Reviews on Nikon F2 Photomic S 35mm Film Camera?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by john_renton, Jul 2, 2016.

  1. I am looking into buying my first film camera, and the Nikon F2 has came across as the most feasible and functional film camera for street photography. I would like to hear some personal experiences with the camera (only so much can be gained from website's reviews).

    On a related note, what would be a good price point for buying said camera? Prices on Ebay varies from $170 to $270. Thank you!
  2. Yes, an F2 or F3 would be my
    choice if I was forced back into
    using 35mm film. It would take
    considerable persuasion or a
    cataclysmic EMP event to make me
    give up the superior IQ and
    flexibility of a DSLR though.
  3. If you get a good F2, it will last you for the rest of your life. They are really built to take a beating. The finders are another story. I think the F2AS is probably the best combination out there as far as the chance that it is still working. Many of the other finders had issues over time. Also, if you can get one with a plain prism, I think it's the DE-1, and don't need an internal light meter, you'll again be good for probably the rest of your life.
    Having had an F2 and an F, I'm partial to the F. No good reason why, just fits me better.
    Good luck with whatever you do.
  4. The F2 is a terrific camera, but I wouldn't say it's really any better than an FM or FM2, which will be newer and probably less expensive, as well as somewhat smaller and lighter. The only thing that's really better about an F2 is the ability to replace the finder, but that only matters if you actually intend to do it.
    I'm not sure about current pricing. I bought an F2 in 2010 on eBay for $180 with DP-1 finder and two lenses, but eBay auctions can vary a lot. KEH's price would probably have been double that or more.
    Here's the thread I originally posted about my F2 when I bought it:
  5. A couple of things why the F2 is better than the FM and FM2. The viewfinder is 100% accurate. Nothing protrude into the viewing area like meter display etc.. Even if you don't use interchangeable viewfinder it makes for very easy to remove and clean the focusing screen.
  6. I ran a roll through a borrowed one and had the feeling of a solid camera in my hand. - I once pondered buying one too, especially to use it with the included motordrive behind some Tamron AdaptAll lenses. If you are into manual 35mm film SLRs, the F2 is surely among the better and most popular choices. - I guess it can still get repaired and there is no spare parts shortage? (<-your homework)
    Anyhow: We are talking 40 year old gear here! - Anybody praising their F2 is outweighted by the odds that even this great camera could break some day.
    The weaknesses of the F2 are obvious: Its heavier than needed (if you just want some 35mm body without motor) and it is probably more expensive than no-name alternatives.
    I'd rather have 3 fishy (almost) no name bodies + my Lunasix F than an F2 assuming, decent lenses could be had for both. - I won't use motordrives with film these days. - Will you?
    If I had to start over I'd buy a late AF film body taking the same glass as my DSLRs. But yes, manual film shooting should still be fun.
  7. When I bought my F2AS (which I still have) in 1979, it was literally the last one the shop where I bought it had, since the F3 had just been announced and Nikon had stopped delivery of F2's.
    For me, it's a better camera then the F3 because, unlike the F3 which is then limited to 1/60th, it you can still us it even when the battery is empty.
    Also got a FE in those days as a second body (standard set up was one body for B/W, one for color) which like the F3 had (compared to the F2) more advanced electronics (like Aperture mode exposure metering).
    Main reason though was I couldn't afford a 2nd F2 (let alone a F3) and also it was smaller and lighter, even if it similarly to the F3 only had one shutter speed (1/90th) left if the battery quit.
    I started to shoot catwalk shows then, so I soon also got the MD3 winder and the MB2 battery holder for the F2, but that meant it became a big and heavy beast.
    As I also had a MB12 on the FE, and used both camera's with Metz 60CT flash units (the hammer head ones with the separate battery pack) you can imagine what weight and bulk I had to lug around during the shows.
    But affordable 'fast' lenses weren't around yet in those days, just as the fastest (commercially usable) films were Tri X and Ektachrome 400,
    Sure, you could push process Tri X with heavily diluted Rodinal or Acufine. just as for color there was e.g. Scotch 640T or 3M 1000 ISO slide film for color.
