Remove MD-2 from loaded F2?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by henry_finley|1, Mar 31, 2019.

  1. As far as I know, the MD-2 motor drive was not meant to be removed or attached to the Nikon F2 with a roll of partially used film in the camera. An MD-3 can. But back to the MD-2, which requires the latch key be removed from the bottom of the camera, leaving a hole for light to get in.So obviously you don't want to be attaching or removing the motor drive while standing in the sunshine. But what if you duck into a closet? A typical closet in the daytime will not be dark enough for doing things like loading 4 x 5 film jolders or developing tanks. But I would think it would be OK to take off the drive from the camera and slip the latch key back in, or add the motor, as the case may be. Opinions?
  2. To remove the MD-2 with exposed film in the camera, buy or borrow a changing bag.

    If I were in that situation and didn't have a changing bag, I'd probably rewind the film and waste however many frames hadn't been shot. You could rewind and then use a film leader retriever to pull out the leader and finish the roll. When you loaded the film again, you'd have to go at least one frame past the last exposed one. Then, you'd have to make sure that the lab (1) was aware of what you did and (2) avoid cutting your negs, as there's the possibility that they might cut them in the middle, as the film registration is often not consistent when you reload.
  3. Thanks. I was sitting in my armchair last night experimenting with an empty cassette, just to see of the reel in the cassette would adequately block the hole in the camera bottom minus the key. No, it doesn't entirely block it off. But it does block it off a whole lot. I am switching over from my MD-3 to my MD-2 semi-permanently attached to my F2. I had been using the MD-3 which is also fitted with the 10 cell battery pack, for the expressed reason that it can be attached and removed at will. For most usage except mirror lockup mode, the MD-3 is almost as fast. You barely notice the difference. But the MD-3 doesn't rewind. And rewinding a Nikon F2 Photomic with the crank is not exactly pleasurable. I don't really use the motor drive much, but I do leave it attached and do most shooting with the regular wind lever and shutter button. Because you're not supposed to leave an F2 cocked overnight, they say. And the big meaty drive plus its handle is very good for holding the camera more steady.
  4. Back in the day I was taught a trick for changing incomplete film rolls without losing all the unexposed film. The trick on my EL was to note the frame number on the counter, then release and manually rewind, carefully feeling/listening for the film to release from the advance cog and stopping the rewind with a leader outside the cassette. Then, remove the film cassette and mark the number of exposures. Reinstall the partially-exposed roll as per normal, and advance to at least 2 frames past the previous exposure count. I set the aperture to smallest, use the fastest shutter speed available, and leave the cap in place, in a dark room or bag. I then just simply trigger and advance to the desired point. I don't know if this is available on your F2, but I know it works on the EL.
    Sandy Vongries likes this.
  5. I don't think that hole let a lot of light in. I think you're safe in a closet. I couldn't afford the MD-2 when I had the F2AS but with the F3 I did it a few times without problem.
  6. When in doubt, a good blanket, or if available a sleepin bag helps a lot...
  7. You’ll get a light leak if you remove the md-2 with film loaded but I must ask, why not simply let the motor drive do the work?

    Rick H.
  8. Because if you let the motor drive do the work you end up with a cocked camera, which is great. But when you've shot your last photo of the day (without knowing it would be your last), the camera can end up being put away cocked, which is said to be a big no-no on F2's. I have a very bad history of shooting people and catching them at the exact instant their eyes were closed. With 4-5 frames per second, that problem can be nipped in the bud. From there I might be shooting still things and do it manually. And F2 carried aroud with its drive is quite a piece of beef, but it's all that heft that keeps it rock solid hand-held. Plus when the last shot on the roll is done, the film gets rewound like a dream. On top of all that, a Nikon F2 alone is the best of the best in 35mm. And with the MD-2 is the baddest of the super-bad.
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2019
  9. That's what I thought.
  10. Will the film pull as described above not work on the F2?
  11. Yes, certainly: to make this easier, Nikon even updated the original MD1 motor to MD2 for the express purpose of adding leader-out film stop capability to power rewind mode (with its companion MF3 back). But I think henry_finley|1 is looking for workarounds that leave the film in place undisturbed: he just wants to attach or remove the motor drive at whim without fogging the film.

