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What's your favorite film Nikon F Series ?
Old 12-10-2019   #1
Smaug
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What's your favorite film Nikon F Series ?

They're popular cameras now. Back in the day, they were popular with pros. Now, they're not used much by pros, but by amateurs.

I've tried an original F. Too clunky, esp. the film loading

F2 was nice. Clunky meter/prism and heavy, but I can see the appeal.

F3 - I handled one and was impressed by the smoothness of the advance lever. I read later that it has a ball bearing there. I may get one, one day. Not impressed with the on-camera flash provisions, but I guess pros didn't use on-camera flash that often.

F4 - These are gi-normous, but one of these might be my next camera. They're currently around $200 US on FeeBay. When I see

F5, F6 - Never seen one in the rubber.

****************

Right now, my film Nikons are as follows:
  • N90s - "Semi-pro" Very solid and super cheap on FeeBay right now. I paid $21 for a good one.
  • FG - Great little camera; under-rated. I got two, for $30 each.
  • "One Touch" L35AF3 - Their 2nd generation of prime-lensed P&S. This is probably my favorite P&S camera. (though the original Stylus/mju is up there, too)
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Last edited by Smaug : 12-10-2019 at 13:58. Reason: Damn, meant to add a poll...
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Old 12-10-2019   #2
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I have a few of them..... A favorite? Probably the F2. I really ought to use it more often. I have film in my F3 right now just to take advantage of the new viewfinder I got for it (my F3 is an F3AF and the AF viewfinder is tough to focus manually) so I got a "regular" (non-HP) finder for it recently.


Another favorite would be the FA; a camera that often gets forgotten around here as the FM/FE series is extremely popular.
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Old 12-10-2019   #3
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Nikon F5,
You wont need for anything else.

F4,
Clunky but really the winner for AI-AIS glass if you need Matrix Metering

F3,
Super smooth and the obvious option for most people being small.

F2,
Nothing like a F2 fresh from Sover. Ive owned a absolute slew of them over the years you can never go wrong with one.

F,
Is for casual shooter and collectors. The film loading is absolutely dismal when you consider the F2 is not much more money. Ive owned a slew of as well.
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Old 12-10-2019   #4
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Had my F2A since 1979, Sover freshened it up for another few decades of use. Big and heavy but not as big/heavy as some; ultra reliable and great viewfinder. The extended height shutter dial made it easy to adjust the speeds; could quickly set things just by feel.

For a smaller body, the FE2. There is something special about the bright and snappy focusing screens in this series, noticeably superior to other brands.

Loved my F4 and F5 back in the day but no need for fast motors any longer. Just too big and heavy with all those AA batteries.
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Old 12-10-2019   #5
Larry Cloetta
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Easy.
F2AS for me, mine also Soverized a couple of years ago. Have had all the Fs except the F4. Bought an F6 new, probably the most “capable” 35mm film camera I ever owned, too capable for me. Had that same time as the F2AS, thought about it long and hard and sold the F6, kept the F2AS. Don’t need AF, personally, and don’t like menus except in restaurants.
Love the feel of a nice F2 every bit as much as a perfect M3, though not similar.
Choice of around 84 different finder screens, I think it was.
People who are always going on about cameras being “too heavy” whatever that means, should avoid this one as it is apparently a bank vault shrunk down to camera size.

F2 says, “I am a Camera, my metering is fabulous, I am indestructible, titanium bends just looking at me, I won’t need service or adjustment for 50 years, or 12,000 rolls, now get out of my way!”

Some day going to go full gonzo and get the motor drive to frighten the neighbors.
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Old 12-10-2019   #6
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Aside form my F6 which I've just sold I've never partaken ... been tempted by the high point viewfinder of an F3 occasionally but then there's the lenses. Another slippery slope!
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F6 and F2AS
Old 12-10-2019   #7
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F6 and F2AS

I have handled them all and the F6 and F2AS are my favorites. They fall on opposite ends of the spectrum. The F6 is the most technologically advanced and refined of all of the F-series cameras, while the F2AS is the pinnacle of the mechanical SLRs.

F6 because it is the most advanced, most ergonomic and most capable of all of the F-series cameras. Also has perhaps the best viewfinder (except for maybe the F2 with H-series full frame microprism focusing screen). Works with full matrix metering on all Nikon Ai and Ai-S lenses and can even be modified by Nikon to work with non-Ai lenses. Capable 11 pt AF (similar to that in D2x) and wonderful MF capability. Surprisingly quiet and refined, but rugged and very comfortable in the hand with its rubberized cover (that never gets sticky like the F100). Fully compatible with Nikon film and digital flashes. Black finish one of the most durable I have seen on any camera. Only real drawback is that it is not fully functional with Nikon's newest electronic aperture lenses in that you can only shoot wide open.

