Nikon Camera Serial Numbers Nikon has long used the first digit of the serial number to indicate region for many of their products (all the way back into the film SLR era). Traditionally, that first digit was used by Nikon like this. Stolen cameras and lenses for Canon, Nikon, Leica, Tamron, Sigma. Type a serial number of a stolen match. List of stolen items by brand.
Much more numerous, less expensive younger brother of the Nikon One and Nikon M
The second most numerous Nikon rangefinder with over 36,700 made, the S sells for a small fraction of the M, and a very small fraction indeed of the Nikon One -- making it the least expensive Nikon Rangefinder. It was Nikon's first big sales success, with over NINE times the sales of the earlier Nikon One and Nikon M combined. A big part of this was the marketing success of Joe Ehrenreich and his Ehrenreich Photo Optical Industries -- the American importer of Nikon. The S was the first Nikon to be officially imported into the US. Like the One and M before it, the S is built like a tank, in fact much heavier built than the S2, SP, S3, S4, S3M that followed.
Today the S is noticeably the less expensive Nikon Rangefinder, due in part to its slow working knob wind and rewind. Before dismissing it, take a second look. There is something quite nice about the S's high level of metal craftsmanship, though the leather often wears easily. The finder may not be quite as nice as the S2 or SP, but it's better so far as I am concerned than the flare prone S3/S4 and quite comparable to its still popular competition, the screw mount Leica IIIf.
Early Nikon Camera Serial Numbers
The secret to being very happy shooting your S is the Variframe 35-135 finder. Most of these finders, a half century after the fact, are missing the all important chain and metal cap. Many Nikon collectors have never paid much notice to those chains and caps, many have never seen them -- most chains have broke off and get themselves lost. So why am I making such a big deal about them ? Because that stupid metal cap contains a magnifier. It fits over the RF/VF, providing about a 2x magnification. The idea is use the high magnifier RF to focus, and to then use the auxiliary viewfinder to view. In practice it works quite well, though it take a bit of getting used to it. No other RF has used the idea since, 2001 might be a good year to revisit it. Nikon even made a separate magnifier attachment which fit into the shoe, allowing other viewfinders to benefit of this idea besides the 35-135 Variframe. Unfortunately, I don't think these wonderful gizmos were exported out of Japan.
Presumably the S stands for 'Synchronized' for flash--i.e. flash bulbs. The S is pretty much the same as the M in form and function, which is described elsewhere on this site in detail. Serial numbers range from about 6094001 to 6129600. Production ran from 1951 to 1955. Ga tag color for 2017 printable.
Check Nikon Camera Serial Numbers
A slow working camera with knob advance and rewind and a double lock detachable back, the S still has the advantage of a relatively bright rangefinder image. Compared to the earlier M, the S has smaller advance and rewind knobs, but a larger shutter guard. Strangely, both share the a non-standard 24x34mm format. To its credit, the S is noticeably better made than the earlier M or Nikon One. The S continued the Nikon tradition of having a serial number on the inside of the back, as well as on the top plate. Make sure they match up when you are buying one, as mis-matches reduce the value considerably.