Nikkormat EL

Note: Nikomat is the Japanese marketed name of the same camera range

nikkormat el

Here we have a Nikkormat EL. this is a camera I have been using on and off since I was 12 years old. let me just say that for a camera much older than I am it is still churning out great photo’s today.

I can only recall having to replace the small 6v battery that powers the electronic shutter and light meter maybe twice during this time. and without it the shutter defaults to 1/90th sec anyway so this can be used as a mechanical camera if you’re left high and dry with no replacement batteries.

This camera was released during the “All mechanical” times of photography, for an electronic camera to become this successful and loved by photographers it needed to prove itself. let me give you a run down of some general features.

Shutter speeds from B – 1/1000th sec; Nikon F mount for lenses. (all Nikon lenses ever made except the new G lenses *Which don’t have aperture rings.*); Aperture Priority (AE) mode (first Nikon with this feature); Independent mirror lockup; Exposure lock; Depth of field preview;

This camera is truly a blast to shoot with, I can just pick it up and shoot and swapping lenses is a breeze. the viewfinder has a built in light meter needle that lines up with your shutter speed to allow fast exposure control. Shooting with light behind your subject? easy, simply step up close to your subject and press in the exposure lock, the center weighted meter will record and hold your exposure while you step back to finish off the shot giving great shots in all situations.

here is an example of the quality i am still getting out of this great camera. Eeyore

This photo was taken using my standard Nikkor 50mm f/2.8 lens. (Not even Nikon’s sharpest lens but look at the detail)

It’s camera’s like these that have drawn me back to real photography and away from Digital and with great quality professional films like Fuji Provia and Velvia and the new Kodak Ektar, why bother wasting money on DSC’s that cost thousands and depreciate faster than the latest fords when i can continue creating stunning shots with a camera more than 10 years my senior. – Neal

14 thoughts on “Nikkormat EL

  1. renato

    Great photos Neal! I just got my dads Nikkormat ftn (actually, he charged
    me $100.00 lol) and it is an awesome camera.

    1. neal

      The G lenses don’t have the “rabbit ears” interlock that shifts the aperture selector on the camera body. also if you could mount them then you would have no way to select the aperture as this is done by the camera body on newer autofocus bodies.

  2. John Jones

    This has been my go to camera for 5 or 6 years now when shooting festivals
    fairs etc, usually have the 50mm and 105mm to swap out. it is a very fast shooter
    If you have the ELW don’t bother getting the autowinder, it is not the best performer and at this age the battery door tends to pull out from the screw insert being worn.
    at least in my hands. Have many film cameras and have used this the most since I got it. Have changed the battery once.

    1. neal

      Yes they are a beautifully camera, I also get a lifetime out of batteries and have only changed batteries in my first one twice in 15 years.

      I love the shutter sound.

  3. Randlew P. McMurphy

    30 years ago I wouldn´t even have touched this camera with a gripper !
    A real Nikon was a Nikon F2, F3 or F4 but not such thing as “Nikkormat”.

    Times comes and things change – after years and years of professional
    digital photography I was fed up and want something “new” for my
    personal work so I spot some auctions on Ebay.
    I want a pure mechanical camera like the Leica M4 or M6 but after
    a few month I was pissed by the snobs who have the money to buy
    themselfes a little special over the mass.
    I spot a Nikon F and get it for less. Weeks later I was out to get some
    old Nikkor and got a Nikkormat EL with it.
    Holy cow this snapper was build much better than I ever thought !!
    A joy to use and much smarter than the later realeased Nikon FE or FM.

    I never befors trust older electronic cameras but this changed till then !
    Bonus for me I can use my beloved old Nikkor Pre-Ai lenses with
    aperture priority. Cool !!

    1. steve Post author

      Yea I know what you mean, whilst my brother was always a fan of the EL (he wrote this article) I was always more of a fan of purely mechanical cameras. But I just bought a EL for my self just reciently and I got to say I’m quite impressed with it. Also I have always been a fan of the match stick metering which you just don’t get anymore even in the LeicaM6-7 or new Rolleiflex.

  4. John

    You’re not the only one out there still using their Nikon EL!!! I’ve had mine since the 80’s when I was just starting photography as a kid and Im still using it. Numerous other cameras have come and gone, including digital FF, but I still find something special about my EL2. It just “feels” perfect, its a solidly made quality body, the analog meter is a pleasure to use and the thing just works perfect with all my Nikkor glass and delivers gorgeous images. Cheers to your EL !

  5. Roland

    Thank you for hosting a site on this great old camera.

    I think Nikon was keenly aware about early buyers were wary of the electronics, so they took care to make a model that was as sturdy, ergonomic as possible for the price point… I think they “overbuilt ” this particular model and came out with a generally unheralded “classic”.

    My sample still gives exposure readings 95% in agreement with my latest camears. (which I usually manually overide most of the time anyways)

    I too still shoot with it occasionally and love the mechanical feel and sound of this well built camera, (yes, I know it’s an electronically controlled shutter, but it’s still a mechanical shutter and the lens communicates with the electronics mechanically).

    I just wanted to mention, though, that there is no “real photography” as opposed to digital photography- I’ts all photography and many artistic creations have been made using digital means…
    Also – don’t forget that mechanical cameras depreciate too – this particular model can be had for not much than a dinner out for two and may still need restorative repairs…
    Additionally- buying and sending film out for development and printing is not exactly cheap, so digital phtography in which you can see whcih photos to print in real time is NOT necesarily wasting money.

    But in the end, I agree that we should all concentrate on shooting and creating images with what we already have and love using.


  6. Alan

    Great article, It just started me thinking about my old Nikkormats….in the early seventies I opened a studio in Auckland, the only cameras I owned at that time were the Nikkormat FTn and a Yashicamat 124 TLR, the Nikkormat had been going without any problems for a while but i felt I should own a proper professional camera so I bought a one year old Nikon F and changed the Yashicamat for a Mamiya C330 Professional as I found thje yashica to be soft at the edges towards wide open.
    The nikon F lower speed train died and needed fixing but the Nikkormat just kept working perfectly…hmmmm I’m still a professional and have gone through (and own) many cameras, still have a Nikkormat that someone gave me and it seems to be working just fine, of all the film cameras I have had, the Nikkormat along with my Leica M3 and Fuji 6×9 have been the most reliable, never needing anything.
    I bought a Nikkormat EL when they came out and loved it but really only had it for a trouble free year or two before I sold my gear to get into motorbikes, in my opinion they are built incredibly well and very few cameras of other brands can equal them. If anyone is thinking of getting one, go ahead, they are cheap as chips and utterly reliable.

    1. neal

      Thanks for your comments and experience! great stuff! looks like you’ve owned some nice cameras there too along the way!


  7. Kenny

    I agree, I Have an Nikkormat EL and a Fujica ST-901 I just got out of storage and I’m very excited about shooting with them this spring. New batteries and some Kodak Ultramax and Tri-X.

  8. Pingback: Three Decades of Nikons – mike eckman dot com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

7 × = seven