NIKON S3 Olympic 1964
New November 2022
in German Language
1940 the Olympic Games should took place in TOKYO.
For well-known unpleasent reasons, this didn't happen.
Tokyo re-bid for 1960, lost against Rome (which had lost 4x
previously), and won the new bid for 1964. The Tokyo
Games, the first in Asia, thus fell into the middle of the decade
of the strongest Japanese economic growth, in which the camera
industry played no insignificant role.
In 1964, sales of Rangefinder Cameras had already fallen sharply
in favor of the SLR, and NIKON had actually already stopped
producing them (CANON only in 1968) - in favor of their SLR top
model Nikon F. In the same
year, PENTAX introduced the first SLR with TTL exposure metering.
Why NIKON launched one last series of the S3 isn't entirely clear.
Perhaps sales to Olympic tourists were also in mind, although
NIKON was by far the most expensive Japanese camera. Today NIKON
declares it a "press model", and a lot speakts for it, because
even then it was generally agreed that rangefinder cameras are the
most suitable for 50mm and wide-angle, the typical focal lengths
of press photographers, whilst SLRs are best suited for close-up
and telephoto shots. And of course, sports coverage doesn't need
telephoto lenses only.
2,000 were built, all in black, and only available in combination
with the new 50/1.4 lens. Serial numbers started with 632xxxx.
This new 50/1.4 lens was designed, as the last new-issue in the S
series, to replace the dated 50/1.4 "Sonnar" type, which was no
longer competitive at larger apertures but was at least very
compact, which has been around since 1950 and sold optically
unchanged. Arch-rival CANON had passed 1959 with a modern 6-element lens.
The design of the new one was optically similar to the SLR lens
(7-lens planar type) presented in 1962, but not identical to what
one might have assumed. Ultimately, however, optic designers have
fewer restrictions to observe with a 50mm rangefinder lens because
one does not need to consider mirrors clearance, so designs are
less restricted. NIKON managed to keep the small filter diameter
(43mm), albeit at the cost of high light fall-off with larger
apertures. Inevitably with a Gaussian, the lens got bigger, i.e.
taller, and not quite as light as previous version (178 instead of
Experts say the best Nikon 50/1.4 lens ever
Notable History and Design (The Thousand and One
Nights, #77, by Haruo Sato)
Everyone considers the SP
to be the pinnacle of the NIKON S series, and of course it was
the most sophisticated and expensive one. But the S3 is by no
means inferior. It really depends on what you mainly use them
for. If you only use the 35, 50mm and 105mm focal lengths and
hardly ever take close-ups (for which the parallax-corrected
viewfinder of the SP would be more suitable), the S3 is probably
the best choice made by Nikon.
Incidentally, the S3 Olympic also received the focal plane
shutter with titanium foils from the NIKON F.
After all, the S3 "Olympic" (it was not an official NIKON
nickname at the time of sale) achieved such a phenomenal
reputation among enthusiasts and collectors that NIKON decided
35 years later to reissue the camera in a special edition, and
with four times as much large numbers . But in contrast to the
"original" Olympic, however, without titanium but traditional
silk fabric curtains.
Picture: Original "Olympic" model with single-coated Nikkor-S
50/1.4 next to chrome "Millenium" remake, whose lens is
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