Modern Classic SLRs Series :
FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions relating to Nikon F2

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Semi-frequent Questions about the Nikon F2
Credit: Content appeared in this page courtesy of Michael Liu

You could do a better job? Probably. I'll do as best as I can, though. The first part of this document is lifted (with some editing) from an email conversation that I had with Dave Nunn, who graciously allowed me to use it to help start this document.

What Flash system is most suited to the F2?
What is an approximate secondhand value for the F2 in first class condition?
How do you lock up the mirror on a F2?
How do you open the F2?
Why does the F2 have numbers engraved on the self-timer lever?
How do I meter long time exposures with the DP-2, -3, or -12 meters?
What were the standard prisms used with the F2?
What is the difference between the F2xx's?
What F2 can accept the EE aperture Control Attachment Unit ?
What does the collar around the shutter release do?
What can I do about a jumpy meter needle?
Why the camera weight so much ?
What do I do about a shutter hole?
What do all of the dials and levers on the back of the MD-2 do?
What's an MF-3?
How come the MD-3 is cheaper than the -2?
What is the significance of a serial number?
How do I get exposure information from non-prong lenses to the DP-1, -2, or -3 finders?
How do I know where the film plane is?

Nikon F2 MD2 DS-1 Unit
Credit: Image(s) appeared herein courtesy of Mr. Vincenzo Montalto from Bestdeals$$$® <> "Bestdeals$$$", who also operates a very popular Ebay Store, selling many unique camera equipment of various brands and labels and some of the images shown here was kindly granted permission by the Company. All images appeared herein are Copyright © 2003. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

What Flash system is most suited to the F2?

Any flash that has a PC-socket will connect to this camera. Nikon made a series of flashes (SB-1, -2, -5, and -7E) that connect directly onto the hotshoe of the F2 (it surrounds the rewind knob). The main advantage of buying Nikon flashes is to have the "flash-ready" light activate in the finder when the flash is fully charged. Personally, I use a Metz 45-series flash, and find it's more than adequate in automatic mode. You can also use any ISO-foot (e.g. Vivitar 283, etc.) flash if you purchase the AS-1 flash adapter (approx. $20-40 US, secondhand), which slips around the nonstandard F2 flash shoe to provide you with an ISO connection. I believe that the AS-5 adapts F3-footed flashes to the F/F2 shoe. The F2 does not have TTL flash metering or indeed any control of the flash other than firing it. I have heard that the reason for the nonstandard location of the flash shoe is because of the interchangeable prisms -- adding a flash to the top of the camera could produce enough torque to rip the finder off the body.

Relative: Section discussed on Nikon made Speedlights for Nikon F2; Nikon Bulb Flash Units, Nikon SB-1 to SB-21A/B.

What is an approximate secondhand value for the F2 in first class condition, (including wide angle lens)?

The camera itself will run about $100-$300 US, with finders (see the reply to the question below) ranging from $150 (DP-1) to $400 (DP-12). However, there are special variants of the F2, including a titanium body that goes for about $2000 US. The lens prices depend on which lens you'd like, whether a 35f2.8($150), to a 28f3.5 PC ($1000), to a 24f2.8 ($250), all the way to a 13f5.6 ($10,000 US). I'd say that you could pick up a pristine F2 with eyelevel (no meter) finder and a 24f2.8 for about $600-700 US, which honestly isn't too bad for a camera that would probably cost approx. $3000+ to make today (the F2 was the last of the hand-assembled Nikons). If you are planning to motorize the camera, try to get one with a later serial number (73xxxxx) or later, as some of the earlier ones had a small problem with "kickback" in the film take-up spool -- apparently, it can cause ghost images to form on the film as it is kicked through the camera.

Twin Towers.jpg
How do you lock up the mirror on an F2?

Push in the depth-of-field button and rotate the surrounding collar until the two dots line up to lock up the mirror. You can actually see the mirror moving up, if you take off the lens.

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How do you open the F2?

Unfold the O/C key on the bottom, and turn to O. Fingernails help, and sometimes a strong constitution, too, since the F2 occasionally doesn't like opening up its back. Be sure (ok, I've done it myself) that you don't put your fingers over the back so that you're holding it shut as you try to open it.