F2AS -- if you like mechanical pro grade SLRs, this is it. Solid, simple, great film advance, shutter release (with Nikon soft release made for this camera), and fantastic viewfinder (get H-series focusing screens). I bought one of the optional machined and anodized aluminum screw on grips, which make the camera much more ergonomic. One weakness is that on many F2AS bodies, the meter display becomes somewhat unstable, due to a resistor element being worn down. Sover Wong sells custom made replacements that can last a lifetime or over 1 million turns of the aperture ring.
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Old 12-10-2019   #8
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My absolute all time favorite is the original Nikon F with a non metering prism. It is a superbly engineered "brick" (AKA brick outhouse) of a camera that just does what it is supposed to do. If you cannot afford or find one of these in the condition which is acceptable to you then I would say a good substitute is a later Nikkormat. The Nikkormat FTn or FT2 are models I would go for. They are the Nikon F equivalents for non Pro users.

But I still have, and occasionally use, my old Nikon F801s and in the practical usability stakes would have to say this is my favorite partly because of AF (though it is pretty slow by modern standards) but mostly because of its metering system. It seems to me it is even more bullet proof than say the F90 and F90s that followed and is a plain, no nonsense early AF camera built pretty much as Nikons should be built.
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Old 12-10-2019   #9
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F3P with F3HP as a backup...



SB-12 and SB-28 Nikon Flash
SMDV Flash Wave III TX and RX
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Old 12-10-2019   #10
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My pro-level Nikons consist of:
2 plain-prism F's
3 F2 Photomics (DP-1 heads)
2 F2S's, one with MD-1, MB-1 combo
2 F3/T's, one with MD-4
2 F4s's

The plain-prism F's are the most enjoyable for me. Fancy viewfinder features appeal to me too much: I become transfixed at the gadgetry and don't look at the image. The simplicity, solidity, and ruggedness of the F appeals to me.

The F2 metering heads are clunky when changing aperture or shutter speed. Ergonomically overall and with more refined features, the F2 is a more capable camera than the F. Equally solid. I've avoided F2A and F2AS because they require stop-down metering of pre-AI lenses. The F2 Photomic and F2S can meter both pre-AI and AI wide open and I don't mind the lens-mounting aperture-ring twist ritual.

The F3/T handles well. Smooth. Viewfinder is a disaster with the little LCD readout.

The F4s is, as Rockwell stated, the Rosetta Stone of compatibility between Nikon lenses. I can mount and use my pre-AI lenses (stop-down metering), all AI lenses normally, all AF-D lenses normally, and AF G lenses (in P, Ph, or S modes). It's a fun camera to use and I like it because it's the last professional Nikon to have external dedicated controls for every and all functions. There are no menus or spinning mode selector wheels. Every control has a specific set of fixed positions it can be placed in. As an engineer, this appeals to me. What does not appeal to me is the total reliance on so many electromechanical subsystems - because the more such subsystems, the higher the chance of failure.

The F5 and F6 don't appeal to me. I don't like their controls and total reliance on electronic subsystems.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dtcls100 View Post
... best viewfinder (except for maybe the F2 with H-series full frame microprism focusing screen) ...
I've had an H screen on one of my F3/T's since the 1990's - the all-microprism viewing field is wonderful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by peterm1 View Post
My absolute all time favorite is the original Nikon F with a non metering prism... I would say a good substitute is a later Nikkormat. The Nikkormat FTn or FT2 are models I would go for. They are the Nikon F equivalents for non Pro users.
...
Agree about the plain-prism F. I also deliberately chose to get a Nikkormat FT2 because that is the only model that both accepts a modern battery and also allows metering of pre-AI and AI lenses wide open (FT3 requires stop-down of pre-AI).

Nikkormats are totally underrated and underpriced today; they're a bargain compared to the overhyped K1000. Consider the FT2:
- modern battery, center-weighted metering, plus can turn meter off
- easy DOF preview
- mirror lock-up
- self timer
- shutter speeds visible in finder
- meter reading visible on top plate
- elegant frame counter :-)
- any F lens can be mounted

(the aperture-priority equivalent of this is my EL2 - beautiful viewfinder and elegant craftsmanship)
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Old 12-10-2019   #11
1750Shooter
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FM-3A. I’ve had it forever & it just works.
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Old 12-10-2019   #12
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I’ve pretty much got them all including Soverized F2s, F3p and F3Ltd.
And my favourite is the F4.
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Old 12-10-2019   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1750Shooter View Post
FM-3A. I’ve had it forever & it just works.
FM-3a: the last great mechanical Nikon (with optional electronic operation).

