My first camera. The classic
 Nikkorex 35/2.

Text and images (c) 2013 by David S. Young.
The first Nikkorex 35
Introduced in 1960, the original Nikkorex 35 (at left) was intended to be the first, low-cost camera for beginners to be offered by Nippon Kogaku, KK - now Nikon Inc.  It was an ambitious camera, which utilized the then-new porro-prism finder, which is sometimes referred to as a "penta-mirror" finder. This design is lighter and less expensive to make than standard pentaprism finders, though the image it delivers is visually smaller and not quite as bright as a good pentaprism finder.  Today, such finders are very common in the lower cost SLR & dSLR cameras.

This original Nikkorex featured a 50mm, f2.5 Nikkor lens, with a Citizen, inter-lens shutter.

It also featured a built-in, match-needle Selenium meter, though it did not have an "instant return" mirror even though such things were becoming common, by that time. As a result, you had
to wind the film, to restore the view through the viewfinder.  (You get used to it!)

Sadly, for the NIKKOREX 35, many problems arose upon its release. Nippon Kogaku K. K. was not experienced in mass-production of relatively low cost cameras. As well, this was the first time that the company outsourced assembly operations for one of its cameras. As confirmed in "A Brief History of Photography" (below), the camera was built for Nikon, by Mamiya and there was much confusion caused by the difference of company cultures.

Mamiya had great diffculty doing things which were easily accomplished at Nippon Kogaku. Nikon engineers and technicians were frequently sent to teach and train Mamiya's staff, but improvement was slow. It did not help that the Citizen shutter (Yes, made by the watch company!) was not a great match for the camera's other mechanisms - and this also caused problems.


The NIKKOREX 35-II (35/2), released in 1962, was significantly improved compared to the original Nikkorex 35.

On the surface, there wasn't much change in specifications, other than
a switch of the shutter unit from a Citizen MVL to a Seikosha (another watch company, now Seiko Precision Inc.) SVL.  Even today, changing shutter units means almost total change in the camera body's mechanisms; and so it was with this NIKKOREX 35II (35/2).

The drawings below compare two internal mechanisms. The NIKKOREX 35's complicated mechanical structure includes several levers, rack gears, cams and shafts located at the bottom of the body. However, most of their function was integrated into a single large lever in the NIKKOREX 35II(35/2), thus simplifying the camera, making it far more reliable.

The original Nikkorex 35 internal mechanism.

The simplified mechanism in the much improved
Nikkorex 35/2

Despite the fact that the Nikkorex 35/2 was now an excellent, robust & reliable camera, the original Nikorex 35 had acquired a reputation for poor reliablity that would simply not go away. 

In order to distinguish the new 35II (35/2) from its predecessor, its designers gave it a new external design. The top cover, the film advance lever and some other components were re-designed. The octagonal body shape of the NIKKOREX 35 was changed to the square one with rounded corners. 

In spite of such efforts, the NIKKOREX 35II(35/2) did not sell well. The reputation of the original model proved impossible to overcome.

Still, the 35/2 was an excellent camera, with fine Nikkor lens and a very good shutter.  The Nikkorex 35/2 still did not have an instant return mirror, so you had to wind the film to lower the mirror, so that you could see through the finder. Even for it's day, it did not have a huge array of features. One that I did like was the small window in the top of the "hump", where you could see the "match needle" metering. In this way, you could set the exposure with the camera at waist level, and only raise the camera to your eye, to shoot.  Great for candid shots!

I took my 35/2 to Europe for 7 weeks, during the summer of 1964 and I still have many fine slides from that trip.  When I dropped the camera in Germany, on to a concrete dock, the eyepiece popped out and fell into the Rhine river. However, I was still able to use the camera ... though it was inconvenient.

When I held the camera to my eye, nothing would be in focus, without the missing eyepiece. So, I'd hold the Nikkorex at arm's length and, peering through the small hole in the back,  was able to focus on the ground glass screen.  Then, I'd put the camera to my eye and, knowing that the green blob was a tree, the brown blob a building and the brightly coloured blobs were my friends, I'd compose and press the shutter.

Despite this problem and it's horrible crash onto concrete, the camera continued to perform beautifully.  Eventually, like many cameras I've owned, I took it apart to see what made it "tick".

Recently, I purchased another Nikkorex 35/2, at a flea market, just to have as a souvenir of the very first camera I owned.  (That's it, at the top, right, of this page.)

Images of the original Nikkorex 35 and the internal Nikkorex mechanisms courtesy of Nikon.

If you found this, or any of my reviews, helpful, please consider supporting this effort by purchasing my e-book, "A Brief History of Photography", It is, by far, the most complete, up-to-date, history of photography, anywhere.

"A Brief History of Photography" is just what it says it is. Fast paced, entertaining &
easy to read, yet it covers the history from 1614 right to the end of 2020.  Spanning the equivalent of 450+ printed pages, it covers not only the chemistry, but the seminal
cameras, films, sensors, lenses and accessories of their day.

It includes hundeds of "Trivia" & "Oddities"  entries - which offer little-known
background stories on both the inventors & their inventions. Profusely illustrated.

To read a free preview, click on one of the links, below.
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If you've found this review helpful, you might enjoy some of my other reviews, found here.  
You might also enjoy my wildlife photos, all taken with Leica or Olympus glass. 

If interested, you can also find my antique Debrie Sept and 1950 Beauty Six (one of only two known
 to exist in the world)

Thanks for reading.

Last updated: 14 Masrch, 2019