    But the result both for the pushed Tri X and the slide films mentioned would be ore 'artistic' then commercially usable, so using flash was inevitable and basically mandatory.
    Unlike today, where can do literally thousand of shots on one memory card, and decide to go for B/W of color afterwards, shooting both options during a catwalk show meant having to constantly switch between bodies i.e. banging then around a lot.
    So after a few years on both bodies the paint on the side, under the neck strap lugs, was completely worn of, with the brass showing, and they also had become quite busted up.
    But those camera's could take a beating, quite unlike modern DSLR's, and could be used with the kind of damage which would mean the end of a DSLR.
    My FE e.g. had, due to overloading my soft top camera bag, and probably sitting on top of it, a bent mirror housing, to the point where it interfered with the aperture locking ring (the one on the body which has the little lever that picks up the AI notch on the lens) and stops it from returning back to 'zero'.
    When at a NPS servicing day I asked the Nikon mechanic if it was reparable and what that might cost, he told me to look away, and wedged a screwdriver between the housing and the aperture ring to make a bit of space. The ring regained enough moving space to return to 'zero' and I have used the FE for many years after that 'repair'.
    Maybe not the 'correct' way to do it, but very much based on what, based on real world experience and possibilities, was possible/necessary, and saved me a unnecessary expensive repair.
    And a newspaper buddy used to literally stand on top of his F2 to 'click' the Photomic back into position as a brag for its ruggedness ( I only banged up mine)
    While shooting catwalk you of course also had to keep a sharp eye on how many shots you had fired per film, as you only had 36 shots (38 or so if you also used the loading strip at the beginning of the film, and willing to risk that that part was already exposed and consequently the images shot there lost) so you wouldn't run out of film at an important moment (e.g. end of the show when the 'bride' would make her appearance, or when the designer came to greet the audience). Also there was no mechanical rewind yet, so you had to rewind the film by wind when it as full.
    And of course there also was the constant nightmare of the 'endless' film, when you realized that you had not laid it in properly and shot dozens of photo's on the loading strip.
    Used several types of focusing screens on my F2, from the standard A, to the H and J (both variations) but eventually ended up with the splitscreen/micro prism circle K type, despite that the splitscreen center blacked out when shooting under bad light with slow lenses (for years I shot catwalk with the 4.5/80-200 manual focus zoom, and later the 4.5/300MM ED manual telelens)
    Yes, shooting catwalk sure was exiting in those days, quite unlike the 2.8/70-200 AF zooms, 6400 ISO, 64GB cards shooting style of today.
    Don't use the F2 much today, digital is much more convenient, no more late night film developing, nor long days - and nights - in the dark room amid chemicals and fumes (do miss the 'shuffling in the dark while listening to a Van Morrison music cassette tape' sometimes though))
    But I'll never part from my F2, it still has a proud place in my closet, and I sometimes get it out just to hold it, feel the weight and click away a few shots, even without film of lens.
    And on a side note, still use those (manual focus) lenses (2.0/28mm, 1.4/50mm, 1.8/85mm) I bought back then on my DSLR's, no lost nostalgia as far as that is concerned.
  8. Although there is nothing wrong with F2, my F2A continues to click away after 36yrs....and will likely do so for another 36 (just a weird feeling I get). The other day I did some tests and used equally old 300/4.5....and putting the images side by side w/digital...and except some grain showing (one had to look closely) will be able to pull 11x14 without much strain.
    My advise is to get one in decent working order, have it CLA's by a good tech....and you'll have a camera for many years. If the meter does not work, you can always use a handheld meter > no need to fix the in-camera one. It's a "tank", no matter how you slice it.
  9. All of my fairly large assemblage of Nikkor and Nikon F-mount lenses are "pre AI" so the F2 is a main choice for shooting film with Nikon (see ).
    I also use my Nikkormat EL (highly recommended) and -- of course-- a Nikon F, one of the most beautiful cameras ever made IMHO, of course the version with the plain prism, not the Photomic.
