak Portra 400
Wall decor at the Doctor
Kodak Portra 400
Kodak P3200

Today, February 15th, would have been my dad’s birthday. I thought a nice way to remember him on this day would be to shoot with this camera and take it to a place in town where he often took my sister and I for pictures. He loved animals and birds like I do and I found myself taking pictures that he would’ve taken.

I am very afraid of water and bridges, mainly because I can’t swim. Back when he would take us here he would have to talk me into walking across the bridge and he was the only one I would walk it with. Today was the first time since then that I came to this park and walked on the bridge.

The park is now called Veteran’s Memorial Park, and back in the early 1990’s when he would take us there, it was nothing but one bridge, a couple of trails and bathrooms. You could go there and see the manatee and otters sun bathing. The trails sometimes were known to house Florida panthers, and I was always afraid we would run into one. Now it is built up with a marina for boats and another larger bridge for fishing. He would have loved it.

If you are in the market for a compact SLR with a reliable meter, I highly recommend the Fujica ST801, and its great Fujinon lenses. I hope you enjoyed my pictures.

If you want to see more from this day check out my video on my YouTube channel and be sure to subscribe to the channel for more videos to come.

For more of my vintage camera reviews click here. For more of my photography, visit my instagram or Facebook page.

Everything Will Change in the Blink of an Eye – so take a picture of it

The lot next door to my home has been wooded for as long as I have lived in this house, going on 16 years now. In all of those years I have photographed the birds in its trees, met bobcats from afar, and watched squirrels come scurrying into my yard from their homes every morning. It brought me a lot of joy to listen to the sounds of nature right outside my home, considering just a few blocks away is the loud city.

If you’ve been following my blog and reading my posts, you know that because of my health I am more often than not stuck at home and am often limited to my back yard as a place to take pictures and test out my cameras. You may also know if you are following my instagram, that most of the pictures I take are of the birds and trees right from my yard.

Nikon F Photomic FTn with Kodak Gold 200
Hawks watching the trees being knocked down

Since America is in the middle of another real estate boom, there has been land being cleared, homes and buildings going up everywhere. It is all very reminiscent of the time right before the recession in 2008. We had the same kind of boom in construction that ended with piles of wood being abandoned and lots left empty along with many construction workers being out of a job. Hopefully this boom won’t end with the same outcome, but I also hope we don’t end up losing too much wildlife as a result.

Nikon F Photomic FTn Kodak Gold 200

The peace and quiet I have enjoyed for so long all came to an end a few weeks ago when I saw the SOLD sign outside the lot next door. My stomach sank. I had only hoped they would take a long time before they started building, but they didn’t. One morning I went outside for a walk to find this giant log hauler parked in front of the lot. Later cops showed up I think because it was parked near a curve in the road, and much later it was moved.

Canon TX
Eastman Double X 5222 Film
Canon TX
Eastman Double X 5222 Film
Canon TX
Eastman Double X 5222 Film

The next day this tractor appeared in its place. Then I knew it was only a matter of time, and I had to start taking my last photographs while I still could.

Nikon F Photomic FTn
Fujicolor Superia Xtra 400
The tallest tree towering over my house

It all happened very quickly. Very early one morning I was woken up by the loud sounds of the tractor crunching over the smaller palms and bushes. I wanted to capture every branch, and every tree before they were carried off. Luckily, I had a few different cameras already loaded. I always have several different cameras with different focal lengths loaded at one time.

The Tractor made me think of a Monster devouring its lunch

I ran outside and started shooting as much as I could before the tractor tore them down. It was a very dramatic experience to witness. These once very large, old trees were now being pushed over, shook, and crushed with sounds of cracking that sounded like bones breaking. Trees that once grew together for decades would now die together within hours.

Giant Trees
Canon T6i
Oak Trees
These trees towered over my home for over 15 years

As you can imagine I had an emotional attachment to these trees. The experience was very dramatic for me, so you will have to bear with my dramatic descriptions. I couldn’t help feeling this way as I watched it happening in front of me.

The egrets came with the tractor as if it was their everyday job too. They were brave, flying in next to the scoop and standing inches from the tires before it rolled on. They reminded me of the birds that sit on the backs of gators or rhinos hoping to catch fish while symbiotically living on another living animal.

They would run up to the claw and grab snakes and lizards impaled on the teeth. They ate well that day.

A once tall palm being pushed over. It looked like a ribcage

At first I figured the guy was just going to clean up the bushes and weeds around the tall trees and then a larger tractor would come later to maybe saw down the gigantic trees. I had no idea how they were going to manage such tall trees in between two houses without them falling on us.

Canon T6i
Canon T6i
These trees looked like the legs of a giant
Canon T6i

I gasped when he started to nudge the giants with his tractor until they fell over with a ground shaking crash.

