A while back I was contemplating the purchase of my first film camera. Most of my photog friends thought I was nuts. Why go backwards in technology? Well, with all the electronic gadgets in my life and countless hours staring at computer monitors and camera LCDs, I really needed something analog! I played around with a borrowed Canon AE-1 and decided I'd go 35mm. After much deliberation, I settled on my choice - the Nikon F2. This camera was chosen because it was the last pro level 35mm Nikon made that is fully mechanical. Apart from the optional meter, it doesn't require batteries to shoot. I figured if I was going to go old school, then I might as well go all the way!
The Nikon F2 is a beefy camera. It's smaller but just as heavy as a pro DSLR, if not more so. It feels solid, like it was machined from a single block of metal. There is a craftsmanship here that we just don't see with most modern cameras (or much of anything these days.) With the photomic meter on top, it stands tall. It's amazing to me that the meter still works, although it's a bit finicky. It seems to take a moment to adjust to changing lighting conditions. I've been checking it against a Sekonic light meter and it is accurate. I got my F2 from KEH and it looks pristine. No...it's beautiful!
The controls are simple. Shutter release button, combination ASA and shutter speed dial, film advance lever, and rewind crank. What more do you need? There is also a timer and mirror lockup lever on the front. I love the sound of the mechanical timer. Ticks away just like a precision watch!
Along with the F2, I picked up a few lenses: 50mm f/2, 35mm f/2, and 28mm f/3.5. Gotta have a 50mm, although 35mm has become my favorite focal length lately. I'm not sure I'll use the 28mm much but it was dirt cheap so I grabbed it up. While these lenses were cheap in price, they certainly aren't lacking in quality. After all these years, the glass is still clean and the focus and aperture controls are smooth. The focus feels like it rides on ball bearings. My best Canon L lenses feel gritty in comparison. I chose these lenses after much research. These old uncoated lenses have a certain endearing look to the images they create. I've taken a number of black and white images and I'm loving them.
Here are a few of my favorites so far: