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SLRs - the unRF For those of you who must talk about SLRs, if only to confirm they are not RF.

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Old 09-13-2010   #41
wotalegend
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As has already been said, it's all been said. I have them all - a Nikkormat FTn, FM, FE, FM2n, FE2, F3HP, but not an FM3a. They all have their pros and cons, but I think my favourite among those is the FE2. And my least favourite is the Nikkormat, which I have to admit is a shelf queen. Reason: unobtainable battery, unobtainable dioptre, and will only take pre-Ai lenses. The F3HP is the best for lens compatibility - it will take every F mount lens ever made, but IMHO it is let down by the dim LCD display in the VF. The FE series have the best VF display with the match needle system, but it is difficult to see in poor light. The FM series are good in poor light with the red LED display in the VF. The original FE and FM will take every F mount lens except those requiring mirror lockup. The FE2 and FM2 series will not mount pre-Ai lenses. And none of them are "just consumer grade Nikons, toy like in comparison". They are all built like the proverbial brick outhouse.
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Old 09-13-2010   #42
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I much appreciate the lens advice. I am a 50-55mm prime lens guy, but I'll get a 28 or 35, too.
It would be extra neat to get as normal that focuses down to a foot or so. Any Nikon primes do that? I am not a speed freak; f1.8-f2 is fine ...
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Old 09-13-2010   #43
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Originally Posted by paulfish4570 View Post
I much appreciate the lens advice. I am a 50-55mm prime lens guy, but I'll get a 28 or 35, too.
It would be extra neat to get as normal that focuses down to a foot or so. Any Nikon primes do that? I am not a speed freak; f1.8-f2 is fine ...
55mm F2.8 Micro Nikkor.
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Old 09-13-2010   #44
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wotalegend-
Your Nikkormat FTn doesn't have to stay a shelf queen. For a battery of correct voltage you can use a Wein cell, a similar hearing aid battery, or a CRIS or similar adapter for silver cells. I just got a dioptre for my finder last July for 99 cents plus shipping. It was advertised as being for a Nikon FM; however, the following models all use the same dioptre: Nikkormat, Nikon F, FA, FE, FE2, FM, FM2, FM3A, and maybe others. But be careful, there are seven different varieties of Nikon dioptres. There is a chart on the web that lists then all by model number. As for using only pre-AI lenses--any lens with "ears" will work perfectly. Some of my AI-S lenses have ears, some don't. If not, just meter stopped down. However, if you want to leave the Nikkormat on the shelf, you certainly have a group of wonderful other cameras to choose from.
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Old 09-13-2010   #45
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Thanks again for all of the advice.

FrankS: I had that Nikkormat on my watch list, along with several other FTNs and FMs, for sport since I don't yet have the cash. It looked like a nice one.

I received seal kits today for my two ST605s to get them ready for sale.
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Old 09-13-2010   #46
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I will also jump in here and say that the Nikkormat FTn is built like a tank. Solid. I had one for a while that I subjected to a number of tough conditions and it never even developed so much as a light leak. I finally sold it, not because I didn't like it, but just because I never used it and felt that it was better off with someone who would.
They are dirt cheap these days, and take equally cheap (in price, not quality) non ai lenses.

I also hear good things about the FM2n, but it's more expensive.
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Old 09-13-2010   #47
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Paul,

Do not forget to look for Nikomats too. Out of US name for the same wonderful workhorse.

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Old 09-13-2010   #48
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I use a Nikon FM2 regularly when not shooting my Leicas. I think this is a great camera for several reasons:

1> Forward compatibility with Nikon DSLR lenses EXCEPT G lenses. The G lenses do not have aperture rings
2> Fully mechanical allows all shutter speeds to function when battery fails
3> Built-in LED light meter which appears in the viewfinder
4> Viewfinder shows shutter speed and aperture as well as contains split-prism focus screen.

Add that it's light, small, and sturdily made and I believe this is a great all-around camera. Can't go wrong with the FM2.
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Old 09-13-2010   #49
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A disadvantage of the FE2, FM2, and FA is that one can not mount pre-AI lenses. There are many of these, they are inexpensive, and they are good.

