Around Town With The Nikon S3

On my recent trip to Maine, I packed my Nikon S3 to test out how it would feel to use it as a “walking around” camera.

I have both a 50mm and a 35mm lens, and I think I shot equally with each. I initially started just shooting with the 35, but I missed the 50mm lens, so I mounted it and used it for several of my shots.

Here’s a couple pointers if you plan to shoot with a rangefinder camera. First, remember to take your lens cap off before you start shooting. This may seem obvious, but it used to be a joke (in the old days) to remember to take your lens cap off – because people would shoot a whole role of film with the cap on. If you’re used to using an SLR or newer digital camera, you don’t even think about this because if the cap is on, you can’t see anything. With the rangefinder, you don’t look through the lens, so you don’t have a clue, unless you make it a habit to take it off each time you start to take photos. Also, not having a built in meter is a challenge for me. I don’t have a lot of confidence so I have to check with a meter. Thankfully, there are meter apps available for your smartphone, and that makes walking around with a camera like the S3 pretty easy – since you likely have your smartphone with you at all times. The app I use is simply called “Lightmeter” and the author is David Quiles Amat. It seems to work well for me.

I’m actually quite pleased with my exposure estimating/measuring/settings. Let’s take a look at some of my results. All shot on Kodak Pro Image 100 film – a new film I’m trying out. I don’t think it’s been available in the US until recently, so when I saw it I picked up some rolls.

A very nice shot of my lovely wife, having a nice time in Maine.
Buoys displayed on the outside wall of a restaurant in Southwest Harbor, Maine.
Coastline near Southwest Harbor.
Higgins Beach with Plenty of Beach People.
Looking Northwest from Southwest Harbor, towards the center of Acadia National Park.
From the Claremont Hotel, Looking north across Somes Sound and the mountains on the other side.

I really like the S3 to carry around town or wherever you’re walking. It’s easy to use, and I learned to focus it pretty accurately, but it does take some practice. I also like the results from Kodak Pro Image 100 film. The colors are very nice, although I think I can see a difference from Portra or Ektachrome.

If you have the opportunity to try or buy or inherit a Nikon S3, I think it’s a fun camera worth the effort to focus and set exposure. I thought I would have made more mistakes (like forgetting to remove the lens cap) but I apparently did ok with very few mistakes.

If you’re in the US, I hope had a nice Labor Day holiday. Wherever you are, photography (especially film photography) is a great way to relax and destress!