Bought one when they came out. I'd buy another simply because they're so good.
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Old 12-10-2019   #14
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I have owned and used the following Nikon cameras:
F
F2
F3
F4
EM
L35
N70
N2000
Nikonos III
D200

The F and F3 are the only ones I no longer own and use.
I sold the F to get the F2.
I sold the manual focus F3 to get the auto focus F4.

My personal favorite is the Nikon F2 titanium. I once owned two of them but sold them when collectors drove the price so high that I was afraid to use them for fear of devaluing them.

I now own and use three Nikon F2 bodies with non-metered prisms.


Nikon F2 by Narsuitus, on Flickr
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Old 12-10-2019   #15
Sarcophilus Harrisii
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smaug View Post
They're popular cameras now. Back in the day, they were popular with pros. Now, they're not used much by pros, but by amateurs.

I've tried an original F. Too clunky, esp. the film loading

F2 was nice. Clunky meter/prism and heavy, but I can see the appeal.

F3 - I handled one and was impressed by the smoothness of the advance lever. I read later that it has a ball bearing there. I may get one, one day. Not impressed with the on-camera flash provisions, but I guess pros didn't use on-camera flash that often.

F4 - These are gi-normous, but one of these might be my next camera. They're currently around $200 US on FeeBay. When I see

F5, F6 - Never seen one in the rubber.

****************

Right now, my film Nikons are as follows:
  • N90s - "Semi-pro" Very solid and super cheap on FeeBay right now. I paid $21 for a good one.
  • FG - Great little camera; under-rated. I got two, for $30 each.
  • "One Touch" L35AF3 - Their 2nd generation of prime-lensed P&S. This is probably my favorite P&S camera. (though the original Stylus/mju is up there, too)
There are plenty of cameras that are harder to load than an F. A Barnack for starters. I'm sorry, but I really don't see what the problem is. Clunky is relative. Lock the mirror up and the F shutter is actually fairly smooth. Granted, the MLU implementation in the F design, isn't perfect.
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Old 12-10-2019   #16
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The F4s is the best value in used Nikons.

100-150$ for a pro Nikon with drive?

It’s insanity. Matrix metering!

Relatively bullet proof but I HATE the smooth rubber grips.
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Old 12-10-2019   #17
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The F3hp! I've never been that excited using a camera before. The film advance is so smooth, the stronger-then-most center weighted meter is fantastic, the VF is awesome, and it's great having aperture priority should I ever need it (haven't so far, but it's nice knowing it's there).
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Old 12-10-2019   #18
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I have 2 f3Hp’s and an FM2n.

The F3’s are just beautiful to me. Timeless styling and has a very durable feel. The fm2n actually feels like a toy next to it but benefits from it being mechanically operable with no battery up to 1/4000th. That and being lighter would make me take it for hiking, but the F3 would be the camera I would take around town or for everyday use. It’s still heavy but with a 50mm 1.8 pancake it’s quite manageable.
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Old 12-10-2019   #19
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Some old Nikons are a bargain.

Within the last few years at swap meets I've seen fully mechanically functioning Nikkormat FTN's for $15. Slow speeds work, no shutter capping, other functions seem ok. Couldn't test the meter. So, for $150, someone could get 10 such cameras for students.

F4s's I've seen for under $250. There are probably some that sell for even less. But it's a fair bit more effort to verify functionality.
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Old 12-10-2019   #20
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The original and the camera that revolutionized photojournalism is still my favorite, the Nikon F with plain prism. I have it combined with one of the best normal lenses ever made-55f3.5 Micro Nikkor. It actually does everything my film Leica's do and a few things they don't.

And those saying it has awkward film loading have obviously never used an M2/M3.
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Old 12-10-2019   #21
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Coolest looking: Nikon F with eye level finder

Best to use: f2 with eye level finder or AS

Wildcard: f4 with split prism screen (never tried but would like to). The f4 in underrated IMO.
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Old 12-10-2019   #22
Erik van Straten
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I have a black Nikkormat FTn, a black Nikon F with a plain prism and a black Nikon S2 (original). The S2 is by far my favorite, no problem to find absolute first class 50mm lenses for it.

What to use on the F and on the Nikkormat? The Nikkor H Auto 50mm f/2 distorts far too much. The Nikkor f/1.4 is too big.

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Old 12-11-2019   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
I have a black Nikkormat FTn, a black Nikon F with a plain prism and a black Nikon S2 (original). The S2 is by far my favorite, no problem to find absolute first class 50mm lenses for it.

