(Images courtesy of Nikon)
In 1959 the Nippon Kogaku Company released its first professional SLR camera, the Nikon F. It soon became the camera of choice for photojournalists around the world. The F was actually just an evolution of the SP with a mirror box instead of a rangefinder. A motor drive was soon available along with other accessories. The world of customisable 35mm camera systems and good marketing had begun.
Introduced in 1971, the F2 is the purists Nikon. It’s also built like a tank and for that reason alone has probably taken many images of tanks throughout its lifetime. It was Nikon’s last professional mechanical SLR and rivals all others. The F2 builds on the concept of the F model in being a truly interchangeable systems camera. It is just as relevant today and will outlast any other camera you own.
Revealed in 1981, the Nikon F3 is the true systems camera and arguably Nikon’s most successful model. It stayed in production longer than any other camera, almost 20 years and had the most variants (F3, F3HP, F3T, F3P, F3AF, F3H to name a few). This was a testament to the versatility of its design. The most iconic images in history were probably taken on a Nikon F3 or Leica M3.
Autofocus, auto film advance, matrix metering. In 1988 when the F4 hit the streets everything was automatic and a revolution. Whilst the visual and ergonomic differences between the F3 and F4 were staggering they still bore the same philosophy, an interchangeable systems camera. The F4 simply made it easier and faster. It’s the camera I chose to spend a month in Nepal with and it never put a foot out of place.