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DIY: Nikon Nikkormat with Sony NEX-5N digital guts *UPDATED*

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Nikon Nikkormat with Sony NEX-5N digital guts

Nikon Nikkormat with Sony NEX-5N digital guts (2)

Nikon Nikkormat with Sony NEX-5N digital guts (3)

Since Nikon seems to have given up on the digital retro camera look (think digital Nikon F with APS-C sensor, EVF and F mount), Brendan Taylor took up on the task and is currently working on fitting the digital guts of a Sony NEX-5N camera inside an old Nikon Nikkormat. You can find many pictures of Brendan's project on his Google+ account.

Update - here are some details from Brendan, you can check also his new website www.cameramods.com dedicated to this project:

"The flange focal distance is indeed a big consideration and probably the most taxing part of the build. I had the choice of placing the sensor at the original intended film focal plane of the Nikkormat, but that would mean having the screen of the digital camera protruding too far out from the back of the Nikkormat. Digital sensors tend to be much further from the rear of the camera than film planes, to accommodate the electronics behind it. The alternative that I have chosen is to seat the sensor in the most convenient location where the screen is flush to the rear of the camera, and then precisely measure the difference in flange focal distance and machine a custom made extension tube. At the moment that extension is looking like approx 9.5mm but I have to wait until the sensor has been fixed in place before getting an exact measurement.

The project is just meant to be a fun. The finished camera wont have the full functionality of a Nex 5N but the reason I chose the Nex is because of the focus peaking feature that means manual focusing is very easy. I love vintage cameras and although I would hate to ruin a working collectible camera, it's sad to see them collecting dust. I will try to get around to creating a website that will detail the build from start to finish soon."

Starting with the Leica M9, followed by the Fuji X100, Olympus OM-D E-M5 and several other models, digital retro cameras have been a big hit during the past 2-3 years. Nikon has not shown any signs that they might join the trend anytime soon.

Via Thephoblographer

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  • BernhardAS

    Brilliant project

  • http://www.facebook.com/azety Geoffrey Froment

    dont know if genius or useless

  • Bryan

    Sweet project. I’d buy a digital FM3a in a second.

    • St.

      +1
      I have FM3a and I love it! I was thinking to buy the X100s, but I would definitely go for the Nikon if such thing existed.

    • St.

      +1
      I have FM3a and I love it! I was thinking to buy the X100s, but I would definitely go for the Nikon if such thing existed.

    • http://www.facebook.com/emanuele.aymerichdilaconi Emanuele Aymerich Di Laconi

      +1

    • http://Flickr.com/inthemist InTheMist

      +1 instantly.

    • http://Flickr.com/inthemist InTheMist

      +1 instantly.

  • Bret M

    Useless. It’s too hard for the average person to get the film plane distance down exactly, the lenses either won’t focus to infinity or it’ll be all wonky. Still, if there were a cost effective digital sensor solution that really worked, I’d be all over it for my Olympus OM-1. I love the thing, but film is just too harsh to integrate into my digital workflow.

    • 103David

      Actually, the back-focus issue is about the easiest thing to deal with of all the issues. I’ve made a number of conversions over the years, Nikon lenses to Leica M and S bodies, etc, etc. All you need is …well, that would be cheating, wouldn’t it? C’mon, use your common sense and basic intelligence, then add some scotch tape to the film gate, add the appropriate camera mount from an extension tube, have a nice digital caliper plus jeweler’s file and …there you go. (Big time secret: the actual back focus measurement of all the cameras in the world are easily in evidence via a search on the Internet.)
      BUT:
      A digital sensor in any form allows you to simply view your back focus and adjust accordingly in real time.

      I hate to put it to you this way, but if you don’t understand what we’re talking about by now, you should not be fooling with it. Give it up, quit fooling with your expensive DSLR and get a P & S.
      In any case, good luck with it.

  • Bret M

    Useless. It’s too hard for the average person to get the film plane distance down exactly, the lenses either won’t focus to infinity or it’ll be all wonky. Still, if there were a cost effective digital sensor solution that really worked, I’d be all over it for my Olympus OM-1. I love the thing, but film is just too harsh to integrate into my digital workflow.

  • Ballmer

    Please, please tell me how I can do the same with my old D3

  • Ballmer

    Please, please tell me how I can do the same with my old D3

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.berkowitz.7355 David Berkowitz

    Maybe this will prod Nikon into making a digital FM/FE/FA camera — light, flexible, fast, no video. Just a damn camera.

    • Sam Hurd

      looks like your wish came true. did you pick up a df?

  • Donji Hogfan

    I wanted to do something similar but I would keep the core functionality of an FE2. I would only place the sensor and the main board with a battery and a SD card. I would use the shutter of the main camera so I could have the shutter advance lever that would reduce the battery usage by a lot. Another difference is that I would not use the LCD to have the film experience (focus on the scene and not the camera). RAW only. I would mark the viewfinder to show the crop sensor area and that would give a rangefinder experience too. Maybe I will just do it one day who knows.