Why does the F2 have numbers engraved on its self-timer lever?

These are the long shutter speeds, including a ten-second time that you can't get on an F3 (on the other hand, you can get TTL flash metering with an F3 ...). This is how you work them: 1) Cock the shutter with the wind lever; 2) Turn the T/L collar around the shutter release to "T"; 3) Set the shutter speed dial to "B" ; 4) Set the self-timer to the desired shutter speed; 5) Trip the shutter with the shutter release button, not the self-timer release; 6) On the other hand, you can use these as variable times for the self-timer countdown with any shutter speed -- leave the T/L collar to its regular shooting position (in the middle), set the self-timer to the appropriate delay, and trip the timer with its separate release button.

How do I meter these long shutter speeds?

Well, first of all, you need to have the appropriate prism (DP-2, -3, or -12) and know how to set long speeds. You'll notice on your physical shutter speed indicator (outside the viewfinder view) that there is a separate ring above it with additional 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10s (but 10s is indicated with a dot) speeds. When the main shutter speed control is set to "B", press down on the small silver button and turn the shutter speed dial; the separate ring will now turn to the selected speed. Once you set the self-timer lever, you're ready to expose.
One small note of caution to DP-2 (F2S) owners: if you suddenly switch from a fairly bright to a dim metering situation, you will need to let your meter adjust to the low levels, for about a minute or two. The DP-3 and -12 do not have this "feature", since they use silicon blue photo diodes, rather than the CdS photo resistor in the DP-2.

What were the standard prisms used with the F2?

The F2 came, over its lifetime, with five different "standard" prisms. You probably also want to go check out my semi-exciting (ok, no pics)
prisms page. The prisms were the eyelevel DE-1 (somewhat rare) and metered prisms DP-1 (common), DP-2 (uncommon), DP-3 (rare), DP-11 (uncommon), and DP-12 (uncommon), using Atari 2600 cartridge rarity ratings.

Nikon DP12 metered finder prism for Nikon F2AS SLR camera
What is the difference between the F2xx's?

The various (official) name combinations are: Official Name = Combination = Shorthand

F2 Eyelevel = F2 with DE-1 = F2
F2 Photomic = F2 with
DP-1 = F2 (Photomic)
F2 Photomic S = F2 with
DP-2 = F2S
F2 Photomic SB = F2 with
DP-3 = F2SB
F2 Photomic A = F2 with
DP-11 = F2A
F2 Photomic AS = F2 with
DP-12 = F2AS

Credit: Image(s) courtesy of some nice folks from DigifanCN®. The group also operates their own active, popular EBAY STORE, trading for many major camera brands and collectibles. Image Copyright © 2008. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

How come the collar around the shutter release has three click-stops, a T, a L, and an unmarked one in the middle?

Going from right to left, you have "L"ock, normal, and "T"ime shutter release setting. When the collar is on L, the shutter will not fire (unless you have a motor drive hooked up -- its setting overrides those on the collar, but you can still use the manual shutter release if you want). In the middle position, you can fire away as you please. To use the T setting, you need to turn the shutter speed dial to "B" and the collar to T. If you want a shutter speed of 2, 4, 6, 8, or 10 seconds, take note of the above question on long shutter speeds. If you want a longer speed, take off the lens cap, put your hat or hand or something in front of the lens, release the shutter with the top-deck shutter release, and once the vibrations have gone away, pull the obscuring object of choice away from the front of the lens and start counting seconds (or minutes/hours) ... obscure the lens again before you close the shutter by turning the collar away from T. This feature is designed mostly for those who don't have locking cable releases and don't want to stand around squeezing a cable release for up to hours on end (I know that there's some star-trail photographers out there ...).

My meter needle is jumpy. What can I do?

The quick solution is to jump around yourself as you take pictures, so that you don't notice it jumping. Probably the more rational solution is to break open that piggy bank, forget about the nice 180f/2.8 that you had your eye on, and find a DP-12 (Del's usually has one or two of them in stock). The meter needle is jumpy because somehow, your ring resistor has gotten scratched whether by dirt or misadventure.

The ring resistor is the part that we all revile (all together now: boo!) because it was the part voted most likely to fail when the F2 graduated from the ranks of new cameras in 1980. Almost immediately, Nikon stopped making it.

