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The decline and fall of Reflex.

JJB70

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I’m still wondering when Nikon will announce their medium format camera. The Z mount is suspiciously just big enough to accommodate a 44x33mm sensor, and Nikon has already made lenses with a 55mm image circle (such as the PC lenses).

There are so many amazing lenses from Nikon F mount, I doubt we’ll see many of them again in a Z mount version. For example, one of my all-time favorites is the 200/4 AF micro-Nikkor…I also love the DC lenses, the 180/2.8 lenses, the 50/1.2, and so on. With F-to-Z adapters, there will always be a market for these because they last forever.

One good thing about old lenses is their simplicity, provided the elements don't delaminate and you avoid physically damaging the outer elements then they're pretty serviceable and aren't reliant on motors and electronics to work. Motors and electronics which will deteriorate and stop working at some point and for which spares are probably not going to be available. In fairness we should keep the problem in perspective and AF lenses can last many decades working perfectly well, but if anything does go wrong they're a lot less easy to service or repair than an old style mechanical lens. Keep an eye out for fungus and address it early and avoid using them to hammer nails in and you shouldn't have any issues.
 

JJB70

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If you are going to use photography gear to hammer nails then probably a Nikon F, F2 or Topcon RE Super are best bet, those are bomb proof. Even make the Nikon FM look a bit weedy.
 

Newman

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I’d sooner use a hammer to take photographs!
 

rdenney

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Topcon is an interesting company--not a big name in consumer photographer but leveraged that successfully into the medical and surveying optics fields (and lasers, and a bunch of other stuff). Toshiba owned a chunk of them for most of the modern era. They were marketed in the USA by Beseler, which should have been a good formula for success, but for some reason never broke through. I think Nikon broke through on the basis of Vietnam photographers adopting them, and Canon broke through on the basis of brilliant corporate management resulting in deep-pockets marketing, plus targeting television optics instead of just still cameras. But Topcon is in no current trouble with revenues over a $1B, and the same cannot be said for, say, Nikon, even though the latter is still bigger.

It's funny--the Topcon RE Super, the Nikon F, and the Canonflex all had interchangeable finders in 1959, though Miranda was there before them. All were following in the footsteps of Exakta, of course--Topcon even used the Exakta bayonet mount. Canon didn't make it back to interchangeable finders until the F-1, even experimenting with fixed reflex mirrors in the interim (the Pellix). The Exakta Kine, the Pentacon Practisix and the Norita 66 also followed that general structure using roll film. After those cameras, the appeal of the interchangeable finder faded for all but pros, leaving the Nikon F2, the Canon F-1, the Topcon Super (in its various versions), and the Pentax 6x7 (and, if you could find one, a Pentacon Six). All other medium-format cameras adopted the box SLR concept pioneered by Hasselblad (and the original Exakta 66).

The high-eyepoint speedfinder was the best reason for the interchangeable prism finder in the case of the Canon F-1. Loved that thing! And Canon did it right--the meter was in the camera, not the finder, unlike most of the others.

Rick "halcyon days" Denney
 

JJB70

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Topcon is an interesting company--not a big name in consumer photographer but leveraged that successfully into the medical and surveying optics fields (and lasers, and a bunch of other stuff). Toshiba owned a chunk of them for most of the modern era. They were marketed in the USA by Beseler, which should have been a good formula for success, but for some reason never broke through. I think Nikon broke through on the basis of Vietnam photographers adopting them, and Canon broke through on the basis of brilliant corporate management resulting in deep-pockets marketing, plus targeting television optics instead of just still cameras. But Topcon is in no current trouble with revenues over a $1B, and the same cannot be said for, say, Nikon, even though the latter is still bigger.

It's funny--the Topcon RE Super, the Nikon F, and the Canonflex all had interchangeable finders in 1959, though Miranda was there before them. All were following in the footsteps of Exakta, of course--Topcon even used the Exakta bayonet mount. Canon didn't make it back to interchangeable finders until the F-1, even experimenting with fixed reflex mirrors in the interim (the Pellix). The Exakta Kine, the Pentacon Practisix and the Norita 66 also followed that general structure using roll film. After those cameras, the appeal of the interchangeable finder faded for all but pros, leaving the Nikon F2, the Canon F-1, the Topcon Super (in its various versions), and the Pentax 6x7 (and, if you could find one, a Pentacon Six). All other medium-format cameras adopted the box SLR concept pioneered by Hasselblad (and the original Exakta 66).

The high-eyepoint speedfinder was the best reason for the interchangeable prism finder in the case of the Canon F-1. Loved that thing! And Canon did it right--the meter was in the camera, not the finder, unlike most of the others.

Rick "halcyon days" Denney

Another pro-level SLR with interchangeable finders was the Pentax LX, which was an outstanding camera. Pentax basically combined the lightweight and compact size of the Olympus OM family with the tank like build and interchangeable finders of the Nikon F series and Canon F1. For some reason the LX never broke through to capture a big slice of that market which was a shame as I thought it a better design than the F3 or new F1 and it lost nothing to either in build quality.

Topcon departed the camera segment but they are indeed still going strong. In fact if I was to make a choice I would invest in Topcon ahead of Nikon. The RE Super was a magnificent camera, built to a standard of mechanical construction no modern camera approaches. Their lenses were excellent too. However the victors write history and Topcon are all but forgotten as a camera manufacturer.
 

