F2AS - what is it like?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by Ian Rance, Jul 6, 2009.

  1. I have just been into my local store and they say that their other branch has an F2AS, motor drive and manual in M- condition for 699 pounds. Now, they said that it really is a wonderful camera and that it is worth me visiting and looking at it. I will have a look, but what do you think of it? If it really is in nice condition, is it worth that money? I don't want to miss a bargain but on the other hand I don't want to overspend on something that is not worth the money.
    I was not thinking of getting more film cameras (I already have the F3 and FM3a) but it does sound interesting.
    Your thoughts really appreciated - I really don't know enough to make a decision (cannot afford to waste money these days as you well know).
    Thanks, Ian
  2. steve_g|2

    steve_g|2 Posting to strangers is just a hobby of mine.

    I used one for several years in the 70's. Wonderful camera.
    May be a problem finding batteries for the LED viewfinder metering system.
    Sold it for about half the price you mentioned (in the 90's, after 20 years in storage!)
  3. Back in the days when I was considering my first camera purchase, the F2AS was my dream camera - alas, it was way out of my price range so I purchased an FM instead. The F2AS is one off the cameras that held their value fairly well over the years. If I remember correctly, there were two different motor drives, MD-2 and MD-3 (being the slower one) - both take the same MB-1 battery attachment (makes for quite a stack though together they are about as high as the MD-4 for the F3).
    Whether or not the camera is worth it for you is something only you can decide - 699 pounds is a lot of money for a camera that is now at least almost 30 years old.
    BTW, thought you had an F6 too...
    Batteries: doesn't the F2AS use the same 1.5V silver oxide batteries like any other MF Nikon film camera?
  4. Not a problem for finding batteries.I have put one lithium battery,instead of two silver oxide,which I think it has.
    If you want,write about,to tell you the type of this.
    I think,the only problem,is that ther ia not a replacement part for the resistor of the finder,if and when it goes off.
  5. Battery should not be an issue as the F2 in all its guises uses modern 1.5V batteries. You can use alkaline or silver oxide.
    However, it is not entirely correct to say that all manual focus Nikons use these modern batteries as the Nikon F, predecessor to the F2, uses the obsolete 1.35V mercury battery.
    A fellow named Sover Wong is perhaps the foremost recognized expert in the history, service and repair of Nikon F2. I believe he resides in the UK. A Google search will turn up his contact info.
  6. I think,the only problem,is that ther ia not a replacement part for the resistor of the finder,if and when it goes off.​
    I've heard the same thing. Before you buy, you might want to email Sover Wong about the chances for repairing an AS meter should it die.
  7. Thanks for the comments - soaking them up here. Yes, it is a LOT of cash, but if it was 'unmissable' I could scrape it together and sell a couple of items.
    Yes Dieter I have the F6 too and this is my 'main' camera for weddings and the like - the MF gear is just for the love of it and it has a different feel to the AF gear which makes for a different approach to my photography, along with a different style in the end reslult I have found.
    Cheers, Ian
  8. Sover Wong:
    Ian, I had toyed with the idea of purchasing a F2AS for sentimental reasons a few times- but then decided against it, in particular because of the somewhat high prices. It appears to be more of a collectors item now - which of course doesn't mean it cannot be used to actually create images. Aside from the feel, it will be no different in doing so than your F3 or FM3A - but it is a milestone camera. If you have to sell other gear to acquire it, I'd say it isn't worth it - but that's me.
  9. The romanticization of the F2 escapes me. I've used it and the F3 (the last "super pro" MF camera Nikon made) and I'd take the F3 over it any day. And I'd take the F6 over either of them with its far superior metering. You want a MF camera? Turn the switch to MF on the F6 imho. (Then again, I won't shoot film anymore.)
    You have better cameras. Skip it.
