35mm SLR Replacement for Nikon F2

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by laroygreen, Aug 31, 2013.

  1. laroygreen

    laroygreen Member

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    Hey guys,

    I currently own a large format 4x5 camera kit (my preferred format), a Mamiya RZ67 kit (my second preferred format) and I want to add a 35mm slr camera kit (I have a Nikon F2, but after using it for a year, it does have some things that really annoy me! Mostly changing the shutter speeds while looking through the viewfinder - the viewfinder column is up high so I have to move my hands to get to it, the difficulty of seeing the viewfinder readouts in dim light and the fact that the meter isn't spot metering and doesn't have an exposure scale - I would keep it as a second body and I only have one lens that I got for free (still a good lens though)).

    My large format and medium format cameras are really great but the weight is an issue when I want to say take portraits outdoors or by someone's home (and use natural light vs. strobes). So I am on the market for a more suitable 35mm kit (I looked at getting a lighter medium format setup, but either the lenses where expensive, slow or the metering was limited - but if you know any that could fit the bill, feel free to comment). I wrote down a list of the features I want (in order of importance):

    • Reliable
    • Affordable (less than $400 for one in excellent condition)
    • Large aperture lenses (50, 85, 135 >= f2) that are "cheap" (typically less than $300.00 for one in reasonable shape)
    • Spot metering (I prefer spot to center weighted)
    • Viewfinder displays exposure scale in manual and aperture priority mode
    • Viewfinder that is bright and graphical display that can actually be seen in dim lighting :smile:
    • Aperture priority & full manual mode
    • Manual focus (I know AF can usually be disabled, but not all cameras are good at manual focusing)
    • Part of a system (motor drives, grips, etc)
    • Solid build with "retro" style - i.e. does not look like a modern dslr

    I have looked at all manner of cameras, and the OM4Ti looked ideal except it seems to be very unreliable (saw a few videos and internet posts about electrical and mechanical issues) and rather expensive compared to other cameras from that era. The Nikon F4 ticks all those boxes except it is very close to a modern dslr in terms of looks (actually it looks like a modern mega-zoom point and shoot). The Nikon FM3A is very expensive and does not have spot metering (I think - neither does the FE2 and FM2). I also looked to maybe buy a new viewfinder for the F2 but none seem to address my issues (same for the F3 which also doesn't spot meter or have an exposure scale - AFAIK).

    So, there you have it, what would be a good camera to fit the above requirements?
     
  2. erikg

    erikg Member

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    OM-4t is a totally reliable camera, I have one and a OM-4 and they've been great. John at zuiko.com can solve any problem that might come up.
     
  3. NDKodak

    NDKodak Member

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    I would say Nikon F100 but it might be too modern for you. Nikon F4 still has the all the knobs that the older mechanical SLR's have.
     
  4. laroygreen

    laroygreen Member

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    If a camera goes bad on me, my only option is to either fix it myself (I can do minor repairs if I have/can get parts) or throw it away. If I lived in a major market I wouldn't mind too much about reliability over the long term, but it is extremely difficult for me to ship anything to the US/UK to get fixed and returned to me (not to mention extremely costly). This is why even a minor trend in reliability (I define a trend as the same issues being experienced by different owners under typical usage - for the OM4 seems to have issues with the mirror getting stuck, shutter not cocking as well as the batteries). I could be wrong, but I did search Google for a while before coming to that conclusion (the OM4 has more issues than the OM4Ti, but the Ti has issues as well - compared to Nikon F2/F3 they don't seem as reliable).
     
  5. Trask

    Trask Subscriber

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    Maybe a Canon T90 -- but it looks like a dslr because IMHO much dslr design was derived from the ground-breaking T90.
     
  6. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    I suggest the Canon New F-1. That is the design that came out in 1981.
    It might take some looking to find a spot-metering focusing screen, but they are out there.

    www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/hardwares/classics/canonf1n/

    If not for your requirement that the camera be "retro" style, I would suggest a Nikon N90s/N90x as a very capable and reliable camera that would fulfill your needs for much less than $400. Or a Nikon F100.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 31, 2013
  7. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    And the spotmeter is superb. My ideal camera would be a Nikon F with a meter like the OM3/4, I could do without the auto feature.
     
