A guide to collecting the UK’s rarest circulating coins

Change Checker

After the interest in last week’s charts, I thought I would go into a little more detail about the coins which came out on top – because when it comes to collecting, there is one fact which is always inevitable – the rarest coins are always in highest demand.

So which coins in your pocket are the rare ones? 

  • Fifty Pence coins

Kew Gardens 50p A The Kew Gardens 50p is the rarest coin in circulation

Where else to start but the Kew Gardens 50p? As any change checker knows, it is the rarest coin currently in circulation, with just 210,000 struck. To put that in perspective – the next scarcest designs are the 2003 Suffragettes and 2011 WWF 50ps respectively with a mintage of just over 3 million apiece. The famous Chinese Pagoda of the gardens features on the reverse of the coin and is definitely worth looking for in your change. It remains the…

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Collectable Classics from the Darkside .. The Nikon FG

The Nikon FG was introduced 4 years after super compact Nikon EM. Although both cameras share the same small body a lot more sophisticated improvements were made to the FG, due to the manufacturing and assembling processes having been automated. Great for Nikon as this was their first multi-mode Automatic Exposure camera, but for a budding young photographer in the late eighties, the EM lacked a bit of street credibility, I wanted an F3, but had to settle on trading up my EM for the FG! I can’t remember exactly how much the trade cost me, my guess is it wouldn’t have be much more £15-20, as I kept both the 50mm Series E and the MD-E motordrive.

Nikon FG, with 50mm Series E

It was with the FG that I started entering Camera Club competitions, I joined my local camera club in 1987 as a complete beginner and felt well out of my depths regarding the rest of the club members. Nonetheless, I watched and I listened and before long I was picking up points in the monthly merit competitions. To improve my chances of success I brought a second body, a Nikon FE, by doing so I could continue to shoot slides and negative film side by side.

To my total amazement, I not only did I win the beginners section of my Camera Club in 1987, but I was also named, Best Newcomer too.

Nikon FG, showing the program dial

Sadly, I sold my FG and MD-E to make way for yet another Nikon purchase. I still couldn’t afford my F3, but settled for what I now consider as a far better camera – the Nikon FA.

Having decided to collect all the Nikon film cameras I had once owned, finding an FG again was a bit of a challenge. Most of what I had seen were in poor condition or just too expensive for my budget. Nevertheless, I continued my search, on ebay and at the fairs. I eventually found what I was looking for at Rocky Cameras. For just £30 I got myself a near mint Nikon FG, complete with CF-17 leather case.

Nikon FG

In terms of features and capabilities, the Nikon FG was a lot more sophisticated than the EM. The FG’s automatic mode features aperture rather than shutter prority to give you control over depth of field. The FG also boasts automatic TTL flash metering to give you correctly exposed flash pictures when used with a dedicated flash unit. Incidentally, all Nikon flash guns are backwards compatible. The FG will work just a good the the SB-15 as it would the SB-26 or SB-600/800. The timing of the FG is controlled by a quartz occsilator, with eleven speeds from 1 to 1/1000 second.

Nikon; One word that's worth a thousand pictures . . .

Both the Nikon FG and the EM share the same dimension and a result both cameras will take the MD-E motor drive, which is what I used back in 1987. However, as I now want to keep both Nikon EM and the FG I didn’t want to simply purchase another MD-E drive – I wanted the drive that was directly designed for the job – the Nikon MD-14, with it’s 3.2 frames per second speed rating. Although quite rare I did managed to find one (eventually), in nice condition too.

Next in the Series: Nikon FE

Improve your image, buy a Nikon!

MidPhot 2012

MidPhot is the 48th Annual Photographic Exhibition of the Midland Counties Photographic Federation, held at the
THE OLD SCHOOL HOUSE, Churchbridge, Oldbury, West Midlands on Wednesday 21st to Sunday 24th March, 2012.

This was my 5th consecutive year in support of this exhibition, it also marks the end of my qualifying period for applying for my Masters (MPAGB) Distinction with the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain.

Too Young to Fly .. Scored 13 .. Commended

This year I entered 8 prints, 4 colour, 4 mono and 8 digital images. From these 16 images I gained at total of 10 acceptances, including an award for “Too Young to Fly”, in the digital section.

The selectors for this years exhibition were: General Prints, Projected Image and Panels
Peter Cheetham APAGB

My other acceptances were:

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My top 10 tips for buying a Classic Nikon

To compliment my Collectable Classics from the Darkside series I thought it would be a good idea to run though a check list of things you should lookout for if you are thinking of buying a classic Nikon 35mm camera.

1. Before you embark on your search, for whatever Nikon camera it is you want, make sure you have some idea of its worth. Just because someone is asked £500 for an F4 doesn’t mean they’ll get it!

2. Always check for signs of abuse or misuse. A lot of old Nikon were professionally used. Personally, I will avoid anything with dents or items sold as Not Tested!

3. Most cameras rely on batteries as their main power source, always check for corrosion and make sure you take fresh or newly charged batteries so that you can test the equipment before making your purchase. Don’t buy before you try.

