For the last decade I’ve shot M42 and been extremely happy with the results. However, as I move forward and mature as a photographer I’ve been running up against the limits of the system I’ve built. I could see this coming for a while which is why I added a list of cameras to my favorite cameras page that lists what I’ve been looking to try out. Back in the beginning of December I was down at Cameraworks, my local Colorado Springs camera store, and saw that they had a large collection of Nikon bodies just in, and thanks to some Christmas and birthday money I felt comfortable putting one on layaway (thanks, Mom). So here it is:
The Nikon F2A, and I bought an AI-modified 50mm f/1.4 Nikkor-S lens with it. So I’ve finally taken the plunge and said goodbye to M42, Takumar, and Spotmatics. It could have easily have been a switch to K-mount with the Pentax LX but I felt like this F2 just sort of fell into my lap, so Deus Vult! I’ve been doing quite a lot of research ahead of time and decided to steer clear of anything non-AI, hence the title of this post. Johnny Martyr’s post about brand new F6 cameras had me thinking about Nikon and things they still make. If you go onto Adorama’s or B&H’s sites right now you will still be able to buy these manual focus AI-s Nikkor lenses brand new:
28mm f/2.8 ($540)
35mm f/1.4 ($1100)
50mm f/1.2 ($700)
55mm f/2.8 Micro ($400)
105mm f/2.8 Micro ($800)
(Actually there are more but these are the ones that interest me) It’s just a shame that the only body they make is the F6. Remember in 2000 and 2005 when they made limited edition reproductions of the S3 and SP rangefinders? The 50th anniversary of the F2 is in 2021, I say they bring it back. The Nikon F2C, with updated metering head. Hey Nikon, are you listening?
So it was on layaway and I put down the last payment in February, and it’s been mainly sitting since then. I was hoping to start getting a lot of use out of it but have had no work thanks to COVID-19. I’ve taken a few shots so far and am halfway through my first roll (Tri-X, naturally) but have devoted more attention to super 8 lately. But as I write this businesses are starting to open up and people are getting out and about again so hopefully that means that the work will continue.
Shooting half a roll of Tri-X I would say that the camera feels very good in my hands, like it belongs there. Definitely great build quality, though some pieces feel lighter than I would have imagined. I would say the F2’s reputation is well-deserved and I’m sure this camera will last me a long time. There is a problem though: the meter is a bit jumpy at a certain EV value if you’re shooting 1/60sec near wide open. It will be at – when at f/2 and jumps a bit before settling all the way at + for f/1.4; the experts say jumpy meters are a sure sign of a dirty ring resistor. While it’s still under warranty I intend to have Cameraworks service the metering head, but I also bought this camera fully intending to send it to Sover Wong, the F2 Master.