    As he's noted, this isn't recommended or convenient with the MD1/MD2 drives because their power rewind fork requires the camera open/close key be removed from the base for access, which leaves a gaping hole where light can enter if the drive is removed with loaded film in the body. The hole does have some inherent sealing, its not as bad a leak risk as it appears, but the potential is there. The risk is compounded by the time it takes to re-assemble everything: the bottom key is fussy to remove and replace due to shallow screw threads and abbreviated coin slot. Doing it in a changing bag would be clumsy, in a closet you'd need three hands, and if the camera is not cocked when you re-attach the drive the film could move or a frame be lost as the drive calibrates. So in most cases its better to just forget the whole idea: leave the motor attached until the roll is finished and rewound for processing.

    This rewind hole issue is one reason the choice between MD1/MD2 and MD3 is difficult. Both are reasonable cost today on the used market, so we can pick based on functional preference instead of just price. The advantage of the MD3 is simplicity: no power rewind feature means no fussing with the bottom key, so the drive pops on and off at will with no fogging risk. No multiple drive speed modes means much less chance of mismatched shutter speeds or wasted frames. Drawbacks: the MD3 is so featureless and plain it looks like a third party hack job (not a refined Nikon motor suitable for the F2), and the binary speed settings mean it can only run single frame or full speed continuous 2.5-4 fps. The MD1/MD2 saddle you with removing the bottom key, but in exchange you get power rewind, better trigger button, multiple (and faster) run speeds and ability to use the bulk 250 exposure film back. It also looks like a proper F2 motor drive.

    All three motors are cursed with a nylon gear that cracks with age, the MD3 is especially prone to this which kills it dead (most eBay MD3s are broken). The MD1/MD2 usually have their power rewind fail but often the advance keeps working: there is some variability based on serial number because Nikon switched where the nylon gear was located midway thru MD2 production years. The nylon gear can be replaced with durable brass: Sover Wong did this for my own MD2 and MD3, but its expensive unless you source the gear yourself and DIY. Given the near certainty of gear failure, if shopping for a drive the MD1/MD2 are more worth the repair expense IMO. The MD3 has no collectible status today, and was essentially offered as a lower price "winder" option when Nikon had to play catch up with Canon's F-1 Winder F surprise. It was almost comical (then) to see the big mechanical pro cameras scrambling to to match the cheap slow winders popularized by electronic Contax RTS , Yashica FR and Canon AE-1. Canon did it better with their Winder F, Nikon's MD3 was a rare mis-step (not cheap enough to compete, wrong feature mix vs its higher weight/price).

    Re the risk of leaving a Nikon F2 cocked: its real, not an urban legend. You're probably OK if you only do this occasionally overnight, but over multiple times or an extended period it will ruin your 1/2000 sec top shutter speed (it will start capping, resulting in half exposed or blank frames). This can spread to 1/1000th or 1/500th, so try to avoid leaving an F2 cocked in storage. Wasting a frame by firing the shutter (if you know you won't use the camera for a couple days or more) is way cheaper than a complete F2 shutter overhaul.
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2019
  12. A couple of comments-

    Although I have not done it on an F2 or F3, I have removed the motor drive from a New F-1 to allow me to change a dead battery-something that is a potential issue with the New F-1 but fortunately not with either the F2 or F3. Every time I needed to do it, I went inside in a a not overly bright interior room(a windowless bathroom works well) and did the swap with the room lights on. The first time I did this was with a "throw away" roll of 400 ASA print film specifically to see if it would fog. I'd still be afraid of pulling the drive outside, with super fast film(i.e. P3200 at EI 3200) or leaving it uncapped an extended amount of time, but I never had any issues doing it as I described. I think this is more of a "this can happen" not a "it's guaranteed to happen"-just use some discretion about when and where.

    Second, I have two(working) MD-2s, and they pretty much stay permanently mounted to two different cameras-my F2AS and an older F2 Photomic. For the last shot of the session(if I'm not at the end of a roll) I turn off the motor drive and fire the shutter from the body release. When you next use the camera, you have two options-you can either advance with the lever, or if you use the button on the drive it will wind, fire, and then wind again.