4. Make a detailed inspection of the cameras light seals, in particular the mirror box foam, found within the camera body, behind the lens mount. This small foam strip acts as a shock absorber for the mirror, if the foam looks compressed or feels sticky – do not fire the camera, replace the foam strip as soon as possible. If the mirror box seal needs replacing then the chances are the film door seals will do too. Kits are ready available for around £15. If you need a kit let me know, I nearly always have them in stock.

5. Look for missing parts, small screws, strap lugs and plastic terminal covers. Replacing any of these can add pounds to your purchase later.

6. If the camera has a manual mode run though the shutter speeds. Don’t forget to check in the view finder to see if the meter is working and that the focusing screen isn’t too dusty.

7. Check that the shutter curtain isn’t damaged and that there is no visible signs of wear.

8. Pay close inspection to any lenses that may come with the camera. Check the front and rear elements for scratches and fungus, both will degrade image quality. Don’t store cameras or lenses in their old leather cases, leather is susceptible to damp, which is liable to causes fungus growth within your camera or lens.

9. It always pays to know what you’re looking for, do your homework, know your cameras and their value – don’t go over budget!

10. Finally, enjoy your classics, use them often and in doing so – keep film alive!

Collectable Classics from the Darkside: The Nikon EM

My relationship with photography started back in 1987, when I purchased a second hand Nikon EM camera and 50mm Series E lens from my local camera shop in Dudley, West Midlands.

Although the EM was a very basic, fully automatic film camera, it laid down the foundations to a system that I still used today, some twenty five years on.

A lot of photographers of my generation (50+) ditched their film cameras at the turn of the Milleium in favour of digital ones and embarked on a new journey through Lightrooms, Photoshops, Internet Forums and WebBlogs. If I’m honest I would have to say I gained a lot from going digital, it’s made me the photographer I am today. In fact, digital photography gave me the confidence to start exhibiting my work again, both in National and International exhibitions, but I never really lost interest in film.

Nikon EM with 50mm Series E Lens

I’ve brought and sold many classic Nikon cameras over the years, but it wasn’t until recently that I decided to start collecting and using them again. Over the next few weeks I will be documenting on some of the Classic Nikons I’ve collect from local camera fairs, ebay and from fellow collectors.

Although the EM wasn’t the first camera that got me started in collecting Nikon Classics, it did take me a while to find one I was happy, at the right price! Beleive it or not the fully auto EM, pound for pound is probably the most expensive of all the old nikon cameras. Back in 1979 Nikon were selling the EM and 50mm E Series lens for just over £100. Today, an EM, in good working order, body only, would cost you £20-30, whilst a 50mm E would set you back £30-50. Not much difference concidering the 33 year age gap!

To give you some comparison to what I mean, I recently purchased a Nikon F4, in excellent condition, boxed, for just over £200. The flagship F4, new in 1988, cost almost £2000!

Nikon EM, with MD-E motor drive attached

The Nikon EM was billed as a beginners camera, targeted mainly for the growing number of woman taking up photography. The EM was fully automatic, the photographer set the aperture and the camera matched it with a shutter speed to give the correct exposure. The EM had a bulb (B) setting and a mechanical 1/90 sec shutter speed to allow exposure should your batteries fail. There were also significant changes over previous cameras in the internal mechanics and electronics of the EM, designed to lower costs. Gone were the tight tolerances, ball bearing film advance, and high-quality titanium shutter. The EM was, after all, Nikons smallest and cheapest camera they had ever made. However, despite its cheaper construction quality, the EM has proved to be as reliable over the years as its more expensive Nikon counterparts, the FM and FE.

Accessories for the EM included a highly automated dedicated electronic flash unit, the Nikon SB-E and a very small power winder, the Nikon MD-E, which advanced the film at 2 frames per second.

Next in the Series: Nikon FG

Digital Photographer of the Year Award

Ever since I became interested in photography I’ve had this compulsion to enter competitions, first at camera club, then in exhibitions and now, occasionally, to photographic magazines.

Just before Christmas, 2011 I sent three images off to Digital Photographer magazine. The competition was for their Digital Photographer of the Year Awards – Monochrome Portraits.

Having shot many urban and sport type portraits over the past couple of years I had several good ones to choose from.

The 3 images I sent had already proved their worth in both National and International exhibitions, having gained gold and silver medals, plus a host of ribbon too. If anything was going to stand a chance of winning it had to be these.

To my amazement all 3 images were short listed for the final round of judging.

Days of Despair (short listed image)

There’s No Going Back (short listed image)

Then, shock! I received further notification that Mud, Sweat and Glee had been chosen as the overall winning image.

Mud, Sweat and GleeWinner! Digital Photographer of the Year Award for Monochrome Portraits

My prize, a Samsung NX100 with 20-50mm and 20mm f2.8 prime lens.

Having already decided to do more Street Photography in 2012, the NX100 will come in really handy.

Thanks to all at Imagine Publishing Ltd, looking forward to meet up with you all at Focus-on-Imaging next month.