What to use on the F and on the Nikkormat? The Nikkor H Auto 50mm distorts far too much. The Nikkor f/1.4 is too big.

Erik.
Erik, I reccomend the 45 gn 2.8. Small, light and it's a Tessar.
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Old 12-11-2019   #24
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My favorite is the F, despite its quirks. The F2 Titan is probably the best mechanical camera, but a plain F2 with the eye level prism is a lot cheaper. I like the original F for its similarity to the Nikon RFs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
What to use on the F and on the Nikkormat? The Nikkor H Auto 50mm distorts far too much. The Nikkor f/1.4 is too big.

Erik.
Erik, if you have enough light, the 55mm 3.5 micro has almost no distortion and is very sharp. It’s not small but you won’t have to use a hood because the glass is so recessed. otherwise the 45mm 2.8 (esp the later version) is nice and tiny.
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Old 12-11-2019   #25
Erik van Straten
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I've heard that focusing the 45mm is a bit clumsy because of the flash-coupling.


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Old 12-11-2019   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
I've heard that focusing the 45mm is a bit clumsy because of the flash-coupling.


Erik.
The second version (Ai-p) does not have this "feature".
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Old 12-11-2019   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
I've heard that focusing the 45mm is a bit clumsy because of the flash-coupling.


Erik.
The flash coupling can be de activated by a catch/clip. It then focuses like any normal lens and the direction is the same as Leica. From infinity to around 15m the focusing seems like its not doing much, but for the distances I use - around 3m it is very precise.
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Old 12-11-2019   #28
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F2 with the DE-1 prism, just love the clean view through the finder and the lack of meter doesn't bother me at all. I mostly use it with a VC 40mm f/2, perfect everyday setup.
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Old 12-11-2019   #29
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Another vote for the FM3A and the F3HP:




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Old 12-11-2019   #30
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I have the F4s, F5, F90x and F80.

* F90x: brilliant camera, always delivers. Shame that it is a noisy little bugger: shutter, mirror and advance are all noisy.

F80: a small and likeable camera, more quiet than my Leica IIc. Pity about feeling so plastic and AF is slow with screwdriver lenses.

F5: a beast that get the job done. Eats a lot of (cheap) batteries. Has broken the motor of a Sigma 28-80 whilst focusing.

F4s: the most civilised of the two F. Good AF and even better metering for b&w films. More silent in Cs mode than the F5 too. More battery efficient too and provides matrix metering with my old AiS 28 f/2.8.
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Old 12-11-2019   #31
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In various configurations, F, F2, F3, FM2n, FA, and Nikkormat. Have had, and shot professionally, F4 and F5. Of those, the F4 cameras had more problems than any of the others. The strange battery configuration was a nuisance, and we had a couple that simply stopped working. Never had that with any other F body.
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Old 12-11-2019   #32
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Have owned all the pro variations over the years, still have the F6 and F. Bought the F4s and F6 new, the rest were second hand. The F3HP had the circuit board under the flash connection die, which made the camera worthless. The F2 had weird shutter issues, that took a couple of years and repeated trips to the repair shop to rectify, so that was disappointing. The F5 just always felt too big for my hands. And the F4s, though I enjoyed working with it in the late 1990's and early 2000's, I eventually got bored with it.

The F6 just works really well, and I love the way it meters light, so it's a keeper. And the F is just the F, you either love it or hate it, I happen to love it.

I've used the FM series cameras, and the killer on all those for me is the self timer hits my knuckle when I hold any of the variations of that camera, so without the MD-11 or MD-12, I find those cameras unusable.

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Old 12-11-2019   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by p.giannakis View Post
F90x: brilliant camera, always delivers. Shame that it is a noisy little bugger: shutter, mirror and advance are all noisy.

I love mine; its a rugged tank of a camera and there's probably not a weather condition I haven't used it in. I'd forgotten how noisy it is until I went back to it after several years of DSLRs. Not that it matters; the stuff I shoot isn't affected by noise.


It just shows how much things have changed.... Mine was something like $1100 or $1200, and I ordered it from B&H over the phone! No internet yet in 1996.
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My Fave
Old 12-11-2019   #34
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My Fave

The original non-metered version..."the straight F" as some call it.
Mine is black...bought the body used in 1972 for $75.00. Gussied him up (yes, he's male) with the screw on soft release. That cost, I think, an addition dollar.

He has never failed and still operates properly.
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Old 12-11-2019   #35
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I started with FG20, sold it because I was not into SLR, I didn't have connection with it and so-so 50 1.8 E, either.