  10. you do not shoot film anymore sorry for you
  11. No need for a film vs. Digital debate. I don't shoot film now... but someday... Maybe I will again, Dave. It doesn't suit the kind of stuff I'm shooting right now, and I live in the back of beyond and don't have any quality E6 processing in my town, but I continue to lust after an F100 and a brick of velvia every now and then.
    But one thing for sure, if I shoot film with Nikon, even if I go with a MF camera... I'll stick with an F3 or newer.
  12. Well I still shoot film, and this summer am planning to shoot a bunch of slide film on vacation. I had my first 35mm SLR experience with my late fathers Nikon F, and later got the F3HP, which I absolutely loved. The F3HP is, to me, the pinnacle of Nikon manual focus film camera bodies. It is so well built it's a real pleasure to hold. And the sound it makes when the shutter is released is beautiful. A real solid piece of engineering. But no more, it was sold a few years ago and I now have a near new Nikon F100 that I will use for my slides. Another Nikon Gem.
  13. The only F2 rarer is the F2SB which had the DP-3? finder which can handle either pre ai or ai lenses. I believe the F2AS can only use ai lenses. Would love to have an F2 AS but unless I win the lottery can't really justify the price since I shoot 99 percent digital. I'll just have to be happy with my F2 Photomic.
    Those who don't understand the allure of the F2 probably weren't around yet when it was king of the Nikon line. If the reason a person wants one has to be explained to you then you probably won't ever understand. For those of us who lusted after the F2 back then, owning one now is like the guy who finally bought or built that '32 Ford "Deuce Coupe" that he couldn't afford in 1963.
  14. Thanks once again. After reading the relplies you kindly furnished me with I will leave the F2 where it is for someone else to buy and enjoy.
  15. Ian - you appear to be suffering from a severe infection of NAS. :)
  16. I've seen some outrageous prices on the F2's in good shape lately. They are great cameras, but for the money, I'd buy an F6, or even an F5.
  17. I'll stay away from the questions of 'is it worth the cost...worth it to me, etc.' I have doubts about 'bargain' in M- condition as most shops know the market and small shops, in particular, are more pricey. Food for thought...have you checked for comp sales? Should you consider its' future value with regard to your willingness to shoot it freely or perhaps only on sunny Sundays? Might you be reluctant to expose it to damage if it approaches collector quality? I take it you want a shooter.
    Other than a lean toward 'collecting', it seems you would have considerable redundancy between the F3 and F2AS. Even the FM3a is loosely comparable in some respects but an F6 is doesn't enter the conversation for comparison's sake.
    Unless you have a compelling need for the MD consider selling if acquiring. The MD is huge and heavy, requiring 8 AA batteries. The F2 body with the buxom DP-12 finder (making for 'F2AS') is larger and heavier than the F3HP. I much prefer the v'finder illumination of the F2AS over that of the dimly lit F3HP, which requires mashing the tiny red 'on' button.
    The Nikon DP-12 finder will mount non-AI and AI lenses. When mounting a non-AI lens the metering tab on the finder must first be pushed up where it will remain recessed until released. When shooting non-AI lenses stop-down metering is required. Rarer than the F2SB are the F2 Titan, F2 Data and even rarer yet, the F2 High Speed (hardly a regular production model).
    We have a raft of Nikon film bodies, among them three copies of the F2AS. I consider it a favorite over the F, F3 and, at times, M4. What is it like? Wonderful camera.
  18. I've thought about the F2as a bunch of times, but never saw the benefit over the F3HP. I love the F3 more each time I use it. I love also love the F4 and F6 that I have. Used the F5 for a few years, but that camera never bonded with me like the others have.
    Good Luck if you decide to go with it.
  19. 699 pounds? Thats nearly $A2000! It would have to be a mint one with everything working properly.
  20. I use the F2AS far far more than any of the others in the F-F5 range. I honestly think the F2AS is a fantastic camera although I paid about £350 for mine a couple of years ago. Its interesting to see how peoples opinions differ. I had an F3 and didnt like it a great deal at all, I will get another one but it will be for the collection rather than using whereas I use the F2 a fair bit. Sover Wong can service it if you do buy one and he does an excellent job.