Tractor tearing down a palm tree
Canon T6i

Trees often represent life, and stability. It was both awe inspiring and gut wrenching to see them being torn down by this metal man made machine, and tossed around like sticks.

Canon T6i
Fallen Trees being dragged out
Canon T6i
Tractor Crunching a Palm in half
Canon T6i

By the late afternoon I was still in shock that this small tractor had managed to clear the entire lot of giant trees all by itself in one day. After the guy left I went around to get some shots of the lot from the front.

Nikon F Kodak Tri X 400
Nikon F Photomic FTn
Kodak Ultramax 400
Nikon F Photomic FTn
Kodak Ultramax 400
The Roots of the Giants
Canon TX Kodak Double 5222
Roots of trees
The Roots
Canon T6i
A RedShouldered Hawk sitting on the uprooted tree
Canon T6i
Sany Tractor

The only thing remaining on the lot was the giant carcasses of the once tall trees and a pile of crushed palms.

Palm Tree
Palm Tree Crushed
Canon T6i
Argus C3
Fujicolor Superia Xtra 400
Nikon F
Kodak Tri-X 400
Nikon F Photomic FTn
Fujicolor Superia Xtra 400
Nikon F Photomic FTn
Fujicolor Superia Xtra 400
Palm Tree Roots
A Pile of Palms
Nikon F Kodak Tri X 400
Fallen Palm Trees
Kodak Retina IIIs
Ilford XP2 400
Nikon F Kodak Tri X 400
Nikon F Kodak Tri X 400
Nikon F Photomic FTn
Kodak Ultramax 400

The guy left one tree that thankfully is on the part of the land that belongs to the city. I am so grateful for that because I often photograph this tree because it is where the hawks perch. They flew in to see what happened to their home.

Red Shouldered Hawks
Nikon F
Kodak Gold 200
You can see the hawk on the lower right branch
Canon T6i
Nikon F Kodak Tri X 400

Later that night I looked at the trees lying there in the dark lot next door. It was very eerie. They reminded me of sleeping giants, and that is what I called them after that.

Nikon F
Kodak Tri-X 400

The next day someone else came back with his very young son and some workers to break up the tall trees into pieces. I decided to use my Canon TX which was loaded with some Lomography Lady Grey I was trying out for the first time. It ended up fitting the subject perfectly to look like an old, 1940’s monster movie.

Sany Tractor
Canon TX
Lomography Lady Grey

I watched in horror as he picked up the carcass of each tree, raised it high in the air, and then dropped them to the ground to help crack them in half.

Sany Tractor
Canon TX
Lomography Lady Grey
Sany Tractor
Canon TX
Lomography Lady Grey

Then he would lift them back up slightly and hold it about 2 feet in the air while his young son came over with a chainsaw and sawed off the bottom half where the roots once fed life into the tree.

Sany Tractor
Canon TX
Lomography Lady Grey
Young boy chainsawing the roots off the tree
Canon TX
Lomography Lady Grey

Next he violently shook the roots free of any dirt before tossing it into a pile. The sawed off log then was carried over to a separate pile awaiting the log hauler to come take them away the next day.

Kodak Retina IIIs
Ilford XP2

This guy was pretty nasty. I could hear him screaming at his workers, and at one point he stopped the tractor and screamed at me in my yard, “What you takin’ my picture for!!” I yelled back that I wasn’t taking his picture, I was photographing the trees, but he ignored me. I felt pretty bad being scolded, and went inside. I guess I shouldn’t have let him get to me, but I wasn’t expecting that. I just really hate the way people seem to be particularly nasty these days.

Like a rose on a grave this branch dangled on the wire above the torn down lot
The lone standing tree
Nikon F Photomic FTn
Fujicolor Superia Xtra 400

The Bright Side

At the end of the day, there is nothing I can do about any of this. I couldn’t stop them from taking down those trees. I can’t stop them from building this house. Change is the only thing you can bet on in life, and there is nothing I can do about all of these changes that are taking place. I can however, control how I react to these changes. What I can do is see the bright side.

The literal bright side after all of this is the beautiful new view that has been revealed to me.

Sunset across from my backyard

When the lot next door was covered in those beautiful trees, it was also blocking my view to the sunset.

Hawk on top of the trees on a cloudy day

I now have this beautiful view to enjoy and photograph as well as the one tree they left behind that the hawks perch on especially for me to take their picture. Although I do know this too will be temporary because once the house is built I probably will lose that view too, it is these small blessings that keeps life going. These small happinesses are what we should all grasp hold of and never take for granted because in the blink of an eye it will all change.

