The Nikon F2 Photomic

aka the Leica Killer

Ken Rockwell writes the Nikon F2 was a Leica killer. While that may be a bit extreme (Leica is alive and well), he makes a strong point about the quality and robust nature of the F2. Built for professionals and with Leica clearly in their sites, Nikon set out to make a camera that was virtually bullet proof. It’s all metal body is apparent when pick it up. Unlike earlier 35mm cameras the F2 is a modular camera. Interchangable lenses and viewing screens which can include a needle type light meter make it easy to take it anywhere from a newsman’s primary tool of the trade to the backpacker who wants to take alone a smallish camera with wide angle and telephoto options.

I recently picked up an F2 and put it through its paces. I used a variety of apertures and shutter speeds to make sure everything worked correctly. The meter worked well with fresh batteries and the split prism meter makes for easy focusing. I checked the on-board meter with a Minolta Auto Meter III F. The negatives came out sharp with good contrast. Overall using the camera was a good experience. It weighs enough that you can’t forget it in your hand and with that reminder it’s easy to dedicate time to making those 36 frames count. After using the camera it’s easy to see how the 1970’s filled up with good reliable 35mm cameras that shared most of the F2’s features like the Canon A-I, Pentax K1000, Olympus OM-1 and so many others that stood toe to toe with the Nikons. The emergence of the SLR with through the lens focusing and exposure help either by the needle or lighted f stop/shutter speeds in the viewfinder was a game changer for many people.  

All things considered a used F2 would be a good buy if everything worked right. While some would argue for it in favor of the other models mentioned above, I’d be happy with any them.

Until next time.


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