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Restoring a Nikon F
Old 09-27-2015   #1
Timmyjoe
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Restoring a Nikon F

When it was looking like my F2 was not going to be fixable, I went searching for a replacement body and found a very inexpensive Nikon F, that has obviously had some miles on it. I find I really enjoy shooting with it, but everything on the camera is a bit loose and maybe a tad "crunchy".

Is there someone in the States who completely rebuilds these Nikon F bodies? This is a late Apollo body with a FTN finder that actually works. Would be nice to have it tightened up and smoothed out.

Best,
-Tim
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Old 09-27-2015   #2
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Talk to Dave Easterwood. He did my F/FTN and my F2/DP-1. He works on all kinds of cameras but he is a Nikon factory trained tech.
Daves Camera Repair

734-433-2640
www.davescamera.net
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Old 09-27-2015   #3
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There are only minimal parts for these cameras. So a complete rebuild is no longer possible. A lot of collectors have stashes of parts, but speaking for myself I horde them for collectables.

Buy a lightly used F and have the speeds adjusted. The Nikon F is not rare enough to throw hundreds of dollars at.
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Old 09-27-2015   #4
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Sover Wong works on F2s and Fs. I think he's in the UK, but he's always been readily available and has a good reputation.

http://www.soverf2repair.webs.com

I had my 1960 F overhauled by a local technician. He did a very nice job. The price was about $250, IIRC.

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Old 09-27-2015   #5
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I agree, unless it is a early, collectible version, the repair bill is likely to exceed the price of a working camera. Nice looking Nikon F FTN's that need only minor adjustment to the shutter timing can be had for about $100 - the only thing likely to be beyond fixing (at least in the long run) is their FTN meter. If your body was cheap relative to that, you should consider it a working meter donor, and keep it for parts. If you paid a working camera price, ask for a refund...
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Old 09-27-2015   #6
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Thanks for everyone's input. I just processed the first roll I shot with the camera and it's working perfectly, and much to my surprise the meter gave me spot on exposures.

I really like the camera and can see it ending up in my "keeper" stable. It's just a bit rattly and crunchy right now and I'm exploring ways to possibly address that.
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Old 09-27-2015   #7
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Glad it's working well.

To me, it's always better to pay for a service on a camera I already know is working than to buy a replacement with condition unknown. So I'd send it out for a CLA and inspection.

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Old 09-27-2015   #8
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Godfrey, I'm in agreement on that.
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Old 09-27-2015   #9
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Buy a nice looking F and have a CLA done on it. Ratty ones were usually used by pro shooters, and the shutters are probably approaching failure. I shot a lot of sports back in the day when I used F's with motor drives, and could kill the shutters pretty quickly. They seemed to die after a couple of thousand rolls of film.

I've picked up several like new F's over the years, though, for $100 to $150.

Great cameras.
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Old 09-27-2015   #10
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I also agree that servicing and maintaining a good camera should not be overly impacted by the current market value. A fine camera is a fine camera regardless of its MV. For example a well sorted out Nikormat has almost no MV but is a great camera to use.
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Old 09-27-2015   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timmyjoe View Post
When it was looking like my F2 was not going to be fixable, I went searching for a replacement body and found a very inexpensive Nikon F, that has obviously had some miles on it. I find I really enjoy shooting with it, but everything on the camera is a bit loose and maybe a tad "crunchy".

Is there someone in the States who completely rebuilds these Nikon F bodies? This is a late Apollo body with a FTN finder that actually works. Would be nice to have it tightened up and smoothed out.

Best,
-Tim
Last week you told us about your 1973 F2 which was suffering from shutter bounce. I advised you to buy another cleaner F2 (without finder) for not that much on eBay.

Now you took the plunge for an used F with everything "a bit loose and maybe a tad crunchy" on it.

I have to admit - I don't quite understand your strategy.
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Old 09-27-2015   #12
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I believe that the guy who runs CameraQuest used to have a guy that did magic with Nikon Fs.

I send a S2 and it came back smooth and wonderful.

