Nikon F2 vs. Kodak Pony 135 Model C

“The dude must be crazy,” I hear you saying. “He’s comparing arguably the finest 35mm SLR ever made to a Kodak meant for someone ready to step up from a box camera.”

Yup. That’s what I’m doing. And we’re going to get down into the details. They might surprise you.

I shot the same scene with both cameras within minutes of each other. A 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor lens was attached to the F2. The Pony, of course, is permanently attached to a 44mm f/3.5 Anaston lens. I shot Fujicolor 200 in both cameras, and sent both rolls of film to the same processor (The Darkroom) at the same time. They went into production on the same day and were scanned on the same scanner at the same resolution.

The comparison isn’t perfect. I didn’t record the apertures and shutter speeds I used. If I had been thinking more clearly, I would have had both cameras in hand and shot from exactly the same spot. But instead, I shot this comparison photo with the F2 near the end of a roll, which I finished shortly after. But I wanted to keep shooting, so I walked back home, loaded the Pony, and walked back to that spot. So the two photos don’t line up perfectly. And because the two lenses’ focal lengths differ, I had to resize the F2 shot down a little in Photoshop so the images would compare.

At maximum resolution, I cropped both photos to about the same area, 640 pixels square. Click on either image to see it at that size. Can you guess which camera produced which image?


The shot from the F2 is first, and the shot from the Pony is second.

I like the F2 shot better. The colors are warmer and more pleasing, there appears to be less grain, and the details are a little crisper.

But the Pony seriously acquits itself in this comparison. Its lens is plenty sharp and the colors are plenty good. Heck, if I want more warmth, I can crank it up in Photoshop.

Kodak had a winner in the Pony line. No wonder they sold a bajillion of them.



6 responses to “Nikon F2 vs. Kodak Pony 135 Model C”

  1. Derek Avatar

    I always have problems comparing colors, because it’s sanned, and the scanner applies its own parameter.

    I like comparisons like this, besides all the technical mumbo jumbo, a lot of people seemed to missed out on one thing, the aesthetic.

    In fact, both photo looks pretty good.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Sure, but here it’s the same scanner in the same timeframe. It’s not a perfect comparison but it reduces the variables as much as I think you can.

  2. John Smith Avatar
    John Smith

    Given a decent lens on front and a reasonably competent photographer behind, I think we’d be amazed at how many of these seemingly pedestrian cameras can produce great images. It always surprises me when I research the original selling price of some of these consumer grade cameras from long ago and see that they really weren’t all that cheap.

    I think when you find a camera that is pleasing to use, where all of the controls fall into place for you personally, then it simply becomes an extension of your vision. It disappears when you use it. More than what brand name is on the front or how much it costs, that is what, for me anyway, defines a great camera. What is great for me may not be for you.

    It would be interesting to invest six months or a year and just shoot with that one great camera–be it the Pony or the F2 or an Argus C3 or whatever pleases you and see what develops.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks for getting the point here: in reasonably capable hands, the Pony is a competent camera.

      Don’t think I haven’t thought about a one-camera-one-year experiment. I just have so many old cameras queued up to shoot!

      I have some Tmax 100 in the F2 now and have been shooting portraits.

  3. urbanhafner Avatar

    I have to agree comparisons like this don’t tell you much as you never know what color corrections the scanner does. But it’s true, you’d be surprised how good cheap cameras can be. Case in point is my recent 4€ acquisition, the Minolta Riva Panorama. Not bad for such a cheap camera, right?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      True but I figure that since these two rolls were processed by the same processor at the same time and scanned on the same equipment that the number if variables would be seriously reduced.

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