Nikon F2 Controls

Yes, it is as simple as it seems (and similar to the F controls).

Film Transport Controls

These comprise the film advance lever (on the top deck of the camera, on the right edge), shutter release (on the top deck, between the advance and shutter speed selector), T/L (Time/Lock) collar (coaxial with the shutter release), rewind knob (on the top deck, left edge), the back opening control (on the bottom deck, directly under the rewind knob), and the rewind button (the only button sitting in a recess on the bottom deck). Useful indicators include current frame (small oval window in front of the film winding lever's hub) and the clip on the camera's back, designed to hold the box-end of your film (thus reminding you of the number of frames and film speed, without the fidgety little dials of the F).

You may wind the camera with either a series of short, inching strokes (if you are a Leica M3 refugee ... or want to keep your motions inconspicuous) or a continuous 120 degree stroke (if you enjoy getting fingers caught in your shoulder strap). The film advance lever also incorporates a 20 degree standoff, so that you can enjoy poking yourself in the eye (left-eyed folks) or slip your thumb in for easier access. The standoff automatically activate the power flow to the meter, so you either put up with poked eyes or end up getting an external meter anyway. Incidentally, there are two useful checks to make sure that your film is advancing properly -- one is when you take out the slack in the film, the rewind knob should rotate when you wind the camera on. The more subtle one is the little window in the middle of the shutter speed selector, where a little line will make one complete revolution for each frame advanced. This is useful for exact registration of multiple exposures (via the advance-and-rewind method, although the F2 has an infinitely more intelligent way to accomplish multiple exposures -- by pressing in the rewind button on the bottom of the camera before advancing the film). If you have a metering finder, you will need to dismount it before being able to see this window.

The shutter release is active only when the T/L collar is set to either T or the unmarked middle position and the shutter has been cocked by a full advance of the advance lever. The F2 improves on the design of the Nikon F advance-and-release cluster (itself a descendant of the Nikon S2's design) by moving the shutter release to the front edge of the top deck. This position is more natural for all but those weaned on the F -- after first getting an F2, I had to retrain my finger to the right place! The shutter release is surrounded by a threaded insert, which provides the mounting for the appropriate F/F2-type cable release.

The rewind knob is also simple to use. The rewind button declutches the take-up spool as well as the engaging sprockets to rewind -- press it into the body to activate it. Then unfold the tiny lever out of the knob and wind in the direction of the arrow to rewind the film. To clear the large Photomic prisms, the rewind knob can be pulled about 12mm (0.5 in) out of the body if you so desire. If you want to leave the leader out, stop rewinding as soon as the resistance to rewinding loosens. If you've developed your F2 rewinding technique to such a point that your fingers never slip while gripping the weensy knob at the end of the lever, please let me know your secrets -- two years of shooting with the F2 and still I can't rewind effectively (I end up using the MD-2, when that particular brick is mounted, more for the rewind convenince than the fast advance).

The back is a standard hinged back, first employed by Nikon on the Niko/Nikkormat series. Flip open the small O/C lever with a fingernail and turn the arrow to point to "O", at which point the back will pop open. You can latch the back closed without first changing the arrow back to "C", but the rewind key will not rest flat in its well without going back to "C". Loading film is easy enough, although I have to admit that loading the F is still easier for me (whether from habit or just from having more room for my clumsy fingers):

  1. pull the rewind knob away from the body, which pulls the spindle out of the supply well
  2. place the canister into the well
  3. push the rewind knob back into the body
  4. pull enough leader out of the canister to reach from the left (cartridge) well to the take-up spool
  5. insert the tip into one of the slots, making sure that one sprocket is engaged by a tooth on the take-up spool
  6. give the take-up spool a couple of quick turns, right to left (clockwise, if you are looking down from the top plate) to wind the film onto the spool

It might be useful to remind yourself what you've got in the camera at any one time by ripping off the box-end and stuffing it into the clip on the back. On the other hand, if you've completely standardized on one type of film, there might not be a need ... (note that the box-end method is quite convenient and less time-consuming than the F's separate little dials)

Shutter Controls

The shutter speed selector is on the top deck of the camera close to the prism. The shutter release is on the front edge of the top deck, between the advance lever and the shutter speed selector. The shutter release T/L collar serves as shutter lock and optional "T" selector (which also employs the self-timer lever, on the front of the body).

Shutter speeds may be selected from B, T, and 10 - 1/2000 sec, with (electronic) flash sync at 1/80th of a second. These are selected by lining up the desired setting with the black (or white, depending if you have a chrome or black body, respectively) line on the left side of the speed selector (i.e. the prism side). "B" stands for bulb and opens the shutter for as long as your finger depresses the shutter release (use it with a cable release on a tripod), while "T" stands for time and opens the shutter when your finger depresses the release and does not close it again until you wind on to the next frame. Note that "T" does not appear explicitly on the shutter speed selector; nor do the speeds 2, 4, 6, 8, or 10 sec. These are accessed via the shutter release collar and self-timer lever. For a normal "T" exposure, just set the shutter speed dial at "B" and the shutter release collar to "T"; the shutter will behave as described above. For a long timed (up to 10 sec.) exposure, again set the shutter speed dial at "B" and release collar to "T", but this time, set the self-timer so that its white index mark lines up with the desired numeral. Then release the shutter with the regular shutter release, not the self-timer release.

As a side note about electronic flash sync, it is useful to know that this is the fastest speed at which the shutter is completely open. Modern focal-plane shutters use two blinds which travel either horizontally (in the F, F2, and F3) or vertically (almost every other Nikon SLR, including the F4 and F5). At slow speeds, the first curtain has completely uncovered the film plane before the second curtain begins its travel. At the sync speed, the second curtain begins its travel the instant that the first curtain reaches the end of its travel. At faster speeds, the second curtain will begin to move before the first curtain reaches its end, but the curtains will be travelling at the same velocity that they do at the sync speed. The effect is to create a slit of variable width (depending on the speed) travelling at a constant speed across the film plane -- the narrower the slit, the less the effective exposure time (and thus the faster the shutter speed). At least one famous early photograph was made with a vertically-traveling focal plane shutter, that one that implies a racing car's speed by showing the wheels as distorted, forward-bending ovals.

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