Deep inside my Nikon F2A

33 comments on Deep inside my Nikon F2A
2 minutes
Sover Wong photo

When my wife asked me what I wanted for my birthday this year, I told her that I wanted to send my Nikon F2A to Sover Wong for an overhaul. Sover is the world’s premier Nikon F2 repairman. The overhaul was expensive, but when my camera returned it was factory clean and functioned like new.

Nikon F2

This F2A joined my collection in 2013 as an incredibly generous donation from a reader. He enjoyed my blog and my SLR adventures, and wondered whether I was F2 material. “Many are called, but few are chosen,” he said to me. I loved using this camera — turns out I was chosen.

The “A” in F2A means that my camera comes with the DP-11 metering “head.” That’s the black contraption atop the camera with “Nikon” spelled out in white letters. The prism and meter are inside. Nikon made a number of other F2 models with different letter suffixes; each used a different head.

My DP-11’s meter was never quite right, so when the same reader gave me a beautiful F2AS already overhauled by Sover Wong, I turned to it and left the F2A on a shelf. But I knew I’d eventually send it to Sover. I just didn’t know it would take me seven years to get around to it!

When Sover put my F2A on his workbench, he first tested it and emailed me his findings. The meter was off by about a stop. The shutter was reasonably accurate at 1/125 sec and below, but not at faster speeds. The top two speeds didn’t work at all. Sover set to work, emailing me photographs every step of the way. He disassembled and cleaned everything, installed new foam seals and bumpers, put in new CdS metering cells, calibrated the meter, calibrated the shutter, lubricated the works, and made sure things like the frame counter, the timer, and the depth-of-field preview button worked right. He even installed fresh batteries. He did all of this work in just a few hours.

When the F2A arrived, it was clean — if it weren’t for the bit of brassing it had picked up from its years of use, you would have thought it was new. It even smelled new, thanks probably to the scent of the lubricant he used. I put a roll of Ilford FP4+ into it straightaway and took it on a photo walk. Every control felt solid and snappy. My F2A was in okay shape before I sent it to him; the controls were solid before the overhaul. But after the overhaul, they were all noticeably more crisp and precise.

I developed that roll of FP4+ today (by which I mean the day I am writing this, Nov. 13), so I’ll have images to show soon!

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33 responses to “Deep inside my Nikon F2A”

  1. Marcus Peddle Avatar
    Marcus Peddle

    That’s quite interesting. Very nice of him to send photos as he goes through the repairs. I wonder if people will be sending their vintage digital cameras in to third party service people in twenty years’ time. I imagine the complicated electronics won’t allow repairs. No parts, etc. And maybe the companies will make them unrepairable, like Apple seems to be doing these days.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yeah, I think that most digitals will end up in landfills. My Pentax K10D would deserve repair when components fail but who will be there to repair it? And is it even repairable?

    2. Stan Strembicki (@strembicki) Avatar

      I’ve been making photographs since the 60’s and for me, the divide is that film cameras used to be like watches and the skill set to repair them were in the same league as a watchmaker, and could be rebuilt over time. Digital cameras are like computers with lenses and just age out. Not much of a movement these day people waxing poetic over their Nikon D100 (a camera I did own) or worse yet my Kodak 4800. Computers/digital cameras are the essence of a disposable economy. BTW, Sover has rebuilt 3 F2’s for me and two motor drives, he is a pleasure to do business with and worth every penny.

      1. Jim Grey Avatar

        I think you’re quite right, the digitals will just age out. But then, so will the repairmen for mechanical film cameras.

  2. J P Avatar

    How exciting! Most of us spend our lives buying new consumer products and then slowly wringing the life out of them until they finally fail or until we tire of them. Very few get to rewind that cycle and start over with a favorite item.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I have a few cameras here that I’ve had overhauled in this way. That’s the great thing about mechanical gear: it can be restored.

  3. Greg Clawson Avatar
    Greg Clawson

    Looks great Jim! I have a black Nikon F2A that cosmetically looks mint, but no power to the meter. I too have been wanting to send it to Sover, but haven’t because of the cost. Maybe this will get ball rolling and send it in. Is his waiting period still 4 months plus?


    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I don’t know what his waiting list is right now — long story short, when I got to the top of his queue, I had some bad luck and couldn’t afford to send my camera in. He held my spot for more than a year until I was finally able to send it in!

    2. Joe shoots resurrected cameras Avatar

      Probably expect 12-15 months

  4. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    Nothing prettier than a clean, reworked vintage camera! Seems to me I remember CameraQuest servicing Nikon meters and restoring them to working function:

    I lament not being able to buy the repair services I even bought ten years ago! I got on Flutots repair list for my Synchro-Compur shutter, waited for 6 weeks, then she still couldn’t get to it, so we decided to put it off until after Christmas because of the holiday mails. In the 90’s, this would have been a 3-4 day turn-around in Chicago!

    Testing a new repair guy for me, I read a few “pluses” about him on a web search, with an old Canon FT, that ended up more damaged than I thought. Probably put more money into it than I should of, based on it’s sale value, but I love the Canon FTb, FT series (and the breech lock lenses), so I’ll let you know the results.

