Nikon F2 or Nikkormat EL as platform for non-AI lenses?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by NHSN, Jun 22, 2020.

  1. It is not as if I need a new camera, but recently I have been looking at a couple of my non-AI Nikkors that doesn't see much action on my currently only compatible camera; an F3 - mostly because I am lazy when it comes to stop-down-metering I guess.

    Talking about lazy, I want to find a body with the least likely chance of issues and a type that is reasonably easily available.

    I am not certain how kind time has been to the electronics of the original Nikkormat EL, but it's AE implementation seems to be close to that of the Nikon FE; my all time favourite camera user interface.

    I am also a little curious about a metered F2, mostly because it holds a special status in my childhood memory of dream cameras - but I lean towards an AE capable camera.
    (I am not really interested in the Nikkormat FTx models)

    Any comments on the status of the now 45 years old EL. Are they holding up?

    Or what to look for or avoid if going the metered F2 route?

  2. For non-AI F2s, the one you want is the F2SB. It's essentially the non-AI equivalent of the F2AS, and uses the same 3 LED/5 position readout used on the F2AS as well as the FM, FM2, and FM10.

    I like the F2SB so well that my one example is actually my main F2, and one of my most used film cameras. They're not super easy to find, but are worth finding.

    Your other metered finders options are the F2 Photomic(DP-1) and the F2S(DP-2). The SB, btw, is a DP-3. The DP-1 uses the same center-the-needle readout as F2A, the F metered finders, and the manual exposure Nikkormats. Many of these will have jumpy needles and/or lost sensitivity in the CdS cell. The jumpy needle usually means a failing ring resistor-I've brought a few back to life with careful cleaning, but I imagine they're on borrowed time. The F2S uses a CdS cell and a simpler 2-LED readout(either under or over exposed, with the "null" reading being both LEDs on). It was high tech for ~1973, but gives less information than the F2SB/F2AS meter. These can also have failing CdS cells. The silicon cells in the F2SB/F2AS have aged somewhat better.

    I have an EL and like it. With that said, the Nikkormat bodies are kind of "chunky"(not that the F2 is exactly svelte). My biggest complaint about them has been that they require the lenses to be set to f/5.6 before mounting. On an F2, you can have the aperture ring wherever, whereas on the Nikkormat type bodies you have to be at f/5.6. This is probably a matter of getting use to it as much as anything.

    The meter display on the EL was carried through to the EL2, FE, FE2, and FM3a. It's a match-needle type display with a green "flag." I don't care that much for it for a couple of reasons(not the least of which that I find displays on the left side of the viewfinder uncomfortable for me) but a lot of people do like it. One quirk with the EL that carries through to the FE is that if you use AE Lock, the meter will continue to change and you just have to trust that it works. You'd be advised to test it before deploying it!

    My EL has been reliable, but I've heard some concerns about reliability and repairability of the 1970s electronics.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2020
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  3. The F2 is very reliable but the meter in the non LED version may have problem. Since you buy a camera for the meter so I am not so sure. The LED version of the F2 generally are more reliable but they tend to be expensive.
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  4. I have 2 Nikkormat EL and use then regularly. They have never given me any problems yet. I also have a F2 which has been reliable also. So in my opinion you won't go wrong with either of them.
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  5. I have an EL that served reliably for 30+ years, but has not seen much use in the last 20. It's foam light seals have gone sticky, but otherwise seems to be fully and reliably functional. I'm confident that, had I kept using it with any frequency, it would still operate without any problems.
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  6. The AI tab on my F3HP can be folded out of the way for non-AI lenses. I believe that's possible with an F4, but it was gone by the time the F5 came around.
  7. The Nikkormat FT3, the Nikon EL2, FM, FE, F3, and F4 all had the fold out tab. The F2A and F2AS can have the tab pushed up and locked into the metering head. Supposedly service can add them to the F5 and F6 but I've heard mixed reports on if that's still an available service(I'd like to send in my F6).

    The issue with all of that is that the OP specifically says that they want to get away from stop down metering, something that all of the above cameras require.

