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.

My Nikon F6, EM
My Nikon F6, EM

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.

~ EM

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  1. I won’t hold my breath, but wouldn’t be entirely surprised, though I feel like we’d see an FM-series revival first. See also: the Df, which seems to still be in production. Honestly, if I was still shooting Nikon, I’d want one. Give me knobs and dials any day.

    A number of years back I slowly swapped over to Leica for my day-to-day work (used digital bodies and ZM lenses’ prices are at least on this planet), but I kept the F6 and a few MF primes. I’ve owned or at least used most of their upper-end film bodies from the N8008 on, but the F6 really was just the sweet spot for me.

  2. Rollei/DW Fototechnik still makes the Hy6 with 6×6 and 645 backs, but it’s a pricey proposition. I primarily shoot these days with a 6008, which had a surprisingly long lifecycle as well, only discontinued a few years ago and still well supported.

    As for LF: I’ve used Sinars, Wistas, and Horsemans (none my own). Small as it is, there’s still a high-end market for technical cameras, but those cherrywood and brass field cameras are beautiful pains in the neck to use.

  3. Hi Roger B

    I think you might be confusing Nilon with Leica.

    Special editions and resurrections from the dead is Leica’s speciality.

    If Nikon were to go down this route, a brand-new Nikon F2AS would be a tough one for me to resist!

  4. The King is dead. Long live the King! Still waiting on some Kodachrome and a viable way to process it….

  5. Luckily there are many used SLR’s still out there (and even old ones work very well). Ironically, Lomography still makes the LOMO Konstructor SLR (but you have to assemble it yourself).

  6. Not to worry. Nikon are nothing if not marketing geniuses. Wait, say, five years then look for a limited production offering (probably in Japan exclusively) of a 30th anniversary edition of the F6 … or maybe a 65th anniversary version of the original F. This strategy sold quite a few anniversary Nikon S-type rangefinder cameras not that many years ago.

  7. Thank you so much : great.
    This is one of the 10 best top analog camera, maybe the best one, if we want a camera which gives the opportunity to take pictures fast with all kind of film includind Velvia 50, it is well made like all Nikon and Nikon lens are nearly the best in the market with Zeiss, Leica, Schneider, some like some famous Ai-s are the best (28mm/2.8, Micro 55mm, 85/1.4, 105/2.5, … the lens from Zeiss or Leica will not add too much on real photography just difference of test).
    This camera has only problem : it is heavy, despite lighther than F5, but heavy.
    If we want 100 % good result on metering and focus with AF lens, this is the camera. I do not need AF, I trust my hands and my eyes. But for perfect metering : whaouuu. But this is also expensive. If you buy you can keep for ever, the cameras which have been recalled were recalled to match the material standard of EU, not a problem of quality 😉
    In this top 35mm SLR there is only a few players to this high level : Canon, Leica (no AF), maybe we can say Contax RTSIII which is an other beast with Zeiss lens.

    1. Leica still makes two (I think?) 35mm rangefinders. But I believe the F6 was the last SLR still being made. Of course, there are a number of companies still making new large format cameras. Go figure.

  8. Many people still buy the wonderful análoga Leica still in production. I dont understand way there were much much more people buying the F6. IT’S Á MISTERY TO ME AND IT IS TOO LATE NOW.