Nikon cameras at WestLicht Photographica Auction

Sorry, I forgot to include this material in my weekly links post:

During the exclusive Westilicht auction that took place on December 4th, two Nikon cameras made it to the top 3 most expensive cameras sold - a Nikon F3 NASA from 1986 and a Nikon S2-E both sold for 168,000EUR (around 225,000 USD). The first and second place were of course held by Leica cameras - somebody actually paid 402,000 EUR (around 537,000USD) for a Leica MP camera and this is a lot, even for Leica's standards (the most expensive Leica camera ever sold).

If you are adventurous, there is currently a Nikon F3 NASA for sale on eBay for 22,500 USD.

FYI: Nikon S2 rangefinders can be found for few hundred dollars on eBay. More info on Nikon S rangefinders can be found here and here.

Detailed description of both Nikon cameras after the break:

Nikon S2-E Black Paint:

"One of the most important Nikon RF cameras ever offered for sale. The S2-E was the first Nikon with electric motor drive and also the most early 35mm post-war camera with electric motor drive (already before Leica MP-2). Only 4-5 cameras (out of 10-15 produced) are known to exist. This is the most complete outfit in wonderful condition. The black paint camera comes with the matching black paint aluminium Nikkor-S.C 1.4/5cm no.365419, the original motor drive no.94063 (all with boxes with matching numbers), extremely rare sardine battery back, papers and guarantee cards, caps, black everready case, grey relay box, soft release and other accessories - this outfit is published in 'The Complete Nikon Rangefinder System' by Robert R. Rotoloni on page 110-115. ex collection Tad Sato."

Nikon F3 NASA 250:

"Space Shuttle' version of F3 with magazine back for 250 exposures (no.1015) combined with motor drive (no.1004), different details modified for use in outer space, only approx. 19 of these very special cameras were made for NASA around 1986, some were lost in space, in near mint original condition"

Did you notice the "some were lost in space" part?

The next Westlicht auction will take place on May 28th, 2011.

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  • I need to train and become an astronaut- I’m sure a couple hundred launches would be cheaper than the camera…

    • Wait, at ebay the F3 sells for 22,500 USD yet at Westlicht it goes for 168,000 euros?

      • lox

        I smell income.

      • iamlucky13

        How much you want to bet they got it off of Ebay?

        Get the right audience of people with a dollar or two (or a million) to spare and little care for looking into the background of their purchase hyped up enough about something they think is special (which I agree with…just not that special), and they’ll fight each other rabidly over just about anything.

        Better yet, show them the Ebay one and they’ll go on and on about either it being a phony that devalues the real artifacts, or about how theirs is in superior condition, with the shutter oiled with space-grade super oil for superior exposure consistency and the viewfinder stress relieved for minimal low temperature distortion, or other fun made-up trivia like that.

  • CouchieCoo

    “a Nikon F3 NASA from 1968”??? Perhaps 1986? Or maybe time travellers took one back to 1968?



    • yes, I blindly copied the mistake from their website 🙂

  • MG

    first glance: Nikon at WikiLeaks

    • Panfruit

      Ken Rockwell as Julian Assange…

  • Ronan

    Some people really have to much money… and i’m one to talk… LOL!

    • f/2.8

      IIRC, the F3 is the first time NASA used Nikons outside the spacecraft.

      And again IIRC, the F3 with the bulk film back is mounted on the MMU (Manned Maneuvering Unit) above the astronaut’s right shoulder. The MMU is used for untethered space flight, which was another first in those days.

      If you have the money, this is a fine purchase. If I have the money, I would hire someone to bring that Hassy left on the moon back.

      • Jabs

        Are you sure about the first use of Nikon’s in outer space as being F3’s?
        I remember special black Titanium Nikon F’s and F2T’s (Titanium) being shown at Nikon’s Showroom and Museum in NYC, as going into space before F3’s.

        • f/2.8

          Jabs, the significance is in “Outside of the spacecraft.”

          • Jabs

            Yeah, I read your post and got that point, but I remember perhaps previous shots outside of the spacecraft prior to that. Maybe we both do some research or you post some proof and save me some time -lol.
            I sort of remember an Apollo Mission that maybe they did some external photography, so maybe?

            • iamlucky13

              The Apollo missions used Hasselblads for the EVA photography.