The Nikon F – the Camera that Will Outlive You

The title of this article may be a strong statement, but the reason I stand by it is because this tank of a camera just feels indestructible. When you hold a heavy Nikon F you just feel like this monster could never be broken. That of course isn’t true. No camera is indestructible. Even the Nikon F sometimes suffers from stuck shutters and loose focal planes, but the reason I say it will outlive you is because it is an all mechanical camera that doesn’t depend on a battery or any kind of electronic whatsoever the way todays digital cameras and even most film cameras of the past do.

The History and Specs

In 1959, Nikon created their first Single Lens Reflex camera, the Nikon F. After the success of their Rangefinder line, they took the S3 along with the most popular features on the market at the time and turned it into an SLR. At the time SLR’s were slow and unpopular because the mirror would stay up after an exposure and wouldn’t come down until you advanced to the next frame. This changed with the Nikon F and the quick return mirror.

It also had a non-metered prism head viewfinder, and the body was very similar to its predecessor. If you put the S3 back to back with the F you’ll see the similarities right away.

The original prism head did not have a built in meter, but you could buy the Nikon meter that clipped on. These meters used selenium type cells and are hard to find still working today.

Vintage Nikon Ad

The Nikon F was made around the time when flash bulbs were mainly in use. When you pull up on the shutter speed dial and turn it, different colored dots and letters appear in the tiny window above it. Each dot and letter corresponds with a set of speeds on the dial making the Nikon F fully syncable with flash at all speeds. Electronic flash wasn’t developed until the end of production of these cameras, therefore most of the flash options are for the different types of bulbs that were around at the time and then one setting, FX, is for electronic flash.

The top view of the Nikon F body

The film counter includes a slider that reminds you if you’ve loaded a roll of 36 exposures or 20. The speed dial includes speeds from 1/1000th of a second down to 1 full second and includes Bulb mode and Time mode for very long exposures if the 3-10 second self timer isn’t sufficient.

There is also a PC socket on the side where an electronic or bulb flash unit can be connected and cable releases that screw on to the shutter button are available as well.

Along with this new SLR came the new F-type bayonet mount that Nikon still uses today. At a time when the screw on M42 lenses were in popular demand, Nikon created their own efficient, and quick mounting lens system. I will be writing a blog in the future with more in depth details about the lenses because it is a topic worth its own article.

Nikon F lenses Nikkor
Nikon F Pre- AI
lenses use the F Mount

This camera was the choice of professionals at the time, and was often chosen as official equipment for newspapers and publishing houses, especially for journalists reporting on the Vietnam war. They would slap on a motor drive called the F-250 and shoot off 250 exposures of the horrors they witnessed. Don McCullin famously was rescued by his Nikon F when it took a bullet for him.

Don McCullin with his Nikon F in Vietnam

The Nikon F is a modular system that allows you to customize it to your needs as a photographer. With the push of a button you can release the viewfinder and the focusing screen to replace them with whatever type you prefer. There were 21 focusing screens made, some standard and some for specific uses like the grid lined one for architectural photography.

Vintage 1960 ad for Nikon F
Nikon F with a Prism Meter Head and a Nikkor 50mm lens
Nikon F with the Prism Finder and a Nikkor 105mm lens

In 1962 Nikon introduced their first metered prism, the Photomic. This one is now called the flag finder because the on/off switch was a flag shaped switch that lifted up and down to reveal the electric “Eye”. It didn’t have through the lens metering. It metered through a tube mounted on the head in front of the CDs cells that powered the meter. This tube narrowed the meters sensitivity and it also came with a screw on incident light meter attachment. Later the flag was replaced with a push button on/off switch.

The First Metered Viewfinder for the Nikon F

As the years went on Nikon improved their meter heads and modified the body of the Nikon F to take the different meters they developed over the course of the cameras production until 1974 when the F2 took over completely.

The modified bodies are recognized by the red dot the factory placed next to the serial number. These models are very desirable for collectors. I will also be writing a blog in the future about all of the meters that were made for this camera, and my experiences with them.

In 1971, Nikon made the F2 to succeed the F, but the original was still seeing a lot of success and continued to be produced for three more years. These final F’s given by Nikon (pun intended), were the coined “Apollo” versions. There is no known connection to the Apollo space program other than it existed at the same time as the camera, and Nikon had made a camera especially for the program in the past. Other than that, the Nikon Apollo is just a Nikon F that now donned a black plastic tip on the advanced lever and self timer like its younger brother the F2.

Nikon F Apollo
Nikon F Apollo Photomic FTn

My Thoughts

The Nikon F is my favorite SLR. I love many Single Lens Reflex cameras, but the F is my first love. I first saw it on the Vintage Camera Collectors Facebook page in 2019 and it was love at first sight. I had never seen a modular camera before, and I just had to have one.

