I like rangefinder cameras. They are from a camera evolutionary path that’s effectively a dead end and that can be a bit frustrating if you want to use long lenses or focus on something closer than a metre or so. But, they are fun to use and generally built to last.
This is my Nikon S3, built sometime in the late 50s and still kicking.
For some history of Nikon and its origins I strongly recommend having a listen to Episode #51 of the Classic Lenses Podcast. On it Bob Rotoloni (the man who literally wrote the book on Nikon Rangefinders) talks about how Nippon Kogaku found its way in camera making after World War 2 and the start of the Nikon brand.
The S3 is the “cheap” version of the legendary Nikon SP. Basically it’s the same except for a much simplified viewfinder/rangefinder. It also shares much of its internals and controls with the Nikon F SLR which was introduced about the same time (which, with its success, basically ended Nikon rangefinders).
Externally the Nikons look very similar to the old Contax rangefinders but internally they take a lot of their cues from Leica.
Thankfully Nikon decided on a fully removeable back which makes film loading much easier than a Leica.
In use, the S3 functions pretty well for a 50 plus year old camera:
My rangefinder patch is pretty pale but still accurate,
the shutter release (which is towards the back of the top plate) is a bit hard to find without looking,
the shutter speeds are good (except for one second exposures taking about two seconds), and,
the top mounted focus wheel is actually pretty useful.
Probably the best thing about this system is the lenses. They’re excellent even today – they must have been extraordinary when they were released. I have the 5cm f2 and the 3.5cm f2.5 (as well as an LTM modified 5cm f1.4). The good news is that Nikon made most of these in LTM as well.