One day I went to charity store and they had Nikkormat for 24CAD. It has mirror lock up, shutter speeds visible in VF and exposure meter needle on the top. It is saying "FT" near serial number. I only have to change seal in the back. It works. Despite its size and weight I took on the streets after getting 28 3.5 for it (low price, great condition).

After I read how F2 are getting slotted for curtains, I have rebellion moment and purchased F2 body. I don't like to use cameras which are considered as one of the best for spares. I ordered waist level F finder before F2 came. Today I have put them together. This F2 has RF prism!
I have Vivitar 20 3.8 for it (paid 90 USD, clean copy and focusing as close as two inches or so).
I would like to 3D-print simple plate which will cover the F2 prism and hold my Russar VF.

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Old 12-11-2019   #36
splitimageview
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post

What to use on the F and on the Nikkormat? The Nikkor H Auto 50mm f/2 distorts far too much. The Nikkor f/1.4 is too big.

Erik.
Pancake 50/1.8 for the F. No distortion. But no meter coupling for Nikkormat...

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Old 12-11-2019   #37
Phil_F_NM
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I have shot with an F3HP more than any other camera, I think. They always just worked for me. That said, the F2AS is my favorite. I loved my F4s as well but the F2 takes the cake.
Phil Forrest
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Old 12-11-2019   #38
J enea
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In got a lot of nikon bodies and lenses when my dad died, so I used them for 35mm. 5+ years ago when people were giving 35mm bodies away fro next to nothing, I bought more than I needed, but couldn't pass up bargains. So I have
F, F3, F4, F5, F100, N90, N80, FG, FA, FE-2 and FM3a.


I much prefer manual focus, so maybe Im biased here. for me the perfect body would be the F3 with a normal prism, but I hate the LCD display. I much prefer the match needle. So my most used are the FE-2 and FM3a. I have a split prism screen in my f4 and use that for slide film, just like the ease of useing slide film and how it meters almost perfect results. for small AF body, cant beat the N80. I still see them listed for under $50 today. I bought one new in box with the battery grip for $20, with a small case and a 50mm 1.8d lens, almost new in the box. nice little camera.


the nice thing with the Nikon line is that there seems to be the perfect body for everyone, no matter what you prefer. I love that fact that most of the bodies can still shoot (meter) with MF lenses, unlike canon.


john
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Old 12-11-2019   #39
vagab0nd
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Quote:
Originally Posted by splitimageview View Post
Pancake 50/1.8 for the F. No distortion. But no meter coupling for Nikkormat...

Correct, but one can use stop down metering with the depth of field plunger.

---

Currently don't have any of the "pro" F's , but I do have:

Nikkormat FT
FE
N90s
F80
N65
AF600

FE and AF600 get the most use. F80 with built in flash is great for grabbing family snapshots. I had an F4 - they're tremendous bargains as others have mentioned - but just didn't get along with the ergonomics. A N90s seems to accomplish most of what I wanted from the F4 - minus the ability to use my pre-AI lenses. The N65 barely gets any use, but it's not worth much and works as a backup family cam or lightweight hiking option for when I need builtin flash and don't care what happens to the body

Looking at my system and uses, it might make more sense to replace the Nikon bodies with a F3 and a F100, but I'm pretty content with what I've got right now.
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Old 12-11-2019   #40
Godfrey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktmrider View Post
The original and the camera that revolutionized photojournalism is still my favorite, the Nikon F with plain prism. I have it combined with one of the best normal lenses ever made-55f3.5 Micro Nikkor. It actually does everything my film Leica's do and a few things they don't....
Same here. I have an early chrome plain prism F with Micro-Nikkor 55mm and AI'ed 28mm f/2 as my final Nikon SLR kit.

Over the years, the one I had and used the most is a race between my original F Photomic FTn and the F3 with HP prism finder. Both brilliant cameras.

I had an F2 for a couple of years, it was technically a step up from the F but never reached the emotional connection I have to the F. The F4 and F5 never appealed to me at all, didn't buy one or use one as a result. I had an F6 briefly: terrific camera indeed, probably the best of the line in any realistic assessment, but it was so far beyond my time using 35mm SLR film cameras in any serious way ... I let it go to another Nikon enthusiast who is still using it.

The F I have now is a rescue camera: A friend from another photo community found it laying in a box in his basement, lens missing, half of the everready case gone, jammed and dirty. He gave it to me, I gave it to Fred at International Camera Repair some years back who completely overhauled it and made it work like new again. It's a low serial number camera, likely from about 1961, and I have the external, coupled selenium cell meter for it too (which needs a new cell and recalibration).

G
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