Camera Reviews

Nikon F2AS

As a longtime camera collector, I seldom shoot the same camera more than one roll of film in a row. I was hankering to get to know a single camera well, figuring it would improve my photography. When this Nikon F2AS, arguably the best all-mechanical 35mm SLR of all time, fell into my hands, I knew I had that camera.

Nikon F2AS

Introduced in 1977, the F2AS was the final elaboration on the original 1971 F2. It came with the DP-12 viewfinder head, which features center-weighted through-the-lens metering. Nikon called their metered heads “Photomic,” and while earlier Photomic heads used match-needle systems, the DP-12 uses LEDs to show exposure. + appears when the shot is more than one stop overexposed, +o when it is up to one stop overexposed, o when it is properly exposed, o− when it is up to one stop underexposed, and − when it is more than one stop underexposed. Two SR44 batteries power the meter. Everything else about the F2AS is mechanical; you can use this camera fine without any batteries as long as you guess exposure yourself.

Nikon F2AS

The F2AS is as bulletproof as any other F2, and works just the same. But this one received extended service from known F2 technician Sover Wong. It included some new parts, all new foam seals, and a complete cleaning, lubrication, and adjustment. It should last the rest of my life!

This camera, as well as a number of AI and AI-s Nikkor lenses, have been gifts to my collection from a particularly generous benefactor. I’m truly blessed.

By the way, if you’re into Nikon SLRs also see my review of the F2A (here), the F3 (here), the FA (here), the N2000 (here), the N60 (here), and the N90s (here). Or check out all of my camera reviews here.

I have shot this camera extensively, with many lenses and films. Here’s a selection of the photographs I like best that I’ve made with my F2AS. This is a grand door at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Indianapolis, on Ilford Delta 400 and a 35-70mm f/3.3-4.5 AI-s Nikkor lens. The Nikon elite soundly pan this lens but, except for some barrel distortion at the wide end, I love it.

St. Paul's Episcopal Church

The Nikon F2AS is large and heavy, but I am built sturdily and it seldom fatigues me even after a long day slung off my shoulder. I made this photo in the Bethel United Methodist Church cemetery in northwest Indianapolis on expired Kodak Gold 200 with the 55mm f/2.8 Micro Nikkor lens. This is someone’s grave marker.


To activate any F2’s meter, you pull the wind lever out. This brings up my only beef with any F2: that lever sometimes pokes into my forehead. Here I put that 35-70mm zoom on again and loaded some expired Kodak Tri-X 400 for a walk through Indianapolis’s South Broad Ripple neighborhood. This is Locally Grown Gardens, which sells seasonal produce.

Locally Grown Gardens

Especially given my F2AS’s expert CLA, every control on this camera works with satisfying heft and precision. I photographed this spotlight on a 1950 Hudson Commodore with a 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor lens on expired but always cold-stored Kodak Plus-X.

1950 Hudson Commodore

This Ford Falcon’s rear quarter is captured with that 50/2 lens on Kodak T-Max 400.

Falcon Corner

Collectors prefer the 50mm f/1.4 AI Nikkor to the 50/2 I own. Bah, I say; the 50/2 does wonderful work at a far lower cost on the used market. This is the Lilly mansion on the grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art on Kodak Ektar 100.

Evening light at Oldfields *EXPLORED*

Somewhere along the way I picked up a 135mm f/3.5 AI Nikkor lens. With Fujicolor 200 on board, I aimed it at this statuette on the grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The lens delivered fine sharpness and bokeh with a slight swirl to it.

Studying the map

The sheer volume of Nikon gear I own gives me great versatility in so many situations. One long winter I experimented with long indoors exposures in available light, as with these old vacuum tube boxes on my coffee table. 55mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor on Fujifilm Neopan 400.


I’d never shot Fujifilm Velvia 50 before, so I put a roll through the F2AS. Here I used my 135/2.8 lens again.

Red tree parking lot *EXPLORED*

The 55/2.8 Micro Nikkor is a fine lens for walking-around photography. I made this photo in the military section of Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis on Kodak Ektar 100.

Military cemetery

This is one of my favorite places for photography. I brought my son along one day and he made this portrait of me with the 50/2 lens on Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros.

Me at Crown Hill

For more photos, see my Nikon F2AS gallery.

This Nikon F2AS performed wonderfully with any film I threw at it and any of my lenses attached. I thought I’d really miss aperture-priority shooting, my favorite way to fly. But with every roll of film I put through the F2AS, the easier it became to quickly set both aperture and shutter speed. And otherwise, the F2AS always quickly disappears in my hands and becomes an extension of my eye. It doesn’t get any better than that.

If you like old film cameras, check out all of my reviews here!
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Collecting Cameras, Film Photography

Film cameras photographed with a film camera

Thank goodness winter is over. The long, severe winter we suffered severely curtailed my photography and made me plenty sour. At one point I got desperate and searched the house for subjects. Cameras are in abundant supply, so I put several on my coffee table and photographed them.

Ilford Delta 400 film was in, and a 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor lens was on, my new old Nikon F2AS. Because it was a gray day, diffuse light entered the nearby picture window. I opened the lens wide, creating a very narrow range of sharp focus. I found the results to be interesting and pleasing. In particular, I enjoy how you can see the tabletop woodgrain only in front of the camera. I also enjoy extrapolating the sharp-focus plane from the in-focus camera details. That’s easier to do when you view these photos at larger sizes; you can do that by clicking any of them to view them on Flickr.

I keep meaning to shoot my Olympus Trip 35 again. Maybe it can accompany me on a road trip this year. It should be a great camera for capturing landscapes.

Olympus Trip 35

I’ve bought a few other Kodak Retina cameras, but after buying this highly satisfying Retina IIa I don’t need to buy any more. Unlike the Retina Ia, its viewfinder is usably large and it features a rangefinder.

Kodak Retina IIa

I managed to get only parts of the upper-left corner of my Argus C3 in sharp focus. When I started collecting again several years ago, the C3 was on my short list. I own three now, but their odd usability makes me unlikely to shoot them again.

Argus C3

I own two Yashica TL-Electro bodies, and both of them suffer from sticky shutters. The other body’s shutter always sticks, but this one’s suffers only at slow speeds, and only sometimes. So this is the body I’ll eventually shoot with.

Yashica TL Electro

I enjoyed shooting this Ansco B2 Speedex a couple years ago and intend to use it again. Too many medium-format folders from the last century use that infernal discontinued 620 film. The Speedex takes takes widely available 120 film, which is why I bought it.

Ansco B2 Speedex

I want to shoot the Agfa Clack again, too. I had such fun with it the last time I used it. It, too, takes 120 film.

Agfa Clack

My Konica C35 is a sweet little 35mm rangefinder. I’d like to shoot with it again, too.

Konica C35 Automatic

I have so many cameras I’d like to use again that I could keep myself busy for a few years doing it. But this year, I’m committed to the F2AS. Expect to see more and more photographs from it.

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