    The only camera I know that can do open aperture metering with both non-AI and AI lenses is the Df, which is a totally different ball game and is a bit clunky with non-AI since you have to both set the aperture ring and tell the camera where it's set(no coupling).
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  8. Unless your lenses are collector's items, have them AI'ed and use them on any camera that will accept AI lenses. When I purchased an F100 to replace my FTn, I had John White LINK AI Conversions for Nikon Lenses: Effective, Fast and Affordable! convert my lenses. They worked perfectly on the FTn, the F100, and now my D750.
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  9. Thanks, I understand your point.
    Prior to digital, I may have done the same. Now, however, my film equipment is something I use for the joy of interacting with tools of another time and age and as such I prefer the equipment to be close to the original state - (I am not bothered by the natural signs of use).
    The AI conversions may do the job but the milled cut-out would most likely bother my eyes.

    I wouldn't hesitate doing modifications to my digital cameras, though. They are just disposable tools to me.
  10. I have a rather large kit of non-AI lenses, and that is why I either use them with adapters on my Canon EOS digital bodies, or else use them on one of my various non-AI capable Nikons -
    My favorite is actually my Nikkormat EL, but I also have a Nikkormat FTn, A Nikon F and a Nikon F2.
    I don't agree that a working meter is a necessity since almost all still-available films have huge amounts of latitude--sunny-16 is just fine. I use my Nikon F with the original plain prism.

    AI'ing old non-AI lenses is not exactly vandalism, but I'd never do it when the cameras made for them are so good, cheap, and available.
    BTW, I also have some later AF, film Nikons on which I have done a number of reports here
    Nikon N2020 (F-501) 1986 Nikon N2020 (F-501 outside North America)
    Nikon N8008s AF (F-801s) 1991 Nikon N8008s AF (F-801s outside North America)
    Nikon N80QD (F80D) 2000 Nikon F80D (N80QD in USA)
    Nikon N90 (F90) 1992-2001 replaced 8008 F801

    But with more modern Nikkors, not non -AI
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2020
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  11. Thanks everyone!
    I appreciate all the input.
    I just realised how ridiculously little I had to pay for an EL from a reputable dealer, and ordered one just now.
    robert_bowring likes this.
  12. As the old knight said
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  13. Yeah, the best thing about them is that they are dirt cheap, especially compared to any of the LED F2 finders. I think my cheapest F2 LED(my F2S) was about $250, and I paid $550 for my near-perfect F2AS w/MD2 attached. The F2SB was under-described on Ebay and had a Konica lens shoved on it(a "Konica Hexagon" per the description) and I made out decent on it, but a few other people recognized what it was and I think still pushed me over $300.
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  14. Inspired by this thread I just pulled my old EL off the shelf. The battery is dead, but everything appears to work like new. My recollection of sticky seals must be for a different body, as this one remains pristine. My dad bought it in 1972-73, I inherited it in 1978, and it's still ticking " a Swiss car." ;) It even survived a car wreck in which both of us (me and the camera) ended up upside-down after 2-1/2 rotations. I took pictures of the wreck with it. An extraordinarily tough, durable, and effective camera...
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  15. Perhaps get an ELW which has improved meter from the EL. It's the latest that support full aperture metering with PreAI lenses.
  16. The EL2 has the improved meter using SPD's, the ELw uses CDS cells.The ELw adds the AW-1 autowinder over the original EL.
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  17. The ELW also adds an 8 second shutter speed(the original EL stops at 4 on the dial-I think AE can go longer) but I thought too that the meter was otherwise the same.
  18. I am quite sure the ELW has silicon photocell. Besides the EL2 doesn't apply because the OP wanted a camera that meters with PreAI lenses at full aperture. That's why no FE, FM or F3 was suggested.
  19. I have the EL (Two of them), ELw, and EL2. I also have the Nikon reference manuals.

    The ELw uses CDS cells and has a 4sec as the longest shutter speed. For the latter, I just checked my camera. The AW-1 that I have stopped working.
    As for the EL2- I brought it up as it has SPD cells, and the ELw does not.

    I would suggest the F2Sb for non-Ai, which is what I prefer. I used the ELw with Non-Ai lenses for a long time, even had the fitted case that holds the camera and AW-1. The case dry-rotted.

    The MIR site is also a good reference for Nikon cameras and specs.

    The Nikkormat EL-W SLR Camera - Index Page
  20. So here's a snap of the new family member. Functioning perfectly but in need of a little cleaning. Again, thanks for all input and comments.
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