News coming in from across the web tells us that the Nikon F6, Nikon’s last flagship film camera, which was first released back in 2004 has finally been discontinued, bringing a formal end to a professional SLR line that started in April 1959 with the tank-like Nikon F.
After 16 years in continuous production — albeit in much smaller runs over the past decade — the discontinuation of the Nikon F6 represents the company’s departure from the professional 35mm camera space, as well as 35mm entirely.
Nikon’s first, production, the Nikon Model I was released in March 1948, just two and a half years short years after the end of World War II. It was a camera that would lay the groundwork for Nikon’s dominance in film cameras for the next 50+ years and spawned the Nikon M model (1949), Nikon S (1950), and eventually the S2, SP, and finally, the Nikon F.
It seemed the writing might be on the wall when Nikon announced a global Nikon F6 product recall for 152 Nikon F6 cameras earlier this year but I, along with many other Nikon F6 owners and film shooters, were hoping that this was merely a blip that could be smothed over. Some members of the film photography community even took signs of the F6’s continued production — shrouded under a cloak of mystery for years — as hope that there might eventually be a new Nikon F series camera on the horizon.
Sadly, it looks like this will never be the case.
Originally launched in 2004 — 45 years after the Nikon F — the F6 represented the pinnacle of 35mm film camera functionality and usability. It embodies everything Nikon knew about making robust, reliable, and supremely usable cameras. Decried by many stick-in-the-muds as being inferior to the F5 and F4 that came before it, the current design cues of Nikon’s full-frame DSLR range have not shifted much from that of the F6 for some 14 years.
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Perhaps one of the reasons for the overall decline in DSLR sales over the past 5 years but that’s a subject for a different article.
Now officially listed as “Old product” on Nikon Japan’s SLR line-up, the yet to be archived listing still shows a retail price of ¥379,500 (approximately US$3,640 at the time of writing).
16 years is a long time for a camera to be in production — especially in the digital age. It should come as no surprise then, the Nikon F6 was awarded the 2015 “Long Life Design Award” by the Japanese Good Design Awards, run by the Japan Institute of Design Promotion.
As a relatively new owner of an F6 myself, I’ve just loaded mine up with a roll of Japan Camera Hunter Streetpan 400 and will be taking out for a stroll in a few hours from now. It’s the end of an era and if it means as much to you as it does to me, I welcome you to join me in raising a glass and shooting some film.
The Nikon F6 is dead, long live the Nikon F6.
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