35mm SLR Replacement for Nikon F2
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):
- 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
- 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?
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.
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.
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).
Maybe a Canon T90 -- but it looks like a dslr because IMHO much dslr design was derived from the ground-breaking T90.
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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.
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 lxdude; 08-31-2013 at 01:40 PM. Click to view previous post history.
I do use a digital device in my photographic pursuits when necessary.
When someone rags on me for using film, I use a middle digit, upraised.
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.
Originally Posted by erikg
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.
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".
I would go for Canon F-1 also.