              I’m not sure this was exclusive, but it’s entirely possible that F/2.8 is correct.

            • f/2.8


              That was just from what I recall. I remember that Nikons were used inside the spacecraft until the Extra Vehicular Activities (EVA) with the F3.

              NASA used Hassys becaused they are modular and reliable. They started out with a mil. spec.

              NASA realized that they needed smaller cameras inside the cramped qtr. of the spacecraft. I am not sure if the moon trips used Nikons. I remember Buzz Aldrin photos of the earth from inside the craft were shot using the Hassy. Likely the same one left on the moon. The point is, Nikons were mainly used inside up till the F3.

              By the F3 era Nikon built their pro cameras meeting NASA requirements. It makes sense to select the F3 for what NASA needs for the MMU during EVA – bulk film, AF( the one with that spec AF lens,) automated with remote control. A Hassy will be 3 times that big and heavy before adding AF.

              I recall Nikon did have some ads about working wiht NASA throughout. But as you also know Nikon never makes a big fuzz about their cameras being chosen for outerspace application. Just like the D3S. There was I think 1 co. news announcement and that’s it. Imagine if Canon has a camera chosen by NASA and it does not require a single mod.

              I don’t see one off hand but I will keep an eye out for the old news or ads about the F3 in space.

              That photo with the rangefinder used for Gemini is not a Nikon. In that era NASA did not deem the Nikons ready for space and certainly not outside the spacecraft.

          • Astrophotographer
    • asdasd

      yep. Che Guevara would be definitely pleased. As i look at it, he was onto something.

  • zzddrr

    Perhaps we should get acustomed for these prices … 🙂 as nikon raising it constantly

    • f/2.8


      Nikon watches these auctions too and realized they are under-pricing the products. They are simply pricing it according to what the market will bear.

    • Jabs

      You’re silly as in clueless to historic value and the collectors market.
      Anything to complain about, eh – comical or clueless genius?
      Which one bud???

  • Dude, that’s a “black” S2, and they are much much more expensive. eBay lists only one original black S2, and it’s above 5000$ right now.

  • Those prices are insane. I wonder what was so special about the MP. The F3 darn well should have been “flown” to be worth that kind of money. I’d still rather have the Contax from the Gemini days.

  • Neurotox

    I think is also the fact that they have a historical background… Imagine the price of an empty bottle of Coca-Cola who have been drinked by Elvis! It only worth around 5 cent but I’m sure people will put alot of money on it…

    I presume is the same things with those camera…

  • We should start collecting FX bodies as a hobby…which I’m sure many are already doing 😀

  • Jabs

    Perhaps all of you read this and educate yourself – instead of complaining.

    • Mock Kenwell

      Who is complaining? I read through all these posts to this point and I’m not seeing anyone complaining. Why do you insist on talking down to everyone on this site with your endless “in my day” diatribes that go on and on? You complain about zzddrr, but you’re not exactly Positive Pete. Educate myself? How pompous.

      • Jabs

        @Mock Kenwell.
        Have you read YOUR own posts?
        Education = learning or knowing WHY a thing occurs and then accepting that it is beyond your own control.
        Complaining = trying to tell us all here about YOUR own ideal expectations as in divorced from any reality.
        Taking pot shots at Nikon = the sort of absurd complaining that detracts from this wonderful and informative web site.
        Telling you about both the past and the present is an attempt to show YOU some reality and cut the incessant whining here by a few of you posters, as everyone knows the obvious BUT few of you accept that, thus detached from reality as in clueless.
        You shame an idiot often to WAKE them up to their own stupidity, their annoying habits and then you end up telling them subtly – GET A SPINE, you worthless wimp and stop being a wuss, even if a comical person.
        Clear enough?

        • Mock Kenwell

          No, it’s not clear at all. I asked you to cite complaint examples and you didn’t. All we get is yet another example of you trying to bully and troll by always having to have the last word, always telling everybody else why you’re so much smarter than they are with incredibly patronizing, ALL-CAP riddled posts. Then you thinly veil calling everyone but yourself an idiot by couching it in a poorly chosen metaphor.

          Your definition of complaining describes most people’s definition of feedback. How are Nikon products going to get better if no one ever voices their ideal? As far as being divorced from reality goes, 15 years ago, how many people would have conceived of the amazing feats DSLRs can now perform? Low-light performance for example? Nikon’s iTTL Creative Lighting System? Wifi download? Sure some people get carried away with their wishlists, but you really need to lighten up.