B2 (;->
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Old 09-27-2015   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Highway 61 View Post
Last week you told us about your 1973 F2 which was suffering from shutter bounce. I advised you to buy another cleaner F2 (without finder) for not that much on eBay.

Now you took the plunge for an used F with everything "a bit loose and maybe a tad crunchy" on it.

I have to admit - I don't quite understand your strategy.
I bought this camera for the body, with the plan of using the F2's DE-1 with it, thinking the F2 was not going to be salvageable. I got it at a very good price and the seller told me that mechanically the body was sound (which my first roll of film through it proved to be the case). When it arrived it had the FTN finder which I originally planned to remove (to replace with the DE-1), but when I put a couple batteries in the FTN, I saw it still worked. The test roll shows that it not only works, but is still accurate. And I really like the way this camera feels, so I'd like to get it back to as close to original mechanically as I can, so I can use it for many years. Not a difficult strategy to understand, really.
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Old 09-27-2015   #14
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Tim,

thanks for asking the question about Nikon F's.

I would like to get an F CLA'ed and I try Dave Easterwood listed above.
Thanks Bschif

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Old 09-28-2015   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timmyjoe View Post
... It's just a bit rattly and crunchy right now and I'm exploring ways to possibly address that.
You should find another F or two to compare. Fs are great bodies, but are normally somewhat less smooth than an F2. The wind level is supposed to be loose, somewhat wobbly, and the wind tension is not as uniform throughout the travel as an F2.
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Old 09-28-2015   #16
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The F was not as smooth as the F2 and has just been stated the wind lever is slightly loose.

One advantage the F has over the F2 is a quieter shutter. I think one reason for this is the F used metal light baffles whereas the F2 used plastic. Metal absorbs sound better than plastic..
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Old 09-28-2015   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colyn View Post
The F was not as smooth as the F2 and has just been stated the wind lever is slightly loose.

One advantage the F has over the F2 is a quieter shutter. I think one reason for this is the F used metal light baffles whereas the F2 used plastic. Metal absorbs sound better than plastic..
Having owned and used both F and F2 side by side, I never noticed that one was quieter than the other.

Whether metal absorbs sound better than plastic is a toss-up based upon what specific metals and plastics are used and how the design is implemented. Some device designs switched to plastic are much quieter, others are noisier.

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Old 09-28-2015   #18
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Well I am experiencing both the things you guys are talking about. The slightly loose and a tad bit crunchy wind lever concerned me, and I did notice how quiet the shutter is. I think I'll just shoot with it for a while and see how it does.

Thanks again for the info.
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Old 09-28-2015   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timmyjoe View Post
Well I am experiencing both the things you guys are talking about. The slightly loose and a tad bit crunchy wind lever concerned me, and I did notice how quiet the shutter is. I think I'll just shoot with it for a while and see how it does.

Thanks again for the info.
Good idea. IMHO, the point of buying a cheap beater is to beat on it more and not spend a dime on it.

Nikon F's used with the later drives run in high speed wear out. JP Owens says 1000 rolls, might be about right, never counted -- but I think the pro sports photographer I worked for put more like 10,000 rolls through his. Never say a broken shutter tape.

The other ones do not. If an F is worn out, it is time to junk it, they have ball bearing shutters, made from titanium, they take a long time to wear out. If they have never been "fixed" with a CLA, the speeds will likely be right on. Many have been ruined by idiots with oil -- smell 'em before you buy 'em.

Nothing nicer than a new black F, just hop in your time machine.

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Old 09-28-2015   #20
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Contact Sebastian from Camera Works in Durham NC & explain to him the condition of the camera & see what he can do for you. He CLA'd my Canon AE-1 program few years ago costing $80 & am very satisfied. I was advised by a fellow shooter who had his Nikon SLR, can't remember which, but he was well pleased.

Don't pay no mind to what people say. If the camera feels special to you then by all means have it repaired. My wife gave me my Canon so to me it's special & was well worth the money spent.

http://www.cameraworks-durham.com/services.html
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Old 09-28-2015   #21
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Quote:
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Many have been ruined by idiots with oil -- smell 'em before you buy 'em.
About a year ago I won a Nikon F off eBay. The first thing I noticed when I unboxed it was the strong odor of WD-40. I contacted the seller to let him know I was returning it but he said no. Had to file an eBay complaint to get my money back.

