Because I just happened to find a camera that requires it, at a thrift store, for 1/8 the price that the F2 had cost me. Had I waited another day I might have gotten it for half off, but then again someone might have snatched it up before me. A bird in the hand, right?
The Nikon F Apollo (the meter doesn’t work but hey, the shutter speeds are “surprisingly accurate” according to my guy at Cameraworks when he checked it out). So a camera that can at least do Sunny-16, this will make a good backup/secondary body for the time being. And once again, I’m not doing the Nikon Shuffle. As a bonus it came with a (very dirty and scratched) pre-AI 50mm f/1.4 Nikkor-SC lens. I suppose that if I wanted to put the money into it, I could buy a working Photomic finder (it’ll cost me nearly twice as much as I’m into it for right now) and send the whole thing out for a CLA. I’ll definitely do a CLA at some point, I hear that Cameraquest is the go-to for the Nikon F.
I found this camera about two weeks after I put my F2A on layaway so I was already committed to the Nikon system, but this is officially the first fully professional camera that I’ve ever shot. Ironically (or maybe not), I used it as a hammer before I ever put a roll of film through it. Not too different from the Uzi as it’s a bit “loose” in some of its parts but the manufacturing tolerances are such that it just works. I felt the same thing about this Nikon F: there’s quite a bit of play in the finder, winding lever, and film door, so I shot a few tests to confirm that it is in fact still light-tight. And considering that the shutter speeds are still accurate after God knows how long since its last CLA, I have to say that I’m pretty damn impressed.
So now that I’ve handled both for months and shot rolls through them what do I think? As you might imagine there’s not a whole lot of difference between them, they’re both solidly built fine pieces of machinery, and just look at the picture to see how similar they are. But I will say: everything that the F did the F2 does better. It’s a refined design in every way, from the placement of the shutter release, the improved mirror lockup, the faster shutter speed, the swing-out film door, the light meter switch, light meter sensitivity. I’ve seen a bit of discussion online about the F vs. the F2 and really there’s no reason to choose the original F…unless you happen to find a screaming deal on one like I did.
The one advantage that this camera has for me over my F2 is its look. It might be more evident if these were color photos but this F has some beautiful brassing on nearly every corner. These two Nikons aren’t the first black cameras I’ve had but this is the first where I’ve paid attention to the patina, evidently it’s something very much desired. I don’t think much of people who pay to get a camera looking like this (and I’ve seen it done a few times) but I’m happy to inherit its bumps and bruises. While the F2 looks nearly pristine it’s very obvious that this F has seen some history and if it could talk I’d buy it several drinks to hear what it’s seen.