  21. I remember one thing about the viewfinder of the F2AS that I handled in a store in1979 - there was no rubber ring around eyepiece and I would have scratched my glasses badly over time. Did they ever add one? To me the camera is an icon, but I'd rather spend my money on something more modern. When creating images, who cares that the camera was the pinnacle of mechanical SLRs? And had the shortest throw of the rewind lever (120 degrees if I remember correctly)? And stepless mechanical shutter speed from 1/125s to 1/2000? I am also fascinated with Leica rangefinders - though they are a pain when it comes to actual photography.
  22. IMO the finder display of the F3 (a great camera) is horrible for manual exposure conrol. In AE, the F3 is fine - but unless you have eagle eyes working with that silly and miniscule +- indication is crazy in bright light and literally impossible in moderate or poor light, since the F3 backlight is impossible to activate conveniently even when it works, which it usually doesn't! If you want to shoot with manual exposure control, again IMO, the F2AS and similar finders (like the FM2 and some of the earlier DP-xx finders for the F2) are ideal for speed and clarity.
  23. If money is an issue, sell the F3 and the F6 (keep the FM3A) and buy a D700 ...
  24. I have an F2A, and I've always loved the ergonomics. Quality-wise these are pretty much the pinnacle for a mechanical camera - ask a camera repair guy. But sinking a lot of money into an old flim SLR in this day and age is hard to justify from the perspective of results. You could get some very nice Medium format gear for that sort of money, not to mention some very capable digital cameras. You should be able to find a clean F2A for about $300USD, unless prices have changed dramatically.
  25. What Lilly said.
    For straight manual shooting, the F2AS feels like a swiss watch, just inspiring to shoot.
    An F3 with the MD-4 and the special Nikon NiMH batteries is the ticket for manual focus high speed shooting.
    And Dieter, I've forgotten the precise specifics, but I *think* the non-HP F3 rubber clad eyepiece ring fits on an F2. Once I've set mine up this way, I forget exactly how I did it......
  26. F2 finders will fit F3 eyepieces, at least the non-HP ones.
  27. 699 pounds could buy you a used car AND if you're careful, a cheaper F2 as well. Then you can take pictures AND drive to where the picture taking is going to be done. Motor drives on these older cameras are heavy pigs not much fun to use.
  28. Thats $1130 USD, about 200 short of what an F6 went for yesterday on the Bay. I wouldnt spend my money on an enormous and old F2, get a newer and much much better camera.
    You could always get the F4 with MB-20, its my favorite camera and indestructable. Built in motor drive and is ofter touted as the best manual camera Nikon ever built. It works with almost every lens, and has nice matrix metering even with older lenses.
  29. The price does seem rather high, but what do I know? I bought an F2 with some non-working meter, replaced it with the standard DE-1 prisim finder (which I got for a steal) and use the same incident meter I use when shooting medium format.
    Given the price and the fact that these are old cameras that many may have seen some heavy use by the pros they were intended for, I'd suggest getting one on the cheap and having it overhauled for peace of mind. I've had my F2 for little less then a year and it has had to be serviced twice. I'm still out a lot less then you would pay so as mentioned, the example you are considering I would expect to be mint condition and in perfect mechanical condition.
    PS - One thing to watch out for; and I didn't know this when I bought my F2: Look very close at the shutter curtains. I've read that over the years of heavy use, the titanium shutters can develop very small cracks that will result in light leaks. Replacing these is apparently so labor intensive i.e expensive that it was suggested that getting another body to use would be cheaper. Maybe this is just an urban legend of sorts, I cannot recall where I read this, but I thought I'd just toss this out anyway. Buyer beware as we say in the states.
  30. The F2AS is a nice camera, but IMHO, it's really not all that much better than an F2S or an F2A, or even a plain F2. BTW, you can get an F2AS from reliable ebay sellers who will stand by the purchase, for $400-500 depending upon the condition. An F2A can be gotten for under $250, and an F2S can be gotten for under $200 from similarly legitimate sellers. A really clean plain old F2 Photomic can be had for under $150.

