Nikon F-601 autofocus 35mm slr camera

This post looks at the Nikon F-601 autofocus, 35mm, slr camera which was one of the  higher, midrange offerings in Nikon’s line up of cameras in the early 1990s.

Nikon F-601 Images

My Nikon F-601 Camera

I got my Nikon F-601 camera as part of a large collection of cameras which had been sold by what turned out to be rather an unscrupulous seller on eBay. They had bundled a large collection of faulty cameras and sold them as untested and I foolishly bought them. Still, it wasn’t all bad because I picked up a good Pentax spotmatic SP-500, and although this Nikon is broken, it is still actually usable.

The problem with it is a common problem with this series of Nikons; the catch on the back door is a pretty flimsy and it snaps off leaving the door open and unable to be held closed. What I’ve done, in order to make the camera useable, is stick it shut with a piece of sticky tape. Originally, I used some electrical insulation tape, but that type expands under tension, so I had to use some stronger, less pliable carpet tape for the job. That keeps the camera light proof, but isn’t very aesthetically pleasing!

Nikon F-601 autofocus SLR - Back taped.
Back taped.

Interestingly, there are marks on the back of the camera where some tape has previously been pulled away, so I guess the original owner tried the same trick to keep using their camera after the catch originally broke.

Other than that obvious problem, the rest of the camera seems to be functioning well. I needed to fit a battery into the camera, and fit a Nikon lens because it was supplied as only a body, but with these added all the other parts of the camera are OK.

Cosmetically, there are the marks on the back of the camera mentioned above, but if I wanted to use it seriously, I’d need to replace the back anyway, so that isn’t too much of a problem.

Nikon F-601 Description

The Nikon F-601 is a medium size, medium weight, auto-focus slr camera.


The control layout is quite well thought out with a single control dial which falls neatly under the thumb when holding the camera to the eye, and an informative display in the viewfinder.

The main camera functions are controlled by a set of four buttons in a circle on the left hand side of the camera top and two more next to the circle of four. Each alter a major function in combination with the thumb wheel. Also, each of these buttons has a secondary function which is toggled when the shift button is pressed along with the button.

For example, the ISO button is used to set the film ISO when it is held and the thumb wheel is rotated, or is used to toggle between DX coding and Manual setting if it is pressed when the shift button is pressed. Using this system, the four + two buttons in the group can control the vast majority of the camera’s functionality.

All the normal features which would be expected in a midrange, autofocus camera are present in the Nikon F-601.

Exposure Modes

There are 4 main exposure modes (Manual, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Program) which are set with the Mode button, and the thumb wheel then alters the shutter speed and the lens ring alters the aperture except in Program mode, where the aperture needs to be set to the F22 setting and the thumb wheel shifts the exposure. As well as normal Program mode the camera also offers Auto Program mode, which takes into account the lens’s focal length to set the shutter speed – trying to reduce the chance of a blurry picture when shooting telephoto.

Metering and focus

The internal TTL light meter can be set to spot, centre weighted or matrix metering and the camera offers bracketing and fast or slow motor drive options.

On the front of the camera, just under the lens release, is a small switch which alters the available focus modes – manual, single shot auto or continuous autofocus. When in manual focus mode, there are indicators in the viewfinder which show when focus is achieved – this consists of arrows > and < and a small spot which appears when focus is spot on. In auto focus mode, the same spot shows up when the camera is focused. The actual focus is driven by a screw thread system powered by a motor in the camera body.

Viewfinder and other functions

The viewfinder is typically big and bright for a 35mm film camera, and there is an informative display panel under the viewfinder which shows all the information needed whilst composing pictures.

To learn more about the full feature set of the camera, the manual is available in electronic format and is linked from the list of major specifications below.

I’m going to leave the back door of  the camera taped up for a few days, and if it doesn’t seem to be opening I’ll put a roll of HP5 through the camera to see what sort of results it is capable of.

Nikon F-601 Specification

  • 35mm Autofocus SLR camera
  • Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual and Program Mode
  • Spot, centre weighted and matrix metering
  • 30s to 1/2000 sec auto mode shutter speeds
  • Vertical focal plane shutter
  • Single autofocus, continuous autofocus or manual focus
  • 4 way mode buttons to control major functions
  • Single thumb wheel control
  • Electronic self timer (2 – 30 sec 1 or 2 shots)
  • Pop up flash and hot shoe
  • Threaded for cable release
  • Tripod bush
  • Single CR-P2 6v Lithium Cell
  • DX coding with override (6 – 6400)
  • Auto load and auto frame advance – up to 2fps.
  • Manual available on-line here with full specs

2 Replies to “Nikon F-601 autofocus 35mm slr camera”

  1. I’ve fixed broken Nikon and Canon latches in the past with scrap plastic, fine files, superglue, wire and a micro drill. A bit finicky to describe here but all do-able.

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