Nikon S3 2000 Commemorative Model
The original Nikon S3 rangefinder appeared on the market in May of 1958 and is generally considered to be one of the finest focal plane shutter, rangefinder cameras ever produced. The S series design would prove to be the foundation for the Nikon F SLR cameras that were soon to change both professional and amateur photography for decades to come.
The S series received its name from the Japanese word "sasayaku", or whisper shutter. The S3 was one of the last S cameras to be produced and the first Rf camera in the world to incorporate 35mm frame lines in the viewfinder.
In an unusual move, Nikon began plans to produce a commemorative S3 in 1994 at the Mito Nikon factory. It took 4 years to bring the project to fruition and Nikon began accepting orders in March through June, 2000, for the S3 2000 Commemoration Model. A production run of 8000 cameras was planned, each equipped with a new Nikkor-S 50mm f/1.4 lens with aluminum cap and hood, and new leather case. They were placed on sale in October 2000 for $4000.00.
The camera shown here was found in the back of a display case in the computer department of a large discount store just outside of Rome, Italy, in 2005. Purchasing it caused a lot of quizzical looks from the sales person. It seems that they could not understand why I was interested in an old fashioned manual camera when there were so many new autofocus, metered, fully automatic cameras packed in the display. Few of these S3 Commemorative cameras, however, will ever be loaded with film and I think this one is no different. I suppose that tells you a lot about the difference between collectors and photographers.