    If you are going to use the camera seriously, you could expect to spend another $150 to have someone like Sover Wong put it in fighting trim, or you could buy one directly from Sover for around the same as the ebay prices plus $150 or so, already put through it's checkup and CLA.

    If it were me, I'd take a pass on the F2AS. I use an F2 with plain prism that is my no-electricity, nuclear winter camera - but that costs a tiny fraction of what a good F2AS does. For actual use with a meter, you would be better off with the combo of an F3HP and an FM2n. Those two bodies together could easily be obtained for $350-400 total US in excellent shape. And that tandem would have substantially more functionality, and substantially better reliability due to backup redundancy when compared to that of a single F2AS.
    I see that you already own an F3 and an FM3a. Which is slightly better than the tandem I just recommended. So my take is, you don't need it. Not in the slightest. If you would like a purely mechanical F2, get one with either a plain prism, or a plain old DP-1 finder. Those could be gotten quite cheaply. and save yourself $900-$1000.
  31. You should have a look and see how it feels in your hands and how it focuses lenses for you. An F2AS with a manual 24mm Nikkor can shoot quicker than your F6 can in certain conditions shooting an event like a wedding.
  32. Thank you for the help. I will be looking at the camera - it is not often that I get a chance to hold the Nikon classics, however after whet you have all said I will not be letting my heart rule my head and I am fully aware that I will see no difference in my photos if I did buy it. In reality there are other items that I should be saving up for - a digital SLR for one thing.
  33. upon seeing this post, I felt the urge to pull out my F2sb and relive some memories -I was almost tempted to put batteries in it. Maybe at some local event where, when I fire it up, I can scare small children and the local constabulary will immediately start looking for the source of the machine gun (MD-2/MB--1 combo). I can also use the combo to stop my truck from rolling down any hills by jamming it under the tires. Improve your photos, change them - no; but there will be an ambiance that other bodies just don't give you.
  34. One really nice feature of the F2AS, often overlooked, is the fact that the resale value of these things seems to maintain and is, at least gradually increasing. That may not happen with a new digital camera until the new digital camera becomes a "classic" in thirty years.
    You will be able to unload the thing if you don't like it for at least what you paid for it. Nice!
    Then, of course, you may find you have a use for the camera. You may find that the camera puts nothing in the way of a good photograph as countless other have found before you. Ernest Hemingway used a typewriter, Frederick Forsyth still does.
    The F2 will put nothing in the way of creating an image.
  35. Paul, they only hold their value for as long as the meter head is functioning properly. When the meter fails - and they DO fail, they instantly lose at least 80% of their worth. They are an investment bubble in microcosm. That's why I recommended getting a much less costly variant of the F2 for the same tactile sensation and capability. This is why my F2 has a plain prism finder. The rest of the body is pretty well bullet-proof, and it's only the meters that fail. So the less you spend on the meter, the less you have to lose on an F2.
  36. Just saw a nice looking F2AS sell on ebay (250453909317) but even then I wasn't interested.
  37. Your F3 is superior and you have the FM3a to back it up. And that's not even considering the F6. The F2 won't do anything for you. Save your money for glass or a digital body.
  38. Maybe at some local event where, when I fire it up, I can scare small children and the local constabulary will immediately start looking for the source of the machine gun (MD-2/MB--1 combo).
    Last time I used the motor on my F2AS, I was standing shoulder to shoulder with a videographer at an equipment dedication ceremony. Poor woman couldn't get away from me fast enough (completely swamped her audio)!
  39. The F2 was THE nikon, easy to use rugged and top quality. Diode lightmeters are fun to use and accurate. The F2 still operates w/o battery and for anyone with a feel for wel built things i'ts a treat. Now pricewise be careful really mint are v expensive but v good users can be cheap. I use it with the MD noisy and heavy but it really feels great at 4 frames/sec. The viewfinder is great as well. Take it from a Leica Man (me) it's e superb tool perfectly usable and SH lenses MF are v cheap. Buy one!
