The good old Nikon F

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by photo5, Jan 25, 2007.

  1. This was the first Nikon I ever used. My dad bought a Nikon F Ftn black with
    the 50mm f2 lens new in 1969. Later my mom bought him a 28mm f3.5 wide angle
    lens. I cut my teeth on photography with this camera for four years until I got
    an FE2 for a high school graduation gift.

    So my question is, is anyone on this forum still using a Nikon F regularly, or
    have they all been hung up in the closet as mine has? I try to take it out a
    couple times a year and cycle the shutter. This should be done to keep the
    mechanism from jamming up.

    This Nikon F hasn't ever been worked on and never failed. The light meter no
    longer works. Could that be because I got some salt water on it one time? No,
    couldn't be. ;-)

    I find the viewfinder in my F3HP better since I wear glasses. But someday I
    know I'll get the F out and use it for something. Last time I used it it was a
    second body with black and white film in it.

    What are your Nikon F stories?

  2. I've got a couple of Fs and use them one in a while just to get "that old feeling" again. I challenge any camera to produce a sharper picture than my F with a 55mm macro lens.
  3. So my question is, is anyone on this forum still using a Nikon F regularly,...?
    I do. My Ftn meters are all dead, so I located a couple of pointy prisms a few years back, one chrome and one black. The meterless Nikon is not a problem for me because I got into photography when we had to learn what an f-stop was and how it works along with a shutterspeed.
    When I was in the military, my black F was my sole camera on numerous "adventures" in the middle east deserts, in environments that I did not wish to subject my more modern Nikons. It never failed in heat levels that had to be felt to be believed.
    While today the F3 and FE2 would be my real workhorses, I still take the F out for "exercise" and to keep my eye-for-light sharp.
    The good thing about the F is that after you take a photo good enough to frame with it, the camera can be used to drive a nail in the wall to hang it. ;-)
  4. I have an F, F2, F3HP, and F5 and a fair selection of lenses. I like them all. Of the manual focus cameras, I think I like the F2 best, but they are all wonderful. With exception of the F5 which I bought new at an exceptionally good price, all were bought well used from the auction site. None have required any maintenance or repairs so long as I have had them. Dave
  5. In use since 1970, one owner.
  6. I got my first Mikon F in 1962 as used with 5.8cm F1.4 nikkor and a plain prism. There is no "foam" on any of my 5 Nikon F bodies. The ones I have have a piece of cord; thus there is no foam to replace. My Nikormat Ftn has foam that absorbs the mirror slap; these get gooed with time; and SoCal ozone too.. None of my used or new Nikon F's came with foam; I am not going to ruin my bodies by adding something to a working good camera with no problems. Maybe folks who have later model Nikon F's have foam; and thus there is this "replace the foam" event. Or maybe its just a way for repair chaps to add muffler bearings to your car of camera. Folks aways ask if I have replaced the foam yet; maybe folks will ask in the future if their D200's coprocessor needs replacing; or the rotator-splint.
  7. makes a great teaching tool. I take it all apart in front of the students so they can see
    focusing screen, prism, shutter, mirror etc. Then I put it all back together and take
    pictures of them and we develop the film in class Hands-on learning
  8. Is that Sekonic meter a flash meter? I have one like that, and another one that's meant for incident reading (I always forget the model numbers). They both still work great.
  9. Is that Sekonic meter a flash meter?
    No, it is, uh was, a Studio Delux. It was incident and reflective and had no battery. I arrived in Spain with my Leica M3 and that meter and before the first frame, the meter hit the ground and exploded into a dozen shards of plastic. A good working understanding of the sunny-16 rule (and its variants, cloudy bright, hazy, etc...) saved the day.
    Today, I use the tiny and great Sekonic L 308 which does meter flash, as well as ambient.
  10. Both my Nikon F and Nikon FTn purchased new in 1971 and 1972 came from the factory with
    foam. But really who cares whether one replaced the factory installed foam or not or does
    foam have a negative effect on the image? Of course my point was that the only thing that
    the camera needed in 35 years of use was the replacement of the factory installed foam.
    Sounds like a fairly well made camera to me, which was the point. Talk about having too
    much time on ones hands. LOL
  11. mtk


