Enjoy the mechanical schematics of those old Nikon F film cameras

Mesmerize over those mechanical schematics of old Nikon F film cameras:

Clare Wyoh via Gizmodo

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  • Aldo

    When art and engineering met

    • neversink

      Absolutely —
      I have an old Ftn, three F2s and an F3, all with motor drives, sitting in a display case back in the states…. They are all beaters — I abused them, and they still work – but I don’t use them anymore. They were incredible.
      The best things about it were:
      *No oil spots on the sensor (no sensor!!)
      *No left autofocus issue
      *No post sharpening needed.
      *Simple to operate
      *Motor drives were between 4 & 5.6 fps and no one complained they were too slow.

  • Chris

    I don’t suppose there are high-res versions of those images available? I wouldn’t mind printing and hanging them in the office.

    • Nobody Special

      I’m wondering the same thing.

    • Spy Black

      They’ll print roughly 13×18 at the native 72 DPI res of these JPEGs, probably good enough.

  • F, FM, F2, FA?

    • Spy Black

      Seems about right.

  • FredBear

    Wow, with these schematics one could repair one’s cameras oneself!
    No wonder Nikon stopped manufacturing them – lost revenue 😉

    • Remedy

      Bicentennial Man much? 😀

    • iamlucky13

      They’ve shown off similar illustrations of DSLR’s, although these days generated by CAD (Hand-drafting exploded views is largely a lost art. As a young engineer who only ever had to hand draw simple shapes in class, I’ve got a lot of respect for the draftsmen of yesteryear).

      But seeing a picture of where everything goes is a lot different than being able to take it apart and put it back together again without breaking parts, or finding out spring-loaded bits don’t like to go back together unless you have ten hands the size of sewing needles to hold everything in the right place.

      Another reason you can’t repair many modern cameras is cost – time is money, and if you have a worker spinning a bunch of screws into a case in the factory, your camera will cost more to make than if the worker can just snap it together with one-way clips molded into the pieces directly. Unfortunately, those clips don’t come apart easily.

      • FredBear

        My comment was said ‘tongue in cheek’.
        I’m also one who did drafting (but during school days, not Uni) and have the utmost respect for those who put together drawings like this (my father was one who did this).

        I was also talking about taking something apart oneself – not that difficult in many cases – the problem is putting it back together and not ending up with ‘extra parts’ when one’s finished 😀

        • Smarten_Up

          Yep, have taken many an old camera apart…ask me how many I got back together again.
          Do not ask how few of those worked again!

  • Spy Black

    I’m not sure about subsequent models, but everything in the F-era was handmade. Every part. I think there were some stamped parts in the F2, etc., but F-era cameras (and lenses) were entirely handmade. Brilliant engineering works of art.

    • desmo

      well said Spy
      I still have mine ,it still works,
      don’t shoot film much anymore,
      but it always has been a joy to shoot

    • hiplnsdrftr

      Do you mean to say that the F was assembled by hand?

      Saying that it is handmade sounds like workers were creating each and every part with a file and tiny saws… Just curious as I own a black and a silver F.

    • 103David

      No, they were not. When do you think they were manufactured, 1825? Pre industrial revolution? You’re describing pre-Eli Whitney manufacturing technique and Japan in 1959 had decidedly moved on from that era.
      To be fair, some of the first Nikon F cameras were hand assembled, and had anomalies like cloth (instead of titanium metal) shutters in them. But there’s a world of difference between hand assembly of 100 or so pre-production prototype units versus true mass-production of approximately a bazillion units over the next 15 or so years.
      And by the way, I still have my beautiful black enamel Nikon FTN, purchased (pre-USA introduction) in Okinawa late in 1969. Still beautiful, and still works perfectly after all these years.
      Ain’t no electronic marvels from Sony, Toyota, nor even Nikon going to be working nearly 50 years from now.

      • Spy Black

        I meant there was no automation of any type involved. No stamped pieces, no mechanized assembly. Assembled by hand, yes.

