There aren’t many cameras out there that I’ve picked up and loved right off the bat. In fact I could probably count them all on just one hand. Oddly enough they’re all from the Nikon F series. The Nikon F2 Photomic (pronounced Pho-Tom-ick) is one such camera. This workhorse professional camera from the 1970s was the popular update from the original Nikon F, an all mechanical wonder that continued to be produced and sought after even after the electronic replacement Nikon F3 was released, and today remains a popular camera. This camera will take anything you throw at it and give you beautiful photos in return.
Model: F2 Photomic
Type: 35mm Single Lens Reflex
Lens: Bayonet, Nikon F-mount (semi-AI support)
Year of Manufacture: 1971-1980
This is an all mechanical camera that will work both with or without batteries making it a great camera to learn on. It’s also still fully repairable! And being a modular system you can easily ‘upgrade’ and replace parts as they need to and there are lots of good working parts out there. And you can still get a lot of really good glass for this camera in pretty much all the early Nikon lenses, Non-AI, AI, and AI-S will all work on this camera. Also this camera was literally love at first grip, it’s well made, and ergonomically sound. The controls are well placed, easy to reach, and while the meter view is a little small, it’s a match needle style so easy to set the camera (providing your meter functions, if not, shoot Sunny-16). And probably my favourite part about the camera is the awesome shutter sound, you know you’ve taken the photo!
While my camera cost me less than 100$ the F2 remains a highly sought after camera, it can get fairly expensive, especally the ones with the non-metered prisms. Also given their age, often the cameras which were the workhorses of the press through the 1970s have been beaten up. But working ones are still easily found, but could cost a bit. But the non-working ones can be repaired. In addition to that, the glass can get fairly expensive as well since a lot of digital shooters love the old manual focus lenses so the price remains fairly high. But you should be able to get a deal on an older Non-AI lens.
The Low Down
If you’re looking for a solid all mechanical SLR that has a proven track record, this is the camera for you. I got mine for under 100$ from KEH in their Bargin condition, and it showed just a touch of brassing around the name plate, threw in two batteries the camera lit up and the meter worked perfectly! Also you can still get these cameras serviced thanks to Sover Wong who received all the remaining spare parts from Nikon when they shut down their F2 repair services.
All Photos shot around Casa Loma in Toronto, Ontario
Nikon F2 Photomic – AI Nikkor 135mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Delta 100 – Ilford DD-X (1+4) 12:00 @ 20C