My first Nikon F
My First Nikon F Photomic T

My first Nikon F had the Photomic T meter head, but the meter was dead. I was very ill at the time and bed bound, so I mostly just held it as you can see in the picture above taken while in bed.

As I’ve explained in a past blog I have used photography as a therapeutic pursuit to help improve my mental and physical health, and the Nikon F has been my companion and tool for this the whole time.

I started out with the dead Photomic T mounted on the camera, and used a handheld Sekonic meter for my exposures, but the process was too slow, and soon the collector in me took over. I had to try out each type of metered head, and accessory I could afford. The whole process was proving to be the greatest distraction for the horrible things I was going through at the time.

Accessories I own for the Nikon F

After a couple of returns on Ebay, I eventually found a properly working Photomic T. I will be selling my non-working one along with one of my Nikon F bodies very soon so hopefully someone out there can get it working again.

Nikon F with the working Photomic T

I also have purchased the the original Photomic with the on/off switch. I took a chance on it. The owner wasn’t sure if it worked, but I decided to buy it because it was a good price and came with two really good Nikkor lenses and an older body. When I received it (you can watch the unboxing here) I was disappointed to find it didn’t work, but I can’t afford to buy a working one right now so for now I admire it in my collection for what it is. I have enjoyed the lenses though.

Out of all of the viewfinders I have tried on my Nikon F, I would have to say my favorite one to use is the Photomic FTn. I really enjoy using the original non-metered prism head because it is light and simple, but as I’ve stated, I really like having a built in meter that is reliable, and the FTn is just that. The FTn was the latest modification to the meters Nikon put out for the Nikon F before production stopped, therefore it is the best out of the bunch.

Taken with the Nikon F Photomic FTn

I eventually bought the Nikkor 35-200mm zoom lens because my main type of photography is nature and I need to be able to zoom in to get shots of birds. This setup with the Photomic FTn meter, and this heavy lens proved to be a lot on my arms that were still very weak, but it has proven to be a good exercise and I lug this camera with me on my walks in the morning. I am still on the lookout for a lighter option. If you can recommend one that is compatible with the Nikon F please leave it in the comments below.

Nikon F Photomic FTn with the Zoom lens
Taken with the Nikon F Apollo version with the Photomic FTn metered head

The meter can sometimes be a hindrance when trying to get a shot set up quickly because you look through the viewfinder and turn the aperture ring on your lens or turn the speed dial on the top of the meter until it registers correctly inside your viewfinder. Then sometimes I have found myself feeling around and fumbling to find the shutter speed dial and the shutter button while holding your composition in sight through the viewfinder. Its a small issue and just takes a little getting used to.

Nikon F Apollo Version with Photomic FTn

I soon found that the Nikon F has a pretty loud and abrasive mirror compared to other 35mm SLR’s. This added to the shaking of my hands has been a challenge because I tend to take photos in the dim lighting of my backyard early in the morning. A lot of my shots end up blurry when I am using the heavy zoom lens. I have slowly improved my technique for this and I am still learning.

Nikon F Photomic FTn
Shot taken with the zoom lens in low light
Nikon F with the non-metered prism finder

I have very poor eyesight, even with my glasses on, so I tried several of the different types of magnifiers and special finders to see which one helped the best. First I tried the eyepiece magnifier, but that didn’t help me much in the type of photos I take. I also found the view to be too small.

Next I tried the right angle finder, but that wasn’t any help to my eyesight. I think I misunderstood its purpose. It did prove useful when I was doing still life photos on a tripod that was positioned below me.

Still life photo with the Nikon F on a tripod and using the Right Angle Finder with cable release

Finally, I purchased the Action Finder when I found one on Ebay for a very low price that I couldn’t pass up. This one is really nice to use. The viewfinder is very big and bright and allows you to look from 2 inches away from the actual viewfinder. I really enjoyed using this one. The only downside for me again was the non-metered part. I just really hate using a handheld meter when I am trying to get a quick shot of a bird flying through my yard.

Selfie Taken with the Action Finder
Nikon F with the Action Finder

Final Thoughts

The Nikon F has been the camera I have used the most in my entire life, and I will probably always have one. I am even studying an old technician course to learn to be able to repair these cameras and others so they can be around for a long time.

I highly recommend any photographer try out one of these cameras. They are beautiful, reliable, and it is a war veteran that deserves our respect. Okay enough of my gushing.

For more pictures that I have taken with my collection of Nikon F’s as well as many other camera’s, please follow me on Instagram or Facebook, or check out my portfolio website.

For more of my review on the Nikon F check out the companion video to this blog on my YouTube video and subscribe for much more to come.