Nikon F2



Nikon F2 Photomic


The F2 Photomic was “the” professional 35mm SLR in the 1970s and was the gateway to the complete Nikon system of lenses and accessories which, at the time, was the largest available. It was the last of the professional mechanical manual cameras and only relied on a battery for the metering. With the advent of electronics being used in camera design; the F2 was eventually superseded by the F3 in 1980. However, many photographers remained true to their F2s preferring to keep to the proven mechanical technology.


The finest mechanical 35mm SLR ever made.



Motor Drives

The F2 Photomic above is shown fitted with the MD-3 motor drive and The MB-2 battery pack.  The motor drive units added to the success of the F2 range with several model and battery pack options available.  The MD-3 motor drive with the MB-2 battery pack, which took 8 AA batteries, would allow a shooting rate of 2.5 frames per second (fps).  This could be increased to 3.5 fps with the MB-1 battery pack which held 10 AA batteries.  If a higher rate was required, with the facility for power rewind, the MD-1 or slightly updated MD-2 motor drives would give 4 fps when fitted with the MB-1 battery pack.



Camera Evolution

Although the body of the F2 never changed, the camera evolved by updates to the prism head which lead to six variants being released:


F2          1971-1980

The standard F2 came with the plain DE-1 head with no built in exposure metering.


F2 Photomic          1971-1977          (Non AI)

The F2 Photomic which came with the DP-1 head offered Cds center-the-needle TTL metering and also displayed the shutter and aperture settings in the viewfinder.


F2S          1973-1977          (Non AI)

The F2S with the DP-2 head offered Cds TTL metering with increased low light sensitivity and a dual LED display to indicate over/underexposure.


F2SB          1976-1977          (Non AI)

The F2SB with the DP-3 head had Silicon cell TTL metering which provided faster and more accurate metering via a five stage LED display.


F2A          1977/1980          (AI)

The F2A with the DP-11 head was the same as the F2 Photomic but with Automatic Indexing (AI).


F2AS          1977-1980          (AI)

The F2AS with the DP-12 head was the most advanced F2 produced. It was essentially the same as the F2SB but with Automatic Indexing (AI).



Non Automatic Indexing (Non AI) & Automatic Indexing (AI)

The Non Automatic Indexing (Non AI) heads required the use of a meter coupling shoe, which was fitted to the aperture ring on the lens, to couple it to the head. Once the lens had been fitted to the camera it was required to be “indexed” by turning the aperture ring to the largest then smallest aperture for it to meter correctly.


Detail of the Meter Coupling Shoe


The Automatic Indexing (AI) heads, introduced in 1977, removed the necessary for this as the head coupled direct with the new AI lenses via a “ridge” on the lens mount.



AIS Lenses

In 1981 The AI lenses were upgraded to improve the function of the automatic exposure metering that the new line up of Nikon bodies would be offering.  This involved making the spacing between the aperture stops more linear.  However, they still retain the coupling shoe to keep them compatible with earlier Non AI bodies.  These lenses, in most cases, were smaller and lighter but the construction was slightly inferior.  Nevertheless, the optical performance remained the same or, in some cases, was slightly improved.

These AIS lenses can easily be identified because the largest aperture number is marked in orange on the aperture scale.




Learn how to use your camera at my School of Photography



Please use the back button on your browser to return



© 2007-2024 Michael Anderson LRPS

All Rights Reserved


Hints & TipsContactLinksSite Map

Photography & Design School of Photography

footer image footer image