          As far as my own posts, I am not a fanboy as you appear to be. I currently am shooting Nikon, Canon and Panasonic for both work and pleasure. I prefer Nikon best and consider myself a fan. That said, you’d have to be blind to not see their distribution and manufacturing weaknesses. My positive posts far outweigh my negative ones and I’m comfortable with the percentage. I don’t really need your approval.

          Thanks again for your kind attempts to educate everyone. So selfless of you.

          • Jabs

            @Mock Kenwell.
            Nice satire – understood!
            1. Many posters complain here and thus no need for me to cite that or them, as it is too obvious.
            2. Many here seem like they have an agenda of bad-mouthing anything by Nikon.
            3. Many here make unreal and foolish expectations divorced from reality – you figure it out.
            4. I don’t care what you or anyone else shoots or even buys/use here as that is your personal choice and right/business, but when you try and tell me or anyone else here plain nonsense, exaggerated claims or outright lies, then someone needs to set you all straight.
            5. You are not the worst complainer here as everyone knows who that is.
            6. I don’t like to slander or identify a fool, as they already know who they are and thus that post was directed at them and not you – you figure it out.
            7. Feedback is fine but hoodwinking people here into believing that Nikon is worse than they really are is clearly fraudulent and a disservice to photographers and the readers here.
            8. Some people seem to come here from competitors to Nikon or even hate Nikon – thus their thrusts or goals are often suspect. I can’t read minds, as no one can – but when I perceive a fraud or a liar, then I react = common sense as in blocking or answering disinformation.
            9. I am a product of my experiences and thus I don’t make excuses for that, as that is asinine. I make no excuses for being intelligent and well informed, so who cares!
            10. I look from the standpoint of a Businessman and not as some rabid consumer looking for fill their own personal and ardent desires, so hence a different perspective loved by some and even hated by others – makes not one difference to me, as I march to a different drummer and consider complaining as effeminate and cowardly and NOT as product feedback merely.

            NICE name and a parody of who now?

            • jack

              You two need to get a life… this an online rumors site. If the drivel and rants posted under the article really frustrate you so much then don’t read it. You’re not going to change someone’s personality through board posts.

            • I agree guys, can we stop this please? Thanks!

            • Mock Kenwell

              Wow. I can’t top that last one anyway, Peter. I have a job! I think we kept it very civil though! Jabs, I think we’re both Nikon fans to varying degrees and both hate random uninformed ranters in the same fashion. I respect your posts and your knowledge, but would appreciate more brevity and less use of the royal “you” when addressing this community. I think it comes off gruffer and more arrogant than perhaps you intend.

            • No, you are good – thanks for keeping it civil, I was just trying to prevent this going out of hand.

  • Torben

    These are very nice and well though through products from the good old Nikon, but remember dear posters, your posts will be deleted i you use profanity or say anything bad about Chinese produced products, just sayin.

    • This is the third comment where I am trying to explain to you a very simple rule: NO CURSING! You can complain about Chinese products as mush as you want AS LONG AS YOU DON’T CURSE a whole country! Are we clear now?

    • aetas

      I dont hear many people on this site complaining about their posts being deleted. I do hear alot of YELLING, complaining and impatience. Although not any or at least very much cussing. Which generally just shows a lack of vocabulary and does not add to the post or the pleasure of reading it. I for one thank admin for not allowing profanity.

    • Mock Kenwell

      Profanity can be used to great affect when the rest of your argument is assembled in a clear-headed and engaging fashion. Same as giving a D3 to someone who can only use a point-and-shoot. Admin allows cursing when done so playfully or humorously. He typically only censors when the poster is spouting openly racist, confrontational or unfounded rhetoric in a weak attempt to garner attention. Moderating a site like this is not easy.

      • aetas

        Good clarification. I knew I have seen it before and have not know admin to play favorites. This makes a little more sense.

      • exactly, if you curse a whole country, readers from that country will reply back and it will get ugly – this is what I am trying to avoid

        • jack

          I for one think that NR has one of the best moderators around. You want to see censorship? Try and post something negative about Leica on Steve Huff…

          • One of the main reasons I started this website was every time I mentioned the words “Nikon” and “rumor” on my threads would get deleted immediately. As long you are polite here, nothing will be deleted and you can criticize Nikon as much as you want.