  8. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    I can see none fit your requirements. I suggest you keep using the Nikon F2. Your favorite camera the 4x5 and the RB67 have none of the features you are asking for and you don't seem to bother. To me the F2 would work just fine as a 35mm SLR. If it's difficult for you to set aperture/shutter speed and it doesn't provide exposure scale nor spot metering I suggest that you don't use those features. Simply meter with the METER you used for your 4x5, set the exposure before even put the camera at eye level to compose and focus.
     
  9. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    Are you sure you don't just have cameraitis and just want more gadgets? I'll agree on the hard-to-see meter needle when it's dark above your head. But they made a little light for that you could probably dig up on ebay. But it's a Nikon F2, for corn sake. It doesn't get any better than that. Anywhere else is down. Like saying you've got this full size 4 door Mercedes Benz and want to get rid of it for a Lexus because you don't like where the glove compartment is on the Mercedes. Get yourself one of those light dealies and fall in love with the camera all over again. My Dad used to say--"money burning a hole in your pocket".
     
  10. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I would go for Canon F-1 also.

    Jeff
     
  11. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    If you can get past needing the retro look the Nikon F100 would probably fit your needs and the array of nice inexpensive lenses available is huge. Here's a good resource http://www.naturfotograf.com/lens_surv.html

    The F100 does a fine job with manual focus, even tells you which way to turn to focus and when to stop. I will say that I do find a "retro" split prism focus screen a pleasure to use, but the F100 focus indicator will do a damn fine job of verifying focus.

    In your position though, given you are buying lenses, I'd just buy auto focus lenses and setup the custom setting in the F100 for back button auto focus. This allows you to focus only when you push with your thumb, your trigger finger won't mess up your focus. It may sound a bit weird but once you "get it" you'll wonder why AF was ever tied to the trigger button, its fast, easy, reliable, and accurate.
     
  12. laroygreen

    laroygreen Member

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    Photography is just my hobby, and I don't do anything I would consider critical - just something fun.

    I have tried for 1 year to make "peace" with the F2, and I just can't (it isn't in any way a bad camera, just not right for me) and I recently realized that if I can't take my RZ67 with me, I just don't take anything with me. Everyone is different, and what you appreciate may not be what I appreciate - which is why I gave a prioritized wishlist. If no camera perfectly fits the bill, I am fine with that, just thought I'd hear if anyone knew of anything that was close.

    I didn't investigate the Canon F1 so I'll give it a look and hopefully it is what I am looking for.
     
  13. cjbecker

    cjbecker Member

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    The shutter dial is a big one for me on 35mm cameras also. That's the reason I never really liked the f2. I live the fe/fm series because of that. Expecially the fe because of the needle match.
     
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  15. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    Want one that's sweet to use and has a great spotmeter? Find yourself a Mamiya/Sekor 1000DTL. But beware, the meter cell for the spot, located behind the mirror, had a habit for going weak and cannot be recalibrated to match the averaging. But good ones are still out there.
     
  16. Nathan Riehl

    Nathan Riehl Member

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    Nikon FM2n has one vote here on my end. I'm switching to a beater F2 here shortly because my FM2n broke. It's a really nice camera. Very solidly built in my opinion. Only problem with mine was the black ring behind the lens mount broke and before it did, I think it somehow got some kind of residue from something sugary in it because changing apertures was difficult.
     
  17. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    I have a few questions for the OP though. You said you can't see the aperture or shutter speed in the viewfinder when it's dark? I found when it's dark enough for me not being able to see the shutter speed or aperture in the F2 viewfinder then it would require a tripod in which case it's not a bother to have put the camera down to set exposure.
    I sometimes use the spot meter but almost never use the built in spot meter. I have the Nikon F5 and it's spot meter is good but unlike the hand held one it doesn't read out in EV. When I use the spot meter I generally would measure several points on the scene and calculate the right exposure. Having the readout in EV makes it easier to do so. And no I don't simply average a bunch of readings like the OM-4 does.
     