The older (Nikkormat) and pro level bodies (F, F2, F3, F4) can mount AI and pre-AI lenses.
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Old 09-13-2010   #50
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No one mentioned the Nikon EL2 (1976), one of my all time favorite of the non F series. Build quality was definitely a little better than the all manual Nikkormats. Very similar to the FE in function but all metal, slightly bigger, better balanced and it did have a mirror lock up that worked better than the Nikkormats. The only minor drawbacks was that the battery stored under the mirror and the focus screen was not interchangable by the user. Like many Nikons of this vintage, I don't know about parts availability for repair.
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Old 09-13-2010   #51
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I have had Nikkormats and they are tanks however, they use non-Ai lenses. They are getting older and although they will still function with the newer battery they are supposed to use the older mercury battery. The non-Ai lenses are not as sharp as the newer Ai and Ai-S lenses. And, although the Nikkormats are inexpensive you would be better off with an F3HP. It is newer and does not have the battery problem. Ergonomically, there is no comparison as the F3HP is miles ahead; it also has a removable prism and motor drive accessablity. The lenses for the F3HP which are Ai/Ai-S and Zeiss are considerably more expensive but much better. At this stage of the game a Nikkormat is a camera for a raw beginner. Would I replace a Pentax Spotmatic with a Nikkormat? No.
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Old 09-13-2010   #52
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AI and AIs lenses do mount and meter on Nikkormats.
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Can not agree...
Old 09-13-2010   #53
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Can not agree...

[quote=Steve Bellayr;1416975] The non-Ai lenses are not as sharp as the newer Ai and Ai-S lenses. quote]

This is far to general a statement. There are many non-AI lens that are stellar performers. You should not count them out!
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Old 09-13-2010   #54
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Steve, I love my SP1000, but cannot get a corrective eyepiece for it or my Fujica ST605s. I am tired of pulling my reading glasses on and off, on and off, on and off to make a shot, make a shot, make a shot ...
That is the ONLY reason I want to make the switch.
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Old 09-13-2010   #55
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Another vote for the FM or FM2.

They're light, easy to fix, extremely durable and reliable, small and compact. You can't go wrong.
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Old 09-13-2010   #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Bellayr View Post
I have had Nikkormats and they are tanks however, they use non-Ai lenses.
The FT2 works fine with AI and AIS lenses, and uses standard PX76 batteries.
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Old 09-13-2010   #57
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I would say go with a FM2n--a wonderfully easy to use, full featured camera that can be had for a fairly inexpensive price.
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Old 09-13-2010   #58
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I'd say either a FM2, FE2, FM3A, or a F3HP. The one problem with the F3 is the LCD readout, but that is one *SMOOTH* camera! It feels like a fine piece of craftsmanship. I love the feel and performance of my F3HP, but prefer the size of my FM2.
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Old 09-13-2010   #59
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Quote:
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General notes: Avoid the Nikon 24mm in any permutation. They never made a good one.

You can live w/o any of the Nikon 135s. They're not that great.
I'd have to disagree about the 24mm. I have the 24/2.8 in both the MF and AF versions, and find them perfectly good. I had the 24/2, but got rid of it, as it wasn't sharp enough for me. But the 24/2.8 is another story! I wonder if you had a bad example? As a matter of fact, Erwin Puts wrote that the 24/2.8 Elmarit-R was about on par with the Nikkor. I have both, and would tend to agree somewhat; though I find the color rendition better with the Elmarit.

I've had only one 135mm Nikkor. It was an f/3.5. Pretty mediocre. Pictures just looked flat and tired. I only had the one 135, and never sampled their other 135 offerings, so can't comment beyond that. My 135mm Elmarit-R is a keeper, though!
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Old 09-13-2010   #60
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Wow, that is the first time ever that I've heard the build quality of an FTn called flimsy! The Nikkormat (n, 2, 3) is typically descrribed as tank-like.
OK, OK, I take it back. It is a tank, except for the shutter speed control, which was flimsy on mine. OK, maybe flimsy is not the right word. Something in the linkage must have been weak. Maybe weak is the wrong word. Maybe it was slippage susceptible. Or built on a Monday or Friday. Or worthy of a design review. Maybe it got skipped over at quality assurance time.

But I already had my Leica M2, which has Never screwed up in the close to 50 years I've been using it, let alone in the mere 15 or so I'd owned it when I bought the FTn. So maybe my expectations were a tad high.

Sorry, I had not meant to shock the Nikon loyalists among us. Heck, I use them too.
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Old 09-13-2010   #61
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Sorry, I had not meant to shock the Nikon loyalists among us. Heck, I use them too.
Speaking of shocking Nikon loyalists (look, I shot with the things for a number of years, too)...

Do recall that the Nikkormats were not, in fact, manufactured by Nikon, but subcontracted out to none other than Mamiya (a long story made as short as possible here...yes, it's Dante's review of My Favorite 35mm Camera in The Whole Wide World™, but it's also a mini-history lesson, as Dante is wont to doing with these things). Don't know about the Nikon EL2 in this case, though.