  10. An F2, if it is in really good condition (dont go for one that is in mint condition) should be a camera that will last virtually
    forever. Mine dates from 1972 and i bought used in 1982 , with the motor drive, from a professional who was moving on
    to the F3hp. I shot with it, probably 10,000 rolls till I bought an F4 when it became my backup and remote body. I still wind
    and fire it occassionally just for the feel and sound.

    But shoot film? No.

    One last tip: get the plain non-metering prism or a Sports Finder.

    Even better tip: keep saving up and get a better camera for "street shooting" a Leica M3 or M4 variant with either a 35mm
    or 50mm f/2 Summicron.
  11. I bought the F2AS in 1977 and always wanted the motor drive for it but couldn't afford it. As a compromise I bought the F3HP with the MD4 (for less money than the MD-2+MB1 combo) and it's a much superior motor driven camera than the F2.
  12. I like my F2 with the plain prism HERE. I have the Photomic prism but I prefer a lighter camera and I've long stopped needing a meter to expose film. It's an extremely robust machine that is smooth and solid. Cameras come and cameras go, but it's one I will never sell.
  13. Nikon F2 has came across as the most feasible and functional film camera for street photography​
    What makes the F2 stand out among the crowd for that particular application? Personally, I would certainly go for one with AF. Then again, about the last camera I would use for street photography nowadays would be a (ancient) film SLR.
  14. I wouldn't want AF for street photography. I would rather just use a 35mm lens at f/8 set to the hyperfocal distance. No hassle with waiting for focusing, no worries that the camera might decide to focus on the wrong thing.
  15. The F2 is indeed a great camera, but it's not
    exactly an ideal tool for street photography.
    First, it's large and heavy, especially with a
    metering head. Second, it's noisy - you'll hear
    that mechanical shutter going off a mile away.
    Third, while manual exposure isn't a major
    impediment, fast on-the-fly shooting will
    benefit from decent auto exposure, so that's
    one less thing to be concerned about when
    taking the shot. An FE2 would be a better
    option IMO - smaller, lighter, quieter,
    auto/manual, with almost the same
    functionality as the F2 - newer too. While not
    strictly a "pro" SLR, it is superbly built.
    Another option (my sentimental favorite) is the
    F3 - not small/light, but still smaller/lighter than the F2, quieter, auto/manual. Built like a brick
    outhouse. If you wear glasses, the F3HP
    viewfinder is beyond compare. The battery
    dependence issue is way overblown IMO. If
    it's a big deal, just routinely replace the
    batteries once a year, or carry a spare set
    taped to the strap. You have to be particularly
    careless to be stranded with flat batteries.
  16. The F2 is probably the best manual slr ever. Get a good one and your grand children will still be using it. there are lots of used lenses
    available for it. Come on people: it is not that heavy! It is made of metal so it is heavier than the newer plastic cameras but it is also more
    durable. I just dropped mine out of the car and onto a concrete driveway. Got a small dent in the top but it still works. Buy a good one and
    use it. You will not be disappointed.
  17. I have not owned an F2, because I got stuck on F's. As far as I have seen, though, an F2 is like a super-F, which means it's fantastically well made, rugged and long lived, except that it rectifies a couple of the original F's failings. The mirror lock works correctly, the shutter has a lock, and it uses modern batteries. Oh, and it shares with the last generation of F's the reinforced strap eyelets, so you can carry it for the rest of your life.
  18. I don't have the F2 but my main curiosity is also how this camera would be the best choice for street photography? Not so much for AF, but rather for being rather large, heavy and loud. At least, my F3 is audible, a lot. I don't imagine the F2 to be much quieter.
    For street photography, I quite like my Canonet QL17 - a poor man's option for a Leica M with fixed (but great) 40mm lens. The rangefinder focussing isn't my prefered (takes a bit of getting used to), but the camera is small, silent and very unobtrusive, and it just does the job very well. Loads cheaper than a F2 too.