  40. Nobody was knocking the F2. An F2 can be a treat AND a bargain in the market. It's specifically the DP-12 meter head, which makes one's F2 into an F2AS that is the dubious value proposition, given it's cost, and it's propensity to shuffle off it's mortal coil (or resistor, or diode, or whatever).
  41. OK, update time. The F2AS was as described, and after trying it out I could see the appeal right away, but I am strong and said "thanks for showing it to me". HOWEVER under the counter he has (from the same seller) an F2SB, with correct motorwinder, all boxes and papers and in M- condition for 500 pounds. That was lovely and my head was reeling at the sight of it. However, I thought of what you all said and kept my composure and told myself not to succumb to temptations. Any info on the SB model - I do gather that it is rarer.
  42. Yes,it is rarer.
    I remember last year,a excellent SB from Sweden was sold for over $1,000.00.
    I wanted it ,but it was much money...
  43. The SB (DP-3) has the same meter as the AS (DP-12), except it is pre-AI, so it will do full-aperture metering with AI and pre-AI lenses, and stop-down metering with AF lenses that have aperture rings. The meter in the DP-3 and DP-12 finders is among the most sensitive ever - at the low end, where it counts - and matched only by the old Pentax LX and the much younger Leica M6ttl. That's one advantage it has over the F3's meter. Another is that, in the dark, those LEDs are much easier to work with than the F3's inadequate backlit display.
    I agree that the prices you quoted above are too high in the current market, but there are reasons why both the F2SB and F2AS are highly regarded. Also, many repair shops would be surprised to learn that the F2's various meters cannot be repaired and kept going.
  44. The Nikon F2 with the DP-1 finder is the least expensive and earliest variation of the series. I bought a very good black example from the auction site for about $250.00 US. (Get lucky one day, find a DP-12 head and you have a F2AS.) My camera has been well used and the meter is still very accurate when compared to my F3. These are not uncommon cameras, they should be easier to acquire as people become more and more dazed by automation and the digital revolution. A motor drive can be bought separately at any time which should make the initial cost easier.
  45. Sover Wong is the man for all sorts of F2 repairs, including meters. And he's in the UK. He might even have one or two to sell you, fully refurbed.
  46. I own a mint condition F2SB, purchased from a person who bought "one of everything" when new and held on to them for awhile. I paid $600 for it about 12 years ago and it has just been on display since then, or packed carefully in a Pelican case. Also got a couple of lenses that are in equally pristine condition. For extra $ of course. The price on the AS seems somewhat high to me, but it all depends on how important it is to you.
  47. FYI, an absolutely gorgeous black F2AS just went unsold on the 'bay for $625. If you are interested, search completed items for #290328116727
  48. I recently sold two "mintish" F2A's on Ebay for ~$350 each. They're beautiful cameras, and if I was assembling a collection of great mechanical pro SLRs (a collection that would include an F, F2, Canon F-1 and Minolta XM) I would have held on to one. HOWEVER, beautiful as the F2A is, as a photographic tool my equally mintish $200 F3HP blows it out of the water - better viewfinder, better metering IMO (80/20 vs the F2's 60/40), better motor drive, automatic exposure, better flash (although the F3's flash capability is barely adequate, you can still get TTL exposure). I don't even think the F2 is the pinnacle of mechanical SLRs - I have to give that title to the Olympus OM3T - it may not have the "gravitas" of the F2, but IMO it is as well constructed, has better weather sealing and has the best metering system of ANY manual SLR.
  49. I found two more.
    One,says new,for $2500.00,and one says mint,mint,mint,for $1500.00,item number 110402184196.
    Has photos showing it as really new.
    I admire them,but I already have two of them,(not so new indeed),so let some other guy take care of them.