  • ZoetMB

    >>Did you notice the “some were lost in space” part?

    One day, aliens will visit our planet asking two questions:
    1. Where can we get more Chuck Berry music?
    2. How can I get my Nikon serviced?

    Nikon M: The reason why it’s so valuable is because only 3240 were ever made. (The original Nikon rangefinder, now known as the Nikon I, had a manufacturing run of 759 and the S3M, which was a half-frame camera, had a run of 159. These short runs makes the cameras very valuable.

    Nikon has made a number of special and anniversary editions. Here are the ones I know about. There are probably others:

    F Photomic TN NASA: There’s a chart of Nikon cameras shows this as being released in 1967, but other info claims this was released in June of 1971.

    FM Gold (300 made): 1976?
    F2 25th Anniversary edition: 1977
    F2 Gold: 1977
    F2P: 1978: Black, titanium version of F2 for press use, black only. (2000 made)
    F2H: 1978: F2P + MD-100 drive (300 units)
    F2T (Titan): F2P for general public available in black or “natural”. (3500 units). I’ve got three different dates for this: 1976, 1978 and 6/79.
    F3 Limited: 1983: Titanium cover, HP Finder
    FA Gold: 1984: 24K Gold plated, lizard leather (2000 units)
    F3 Limited: 1993 rerelease?: (2000 units, Japan only)
    FM2/T Year of Dog: 1994: (300 or 3001 units, depending upon source of info, w/ dog’s head logo
    F5 50th Anniversary Edition: 6/1/98: (3000 units of which 300 for U.S.)
    FM2N Year of Dragon Millennium: 2/2000: (2000 units)
    S3 2000 Limited Edition: 11/2000
    S3 Year 2000 black: Spring/02
    SP2005 Black “Nikon Eye Candy): 1/2005

    Nikon has issued a number of special versions. Here are most of them:

    • Jabs

      You like many either forget the F3P and some confuse it or call it the F3 “Limited” (there actually was an F3 Limited also), when actually it was an F3P with ‘P’ = PRESS or PRO, depending on who you believed or listened to then – lol.
      F3P – I saw and held personally but could not buy it (it was about $1600.00 US dollars, then compared to a $450.00 F3HP), as it was released only to a select few journalists/companies and pro shooters then, who complained about the F3 and F3HP plus F3TC (chrome) and F3TB (black) all having no ISO hot shoe on the removable head and instead, it was located with special contacts on the area of the rewind knob (left top looking at camera from behind or shooting position). It had a black Titanium HP head with a standard ISO shoe on this removable head with contacts below the head like how the F3AF (also a special version – which I had and loved) did, but they were flash contacts.
      It was expensive and quirky, but very rare indeed.

  • Jabs

    People complain about Nikon lens prices here today but have you ever really priced a 300mm F2.0 ED-IF or a 2000mm F11 mirror lens back in the day?
    Have you folks ever seen or priced the 250 exposure back for the F3 series? Ever checked the prices of just the extra rolls needed to load bulk film into that large magazine.
    Ever priced Polaroid backs for the F series of cameras?
    Ever priced Data backs and such?
    Ever bought Ni-Cad batteries for an F3?
    Ever figured that you needed more bodies then, as you could mainly shoot one type of film at a time, though many rewound film back into the camera and changed mid-roll, that was a pain.
    Ever sent out a days or week’s shooting to Fuji Labs in Anaheim, CA or Kodachrome to Kodak or even Duggal Labs n NYC and then waited for their return or hounded Fed-Ex or UPS while tracking your precious slides? Ever made a Cibachrome print from slides and then waited for them?

    Today, you can shoot thousands of rolls and not change anything (including black and white) and thus people are jaded and clueless as to what people paid years ago plus what was done daily by photographers.
    Do you have any idea how much money I spent to buy my F3 systems with all the heads, accessories, focusing screens, remote cables, flashes, adapters and eye cups and diopter lenses?
    HINT: A lot more than a D3X.

    Be thankful for what you have now in advanced technology and stop complaining so much – makes you look like a clueless idiot and an ungrateful person too.

  • zzzzzzzzzzzz

    I have no interest in owning these types of cameras. But is that simply because I cannot afford them?

    • Jabs

      You couldn’t afford it then, just like you can’t now.

