Nikon SP 2005 announced

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Nikon (Japan) has announced a limited production run (2500 units) of the Nikon SP rangefinder with 35mm f/1.8 lens. The SP is of course famous for being the most sophisticated rangefinder of its time (circa 1957), surpassing even the Leica M3. The SP had a higher magnification viewfinder (1.0x), more lens framelines (28/35/50/85/105/35), and motor drive option. Interestingly, they are using the original 1957-design rubberized cloth shutter rather than the titanium foil shutter which was implemented in 1959.

Nikon surprised everyone in 2000 with the Nikon S3 2000 commemorative model. But sales of the $6000 reproductions were never high and it ended up being discounted at about $2500 in Tokyo camera shops. The general consensus was that the lower-end S3 was never what people really wanted, what they wanted was a reproduction of the original SP. Now they have it. Whether they can afford the $7000 camera is another question.

The SP shares the same camera chassis as the S3. It was the optical rangefinder that differentiated them. For a while in the 1950s, you could even upgrade your S3 to an SP. Since Nikon already had the engineering for the S3-2000 reproduction, making the SP-2005 repro model was only a matter of recreating the extremely complex rangefinder unit. The only major difference between the original 1957 SP and the SP-2005 is that the 35mm f/1.8 lens will be multicoated. Otherwise, it's true to the original: no light metering and no electronics whatsoever. A fully mechanical camera. Nikon says that it even copied the sound of the original self-timer right down to the same frequency bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzt.

Small print: MSRP is ¥690,000, ¥724,500 with sales tax. The yen is currently around ¥103/$1. Most camera stores offer at least 10% off. Production is limited to 2500 units and on an pre-paid basis. I am assuming only black paint models will be made since the chrome S3 reproductions were not popular. As a side note, used SP's in near-mint condition without box in Japan go for about $4000-5000, minimum. So $7000 is not expensive in that market

I'll be buying one when they get remaindered at $2500 in Tokyo camera shops, although the pre-paid order system seems to ensure this will not happen. :-)

Along with the Nikon F6, Nikon seems to want to firmly establish itself as the (last) manufacturer of professional film camera equipment. They currently do not have any competititon in this field with every other German and Japanese manufacturer announcing that they are not investing any further money into film camera R&D. Canon EOS film development has stopped; Contax is dead; Leica is focused on the DMR and limited-run M6/MP editions; Konica-Minolta is all-digital; Pentax may have something at the consumer level but nothing professional; etc. etc. Long live Nikon and film!


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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Karen Nakamura published on January 15, 2005 1:21 AM.

Equipment: Murphy's Law was the previous entry in this blog.

Blog: Japan Window is the next entry in this blog.

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