  50. Hi Ian,
    I just found this thread by chance, as I don't access photonet very often. (I'm mainly on the Yahoo NikonMF users group.)
    If the condition is truely mint-, then £699 is actually not a bad price. I serviced two mint- F2ASs for Grays in London earlier this year, and they were sold fairly quickly for over £1000 each. (Prices of cameras in Europe are much higher than the US. It's because companies offer greater discounts there, because the market is so much bigger.)
    The F2 is a grand camera. It is beautfully built, like a Rolls Royce, but you can treat it rough like a work horse - which it was designed for.
    It is true that the DP-3 and DP-12 (F2SB and F2AS) have the best electronics, but they have the weakest ring resistors and there are no more spare parts. When their ring resistor wears out, it is impossible to get stable meter readings. I can only recondition about 50% of the DP-3/12 ring resistors. So 50% of DP-12s are either junk or becoming junk.
    For some reason, the F2 did not come with an eye piece. However, you can use FM, Nikkormat and F3 eye pieces and correction lenses on F2 finders. Also, you can buy rubber rings from Nikon to go over the Nikkormat and F3 eye pieces and correction lenses. (I have these rubber rings in stock if people can't get them from Nikon, as they are on special order only, and 2 months lead time.)
    F2s are over 30 year old, so like 30 year old watches, there are minor problems with them. Generally very fast shutter speeds are inaccurate, and all the light seal foams are sticky. So they should be serviced or at least refoamed before use.
    My very first impression of the F2 was a negative one - too expensive, and too heavy. But, as many people know, I love the camera now.
    I am interested where this shop is. Can you send me their contact details? My email address is :
  51. Thank you for replying Sover - and yes I can fully see the appeal of the F2. You mention possible problems, well the F2SB did not display aperture readings with the MD attached - but neither I nor the staff were sure if this was a fault or just a quirk. Yes - the foams were all shot.
    The shop is in London, however the F2 is not on their 'for sale' section of the website nor on display to the public so I will ask them if it is OK to pass the camera details on. If so I will let you know.
  52. What causes the DP-3/12 ring resistors to wear out? Why can only 50% of those worn out be reconditioned?
  53. And something silly enough question.
    Why isn't it possible to make such a ring resistor?Do we need high tech for this?
    I ask especially Sover.
  54. Hi Theodore,
    In theory yes, given the high tech equipment. The DP-3/12 ring resistor has carbon and fine metal fingers deposited over a glass substrate. The carbon part is never touched, but the metal deposit is only 5 microns thick and they wear out very quickly. Even the dreaded DP-1 carbon ring resistor is more durable than the DP-3/12 ring resistors.
    I have several DP-3s and DP-12s here I cannot repair because they have bad ring resistors.
  55. Sover,
    If the DP-3/12 ring resistors wear out "quickly", shouldn't they ALL be worn out by now? After all, the youngest of these prisms is almost 30 years old. I have a DP-12 that works fine. Why do some wear out and some don't? Is it related to the amount of use, 'luck' or some other factor?
  56. Hi Steve,
    I found all DP-3/12s below Exc++ have worn ring resistors. The ring resistors never wear out completely, but the parts where they're most used have worn contact areas, resulting in very unstable meter readings.
    Hence only buy DP-12 Exc++ or better.
  57. Bought a new black F2AS in 1980 and a new F3 in early 1981. Sold the F3 not long after as even though it was a very nice camera it didn't have the solid feel or the wonderfully bright viewfinder of the F2AS. The metering on the AS was measurable to 1/5th of a stop in the viewfinder. IMHO the F2 with DP-12 photomic head (making the F2AS) is the best manual Nikon SLR ever made and unlike the F3 and latter models could still operate without a battery. Black models in the same condition are worth more than the silver.
  58. I bought a new F2 Titan a few years ago from Hong Kong. A bit expensive but it was brand new with all the papers. Now I realize it's a collectors item but I use it every day practically. No sitting on the shelf for this camera. Ever.....

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