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Introduced in 1959, the Nikon F camera introduced the concept of the 35 mm single-lens reflex camera (SLR) system;
that is to say, it introduced a lineup of the following interchangeable parts connected to the camera body:
The F camera with a standard prism is a completely mechanical camera and does not require batteries.
A lens with the "F" bayonet mount that is still in use today, essentially unchanged except for minor refinements to keep pace with current technology.
Nikon lenses are usually known as Nikkor lenses, except for the "Series E" lenses of the early 1980s.
A viewfinder. The original standard pentaprism viewfinder did not contain a light meter.
Later viewfinders were offered that included a meter, the Photomic series. The first Photomic had an independent photocell, then Nikon introduced the Photomic T
(superseded by the Photomic Tn), which featured through-the-lens TTL metering. The final metering prism for the Nikon F, the Photomic FTn, provided 60% center-weighted TTL which became the standard metering pattern for Nikon cameras for decades afterwards.
Additional viewfinders included a waist-level viewer and an "action finder" with a larger viewable area.
An interchangeable focusing screen.
A camera back. Variants were available that could support 100-foot bulk film instead of the standard 36 exposures.
An optional motor drive that advances the film automatically. In initial variants, this required a modification to the camera body.
One possible disadvantage the Nikon F had compared to other professional cameras was the fact the entire bottom and rear plate was made in one piece, and had to be removed to reload the camera. Even so, the camera was a mainstay of professional news photographers desiring a 35 mm SLR. The Nikon F was succeeded in 1972 by the Nikon F2 series.
A specially modified Nikon FTN was taken on the Apollo 15 mission.
Upon its debut, the Nikon F SLR system revolutionized the photographic market, stealing the thunder of German manufacturers Leica and Zeiss.
The F also had a reputation for being extremely resilient to damage or mechanical failure. It became known as "the hockey puck".