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Old 09-13-2010   #62
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It was actually the Nikkorex series that was subcontracted out to Mamiya and their build quality was obvoiusly subpar for Nikon to the point that this was discontinued at the end of that series. The Nikkormats were always made by Nikon to my knowledge but probably a different plant than the Nikon F. The EL2 was made by Nikon from the ground up as was the Nikkormat EL. These were completely new camera designs from Nikon and their build quality was definitely a notch better than the Nikkormat FTn's. Shutters for the Nikkormat line were subcontracted out to Copal and the 1/125 flash sync. was an advantage over the Nikon F's 1/60 flash sync.
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Old 09-13-2010   #63
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The EL/ELW is probably the only camera to offer AE on non-AI lenses.
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Old 09-13-2010   #64
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amateriat View Post
Speaking of shocking Nikon loyalists (look, I shot with the things for a number of years, too)...

Do recall that the Nikkormats were not, in fact, manufactured by Nikon, but subcontracted out to none other than Mamiya (a long story made as short as possible here...yes, it's Dante's review of My Favorite 35mm Camera in The Whole Wide World™, but it's also a mini-history lesson, as Dante is wont to doing with these things). Don't know about the Nikon EL2 in this case, though.


- Barrett
Barrett, Dante is wrong on this one. The Nikomat (Nikkormat) series were manufactured at Mito Nikon. Mito Nikon also manufactured the F3, the FM3A, and the reissue SP and S3.

Edited to add: the F4, FM2n and other cameras were also manufactured at Mito Nikon (source link).
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Old 09-13-2010   #65
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amateriat View Post
Speaking of shocking Nikon loyalists (look, I shot with the things for a number of years, too)...

Do recall that the Nikkormats were not, in fact, manufactured by Nikon, but subcontracted out to none other than Mamiya (a long story made as short as possible here...yes, it's Dante's review of My Favorite 35mm Camera in The Whole Wide World™, but it's also a mini-history lesson, as Dante is wont to doing with these things). Don't know about the Nikon EL2 in this case, though.


- Barrett
I'm not so sure about Dante's copal shutter explanation either. AFAIK copal shutters have always been manufactured by a company called, not surprisingly, Copal!

http://www.nidec-copal.com/01/01.html
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Old 09-14-2010   #66
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After I checked ebay prices, the F3hp is now on the short list with all of its prism optics flexibility ...
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Old 09-14-2010   #67
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Paul,

While I'm not a AE lover, the F3 is lived up to it's name, it's a true Nikon F. The HP is a wonderful improvement over the original finder. I owned one for a bit and liked it but sold it back to my brother-in-law. Pick up a P screen for it, you will LOVE it. I also used an AR-9, sort of a concave MSR (from Tom A). Keep in mind that while they do not eat batteries they do not work well with low batteries (keep spare around) and when in doubt, change-em.

Great choice and I bet you will not pay a lot more than you would for a FM2.

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Old 09-14-2010   #68
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Get an F3, does all the things FM, FE, FM/FE/2, 2n3n do, Auto exposure clocks to 30sec, with finder black out shutter.
I really like just about every aspect of the F3, but I can't stand the LCD meter display - it just shows a + or -, no indication of how far off you are (like the LED or needle on other cameras mentioned here), and that just doesn't fit with the way my brain works. It's also hard to see in low light. These issues were kind of a dealbreaker for me personally, and one of the reasons I don't use mine often. Which is too bad, because it's one of my favorites ergonomically (especially with the MD-4 winder).

In your shoes, I'd get an FM. If you don't plan on using aperture priority, I'd pass on the models that have it (like the FE) - it's just one extra setting on the dial to get in your way. The FM is light, feels great, and it takes pre-AI lenses.
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Old 09-15-2010   #69
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I sold my last F3hp last year after many, many hears of great use. No regrets. Once I got my first Leica that was the end of the film SLRs. I was surprised at how top-heavy the F3hp was once I got it out of the closet to sell it. If you can, handle one, and an FM, before you buy. There's a big difference in the handling.



