Introduced in 1971 and remained in production until 1980 as the flagship model, dedicated to professional of that years. After all these years of service an Nikon F2 Photomic has finally came in my possession.
After having tried numerous Nikon slr cameras, I’ve decided to “challenge” an heavy weight, so I tracked down a Nikon F2:
My model in particular is a Nikon F2 Photomic from 1977 with a DP-1 prism (the first model of Photomic prisms for the F2).
Has numerous reviews I’ve read before deciding to press on the buy button for this one, is a heavy and really solid camera body.
The body is almost entirely made of metal and you feel that, you don’t need to be concerned of handle it “roughly” when you are out and about. It isn’t the kind of camera that requires special attention while you are shooting, and I really like that.
Its shape is really classic compared to the newer F3, there is no lateral grip but I never felt the need of one. Maybe with bigger hands or smaller ones the handling comfort can change.
Maybe the most peculiare design choice of the F2 is the opening of the film door, this happens by rotating a “key” on the bottom of the camera. This is one of the motivi per i quali l’ho scelta, zero aperture involontarie (anche se personalmente non me ne sono mai capitate) e aggiunge valore alla sensazione di solidità e funzionalità.
I believe that functional is the correct adjective to describe the F2, every design choice made on this camera was made with a precise intent in mind, zero “finery” to distract you from the photo you are after.
Another example of it is the on/off mechanism of the meter (the only electronic component in this camera), this happens by slightly opening the film crank lever, no switches.
Like the previous F, the Nikon F2 is a modular camera:
Over the years were released various models of prisms (with internal meter) and focusing screens for all the needs (it is retro-compatible with the ones from the Nikon F). This make it suitable for all needs and easy to fix or customize!
The F2 is the last of the Fs cameras to be entirely mechanical, from the F3 going forward we are talking of electronic cameras that in case of dead batteries will limit your shooting capabilities or negate all of them entirely; the F2 won’t.
Batteries in the F2 only provide power to the meter (present in the removable prism), but both the shutter mechanism and the self timer are 100% mechanical.
This goes from Bulb to 1/2000th of a second, one more stop compared to the previous model. But not only that, for the ones who loves long exposures there is the possibility to use the self timer (that goes from 1 to 10 seconds) as an exposure timer. Selecting Bulb and setting the self timer on the exposure time you wish, pressing the shutter the exposure will last until the self timer has finished its “countdown”
Adding to that, is possible to do mirror lock-up, limiting vibration during the shoot and there is also a depth of field preview button.
Maybe you are into double exposures… The F2 is ready to satisfy you, once shoot the first photo you’ll need to press the rewind button and cock the shutter (the film won’t advance), shoot the second photo and repeat the process as long as you please.
I’ve chosen to reserve an entire paragraph for the prism, that’s because it is the most peculiar thing of the F2.
Are available multiple prisms on the market and with every one of them the metering system vary, also change the sensitivity and the display of information inside the viewfinder.
I’m going to talk about my model: The DP-1, it was the first prism with internal meter made for the F2, and in my opinion the more functional.
This, like all the other prisms, has an 100% viewfinder coverage (like all the previous and successive F models), and the meter reads to LV1.
If you are looking for an accurate and sensitive meter, I suggest you to buy a DP-12, but in my case the ability to use pre Ai lens was important and the design choices made with the DP-1 are something that I preferred:
First of all it has an analog indicator (a needle), that I found much more easy and fast to “read”; it doesn’t get in the way at all.
Outside is the simplest, shutter speeds and iso are easy to read and do not have other functions added to them (in the successive models these will have other functions to get around some “problems”, that are resolvable in other ways anyway…).
But most importantly it also shows the needle in the “top plate” of the finder, this allows me to already partially check the exposure, without the need to take the camera to my eye. Could seems like a banality but is a comfort that once tried you’ll can not do without.
Without wasting words, I’m ready to say that the Nikon F2 is upon the best, if not the best SLR ever made.
It has everything you could want, without ever getting in the way. It earned a spot in the “Olympus” of analog cameras più riuscite della storia.
commend it to who, like me, is not put off by the weight of the camera body and is looking for a real performer, with a 100% viewfinder coverage.
For those who would like to see some of my photos taken with the F2 (usually coupled with a Zeiss Distagon 35mm f2) I invite you to follow my Instagram profile; to the next one!