  • 103david

    Please make my F3T live again. Well, actually it does still live but film is on the short list and, bluntly, a pain in the ass to deal with. I didn’t like developing film down by the laundry sink in the garage back in the day and I like it (much) less now.
    I love the idea, and I can see why a Nikkormat would be the chosen vessel for R & D (amazingly cheap and available, pretty much disposable if the mod goes wrong, lots of teeny metal screws left over for the next try, etc, etc.) but hopefully the real marketable item would be more Nikon F3, Pentax LX, Canon F1, and the like.
    Unfortunately we’d likely end up with a horrifically overpriced item, like the current Leica M series…still not technically right yet priced beyond the reach of mostly all that could really make use of its talents.
    Oh well, I wish the best of luck, and maybe next time.

    • http://Flickr.com/inthemist InTheMist

      I would buy that!

  • 103david

    Just an added tip to those wanting to pursue this project…Choose something that by its nature comes apart already, like pro level cameras with interchangeable prisms, removable (interchangeable) backs, view screens, optional motor drives, and like that. You’ll also find this type of camera MUCH easier to work on as the pro level cameras were largely designed to be repairable where the later, end-stage film cams were made for limited attention-span users. As effective as the FM3/FM10 series and Chinese made K1000 cameras were, they were still manufactured with pins and glue. Meant to be used for a limited time and to be thrown away a year or two or three down the road when they didn’t work anymore.
    Good luck on the project!

  • gsum

    The Fuji X100 and Olympus OM-D E-M5 are *not* retro designs; they are cameras that are cluttered with all the usual digital ‘features’ but have a retro look.

    A true retro design would have as similar feature set to a classic ’80s 35mm SLR or rangefinder film camera – truly useful photographic features that provide for maximum creativity and speed of use.

    Nikon have stated that they will not produce such a camera as they don’t believe that it would sell. If the number of colleagues that have said to me, that they would love to get back into photography but hate modern cameras is anything to go by, Nikon is incorrect.

  • Leighten

    My first camera was a Pentax K1000 If I would love to have a similar body with a full frame sensor. Just replace the film advance lever with the Nikon wheel for Shutter speed and Aperture, add ISO and White Balance buttons. Finally Add wifi and remote release capability. I would buy that in a heartbeat. Would probably use it more than my D800 which I love but is best suited for the studio. I’d prefer something with a better form for travel and street.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stanley-Hoffman/1321684045 Stanley Hoffman

    This camera has an F mount so it will use full functional Nikon glass? Great idea!

  • General Nikon

    I can’t see Nikon releasing such a body but I can see other companies doing so. Once the sales volumes get above a certain level both Nikon, Canon, and others will follow.

    I actually love the idea. I owned a Nikon FM and the FM3. I really do like the idea and endorse it..

  • Stanojev

    Hey Nikon – if you’re paying attention – there’s a market for you here. You have the heritage and the knowledge to be a leader in this category. Have some faith that we know what we want – probably a little more than your designers – drop the hello kitty shades of pink / Tamagotchi shaped cameras that you think we want and go back to your roots. Give us a superior, Japanese made version of [a Leica] something that works as good as it feels and looks, like you did when you started out. Beauty and functionality are timeless. You were onto something with the F series, trust us, we’ll buy it and your design staff can keep their jobs for revisiting something that’s been done before. If it picks up in the West, the Japanese market will also follow. Just saying… Try and use the outside world as a gauge for what could work and you might be onto something…

  • Brendan Taylor

    Wow. I wasnt expecting see my project whilst browsing nikonrumors! To answer a few questions/comments; the flange focal distance is indeed a big consideration and probably the most taxing part of the build. I had the choice of placing the sensor at the original intended film focal plane of the nikkormat, but that would mean having the screen of the digital camera protruding too far out from the back of the nikkormat. Digital sensors tend to be much further from the rear of the camera than film planes, to accommodate the electronics behind it. The alternative that I have chosen is to seat the sensor in the most convenient location where the screen is flush to the rear of the camera, and then precisely measure the difference in flange focal distance and machine a custom made extension tube. At the moment that extension is looking like approx 9.5mm but I have to wait until the sensor has been fixed in place before getting an exact measurement.

    The project is just meant to be a fun. The finished camera wont have the full functionality of a Nex 5N but the reason I chose the Nex is because of the focus peaking feature that means manual focusing is very easy. I love vintage cameras and although I would hate to ruin a working collectible camera, it’s sad to see them collecting dust. I will try to get around to creating a website that will detail the build from start to finish soon.

    • http://nikonrumors.com/ Nikon Rumors

      Thanks for the details Brendan. Please keep us updated on the progress of your project.

  • iamlucky13

    Awesome project.

    At the price some people will pay for retro designs, and given how many Nikon users would love to use their existing lenses on a classic Nikon style body, but in digital, he could probably make decent money selling conversions if he gets everything working smoothly.

  • Brendan Taylor

    I’ve set up a blog page at http://www.cameramods.com for the project which gives a little more detail on the build. I will still add pictures to google+ as I progress but that site will serve as my main update location

    • http://nikonrumors.com/ Nikon Rumors

      I will add your new website to the post.

    • http://nikonrumors.com/ Nikon Rumors

      I will add your new website to the post.

  • Albert Hu

    Amazing!!!

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