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* As at 01/03/2001

If you really wanted to get your ring resistor fixed, you'd have to get a DP-1, DP-2, or DP-11 (with an intact ring resistor) and swap them -- the whole surgery would probably cost you as much as a DP-12. Granted, you can live with the jumpiness, but it's only a matter of time before it fails (right as you see Bigfoot ... now, let's see, it's sunny-16, and right now it's patchily cloudy, and I want to expose the fur correctly so that would be ... dang). If you don't want to spend the bucks on a DP-12, you could get a nice handheld meter, and have implements dangling from your neck all day (I did it once; not too fun).

Why does my camera weigh so much?

Perhaps some joker has attached a lead brick to the bottom of your camera -- er, no, that's just the MD-2. I dunno. F2's are heavy. They are reputedly the last of the hand-assembled Nikons, so you might want to think about that before you use yours as a paperweight, doorstop, or hammer. However, it's easy to get caught up in the whole notion of weight = quality; what it really means is that Nikon's designers felt that those materials were the best to use in the F2 at the time. Have materials advanced since 1971? Yes. Are quality materials available for lighter weight? Yes. If you don't believe me, or are a diehard metal fan, tell me that its as easy to dent an F3/T as it is to dent a regular F3. Is plastic crap? No. Used in the places that camera designers feel fit, it's likely to last as long as a comparable metal part, while delivering tremendous weight savings. I'm not saying that I'm a huge fan of plastic, just that I'm no longer a metal fanatic. If you want to really argue about it, just post something like "(material of your choice here) rules and (alternative material) is crap" on the Usenet.

What F2 can accept the EE aperture Control Attachment Unit ?

DS-2.gif dp11sideillus.jpg dp2sideillus.jpg

NOT all Nikon F2 models will accept the EE Aperture Control Unit Attachment. Only the non-AI bodies of Nikon F2S Photomic (w/DP-2), Nikon F2SB Photomic (w/DP-3) and AI Nikon F2AS Photomic (w/DP-12) body can used with the non-AI DS-1, DS-2 and the AI-spec DS-3). All metered prisms that accept the EE Units has a protruding side that will mate with the EE Unit section.

What do I do when I have a hole in the shutter?

Pray that you find a good repair shop -- I hear good (i.e. miraculous) things about Professional Camera Repair in New York City. Otherwise, you now have that nice paperweight, doorstop, or hammer that you always wanted. Lots of smaller camera repair shops do not have the know-how to replace the horizontally-travelling shutter (which, as far as I know, is currently being made in the F3HP, the Leica M6, and the Olympus OM-3/4, what with the recent demise [sob] of the Pentax LX), not to mention that the only possible new replacement would be an F3's shutter curtains. And yes, you will need to break open that piggy bank (again).

Credit: Image(s) appeared herein courtesy of Mr. Vincenzo Montalto from Bestdeals$$$® <> "Bestdeals$$$", who also operates a very popular Ebay Store, selling many unique camera equipment of various brands and labels and some of the images shown here was kindly granted permission by the Company. All images appeared herein are Copyright © 2003. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

What do all of the dials and levers on the back of the MD-2(1) do?

Going from right to left, you have the two contacts for the MF-3 stop back, the rewind button lever, the countdown timer knob, the firing rate control, the rewind engagement lever and locking button, and the back-opening lever. You can set the countdown timer knob to count down the appropriate number of frames before it stops shooting pictures, or you can put it in "S" to allow an indefinite amount of pictures to be taken. To rewind the film, first push up on the rewind button lever (push the silver button in the middle of this lever first), then hold the small button to the left of the rewind engagement lever down and push the engagement lever to the right. To stop the rewind, just push the engagement lever back to the left. To open the back, flip the opening lever out and push it to the left. The firing rate control dictates the speed of the motor, as well as the minimum shutter speed required to sustain the speed. Falling below the speed is not catastrophic, as long as you don't do it regularly; however, be advised that the motor will mindlessly advance the film whether or not the exposure has been completed. If you're going to take pictures at about 1/8th or slower, the motor drive doesn't really need to be turned on.

Note that the MD-1 lacks the rewind contacts on the back of the drive and has a large, square firing button, rather than the small, round button of the MD-2.