    Hi Dave..I have an (almost) mint 1967 F with a standard non metered prism....Absolutely my favorite camera. I share the 50mm F2 ai std lens with my Nikkormat FTn. I fell into a super deal with it. Found it at a camera shop where they had used it strictly on a tripod for years for making copies. The bottom is really scratched up from the on/off tripod. I almost have to describe the std prism as well as the leatherette as being perfect. Since this thing was never used in a photog bag maybe why it is so nice. The real icing on the cake was I got the body and std prism for $125.00! I do like my Nikkormat FTn though too...A fuzz more beat up and the meter still is accurate to within 1/2 stop to my D70. Just for fun I threw my do-it-all Tamron 28-200 on the F body..Looks kinda strange but nice pics! Almost afraid to use the F because it's so nice, but it will certainly degrade faster from lack of use than regular exercise!
    Thanks for asking about the "F".
  12. Today the only asian camera I use is a Nikomat with the first 24mm lens Nikon made, and
    that is rarely. It's a good camera.

    About six years ago I sold all the Nikon Fs - three motor drive F bodies, one F36 motor, one
    F250 with cartriges, a couple action finders, all the lenses, screens.. a boodle of stuff.

    What do I miss? The 105mm F2.5.
  13. My dad bought an F1 with the Photonic viewfinder I believe it is back in 1969 when we lived in Europe. I learned photography on that Nikon, saved all my money and bought my first Nikormat back in the 1970's. My dad has since passed on and the camera is now in my possession and one of my most honoured of possessions. It is in mint condition with the hard Nikon case that holds the body, orig 50mm, a 24mm, and a 300mm. I take it out every once in a while and run it through its paces, but mainly just to feel that solid Nikon feel that hooked me from day one and one of the main reasons I am a dedicated Nikon fan.

    One of my favorite things about my dad's old cameras is the documentation that came with it. Still has the original user manuals and lens guide that I guess probably came with it. Beautiful little booklet that shows the vast array of available Nikon lenses (c. 1969) along with practical uses and techniques. I cut my teeth on the techniques in that book when I was first learning.
  14. I have two FTn's in regular use as my main cameras. The meters work too. One has been repaired a couple of times, but has stayed going. No chance of them jamming up from non use. I have recalibrated the meters for silver oxide cells, and put eyelets in the worn-out strap lugs. They're good to go for a good long time yet.

    My attachment to the F is probably not entirely rational. I'm about 12 years older than the original F. It was love at first sight. It was the ne plus ultra, and when I pick mine up now I still feel a little like a 12 year old whose fairy godmother came through, big time.

    Of course there is a rational side too: they work, and they work well. They do what I want.

    Anyway, I love machinery, and this is one of my favorite machines of all.
  15. Almost all of my Nikon photos are taken with my many Nikkormat and Nikomat bodies. If I did not have two Canon F-1 bodies and many Canon lenses I might be more tempted to get a F body. I wish Cosina would make a modern meter head to fit the F bodies. Then they could sell more of their classic lenses in Nikon mount. I know that I prefer using a 35mm SLR with a working meter and that if I bought an F with a non-working meter I wouldn't use it very much. I have a Bronica ETR and a Bronica SQ-A. Both cameras are used either with plain non-metered prisms or waist level finders. These aren't for fast action subjects but the extra effort is worthwhile for the larger negatives. Eventually I will probably get an F2 or an F3. F2 bodies in nice condition can cost a lot more than F3 bodies.
  16. A hard case....
  17. I still use a F2s with a 55 f2.8 Micro & B&W film.I have had a F2AS which was pristine & too nice to use so I sold it. I also had a very nice black F red dot . This too was worth more on the market than as a user.The Nikon F's have been good to me as very usable cameras & as resale items.
  18. Yes, I have a Nikon F with a plain prism and several lenses that I use reasonably frequently with a hand-held meter. Fairly ordinary prime lenses in the 24mm to 200mm range, nothing exotic -- no fisheyes, mirror lenses, long telephotos or anything like that. My favorite is the 85mm f/1.8. I also shoot with a Leica M2. While they have different handling characteristics and different strengths and weaknesses, the F is like the M2 in that both are solidly constructed, durable, reliable, and reasonably straightforward to use. The F was built to last, and while several decades old at this point, it's still eminently usable.
  19. The F is what the SLR is all about. My late father was not the best Christmas and birthday shopper, and may have been financially challenged at times, so he often gave me and my brother the stuff that he already had, that we had been drueling over for years: cameras, guns, binoculars, stereo equipment. I have over 15 cameras, and I have to admit that I would sell them all, including my Leicas, which I use and enjoy most often, before I would sell the black plain prism Nikon F that my father gave me. I used it for some portraits with his pre-AI 105 2.5 about 4 years ago, several years after his death, and I don't think I could have beaten the results with anything else.