    Haven’t found a place that could “do it all” since Essex Camera went out of business after the hurricane! So many recommended places on the internet from even a few years ago: closed or retired.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks for the CameraQuest liink! I’ll bear it in mind when I have my F2AS’s meter head looked at.

      I worry that all of the camera repair guys are at least middle aged and that there’s nobody behind them learning how to do this.

  5. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    The Nikon F2 is just a marvelous camera to own and use. We are so fortunate that there are technicians out there like Sover that are committed to keeping these great old machines running. I have sent six different F2 bodies and meter combinations to him. Always a fabulous experience and amazing work!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Here’s hoping Sover can keep doing this for many years to come, so our F2s can stay fresh and functional!

  6. David A Lockwood Avatar

    I had my F2sb worked on by Sover a few years back, his work is exceptional.
    Camera returned with lots of photographs and comments about what he cleaned, repaired and adjusted. I only wish he worked on other Nikon cameras, my F and F4 are in need of a little TLC.
    As you say,
    “Here’s hoping Sover can keep doing this for many years to come”

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I have an F3 I’d like to have CLA’d — I agree, I wish there were a Sover for that camera as well.

  7. Marc Beebe Avatar

    First I have to make everyone cringe by mentioning that I gave away more than two dozen Nikon and Nikkormat cameras a couple of years ago.
    Second I have to say I wish I had inherited my Dad’s fine motor-control skills: he could repair cameras and watches, making the most intricate drawings as he disassembled them.
    Third, you’re spot-on that digital cameras will not be so enduring. The excess of plastic and electronics is a formula for fast failure of a kind that won’t be repairable by any practical means. Most of them can be classified as “disposable”, which is why you should always be cautious of used digital cameras.
    And aside from their function as photographic equipment, these Nikons are a work of art in themselves. The same can be said for many other classic 35mm SLRs.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      That’s why I was willing to invest in this CLA and repair — this camera is fine equipment and it deserves this boost that will let it shoot well for another 40 years or so.

  8. Joe shoots resurrected cameras Avatar

    I got on his waiting list a few months back, but I think the waiting list is so long now that I won’t be up til next Fall. Still I’m glad that I bit the bullet and committed to getting this done, but I plan on sending Sover multiple cameras by that time, so it will be very expensive, but worth it! If your DP-12 is having problems it might need to go to Sover as the ring resistors wear out; this is a proprietary service and it’s too bad you didn’t send in that meter with your other camera!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      My F2AS was Soverized about 8 years ago so I’ll be surprised if the ring resistor is going bad. But something’s definitely wrong. I didn’t realize the DP-12 was faulty until I’d already sent my F2A in!

      1. Joe shoots resurrected cameras Avatar

        Yeah it does cost extra to do the prisms but from what I understand it’s based on use, so every time you turn it on…

      2. Joe shoots resurrected cameras Avatar

        Of course I didn’t think of it sooner but since your F2AS has been serviced previously you don’t need to get on a waiting list for it…

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          Oh, is that so? I didn’t know. I do want to get it serviced, my F2AS is too nice not to use.

          1. Joe shoots resurrected cameras Avatar

            Well check with him to be sure…

  9. Steve Mitchell Avatar

    I am very lucky we have a couple of great technicians here in New Zealand for our film cameras. I imagine if this film movement continues there will be some younger folks come into the business as nature abhors a vacuum. Perhaps society will someday realise that newer is no necessarily better, and that real artistry takes place in the artist’s head, not in the electronic wizardry they can afford to deploy.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I think people have been taken with gear for as long as there’s been gear — yet a small cadre of people get on with making art with their tools.

  10. Kodachromeguy Avatar

    Jim good for you! These magnificent cameras deserve to be rebuilt by skilled technicians as long as they are still in business. You are lucky that the repair fellow still had CDS cells for the meter. You will be able to use your F2s until the end of your days or end of 135 film in cassettes.

    I think we will never see craftsmanship like this again, but I may be wrong. After all, Leica still makes their superb M-A (yes, it’s a bit expensive, but so what?). And Nikon did re-manufacture their SP and S3 rangefinder cameras, so amazing things might happen if there is demand. Look at mechanical watches: man jewelry for which almost no price is too high.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I wonder. I sometimes think we’re in a time of plastic digital products, but the pendulum could swing the other way again. I don’t know!

  11. arhphotographic Avatar

    Many thanks for the heads about Sover. Should be getting a F2S in the post this week, already with new seals and a working meter 🥳😁

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Excellent! I hope you enjoy it.

  12. Peter Bölke Avatar
    Peter Bölke

    Hi, Jim,

    Sover just finished my F2AS. I’d choosen some extras like the night light to read the aperture in the viewfinder even when light is low or night. Also spotmeter conversion for the DP-12. The price tag was not the lowest, but he worked two days on everything. I can’t wait to have it back.

    Have a nice christmas time

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Sover’s expensive, but he does outstanding work. My F2AS needs to go back to him for a touchup and for a repair to the meter!

  13. Tim N. Avatar
    Tim N.

    Jim, may I kindly ask about the photos? Are they developped?
    Best regards, Tim

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