Hold on. The MF-3 is a stop back for the F2?

Yeap. It provides leader-out rewind like the MF-6(B) does for the F3 and also gives you a neat thumb rest for your right hand. I'm thinking of trying to find one just for the thumb rest, because the F2 with the MD-2 is a large, heavy brick of a camera, and the thumb rest would make it nicer to hold.

How come the MD-3 is so much cheaper than the -2 (or -1)?

The MD-3 lacks the power rewind and firing rate converter of the MD-2(1). It also has no provision for leaving the film leader out on rewind. Because it has no converter, you can only use the MD-3 on continuous at sync speed (1/80) and higher; slower than that, and you need to use single-shot mode. Actually, Nikon discontinued parts for the MD-3 only recently, so keeping and running one wouldn't be too expensive.

The MD-3 is nice (because it lacks the power rewind) in that you can take the drive off of the camera in the middle of the roll and not fog the film.

It's also nice in that it runs happily (and in fact was designed for) the MB-2 battery pack, which only requires you to sling 8 AA's around your neck (rather than the 10 that the MB-1 demands) -- it will work with the MB-1, though. Predictably, the MD-3 is somewhat slower than the MD-2, although if you're not shooting with NiCads, you probably won't notice the difference.

My serial number is 76xxxxx. What's significant about it?

The Amazing Kreskin (the amazing who?) says ... you have a chrome F2. Amaze your friends! Awe your coworkers! Tell them that if the serial number's second digit is an even number, the camera is chrome; if odd, the camera is black. The legend that the camera was made in the year shown in the first two digits is thus probably false, unless you think that Nikon made only one color per year. The major exceptions to this are the titanium versions of the F2, which begin with serial number 92xxxxx and have a black pebbled finish, much like the F3/T in black finish.

"Moose" Peterson says that early (71xxxxx and 72xxxxx) F2's have a small problem with the take-up spool ".....these can supposedly cause some frame overlap when using a motor drive (but should be fine if you wind-by-hand)...". I've received information in the past weeks that there do exist chrome 73's and black 74's. Perhaps Nikon changed the serial numbering with the 75's and later (which I do believe follow the even = chrome / odd = black system).

How do I get exposure information from lenses/objects without the coupling prong (or for lenses slower than f/5.6) on the prong-metering finders (DP-1, -2, -3)?

With no lens mounted on the camera, push the coupling prong straight up into the finder body and use stop-down metering.

When doing macrophotography, what is the exact film-plane-to-subject distance?

According to Nikon, the film plane is at the top edge of the serial numbers.

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Credit: Chuck Hester, US for his patience, encouragement and help to setup the various content in this site; Robert Johnson for some of his original images on the F2H-MD appeared in this site; my ex-staff, KiaSu for his superb 3-D logo appeared in this Nikon F2 site; Marc Vorgers from Holland who generously provide me with some of his images of F2AS; MCLau®, who has so much time with me to re-edit the content in this site and not to mention buying a Nikon Coolpix 990 just for this site. Keat Photo, Kuala Lumpur for providing their Nikon F2A to take some images for this site; again, Mr Edward Ngoh the great camera collector who provides us his collection of F2AS with MD-2; for their images on the Speed Magny film backs; Sean Cranor for his image on Nikon F2 25th Anniversary Model; Ted Wengelaar®, Holland for his continuous flow of input on some of the early Nikon bodies; CYLeow ® , photo editor of the Star newspaper, Malaysia for some of his images used in this site. Ms Rissa Chan, Sales manager from Shriro Malaysia who has helped to provide some of the very useful input. HiuraShinsaku®, Nikomat ML, Japan for some of his images on various F2 models; my staff, Wati, Maisa, Mai and my nephew, EEWyn®, who volunteered and helping me did so many of the film scanning works. Contributing photographers or resellers: Jen Siow, Foo KokKin, Arthur Teng, Mark Fallander, John Ishii, Ed Hassel, YoonKi Kim, Jean-Louis, M.Dugentas (Dell, Mr "Arsenall" and a few images mailed in from surfers with no appropriate reference to their origin. Dedicated to KU Yeo, just to express our mutual regrets over the outcome of a recent corporate event. Made with a PowerMac, broadcast with a Redhat Linux powered server.

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