Blumlein 88

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Another pro-level SLR with interchangeable finders was the Pentax LX, which was an outstanding camera. Pentax basically combined the lightweight and compact size of the Olympus OM family with the tank like build and interchangeable finders of the Nikon F series and Canon F1. For some reason the LX never broke through to capture a big slice of that market which was a shame as I thought it a better design than the F3 or new F1 and it lost nothing to either in build quality.

Topcon departed the camera segment but they are indeed still going strong. In fact if I was to make a choice I would invest in Topcon ahead of Nikon. The RE Super was a magnificent camera, built to a standard of mechanical construction no modern camera approaches. Their lenses were excellent too. However the victors write history and Topcon are all but forgotten as a camera manufacturer.
Yes, I knew a wedding photog, and you couldn't pry his hands off his Pentax LX unless you killed him. He had the only such cameras I've ever seen. Not that I know lots of serious photographers. Nor am I a serious photographer either.
 

JJB70

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Yes, I knew a wedding photog, and you couldn't pry his hands off his Pentax LX unless you killed him. He had the only such cameras I've ever seen. Not that I know lots of serious photographers. Nor am I a serious photographer either.

They were quite a rare beast. They were priced to compete against the Canon F1/New F1 and Nikon F3, with a similar specification and pro-level build quality. However the Pentax was always the oddball choice and seems to have found more success appealing to well heeled enthusiasts than professional users. Some say the Pentax name didn't cut it in that segment but I am not sure about that as the Pentax 67 was used by all sorts of professional photographers for decades and the later 645 found a market. Not to mention that in the 80's Pentax were generally well regarded as a manufacturer of solid, well made gear. The K1000 was a default choice for photography students and budding amateurs for decades as a simple, very well made camera (it survived well into the mid 90's despite being a basic mid 70's entry level design.
 

rdenney

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The Pentax LX showed up on the scene far too late to earn a share of the pro market. I had a couple of KXs from a few years earlier—the first cameras with the K mount. Those were long gone when the LX came along fours years later. Even the Canon F-1 was considered a hopeless beast by 1979, and the system camera’s day had passed by then. Had the LX been part of the K Mount introduction in 1975, it would have done a lot better.

Rick “whose wife had an ME Super—much more popular in 1979” Denney
 

JJB70

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I'm not sure that is entirely true, Canon replaced the F1 with the new F1 in 1981(?0 and the Nikon F3 came out in 1980(?) and became pretty much the default choice of press photographers and many other professional 35mm users very quickly. The LX came out in 1980 I think and so was a contemporary of the F3 and slightly ahead of the new F1. So given that the new F1 and especially the F3 found plenty of success in the market through the 80's (the F3 went on into the new millennium and outlived the F4, funnily enough the LX seemed to match the F3 in that respect too as it survived in the Pentax catalogue for over 20 years and was very close to the F3 in both introduction and retirement. Good LX's hold their value pretty well and are still in demand.
 

rdenney

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I'm not sure that is entirely true, Canon replaced the F1 with the new F1 in 1981(?0 and the Nikon F3 came out in 1980(?) and became pretty much the default choice of press photographers and many other professional 35mm users very quickly. The LX came out in 1980 I think and so was a contemporary of the F3 and slightly ahead of the new F1. So given that the new F1 and especially the F3 found plenty of success in the market through the 80's (the F3 went on into the new millennium and outlived the F4, funnily enough the LX seemed to match the F3 in that respect too as it survived in the Pentax catalogue for over 20 years and was very close to the F3 in both introduction and retirement. Good LX's hold their value pretty well and are still in demand.
The F-1 and the F/F2 already owned the pro market, and pros were already invested in the lens ecosystems. The LX never made it with pros, and never broke out of its niche with Pentax amateurs. Before the LX, pros thought of Pentax as an Uncle Harry brand. Most who bought F3’s and New F-1’s were replacing F2’s and F-1’s or F-1n’s.

To earn a spot with pros, the LX would have needed to come out a decade earlier.

Canon really upset that by changing their lens ecosystem in 1987-1989. But they did it without losing their pros; the EOS-1 was a game-changer camera. In part, Canon’s support of sports photography with image stabilization, white barrels, liberal use of low-dispersion glass, and lens-based ultrasonic autofocus did that. They had already established telephoto superiority with the Fluorite lenses of the 70’s.

The LX was the aspirational camera for amateurs invested in the K mount, and it really still is for film users.

Rick “whose wife switched to Nikon after the ME Super” Denney
 

JJB70

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I remember all the gnashing of teeth and wailing when Canon adopted a new lens mount for their EOS models. Conventional wisdom at the time was that Nikon were setting the right example by maintaining compatibility, but Canon got it right and the EOS line really marked Canon's eclipse of Nikon. AF completely changed the industry after Minolta popularized it. There's a certain parallel in that I remember a lot of opinion saying AF wasn't such a big deal and some manufacturers such as Olympus really missed the bus and ended up all but absent from the enthusiast and professional segments until making a return with their 4/3 digital cameras. Pentax also struggled to adjust and never really matched their manual focus position, and companies like Chinon, Konica and Fuji didn't make the transition (although Fujifilm did find their niche with the next big transition to digital). Now the camera itself is a niche product, with most people just using their phones.
 

JJB70

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I know Voigtlander (Cosina) make some lovely retro MF lenses for the Nikon mount (among others) and Chinese manufacturers like 7Artisans have found a nice niche offering quite specialized MF lenses such as ultra wide opening and macro lenses.
 
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