Is a Nikon EL2 a Wise Choice?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by FilmOnly, Mar 2, 2010.

  1. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    I have the opportunity to buy a nice Nikon EL2 (and AW-1 winder), and I am wondering if this would be a good move. I have owned a couple of FEs and an F3HP, and I must admit that I do miss those cameras.

    Anyway, with regard to the EL and EL2, I see folks discussing parts availability and such, and it gives me pause. I wonder, though, if this is fair, as I gather one could raise this issue with any older camera? Thus, is the EL2 a good choice--or is it any worse than choosing any other old design?

    I just love the way those old Nikkormats are made. I had an EL-W briefly (I returned it because the meter would not turn off), and it was truly a beautifully made tank of a camera. I know some might suggest an FT body, but I like having the option of a winder (or motor). Anyway, I welcome all opinions on this subject.
     
  2. BobD

    BobD Member

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    I love my EL. It's like a super rugged FE. I also like its added weight over the
    FE/FM cameras. I think it makes it easier to hold steady at slower speeds. The
    MLU is nice too. And, Another nice thing about the EL/ELW Nikkormats is that
    they are the only Nikon bodies that can function in Auto mode with non-AI
    lenses (or any lens with a meter coupling prong). That is basically why I've
    kept my EL in my Nikon "stable" which also includes an FM, FM2 and FE2.

    As for the EL2, the non-AI lens feature wouldn't apply as it is an AI body. Still,
    the added ruggedness over the FM/FE makes it attractive. On the other hand,
    the FE's interchangeable screens and more reliable motor drive and available
    parts would probably win out (for me).
     
  3. mikebarger

    mikebarger Subscriber

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    I have an EL2 with winder I got for my daughter, great camera. I'd buy another one if I needed a good 35mm. Mine sets idle now as she has moved on to a N90s.

    Mike
     
  4. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    I appreciate the input, as I continue to consider the matter.

    BobD: I could not agree more in regard to added weight and being able to hold the camera more steadily at slower speeds. I had been pondering getting an earlier version 'mat--simply because of the dirt cheap prices on non-AI lenses. Thus, I appreciate your comments.

    Mike: why is the camera "idle"?
     
  5. mikebarger

    mikebarger Subscriber

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    Sorry, daughter moved up to a Nikon AF system and uses the N90s only now.

    Mike
     
  6. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    I just read about the problem of the nylon gear in the AW-1. They used a nylon gear in order to make the winder quieter, and, of course, the nylon ends up being a wear issue. The nylon gear could be replaced with a brass gear, but the winder then gets noisier. I have heard the AW-1, and thought it pretty noisy as it is (or perhaps I had heard one with a brass gear?)...

    Hmm...
     
  7. mikebarger

    mikebarger Subscriber

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    I don't think the EL2 winder I have is much different in sound than my F3 motor. But, that is only one of how many out there.

    Mike
     
  8. elekm

    elekm Member

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    The Nikon EL2 is a sturdy, heavy camera. It's close in features to the Nikon FE, although the EL2 offers mirror lockup.

    The thing about the EL2 is that it can be a battery hog. And it uses a somewhat costly 4LR44 6-volt battery.

    Otherwise, it's an outstanding camera, if you don't mind the weight.
     
  9. BobD

    BobD Member

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    If the motor feature is important, that's another reason to go for the FE/FM.
    The MD-12 motors are cheap, plentiful, and reliable in my experience. They
    also add quote a bit of heft.

    And, you can also use non-AI lenses on the FE/FM in stop down mode.
     
  10. elekm

    elekm Member

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    I agree about the bulk and weight of the MD-12. It uses eight AA batteries, which by themselves are significant in weight. The FE/FM with the drive attached is a serious piece of gear.

    When I was shooting college sports, especially basketball, I always wanted a motor drive but couldn't afford one.

    Now I have one and never use it. I guess I'm just not in that much of a hurry these days.
     
  11. John_Nikon_F

    John_Nikon_F Subscriber

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    The EL2 is probably the best of the EL series. Nikon finally started using a flex circuit, instead of having everything hardwired, like they did on the EL/ELw cameras. The meter uses SPD cells, instead of the older CdS cells of the EL/ELw. It's essentially an FE in a Nikkormat form factor. That said, I'd rather go with an FE, since they are much more common, so if something breaks, there's more of a chance of a parts body which can donate the parts necessary to fix it. It also can use the MD-11/12 motor drives, which are an improvement over the AW-1. To counteract the weight issue with the MD-11/12, I use the energizer lithium AA batteries. They've the side benefit of adding a little extra speed to the frame rate.

    With respect to the AW-1, if it made a quacking sound when fired, the nylon gear was stripped. That's also a common problem with later MD-2 and the MD-3 motor drives for the F2 series.

    -J
     
  12. elekm

    elekm Member

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    John, are you saying that the MD-12 will work with the EL2?
     
  13. John_Nikon_F

    John_Nikon_F Subscriber

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    Mike,

    Unfortunately, the only way an MD-11 or 12 will work with any Nikkormat/Nikomat body is as a handgrip. What I was saying, was unless the OP needed both autoexposure and a mirror lockup, along with the ability to have a motor drive in a body that's a "consumer-grade" Nikon, that it'd be better to just get a more common FE and use that instead. Same camera, just in a nicer looking body that takes the more common S76 batteries in an easier to access location, but that doesn't have the mirror lockup.