        • 103david

          Sorry, spy man, but those top, bottom and front plates, not to mention the entire removable back were not whittled out of a single chunk of metal. Neither was brass selected because of its superb armor plating characteristics. Brass…because it was the easiest and least expensive way to stamp out complex shapes…
          Next time around we can discuss why human fingers are not so good for mass-producing jewelry sized screws, winding really tiny shutter springs, or chrome plating plastic. (Spoiler Alert: They use machines to make those things and a “Chrome” AE-1 Canon is really just painted.)

          • Spy Black

            As I said, other than a few casts, which were typically further machined to spec (like the frames), the stuff was handmade.

        • Ronan

          Those camera’s were mostly stamped/pressed/cast,

          The final product was hand assembled.

    • iamlucky13

      Possibly some of the parts were made on hand-operated/manual machines, presses, etc, but they were definitely made with powered tools.

      Plenty of skill goes into operating these tools, however.

      “Ain’t no electronic marvels from Sony, Toyota, nor even Nikon going to be working nearly 50 years from now.”

      They were definitely more stoutly built back then, but I don’t think it’s impractical, if you care for it well and can find a battery, that a modern camera could still work just fine 50 years from now. Maybe not if you put 1/4 million cycles on the shutter or live on the coast where there’s always a bit of salt in the air, but the amount of abuse even my D40 has taken sometimes surprises me.

      • Anonymous Coward

        Any electronics made after 2006 have approximately a 10 year life-span, due to the Europeans forcing the removal of lead from solder: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whisker_(metallurgy)

        • iamlucky13

          This is why you don’t use Ken Rockwell as a factual reference. I saw that post, too. He read part of a NASA report (even admitted he didn’t read the whole thing) on the topic that discussed the various issues and mitigation strategies, and then with no justification at all, summarily declared all RoHS compliant electronics will die within 10 years.

          It’s not all, but some, and there is NO definite timeline. The problem is real, and definitely widespread, but at the same time is exaggerated.

          2006 was when it was mandated in Europe, but there have been lead free solders in use for decades. There have been failures of some, and there are lots still working decades later. Products with conformal coatings on the circuits (often used on electronics that will be used outdoors, I believe including Nikon cameras) are resistant to whisker growth, which is one of the common ways of mitigating it. Products made with reflow soldering, which is basically any consumer electronic, are also highly resistant to it, because reflow soldering eliminates the solder stresses that support whisker growth.

          For the record, I don’t like the solder restriction in RoHS any more than any other engineer does, but some of the claims people have made about it are outlandish.

        • Crusty

          “The European Union banned the use of lead in most consumer products in the early 21st century due to health problems associated with lead”. Good thing too! The European Union often performs very noble acts, or do you disagree that health is unimportant?

          • Crusty

            Sorry i’ll reword that!
            “The European Union banned the use of lead in most consumer products in the early 21st century due to health problems associated with lead”. Good thing too! The European Union often performs very noble acts, or do you disagree that health is important?

          • iamlucky13

            Most of the criticism of the RoHS is not about whether or not health is important. It’s about whether or not some of the limits created will actually improve health.

            Let’s be clear: banning lead in solder does not save lives. The level of exposure created that way is so far below what is harmful that no one is even certain for sure it is harmful. It probably is, but nowhere near enough to kill. Only potentially to very slightly reduce intelligence and motor activity, but even that hasn’t been confirmed at the levels we’re talking about. This is very different from when leaded gasoline and paint were banned.

            The amount of lead used in electronics solder (at ~3% lead content in the solder) is extremely low, and even if the electronics are not recycled like they’re supposed to be, they end up in lined landfills where even if it leaches. In the US, electronics comprise only 0.5% of all the lead we use currently. Even the assembly workers who handle the solder directly have been found to have blood levels indistinguishable from the general population.

            The medical industry nearly had a heart attack when the RoHS laws were passed, because reliability in many of the electrical devices they use is so absolutely critical. If the expected increase in defect rate leads to people dying when their pacemakers short out, for example, then this will turn out to be a net loss.