  • Jabs

    Comparing the PAST to the PRESENT:
    Years ago this was my typical F3 shooting equipment along with their prices THEN in US dollars, as far as I remember. I also carried other pieces of equipment including other Nikon’s, flashes, tripod, monopods and one Medium format camera.

    1 – F3HP body (new) – $450-500 including shipping.
    1 – F3TC-HP (used) – $895 or there about – excellent condition as in collector’s item then but unloved by owner as it had a Titanium finish on the head and top/bottom mount instead of the black finish that signified PRO in those days.
    F3AF with 80mm F2.8 and 200 F3.5 ED-IF – $1695.00 used as in brand new still in the box, unregistered but unloved by the previous owner.
    3 – MD-4 motor drives – $280.00 each new.
    3-4 – MN-2 Ni-Cad battery packs to get 8fps and longer shooting time – ($90.00 each) or about $270.00 to $360.00 plus batteries for the body and also the AA batteries for the MN-2, in case you are not using Ni-Cads or they run out of juice and no where to plug them in.
    2 – MF-6B backs to allow the film leader to not rewind fully into the film cassette and thus allow mid-roll film replacement or allow you to process Polaroid Instant Slide film then – forgot price, but probably $150 each???
    1 – MF-14 (not certain that was the exact name) – about $230.00 or there about.
    1 – AS-7 to allow you to mount standard flashes with their shoes on an F3 -maybe $70.00
    2 x Chargers for MN-2 – forgot price, but was expensive.
    Every head for the F3 as in – DW-4 – 6X High Mag head, DE-2 Non-HP head, Waist Level finder and another head that I forgot the name of but had this huge view that you could see from far away and it was expensive.
    Every focusing screen made for the F3 except one – and some of them were really expensive (I believe that they were maybe 23 to 25 varieties) with prices from about maybe $16 to $25/30 EACH).
    Diopter lenses, optional camera straps,
    2 – Nikon remote shutter releases – plugged into the F3 camera body and when pressed half-way, would show you the metering and then fully, it would fire the shutter (forgot price).
    Nikon cable releases.
    Nikon shutter release for vertical firing – would plug into body (actually MD-4 socket).
    Not to mention film, mailers, Film shield containers to prevent Airport scanner fogging your film, processing, prints, storing Pro film in the refrigerator plus buying film in bulk or bricks including Fujichrome 50D, 64T, 100D, 400D, 1600D – Kodachrome 25, 64, 200, Ektachrome 50 in color slide film – Agfapan 25, Ilford 25 and 50, T-Maxx 100, 1600 and 3200, Fuji Neopan 100, 400 and 1600, Ilford Delta 100 and Kodak Tech Pan, Pan-X and Tri-X in B+W films, Ilford B+W film (frgot name) that developed in C41 color process at any Mini-Lab that did color print film – Fuji Reala 100 color print film, Kodak Ektar 25 color print film and other various print films, Polaroid film, Instant slide film plus the developers and slide viewers.
    Body cleaners, mirror cleaners/blowers/brushes – film holders and such.

    NOW, compare this to what things cost today when one digital camera can perhaps replace two to three film cameras.
    Ever heard of the price of an MF-4 250 exposure back and cassettes plus bulk film = well, the price of a new digital camera today? Ever priced Polaroid backs for preview shots then?
    Maybe a photographer here might hire one of these complainers here and then pay them $1000.00 per week allowing them to BUY some real gear instead of complaining, but they probably would mess everything up, as they might be only able to complain instead of working hard for a living or not be able to do anything as in irresponsible and clueless about photography.

  • The invisible man
  • Ronan

    I have this Nikon slr here… its been to the future and BACK.

    For you gents, a cool 1 million $.

    • Jabs

      You accept dollar bills with my picture on it?

  • Jabs

    To the ardent complainers here about Video:
    Here is where Nikon needs to go, perhaps.

    When any DSLR camera manufacturer gets here, then maybe we can talk or sigh.

  • Vandyu

    I posted this in the wrong discussion yesterday. Heck, no wonder I couldn’t find it here today 🙂
    I think the film SLR bodies lent themselves easily to special editions. The digital D60 Gold, however, wasn’t very exciting. Now, on the other hand, here is a gold edition that is beautifully done. I only have a standard silver edition, but the gold version is absolutely gorgeous.

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