He even claimed that you are supposed to spray it twice a year to keep it working right...
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Old 09-28-2015   #22
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Quote:
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Having owned and used both F and F2 side by side, I never noticed that one was quieter than the other.
I've got both as we speak and the F's are noticeably quieter..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
Whether metal absorbs sound better than plastic is a toss-up based upon what specific metals and plastics are used and how the design is implemented. Some device designs switched to plastic are much quieter, others are noisier.
Brass helps to absorb sound. Hard plastics tend amplify sound but yes different metals and plastics do have differing affects..
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Old 09-28-2015   #23
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Don't let the looks fool you. Long ago I owned the worlds ugliest F but it worked very well. I traded it to Thompson Photo in Knoxville, with some cash, for a clean early, plain prism F in black. The black F is lovely but about once every 300 exposures the shutter fires but the mirror does not function. Has a motor plate on the bottom. It may have had a lot of use. Joe
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used F
Old 09-29-2015   #24
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used F

In '69 or '70 I bought 2 Fs. I was an army still photographer and wanted my own that I didn't have to share. Some days I would dip and dunk 30 rolls of film at a time with some left over for tomorrow.

Did that for years under all kinds of awful conditions.

A couple of years ago I sent one to Dave Easterwood cause the slow speeds were getting a bit slow.

Every time I take out my Contax or M39 or any rangefinder for that matter, and later pick up my F, I know why it was such a hit.

Let Dave CLA it. If the meter head needs updating to modern batteries he can do it or you can send the head to a Tech. that specializes in F meters.

The camera will last longer than you do.
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Old 09-29-2015   #25
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Quote:
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Don't let the looks fool you. Long ago I owned the worlds ugliest F but it worked very well. I traded it to Thompson Photo in Knoxville, with some cash, for a clean early, plain prism F in black. The black F is lovely but about once every 300 exposures the shutter fires but the mirror does not function. Has a motor plate on the bottom. It may have had a lot of use. Joe
Agreed I have seen ugly cameras that work beautifully, I had an M3 glass plate that looked miserable, worked perfectly.

But a mint camera is usually just that -- mint. There are exceptions if they are stored poorly.
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Old 09-29-2015   #26
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If the meter head needs updating to modern batteries he can do it or you can send the head to a Tech. that specializes in F meters.
Right now I'm using one of those CRIS (sp) adapters and an old Mercury battery that my brother had in his freezer since like 1982 (he bought a bunch of them way back when and froze them. Most were DOA when removed from the freezer, but this one still works). Not sure how long this set up will last, but it sure is fun shooting with it right now.
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Old 09-29-2015   #27
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Well I am experiencing both the things you guys are talking about. The slightly loose and a tad bit crunchy wind lever concerned me, and I did notice how quiet the shutter is.
Exactly how both my Fs are, and they work perfectly.
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Old 09-29-2015   #28
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If the meter head needs updating to modern batteries he can do it or you can send the head to a Tech. that specializes in F meters.
My preferred method is to add 2 schotty diodes inline with the battery chamber. No adjustment needed since the diodes drop the through voltage to the proper 2.7 volts using silver oxide 357 button cells with a hollowed out 625's or someone has an adapter on eBay that will hold 2ea. 357 cells.
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Old 09-29-2015   #29
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Sover Wong told me he will rebuild and update F Photomic heads as well as F2 heads. Recently I had two Fs (the 1960*plain prism and a 1972-1973 black w FTn head), but I gave the black one to a friend of mine, so I'm sticking with just the plain prism.

I figure if I want another metered film body besides the F6 I'll get a nice FM2n, but I really have about as many 35mm film cameras as I want at this point.

BTW, you should never put batteries in the freezer. Any water in the battery crystallizes and damages it when frozen. Much better to put them in the cold drawer of your refrigerator ... I have*a small stock of original PX625 mercury cells in the refrigerator from the late 1980s and early 1990s that are still as-new. I just keep them in a plastic freezer bag with a couple of silica gel bags with them, in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator.

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