    If it has to be a Nikon SLR, I do prefer the FM2. The mentioned advantages of the F2 are a bit exotic, the viewfinder on my FM2 is not far behind on my F3 in terms of size and brightness, and I actually prefer having the higher speeds (1/2000 and 1/4000) as extra flexibility to use wider apertures if needs be, plus it lighter and somewhat quieter.
  19. One possibility for street shooting with the F2 might be the waist level finder DW-1, enabling you to shoot from waist or chest level without putting the camera to your eye.
  20. Yes, but the "waste-level" finder (on the Nikon F at ) also makes it difficult to track any motion, since right and left are backward. Of course this was true of the medium format Rolleis and such like, too, and they were popular for street shooting once upon a time..
  21. I have four F2 bodies, the oldest (with match needle meter) I bought in 1976 when I was working for newspapers and the other three (LED red lights instead of the needle) I got a few years back from a friend who was also a news photographer. Granted they all mostly gather dust now. But for 20 years or more, all were used daily in news photo work and have shot thousands of rolls each. The meter on one of them had to be repaired after 25 years or so. But as far as the bodies themselves, not one has ever failed. Not once. You can drive nails with them. IMHO, the best 35mm SLR ever made. I also have a newer FM. Fine camera but the shutter eventually jammed but the older F2 bodies keep going and going and going.
  22. Before you make the decision to pull the trigger on an F2, please borrow and try an F3. I have both, and use the F3 more. It's lighter, more compact and a heck of a camera for all around work. You should try it. It's also more available and cheaper from my experience. Good ones run $150 to $250.
  23. I'm happy with my Nikkormats. A poor person's F. A well finished solid metal brick of a camera and a step up in feel over the newer FE/FM's and even the F3 IMO. And a plus for early F's and Nikkormats? The great deals you can get on pre-ai lenses.
  24. I have had F2's since 1974. There is no finer mechanical 35mm camera ever made. PERIOD
  25. You make me sad. I had an F, a couple of F3, a couple of F4, and a couple of F5, many FM, FE, a lot of Canon SLR, but I have never owned an F2. If I had an F2 in bad condition, I'd have gotten rid of it right away. If I had one in mint condition, I'd keep it as long as I could to be a proud owner of the F2.
    I always prefer a manual camera, but I do not like mechanical ones, in general. Usually, they are heavy, not accurate, and not reliable (believe it or not). IMO, and in my definition, the F4 was the best manual camera we (they)'ve ever made.
  26. When I was doing field work in the high desert on NM (geologist), a F2 was my camera. Dust. Dirt. Rain. Heat. Bah, it's nothing. I knew a guy who used one in Antarctica. Where it was so cold the meter might not work but the camera did. Then one day I was climbing up a cliff to a ledge that had a rattlesnake on it. I jumped back, dislodged a boulder which then rolled down the slop and over my camera, which was lying on the ground. The damage? One small dent. If that would have happened to my D800, there would be a thousand shards. I wouldn't go back to film, but one cannot deny the utmost quality of the Nikon F2.
  27. I had two F2 Photomics for over 30 years since 1973, they're great bodies, but when I got my hands on a digital in 2006, that was it, I'll never go back to film again. Just the fact that I don't have to carry film and change it every 36 frames is great.
  28. If I was going to shoot
    Street I would probably take
    my Olympus OM1 over my F2.
    Smaller & lighter in the hand
    & I find the viewfinder
    easier to focus quickly than
    the F2's one. The shutter is
    also very quiet when fired.
    The OM1 isn't as robust as an
    F2 & uses an obsolete battery
    (I have had mine recalibrated
    for a 1.5v battery) but I
    can't see what an F2 offers
    over it for street
    photography. I have a waist
    level finder with for my F3 &
    don't find it a lot of use rk
    be honest.
  29. It's the period when I had the F2 I did the most street shooting. After I lost the F2AS I have F3 and later F5 but I quit street shooting all together.
  30. The DP-2, F2 "S" finder is the least reliable in the series. The DP-3 "SB" finder and DP-12 "AS" finder also use LED's, but
    switched to Silicon Photo Diodes, more reliable than the CDS cells of the other finders.

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