Which metered F2 prism for best long-term reliability?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Xia_Ke, Jun 24, 2014.

  1. Xia_Ke

    Xia_Ke Member

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    I've been really enjoying shooting my F's w/ eye-level prisms, but every once in a while find myself wishing for a built in meter and the option of a 1/2000s shutter speed. So, I'm looking at adding a metered F2 to my bag for when out on the trail. These cameras are getting up there in age and am curious as to long-term reliability of the meters. All other factors aside (cost, size, meter readout design, etc), which finder do you think will be the most reliable for the long-term?
     
  2. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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    The FM will accept non AI lenses...
     
  3. shutterboy

    shutterboy Subscriber

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    I have never shot with a F2. My prism experience with with Hasselblad metered prisms. I would say, please don't waste money and invest in a kick arse light meter if you have not already done so (which I believe you have :smile:). Take a reflective meter to a backlit scene and see how majorly it can screw up.
     
  4. GarageBoy

    GarageBoy Member

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    F2AS or F2SB
    On the trail, you might actually prefer an FM2 or FM- much lighter and more compact and does everything an F2 will (except interchange finders)
     
  5. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    I know you really want a metered finder but for long-term reliability; the Nikon F2 with DE-1 finder and a brand new hand held light meter is very hard to beat.

    https://flic.kr/p/aBohWo
     

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  6. Vilk

    Vilk Member

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    i have them all and they all work so i guess anecdotal evidence won't help much... this is really a sover question; perhaps even a soverization question (in case you didn't know, soverization is a long and arduous mystery rite, which involves dipping an F2 head in various concoctions while whispering incantations in babylonian, all to bestow immortality on the said head). mr. wong, where art thou, when the faithful need you? speak out! :laugh:

    i hike a lot and the plain prism goes a long way to make the F2 a better hiking prop: it fears water less, it doesn't mind bumps and dust so much, it's a bit lighter (with the F2 this really means "a bit less heavy"), it has a more reasonable form factor..

    DP-3 and DP-12 are great, reliable heads, but i find them quite annoying when on the move: the eyepiece shutter has a nasty way of closing halfway when you slip it into the pocket, the protruding EE parapet catches on zippers, the LEDs are near invisible in bright light... i find i end up using these two for a specific purpose--low-light shooting in the city--or at least indoors. the DP-11 is a much more usable all-rounder, albeit the needle can get somewhat jumpy from both under- and overuse over the decades

    considering that you can get five pristine FMs for the price of one DP-12 head, i have to agree this would be my preferred route. i also have an FM2N here, which i keep precisely for this purpose. it does feel flimsy after handling an F2, but it isn't too much so, mine took a tumble on mean hard rocks more than once, coughed, cleared, spat, and rejoined the battle, fourteen years and counting

    endnotes
    http://soverf2repair.webs.com/
     
  7. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    The needle type is probably best for long-term because LED's are bound to burn out at some point. That said, I just bought me an F2S because you can see your reading in lighting conditions where you can't always see the needle. And I love it. It's a heavy monster, but it's a Nkon F2, the finest 35 ever made.
     
  8. Xia_Ke

    Xia_Ke Member

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    Thanks everyone for the input :smile:

    A little background... I have owned or used virtually every manual focus Nikon, except for metered F's and F2's. For Nikons I currently have 3 F's with plain prisms that I use with a Gossen Digisix and an FE-2. All of my lenses are non-ai with the exception of a 50mm f/1.4 ai I use with my FE-2. Lately when I hiking I will carry an F body with 28mm and 50mm lenses, along with A and E focusing screens.

    This set-up works perfectly fine for me, but what can I say, I have a GAS itch for a metered F2. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but as I am using non-ai lenses I wouldn't want a DP11 or DP12? I have read that the silicon cell finders seem to be more reliable than the CDS finders. Of course that comes with almost double the price it seems. I'm in no major hurry to pick one up, just exploring my options for this "itch" and am willing sit tight for the right deal to pop-up.
     
  9. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    Personally I am becoming less impressed with the silicon cells than the hype 40 years ago was selling them. Yes, a lot of CdS cells go bad, but silicons go bad too. I bought the F2S because I couldn't afford the b. All my lenses are non-AI, so my choices were DP1 or 2. I just paid $150 for my F2S body on Ebay, by waiting for a good price. I lucked out. The body was gorgeous and the meter is dead on the money. Remember, you can get hit by a train tomorrow, so looking long-term might have been pointless.
     
  10. Vilk

    Vilk Member

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    you can flip up the AI tab on DP-11 and DP-12 and either meter stopped-down or use them like the plain one, no problem there. DP-3 will put you in the functional sweet spot you seem to fancy: full-aperture LED and SBC for non-AI. finding one may be a challenge tho'

    ps. the tab flips up on the FM as well, not on FM2 :wink:
     
  11. BradleyK

    BradleyK Subscriber

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    Long-term reliability? Well, let's see. Two of my F2ASs, purchased new in May 1979 and August 1979, respectively, are still going strong, and are both trusted enough to (currently) shoot E100 and E100VS. Three other F2AS bodies, each purchased used, vintages 1977, 1979 (recently Soverized) and 1980, also see frequent use. F2A, number one (purchased new in the spring of 1980) continues to function without issue as does a used 1978 body purchased from KEH a few years back; only a second 1980 F2A e**y* purchase has ever had "issues" (i.e. Wonky Meter Syndrome"). The "plain Jane" F2s (DE-1s), for their part, have performed, and continue to perform, like old Volvos.