    When you evaluate the finger print of a lens, you can not help but be sensitive to the finger print of the father. God take his soul!
  20. I use my Nikon F occasionally, to take informal snapshots or "photo drafts" when my wife and me go for a walk around the village where we live. Because of my age (34), I bought my Nikon F as a second hand camera. Now I will confess a secret dream: I hope that Nikon will release a "50 year edition" Nikon F in 2009, something similar to the Nikon SP and S3 released in recent years. If I could afford it, I would buy one of them.
  21. Always reassuring to see people sicker than you are...I got a near-mint black F Photomic FTN from an old friend a few years back and also managed to grab a big handful of Varta PX625s to feed its meter. It's pure retro "bling" and I love it. I usually bring it along with far newer stuff to the annual camera clinic, much to the delight of the techs on hand. One of them said recently that "that camera's the reason I have a job today." BTW, shutter and meter still disturbingly accurate after 35 years.
  22. Wow thanks for all your responses, this is a really interesting discussion. The Nikon F is certainly an icon of post-WWII photography, and also the benchmark that all other 35mm film SLRs are held against. Before my father bought the Nikon, he had a Contax IIIa with a pre-war Carl Zeiss Sonnar 5cm f2 lens, as well as a Nikkor 13.5cm f3.5 telephoto for Contax. I sold both of them when I was younger to fund the purchase of a Bronica ETRS kit.

    I love the Nikon F cameras that have all the brassing and black tape on them, a real professionals camera. They keep on working. No camera will ever be built like this again. And I thought about shooting Leica, but I could never get over the horrible film loading and lenses that cost more than the body!!

    Long live the Nikon F!

  23. Great post on a real guys almost make me want to go out and get one! But it is the whole funky film loading thing is what has kept me away. I could probably get used to it. I appreciate many of the stories on how they were acquired and the sentimental value they hold. When I pass on, I want to leave a Nikon F2 to all of my kids. I have three so I need three more!

  24. Love the viewfinder. I have a F3, tossed the crappy HP finder for a DE-2, closer to the original F viewfinder. I have always worn glasses but enjoy the larger image, even if I have to look around to see the image, over the tiny little viewfinders on almost all cameras make since. Still use my F, its also great with the Voigtlander Heliar 12mm wide angle, although its more like a rangefinder then.
  25. William, you and I maight tie an ugly F throwdown. I don't have any tape on mine but the brassing is about equal to yours - I might have the advantage though with the big honkin' dent in the prism.

    I 'worked my way through college' with a trio of Fs - the oldest a '64 and the newest a '70. Two of them came with FTn finders and the third with a plain prism. When I graduated I got a wild hair to be a 'serious photographer' and traded the Fs in for a 4x5 view camera - graduating from college does not make you smart. It took a while but I came back around to the F a few years ago - a black '71 with a plain prism, lots of brassand dents. I love the old, clunky, heavy, homely thing.
  26. I still use a Nikon F occasionally. I have three F bodies, one with plain prism, one with FT and one with FTN prism. All were bought used. The FTN meter still works. I never had any work done on them, not even foam replacement.

