“Nothing, it’s yours,” my dear friend told me when she was cleaning out her father’s belonging from her childhood home. A regular at one of the bars I frequent saw the joy on my face as bright as the sun reflects off the sea. The Nikon F2 is an iconic camera in so many different ways. Its predecessor is known for stopping a bullet. And many photojournalists, as well as passionate photographers, have used it even after it was long discontinued. This camera is part of the primary inspiration for what I’d dream of with the Nikon Zf. But until that dream is realized, this is the best thing.
As seriously one of the most durable and reliable SLR cameras, you can’t really go wrong with this camera. It’s the host to a massive catalog of lenses from Nikon and various other manufacturers. Additionally, it can be used with an assortment of viewfinders and accessories. But most of all, this is a camera that may go unused for a while by so many photographers with the price of film going up so much.
The Big Picture
The Nikon F2 has a big following amongst various film photographers. But as film has become way more expensive, I fear that it might just stay on shelves everywhere. However, it’s worth photographing very important moments with still. It will train you to shoot in a completely different way and pretty much always keep working. It’s up there with the Leica M6 as one of the best film cameras you can possibly own.
While the Nikon F already came with a bunch of noteworthy features and functionalities, the company’s engineers set out to remedy some minor issues. These included an inconveniently placed shutter release button and a film advance lever that hurt the fingers. Two operating routes in the camera were also deemed outdated: the positioning of the mirror, and the shutter’s charging and driving mechanism. These affected the focusing and the accuracy of the shutter.
And so, the Nikon F2 was introduced in September 1971. It featured a completely new control system, a horizontal-travel focal plane shutter with titanium shutter curtains, a faster 1/2000 second maximum shutter speed, a swing open back for easier film loading, a larger reflex mirror to eliminate vignetting, a shutter release closer to the front of the camera, and an enhanced detachable motor drive. However, it was also relegated as Nikon’s last all-mechanical professional-level SLR camera, as the world soon became more interested in the electronic shutter.History of the Nikon F
I used the Nikon F2 with a Zeiss 50mm f1.4 as well as Nikon’s own 50mm f2 lens. Various film emulsions were used in this camera.
The Nikon F2 is a beautiful camera with an iconic outline immortalized in various icons for what a camera is. It comes from a time when a whole lot of parts of cameras could be customized like they could with medium format SLRs. Looking at the camera, you’ll see the company’s branding as well as a few other controls.
Here you can spot the timer. But I truly never have used it as I’m not a huge fan of doing selfies or anything like that.
On top, you can spot the meter that I’m using as well as a bit of a reading. Next to that on the right is the exposure dial. There’s no aperture priority mode here, so get ready to go full manual. Plus there are other knobs like the shutter release, the film advance, and more.
On the other side, you’ll spot the film rewind.
On the rear, you can find the viewfinder along with the back. Like film medium format cameras, you can take a part of the film box’s branding and store it here so you remember what film you’re using.
The Nikon F2 is a beast of a camera with its metal body and extremely durable design. It’s a mechanical camera, and luckily you don’t really need a battery to make it work. If you want to make the light meter work, then that’s a different story. It’s powered by a battery that goes into the camera and then is activated when pulling out the advance lever. This is a common design.
But otherwise, some might consider it heavy because of how much metal its built with. However, I’d gladly take it with me everywhere because of just how it feels in my hands. This is a camera that I truly want to take everywhere because of how it’s designed. It brings joy to the hands and mind when you’re using it. With a metered prism on top, you’ll reach for this giant knob that stacks onto the shutter speed dial. It makes the entire experience so much more unique than what we’ve got today.
Newer photographers might call the build of the Nikon F2 charming. And I’d be inclined to think so. But it’s as charming as a romanticized image of a knight in shining armor. When the cavalry are presented on-screen during the Lord of the Rings movies, they’re putting on a visual performance for you. And that’s what the Nikon F2 might do. But like those knights, they’re actually meant to do some very serious work. And also, like those knights, it can be used for spectacle.
Ease of Use
If you’ve used any film camera before, the Nikon F2 will be pretty easy to figure out. But there are surely some things that are a bit more frustrating to figure out. For example, it took me a little while to understand how when mounting the prism I’ve got, it needs to line up with the bunny ears on the lens. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve used these cameras before, but not extensively. It also took me a while to fully understand how the light meter worked, how much pressure the battery needs, and that’s it. All the rest was pretty self-explanatory.
Oh yeah, and there’s also the fact that Nikon makes everyone turn their lens the completely other way.
The Nikon F2 shoots film. So if you want, you could just use Sunny 16 and call it a day. In fact, that’s what I did for a while until I was able to fix the light meter myself. Perhaps that’s also another incredible thing here, it’s a mechanical camera that can be fixed by yourself.
But I digress, the light meter that I’m using mostly checks for the center of the scene. So I tend to use that reading against my know Sunny 16 judgement.
Well, this is a Nikon film camera. So the image quality is really dependent on the film you’re using and the lenses. And how do you beat vintage Zeiss glass? I chose this because it reminded me of a moment when I majorly fell in love with them around the time I started this website. The render that they give off is incredibly beautiful even today.
Below is a giant gallery of photos from the Nikon F2. All our photos were developed and scanned by Blue Moon Camera.
Who Should Buy the Nikon F2?
These days, I think that because it’s so big that the Nikon f2 is best for portrait photographers, passionate documentary photographers, and landscape photographers. It’s big, heavy, and can produce beautiful images. You’ll like it for sure.
These specs are from Nikon’s official website listing.
|Type||35 mm single-lens reflex focal-plane shutter camera (finder interchangeable)|
|Finder||Interchangeable among 6 different types|
Finder screen is interchangeable among 17 different types
|Mirror||A vignetting-free large reflex mirror with the quick return mirror mechanism, upper fixing available (mirror-up)|
|Lens aperture||Instant-return type with lockup facility|
|Exposure measurement||Center-weighted exposure measurement at open aperture, Manual exposure control.|
Metering range EV1 to 17 with ASA/ISO 100 film
|Shutter||Titanium foil focal-plane shutter,|
Shutter speeds: 10ms, T, B, 1 to 1/2,000 sec. with intermediate shutter speeds available from X (1/80 sec.) to 1/2,000 sec.
ultra-slow shutter speeds possible from 2 to 10sec.
Flash sync. at X (1/80 sec. or less)
|Dimensions||(Approx.) 152.5 x 102 x 65 mm (body alone)|
|Mass||(Approx.) 840g (body alone)|