    My advice? Decide whether you would prefer LED or needle, conduct your hunt and then send your purchase to Sover Wong for a "Soverization." For the cost of a few hundred Federal Reserve Notes, Mr Wong will return to you an F2 that will feel and perform as new. To date, he has done CLAs on a couple of my F2 bodies and I am absolutely impressed with the man's skills, knowledge and workmanship. Needless to say, several more bodies, and their respective motor drives, will be forwarded in the near future...
     
  12. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    They don't really burn out. They would eventually dim, but LED life is extremely long in hours, and they're only used for a short time when metering. Even the tiny incandescent bulbs in every Yashica TL Electro I've seen are still working. 40 years ago I bought a new Fujica ST801, the first camera with LED's, and though it has been very thoroughly used, the LED's are bright as ever (and the meter's still spot-on).
    It's not uncommon for needle mechanisms to fail, either. And they are comparatively fragile.
     
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  13. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    If you want to use pre AI lenses then either the DP-2 or DP-3 if you can find one otherwise the DP-12. I think the LED would last longer than the galvanometer besides the LED version of the finder used silicon cell instead of Cds. The FM would work great but it doesn't have 1/2000 shutter speed. The FM2, FM2n have 1/4000 shutter speed but can't mount pre AI lenses.
     
  14. Xia_Ke

    Xia_Ke Member

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    Thanks again everyone. I do have a slight preference for LED displays. So I guess now the question is do I go with an S, which is plentiful and cheap, or wait around for a deal on an SB? Will ponder the great info you all have provided and see what comes up for sale :smile:
     
  15. Vilk

    Vilk Member

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    wait for the SB
     
  16. elekm

    elekm Member

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    You need to find a camera or meter head that is in good condition. I would keep an eye on the classifieds here. You'll get more honest assessments here than in the listings of some random camera on eBay or Craigslist.

    I've had an F2A since 1979 and have never had a problem with it. I probably am lucky, but I also don't beat the hell out of my cameras. I shot a lot of film through them in the 1980s and early 1990s. It's a well-used camera but not abused. I know some people take pride in beating the daylights out of their cameras, but I'm not one of them. To each, his own.
     
  17. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    I waited for the Sb. And waited, and waited. Got tired of waiting. They're pricey. Then I finally lucked out and got this S for 150 and it looks like it came right out of the box. About time I had some good luck on Ebay. I was really tired of sending back cameras. I've had it 6 days and I'm like Linus with his blanket.:joyful:
     
  18. John_Nikon_F

    John_Nikon_F Subscriber

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    Late model DP-11 is usually the best. That said, an upgraded DP-12 with the lifetime warranty ring resistor made by Sover Wong is a close second, and is kinda preferred, due to the accuracy provided by the silicon blue photo diodes.

    For full-aperture metering with pre-AI lenses, DP-3. But, expect to pay through the nose for one. Might be easier to find AI conversion rings and modify the pre-AI lenses.

    Oh, and...

    [​IMG]

    My two F2 bodies...

    -J
     
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  19. dynachrome

    dynachrome Member

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    I have one DP-3 and, I think, two DP-2s. If they are in good condition, any of the meter prisms can work well. Exactly when they might stop working is something no one can tell. Eventually I will send something to Sover too. I recently added some light meters to my collection, all Gossens. They are: Lunisix 3, Luna Pro, Luna Pro SBC and Super Pilot SBC. All are working properly and were reasonably priced. Two weeks ago I shot with an old Konica FP and metered with a Gossen Sixtar. A separate meter will be a good back-up for any mechanical camera. If you really want to be careful you can also take along one of the Gossen Scout meters, which doesn't require a battery. The Nikon F2 cameras have not grown on me. I still prefer my Canon F-1s. They are less unweildy, have the meter built into the body (except for the Booster Finder), have a nicer layout, have limited area metering and take the useful Speed Finder. Still, I have some fun with my Nikons.
     
  20. Xia_Ke

    Xia_Ke Member

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    Just wanted to do a quick update and say thanks again to everyone for their input. I ended up going with a regular DP-1 finder. I found a beauty in almost perfect condition from the original owner. After reading it seemed like if I should have any issues then Sover should be able to overhaul it with new cells no problem and it should out last me at that point. Time to load up some Tri-X and have some fun :smile:
     

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  21. snegron

    snegron Member

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    fwiw, my metered Ftn Photomic (Nikon F circa 1974) is still metering well (with Weincell batteries). I prefer the sharper edges/ergonomics of the F over the F2, but that's just a personal preference.

    As for the most reliable F2 metered prism, I can't say for sure. I only have an F2A I purchased several years ago; still going strong (knock on wood). A good option would be to find a cosmetically nice metered prism and send it to Sover Wong so he can refurbish it to better than original specs.
     
  22. Lamar

    Lamar Member

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    F2 Finders: I have purchased 4 F2's; one with a DP-1, one with a DP-2, one with a DP-11, and one with a DP-3. In addition I purchased one DP-1 finder by itself. The conditions were EX or EX+ with all being listed as functional but in each case I found problems with the meter. In some cases I returned the the item but finally decided if I wanted a reliable F2 metered prism I would just have to get one rebuilt. I got KEH to reduce the price on one that did not work and sent the DP-3 finder to Sover Wong. The DP-3 rebuild cost three times what I paid for the whole camera but it works great now. I think if you are purchasing an F2 with a metered prism you should expect it to be in need of a rebuild.
     
  23. Xia_Ke

    Xia_Ke Member

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    Thank Lamar,

    The Dp-1 on the copy I got seems to be working flawlessly. No jumping at all and the readings are right in line with my Digisix through a variety of lighting conditions. However, I have had one problem come up. The film counter isn't working. When you advance a frame, it starts to advance and then kicks back to S. All other functions seem to work fine. At this point I always figure in the cost of likely needing service when buying a camera, so I've already sent an email to Sover to try and get a rough price estimate.