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Old 09-15-2010   #70
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The F3 is a solid camera, but I never learned to like that lcd in the upper left hand corner of the finder.
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Old 09-15-2010   #71
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Quote:
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The F & F2 series finder screens will drop right into a F3, but not vice versa.
It's very simple to remove an F3 focus screen from its frame and drop it in an F/F2 frame. I've done that many times.
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Old 09-15-2010   #72
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The F3 is a solid camera, but I never learned to like that lcd in the upper left hand corner of the finder.
It was placed where it would adapt to the various finders. The LCD window shows up well with the DW4 attached. I think the F3 has the best optical viewing Nikon has ever engineered. I have a couple of Nikon engineered digital bodies. The viewing is good, but not as good as on the F3. I've also owned F, F2, & FE bodies..my 2 cents. p.
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Old 09-16-2010   #73
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When I do not use my RF cameras the one I use most of times is the FM2, even if I have a perfect working F100. Why: small, light and easy to use (with a 50mm 1,4 AIS or sometimes th2 20 mm F2,8 D). That's my suggestion. robert
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Old 09-28-2010   #74
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Speaking of shocking Nikon loyalists (look, I shot with the things for a number of years, too)...

Do recall that the Nikkormats were not, in fact, manufactured by Nikon, but subcontracted out to none other than Mamiya (a long story made as short as possible here...yes, it's Dante's review of My Favorite 35mm Camera in The Whole Wide World™, but it's also a mini-history lesson, as Dante is wont to doing with these things). Don't know about the Nikon EL2 in this case, though.


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Barrett, just a little extra info since my earlier post here, I've just learned that the camera that Mamiya made for Nikon was the Nikkorex F, rather than the Nikkormat as suggested by Dante.
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Old 09-28-2010   #75
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Out of my 6 nikon Bodys - Nikkormat, Fe2, Fe, Fg, and a fantastic F3 the one which I trust the most, which is the most battered, fell on concrete a couple of times, is heavily brassed and goes with me everywhere is the -FM!
A simple and great camera!

- small
- good ergonomics, well balanced
- mechanical shutter
- cheap and available batteries
- you can also use pre AI lenses

The shutter is the best part. Plain and mechanical - ok, the nikkormat is mechanical as well, but it is sooo much heavier...
It is a very subjective choice, handle one and you'll know.
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Old 09-28-2010   #76
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Prices on F3s these days make it one of the best bargains out there.

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Old 09-28-2010   #77
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I went through this decision making process myself, and have a little different view on it. I went w/ a Nikkormat FT2 for several reasons. The viewfinder is brighter than the other models, it takes the regular 1.5V batteries, and you can find them for peanuts. I also prefer having the shutter speeds on the front around the lens rather than on top. One other reason for going w/ the FT2 was it will take all of the non AI lenses, and most of these are ridiculously good and ridiculously cheap. A nearly mint camera w/ a 50 2.0 lens was all of $75, and I added a beautiful 105 2.5 lens w/ hood for portraits for $60. The build quality of the non AI lenses is great.

Normally I shoot medium format, so to me the weight really isn't bad w/ a 50 2 lens. Even the 105 lens doesn't add any weight as the body seems to be aluminum. Actually, it doesn't feel any different from a Leica M3, and if you had an M3 w/ a Summicron DR on it I'd be willing to bet that the Leica would be heavier. As far as jumpy shutters, mine is not that way. It's no different than any MF Nikon I've owned and has a pleasant ca ching sound to it. The meter is on the nose too. Buy an F100 if you want to hear a loud mirror/shutter. Won't get my first roll finished for a few days, but have high hopes as both the 50 2.0 and 105 2.5 are very highly rated lenses.

These links may help you w/ your decision.

http://www.photosynthesis.co.nz/nikon/lenses.html#105

http://www.nikonlinks.com/unklbil/bodylens.htm
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Old 09-28-2010   #78
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If it's a Nikkormat for me it's the FS, but then again I am sort of a purist.
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Old 09-28-2010   #79
Brian Sweeney
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The Nikkormats are loud compared with the other Nikons. With User grade F3HP's for under $100, hard to say no to that.

Somehow when I grab a Nikon SLR- it's either the F2AS or the F2SB. And I have a lot of them to choose from.

With all things considered for the OP: Go with the F3HP. The FM is too small and light. Get a CF-22 or CF-20 case with the F3HP. The bottom portion makes it easier to handle.

and- the 24/2.8 is one of the all-time best Nikkor lenses made. I prefer the older style, but the new one is nice too. I have both.

Last edited by Brian Sweeney : 09-28-2010 at 16:11.
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Old 09-28-2010   #80
FrankS
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My main 35mm SLR systems are Nikon and Olympus. With Nikkormats, the shutter speed control is in the same location as on the Olympus.

That being said, I am on the lookout for an F2a or F2as.
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