    I really love old cameras, even though my current workhorse is a D2x. I even take my Pacemaker Speed Graphic (circa 1951) out for a spin once in a while! It really draws attention when I shoot with it in town.
  27. The way the back comes off the F always bugged me and they fixed that with the F2. Nothing even comes close to those two cameras and I've used most of them more than once. I currently have the three F2's that Wayne says he needs but I'm not giving them up. F3 and F4S too but maybe I need to add an F or two just because.

    Rick H.
  28. I got my F in 1972, used it through high school as a yearbook photographer, in 1974 we
    wrote to Nikon and told them how we used their cameras, they ended up taking an ad in our
    yearbook, we thought it was way cool. Used the same F through college-Brooks Institute of
    Photography. Even used it for a couple of assignments at work-Sandia National Labs. I still
    use it once in a while. Has been CLA a few times. Never failed once.
  29. This is my F Photomic, I have had it for one year now, and shot 30 rolls or so on the weekends, anything from Reala to Neopan 1600 to Velvia 100. It was my grandfather's camera, purchased while in the US military in Guam. I have his 50/1.4, and added a 24/2.8 and 85/1.8 all nonAI, and yes the meter works perfectly. I feel like the coolest person in the world when I shoot with it.
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  30. This Nikon F body with prism was 100 bucks used in the late 1970's. The Nikkor-T 105mm F4 wasnt collectable then; it was considered to be like an old aol disc or 386 computer; ie obsolete. The lens was bought from KEH in the early 1980's thru the shutterbug yellow rag flyer; listed in their junk as is, all sales final section for 35 bucks, listed as a "weird 105mm F4 preset nikkor with dent in f stop ring". I bought it thinking it was the bellows nikkor; and got this lens that they wouldnt take back. It was in their fire sale junk area for many months before I bought it. <BR><BR>When I had the camera and lens and walked into a LARGE San Francisco camera store about 1990 the "Nikon expert" said my 105mm f4 was some kind of kludge; weird f word abortion that I ginned up with an enlarging lens; worth nothing, unusable for normal photography. Thus alot of this old Nikon stuff that was once considered dog turds and obsolete got chucked as garbage and is rare and collectable now. <BR><BR>The 105mm F4 Preset Nikkor-T is a triplet and works well for portraits; it shot the pink bikini chick that won a photo contest. <BR><BR>This lens was a standard offering when the Nikon F came out in 1959; and is in my 1960's Nikon Nikkormat handbook. Thus the hackers at camera stores who say they are "Nikon Experts" often dont know Nikons history; its lenses. Their gambit is often to get you to part with your lens for 15 bucks; like the Frisco "expert" offered me for my "homemade kludge/abortion". Part of a cons jobs is confidence; they act like experts to get you to sell your "worthless stuff" for a nil price.<BR><BR><img src="">
  31. While I mostly shoot digital, every once in a while I get the "collector" urge and realize that I already have some great old stuff, in excellent condition and works very well. My favorite combination is my Nikon F with 18mm F4.0. Great combination for wide angle work.
  32. I have bought a second hand Nikon F set (69) from an old friend of mine in 2000, the body without measuring and four lenses 1,4/50, 3,5/28, 2,5/105 and 4/135. I've bought 2/35, 2,8/24 and 4/200 after that. I still use it, although last two years I prefere my new FM3A (because of aperture priority and more fluent film exchange).

    But F is my jewel and I regularly use it to enjoy the reliability feeling - and the 100% viever too. Only two minor repairs for 37 years happened - black foam strip replacement (damps then mirror) and a eyepiece fix after very ugly fall from my neck (I was just biking).
  33. Back in the day, the 105mm f/4 was only $69.50, inexpensive even compared to off an brand lens. I recall that Lentar lenses (28mm f/2.8, 135mm f/2.8; the Nikons were f/3.5) for the F were about $30. The 105mm f/2.5 was $175. Plain prisms were 44.50
  34. Many times when I attend a wedding or other social event where there is a hired
    photographer, I bring my "F" to take some snap shots, my camera is older than the
    photographer. Now that makes me feel sort of old.
  35. Cary, think about it, your camera is more likely to work (better track record).

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