    -J
     
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  15. rthomas

    rthomas Subscriber

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    I don't think anyone mentioned that the Nikon EL-2 is one of the few Nikon bodies with a movable AI coupling lever (just like the FE, FM, F3, and F4). There is a little button on the side of the lens mount, above the lens release button, that lets you move the lever out of the way, and then mount a non-AI lens for stop down metering. Nice cameras. :smile:
     
  16. elekm

    elekm Member

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    Oh heck, John. I was hoping to try bolting the MD-12 to the EL2.

    I agree with your assessment, by the way. Indeed, the FE/FM is a much lighter weight package than the EL2.
     
  17. Neanderman

    Neanderman Member

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    I love mine. It's the only camera I've ever extensively used with a winder and neither have ever given me a problem. The meter is good and the EL2 uses AI lenses (it was the first, new AI model, in fact.)

    Can't say I've noticed the battery issue, though. I've had mine for 20+ years and if I've replaced the battery a half dozen times, I'd be surprised. The key is, don't leave it on. I turn mine off pretty much each time between shots unless I'm shooting more than a few frames a minute.
     
  18. frank

    frank Member

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    Wise move or not depends on the price. If it is inexpensive (>$50) then no problem, however, with the low cost of an F3 these days ($150), an F3 is probably a better choice.
     
  19. John_Nikon_F

    John_Nikon_F Subscriber

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    Mike, feel free to try it. If it'll fit, then, maybe you could have someone modify the EL2 to use the 4-pin terminal for the MD-11/12 and get the shutter to fire with the motor drive's firing button. If you can, then, it'll be a nice package... I wonder, though, if it'd be easier to adapt a MD-3 to the EL2...

    Anyway, I attached a pic of my chrome FTn with a MD-12 attached to it. Yes, the motor drive doesn't work on an FT series 'mat, but it sure makes a nice handgrip for use with longer lenses, like the 300f4.5 EDIF AIS Nikkor.

    -J
     

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  20. BobD

    BobD Member

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    Yes, but the EL and EL-W can use non-AI lenses in Auto mode which the
    EL-2 cannot. That was my point.
     
  21. John_Nikon_F

    John_Nikon_F Subscriber

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    It can. It's just a little more complicated. You have to hold down the DOF preview while taking the shot, just like with an FE, F3, or F4. The good news, is that, if the non-AI lenses are new enough to have an AI ring available, some camera repair shops may still have the correct rings on hand to do the conversion. Or, an AI'd lens can sometimes be had for cheap, if the lens itself is junk, but the ring is still good. With certain non-AI lenses, it is actually possible to turn them into full AI lenses (except for the focusing ring's grip). Did that on two K-series Nikkors. A 50f2 and a 200f4. Bought junker AI lenses, took the aperture rings and the lens mount assemblies, and swapped them onto the K-series lenses. When I was done, the only two telltale signs that the lenses weren't originally AI, were the serial number, and the focusing ring grip. Both lenses had the lens speed sensing post that all factory AI and newer Nikkors come with. Unlike the "AI" 85f1.8 Nikkor that Nikon sold prior to the 85f2 coming out. That lens was just a factory AI'd lens sold as a stopgap measure until they had the 85f2 available.

    -J
     
  22. mikebarger

    mikebarger Subscriber

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    Frank made an excellent point.. I have both, and while I love the EL2 with drive, if I had to decide between it or my F3HP w/MD4...I'd have to go with the F3. I had no idea the F3's had got so cheap on Ebay.

    Mike
     
  23. John_Nikon_F

    John_Nikon_F Subscriber

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    Yep, and KEH usually has F3HP's in BGN grade going for $99.00.

    -J
     
  24. elekm

    elekm Member

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    I need to pop the deck on my camera. The on-off switch doesn't seem to work, and that's probably contributing to the quick battery drain.
     
  25. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    I appreciate the commentary here.

    John: are you saying that lithium AA bateries are lighter than alkaline AAs? Weight is not an issue for me, but I just thought I would ask.

    With regard to the conditon of a camera body, I go with KEH and EX+ only (no higher, no lower). KEH's EX grade is usually better than that of the "mint" or "like new" of eBay. I like nice cameras. I also think that the cosmetic condition of a camera is usually a fairly good indicator of the type of treatment (and perhaps the amount of use) a camera has seen.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 9, 2010
  26. John_Nikon_F

    John_Nikon_F Subscriber

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    Yes, the lithium AA's are about half the weight of the alkalines.

    With respect to cosmetic condition, I've had a couple F3's where they were very nice cosmetically, but had mechanical/electrical issues. Both were bought locally (tend to prefer that, since I can then test stuff out before I make a purchase). One had an exposure compensation dial that wouldn't lock at "0", the other had a battery drain. Would kill off a CR 1/3N within two weeks, and, if a MD-4 was attached, would run the AA's down to the point where only one LED would light on the battery check in the same amount of time. Returned both cameras. The two ugliest F3's I've owned were both the most reliable. One was my first F3, which was the P version. Had major brassing going on, but worked like new. The other was an F3 eyelevel with the same amount of brassing, a dent on the prism, and a cracked frame counter window. Again, it functioned like new. I now have a cosmetically nicer F3P than my original, but, it needs work. If I could find out where my original body wound up, I'd buy it back in a heartbeat.

    The same experience has applied with most of the other Nikon bodies I've owned. The uglier the body, usually the better it works. There have been a couple exceptions for sure. My two ugliest FM2n's both had meter issues. One had a very twitchy meter display, the other had a nice and smooth meter, but was off by a stop or so. Bought a parts body for the first one, so it could be overhauled, then with the other one, had the shop recalibrate it.