            The lead-free solder requirements were one of the few instances where NASA actually criticized the actions of the politicians who control their money (not the US politicians in this case, but the European politicians who collaborate closely with US politicians).

            PS – if this seems contradictory to my above post, it is not. Lead-free solders are harder to work with. That means it will be harder to make defect free products. It does not mean all lead-free electronics will definitely fail.

  • Bryan

    No need to look at the schematics when I have a Nikon SP, F, and F2 sitting on my shelf that I use weekly!

    Thanks Nikon for making workhorse cameras that I plan on using for another 50 years!

  • DafOwen

    Cue someone turning it into a T-shirt design 🙂

    • I’m on it! It would look cool!

    • nawab

      Please let the T-shirt have a “digital back”!

  • D80 user

    Please excuse my ignorance, but I don’t see a battery compartment. These could be operated without a battery? How does that even work? I mean, the shutter, how does that work, how can it have different shutter values?

    • desmo

      the only need for a battery was the FTn model to operate the exposure meter(the base F didn’t have built in meter)
      The Ftn finder is the large rectangular finder in the first pic,
      the battery compartment is the cylindrical part that couples to the shutter speed dial.
      aperture was mechanically set using a tang on the finder that couples to the tab on the lens aperture ring of older lenses

      • LarissaAntipova

        Actually, the battery compartment is directly behind the finder release lever. The on/off/battery check pushbuttons on the illustration are on the outside of the compartment.

    • Colfer

      The shutter was, is, armed when you move the lever for the next frame. It is all mechanically. It only have a small battery for the metter during several years.

    • rrroy

      Even the FM10, the last of the full manuals, has battery only for the meter.

    • iamlucky13

      Mechanically timed shutter. Spring-loaded set of gears spins a certain number of times, based on the position of the shutter speed dial, before it trips a lever that closes the shutter.

  • no need to bundle your url when i try to RT this article .. it just doubles the length of the tweet, and irritates me.

  • Alain

    And thanks to this french magazine “Phot-Argus”, who published these sketches, 37 years ago.

    These where good times, when magazines where real sources of technical material, and not advertisement supports.

  • Masch

    Damn, come on Nikon, this camera digitalised. Bring in a high end system camera with an F-Mount based on this and kick ass!

    • gsum

      Yes – no gimmicks, no rear screen (just a top-plate LCD) and an ever-ready case to put it in. Come on Nikon what are you waiting for? My wallet is open.

      • MJr

        “No gimmicks, just a top-plate LCD” Come on, if you’re going all the way, then no LCD anywhere! Have a look at the Epson R-D1 top plate, no LCD necessary.

        • gsum

          You are of course correct. It’s always struck me as a bit ironic that my old FM is faster, easier to use, more compact, lighter and has better handling than my D800. The FM can’t do things that the D800 can, such as recognise faces, but I seem to be able to do that.

  • upuaut

    At which step of assembly do I add oil droplets to the film compartment? it doesn’t say.

  • Funduro

    Cool !

  • Matt

    Has anybody got high-resolution, clean (without the ghosting of the page’s reverse side) images of any of these schematics?

  • Julian Phillips

    So its clear that the first one is the Nikon F and the last is Nikon FA – then what are bodies 2 and 3? is it the FE and FM or?

  • Alfonso FotoNovedades

    thanks Nikon for making this pieces of art!!

  • Danonino

    Ok, that interesting.. BUT, when do Nikon plan to release a Nikon 1 -camera with the Sony RX100- sensor in it???

  • Jim Hofman

    I turned the F2 diagram into some nice camera p0rn for my man cave.

    • iamlucky13

      Was that from the files on the tumblr site? The text looks just a bit marginal on those quality-wise.

      The added Nikon logo looks good in there.

      Too bad the FM diagram picked up a bunch of ink from something else. That’s the one I’d want.

    • Aldo

      I love what you did… nicely done!… ps you look like Michael Kiske!

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