    I didn't realize the F2 data back allowed leader-out rewind. It would be nice if it were possible on the F4 and F5-I have an F4 data back and if it's an option there, I haven't found it(but then using the F4 data back is also somewhat akin to to trying to set the time on a VCR-just 100 times worse). It's been my understanding that the F5 has to go to the factory for leader-out-I've also been told that it's a "hidden" custom function but if it is it's so hidden that Meta35 can't find it! Fortunately, the F6 does offer leader out and it's reasonably easy to access and change. There's a well-known "hack" on the Canon T90 for leader out that requires bridging a solder joint on one of the circuit boards-when I bought my T90 from KEH many years ago, I was glad to find it already done-I know different people have their preferences on it, but leader out often makes my life easier in the darkroom(I usually tear the leader to make it obvious as an exposed roll) and if I do want it in, it only takes a few seconds of twisting the top of the can to get it there.
  13. I never have a motor drive on the F2 but what happen if before taking the last shot you turn the motor drive off and take the shot with the on camera shutter release?
  14. The picture will be taken normally as if the motor wasn't there, and if you don't re-cock the shutter with the manual advance lever you can then safely store the camera indefinitely until you need it again. Next time you want to take a photo, you can either turn on the motor and let it advance and cock the shutter in readiness for the next shot, or leave the motor off and wind on with the body advance lever. For a system with no electronic communication whatsoever between motor and body, its surprisingly simple (aside from having to remember which shutter speeds can be used with which advance speed).
  15. The MF3 mentioned above isn't actually a data back: its simply a replacement back door for the F2 that incorporates a film sensor, thumb rest and extended hinge with electric contact that fits over corresponding external contacts on the right rear corner of the MD2. When the film leader pulls off the wind spool, it breaks a circuit in the door which cuts off the motor before the leader gets sucked back into the film canister. There was also a true data back for the F2, but I think it was sold only as part of a limited production complete camera outfit known as the "F2 Data" (highly collectible today). Data backs as an affordable consumer accessory didn't proliferate until after the F2 was replaced by the F3.

    Speaking of which, many were disappointed when Nikon carried over the klugey requirement for a special replacement back to enable leader out with the new electronic F3 + MD4 combo. Since this was a ground up modern camera and motor system with full communication, it was assumed the camera itself would sense the leader pulling off and cut out the motor thru its normal base contacts. Apparently this wasn't possible with a detachable-motor system, so the F3 also needs an optional (MF6) back for leader out with its MD4.

    Unfortunately the overhanging arm with electric contacts makes the MF3 and MF6 impractical to use without a motor attached: the motorless camera will have a peg leg that prevents it sitting flat on a table, and snags on things. Admittedly, the sensor back is pretty useless without the motor, but its one more factor that forces you to choose full time motor attachment (when you might prefer more spontaneity).

    Nikon MF3.jpg
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2019
    DavidTriplett likes this.
  16. I wouldn't, the comments about a changing bag are excellent advice. No one using film cameras should be without a changing bag in their camera bag.
  17. You must use a changing bag. "Almost" blocking the light isn't good enough. There is a place inside the MD-2 to store the plug for the camera. Hopefully you still have the plug when you need it. In a pinch, you could use a strip of black photo tape.
  18. Old thread, but the camera is even older, so here goes:
    Part of the OP's problem was that he may not know which will be the last photo of the day.

    Could the OP not make a manual double exposure when he decides to call it a day by pushing the MD-2's rewind slide up and press the camera's shutter release with the motor drive off? If I understand things correctly, it will fire the shutter but neither advancing the film nor cocking the shutter afterwards.
  19. If this is the problem..
    I used to always make a "First of the day" shot, with a "plate with a date" shot , either somewhere in a background, or just a shot of the plate, when i stil did film ...
  20. Wait, what? Did you say that putting an F2 away with the shutter cocked is a big no-no. If you're using the camera daily or weekly or monthly that's not a worry. Jeez that is sheer nonsense. Somebody read about not storing LEAF shutters (Rolleiflex,etc) cocked for a long period of time. Then they decided that what's good for leaf shutters must be good for focal plane shutters.

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