The Nikon SP emerged at the end of the 35 mm Rangefinder Era as arguably the most advanced rangefinder of its time. It competed directly with the other great rangefinder systems: the Leica M3, the Zeiss Contax IIA, and the Canon 7sZ.
The SP Achieved Many Firsts:
1) The Nikon SP was the first 35mm Rangefinder with SIX built in framelines. The combined RF/VF window had projected parallax frames for the 50/85/105/135. To the left of the main window was the wide angle window, showing non parallax corrected views of the 28 and 35. This was in 1957! It took Leica 23 YEARS to equal this feat with the M4P in 1980. The SP has a unique look due to its very large RF/VF window. It stretches across half the camera’s face. SP’s are instantly recognisable. Many don’t realise that the SP’s viewfinder is in some ways superior to that of the M3. The 35mm and 28mm frames are largely useless in the M2/4/5/6 for glasses wearers. In contrast, the SP’s 35mm and 28mm frames are easily seen wearing glasses. The photographer selects the 50, 85, 105 or 135 frameline by rotating the frameline dial which rotating around the rewind crank. Each frameline is colour coded (unlike Leica), and each succeeding frameline coexists with larger framelines, creating kind of a tunnel effect which can quickly be followed. For example, if you are using the 50 frame, only the 50 frame will be visible. Switch to the 85, and it appears in addition to the 50..and so on. The selected frame is thus always the smallest frameline visible. While the framelines in the Leica M2 have an elegant simple three position finder with no frame overlap, the later M4-P and M6 finders are relatively cluttered and confusing with two noticeably different framelines being visible at all times (28/90, 35/135, 50/75). The SP’s finder system appears to us to be more pleasing and less confusing.
2) The Nikon SP was the first Japanese camera to have a single, non-rotating shutter speed dial.
3) The Nikon SP had the first reliable professional quality motor drive. This was a very big achievement at the time, and one of the milestones of 35mm Photography.
4) The Nikon SP had the first and we understand the ONLY Brightline Illuminator (AA battery powered) which illuminated projected framelines in low light.
5) The Nikon SP was the first 35mm camera with Titanium shutter curtains (over the last half of its production). Though untried at the time, Titanium curtains proved themselves incredibly tough and durable.
6) During its production, SP boasted the longest lens range of any 35mm Rangefinder System, from 21/4 to a 1000/6.3!
7) Nikon was the first (and for many years the only) rangefinder system to offer a Macro lens in the 50/3.5 Micro-Nikkor.
Other interesting and now rare lenses included the 21/4, the 25/4, the 50/1.1, the 85/1.5, the 85/2 Black, the 105/2.5, the “mountain” 105/4, the 180/2.5 for reflex housing, and the huge 500/5 and 1000/6.3. The earlier Nikon RF lenses were all chrome. They match up with the earlier Nikon I/M/S/S2 models. Towards the end of the S2 production, Nikon started switching to lighter weight black lenses. Some lenses were made in both chrome and black, a few were made in black only.
This Nikon SP camera body is in attractive condition cosmetically. The top plate, front plate and back are in EXC++ condition, the baseplate has a few marks but is otherwise in EXC condition. The lens is optically and mechanically perfect. The exterior is in EXC condition. (Please see featured photographs taken.)