  18. heterolysis

    heterolysis Member

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    If retro is at the bottom of that list, I can't think of anything better than a Nikon N80 since you already have at least one Nikon lens....It'll set you back less than $100.

    By the time you slap a motor drive or grip on most of these "retro" cameras they'll be almost as heavy as a MF setup.
     
  19. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    If the F2 is not for you, it's not for you. If you could live with central area metering (not center-weighted, but a discrete central area) instead of spot, the older model Canon F-1 could work for you.
     
  20. laroygreen

    laroygreen Member

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    @chan tran: Maybe it is the viewfinder that I have, but unless I am in a well lit area, the readings are tough to see (the LED looks fine obviously).

    Still researching the Canon F1 and so far so good - information is all over the place, can anyone recommend a comprehensive website to do some research? If the Canon turns out that it is a dead end, I'll maybe just get an F4 ("looks" is at the bottom of my list, but I did enjoy having conversation with strangers about my "odd" looking film camera - which then gives me the opportunity to preach the gospel of film photography :D - respectfully of course ).
     
  21. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    The Mir.com website I linked is pretty comprehensive and accurate.

    One thing you should know-- there were two Canon F-1's of different designs, with the first having received some modifications midway through its run. The original is called the F-1. The modification of the original, with expanded ASA range and a shorter wind throw, is commonly referred as the F-1n. The new design is called the F-1N or New F-1. The New F-1 is the model which has the spot metering capability.
    Another plus for the Canon is that there are many excellent FL/FD mount lenses available cheaply.
     
  22. Aja B

    Aja B Member

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    Understand you're asking for the impossible re: retro look w/ modern features. F100 checks-off every 'functional' box but the seemingly least significant and only cosmetic feature. Retro look comes with retro features and functions. I have an F100 and several F2 bodies, among many Nikons. Compromise is always part of the program. Now if I could design my own camera...
     
  23. onepuff

    onepuff Member

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    I've had two OM-4Tis and not had a problem with either. The original OM-4 suffered from an appetite for batteries but the Ti models are much better in this respect. The shutter and wind mechanism on the OM-4(Ti) was heavily modified and strengthened in comparison to the OM-2(n). The wind action (in my opinion) has a less pleasing feel to the earlier models but in the years I've used these cameras I haven't had a single failure in any aspect of camera function, mechanical or electronic. They have proved to be very durable in all weather. The OM-4Ti ticks nearly all your boxes with the shutter speed selector in the most ergonomic place - in the same plane as the focus ring and aperture ring, multi-spot metering and a very good illuminated viewfinder display which only misses aperture confirmation. I would always recommend buying the best condition camera you can afford though and my last OM-4Ti cost me the equivalent of nearly twice your stated budget. Light seal replacement is easy but I would suggest that it is worth the shipping cost to get a camera such as this properly serviced by a trained technician occasionally. The nearest equivalent f2 lenses at your stated focal lengths would be 85mm, 100mm and 180mm none of which I would expect to be under $300 in good optical and mechanical condition though the f2.8 100mm and 135mm are excellent and only fractionally slower.
     
  24. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

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    Of course none of these are available brand new from the factory so make sure the one you get has the official PASSED sticker . . . :whistling:

    [​IMG]
     
  25. miha

    miha Member

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    Leica R4P (R4s Mod.2), R5 and R7 are small, have full-info bright viewfinder, spot metering and can be had for under 400 USD. For lenses you'll have to stick to summicrons and emlarits (f/2 and f/2.8) to fit your price-range. The cameras are quirky at times, with great motor-drives that just go, and superb lenses that needs to be serviced once or twice in their lifetime.
     
  26. spongeboy

    spongeboy Member

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    Nikon FE2, FA, or FM3a. And perhaps get a bright E2 screen for either. Sensational, compact, ultra reliable cameras (I've had my FE2 since 1986 without it ever having needed a service, other than a foam-seal replacement twice now (I do that myself)) These cameras do everything you need and nothing you don't. If you don't mind the weight: I like my F4; alas it sits in an underwater housing and only gets used once/twice a year or so. But it runs ok with G-type lenses if needed.