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Nikon F2S Photomic
Professional 35mm SLR (1973-1976)
© 2012 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

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Nikon F2S

Nikon F2S Photomic (Mechanical 35mm SLR, meter couples to Nikon F, AI and AI-s lenses and uses two common A76 button cells, 31.5 oz./894g with batteries and film, about $175 used) and 1975 Nikon 50mm f/1.4. enlarge. I'd get it at this link directly to them at eBay (see How to Win at eBay).

My biggest source of support for this free website is when you use those or any of these links when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live — but I receive nothing for my efforts if you buy elsewhere. I'm not NPR; I get no government hand-outs and run no pledge drives to support my research, so please always use any of these links for the best prices and service whenever you get anything. Thanks for helping me help you! Ken.

June 2013   More Nikon Reviews   Nikon Lenses   All Reviews

Guide to all Nikon F2 models.

Why we love film.

Hot deals on film.

I have all my film processed and scanned at NCPS. They do direct mail order from any place on Earth.

Shooting the F2S digitally.


Nikon F2S

Nikon F2S and 1975 Nikon 50mm f/1.4. enlarge.


Nikon F2S

Back, Nikon F2S. enlarge.


Sample Image File

Julian, California

Encinitas, 9:53 AM, 04 March 2012. (Nikon F2S, 20mm f/3.5 NIKKOR-UD, Nikon A2 filter, Fuji Velvia 50, f/10 at 1/60, NCPS process and scan.) Full Resolution.


Introduction         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

Adorama pays top dollar for your used gear.

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

The Nikon F2S was the world's top professional 35mm camera from 1973 to 1976. It was replaced shortly by the newer F2SB in 1976, and then by the newer automatic-indexing version of the same thing, the Nikon F2AS, in 1977.

The Nikon F2S uses the interchangeable DP-2 meter prism and interchangeable focus screens, all swappable among the Nikon F2 System.

The DP-2 meter prism is the black thing on top. It contains the prism, eyepiece and meter.

The DP-2 meter uses CdS cells, and has two space-age "Light-Emitting Diodes" (LEDs) as its meter readout. The older Nikon F2 Photomic's DP-1 head used a mechanical needle instead.

Metering is manual only, with a strongly center-weighted pattern, perfect for every kind of photography.

"Photomic," a brand name derived from "Atomic," means that it has a built-in-meter. The batteries are in the bottom of the body.

Even with CdS cells, the F2S' meter is super-sensitive and super accurate. it reads to LV -2, or 8 seconds at full aperture at ASA 100.

A feature of the the F2S as well as most other Photomic Nikons is that the through-the-lens meter can also be read and exposure set from the top of the camera! There are also two meter LEDs visible on the top of the meter prism, so you can set exposure with the camera above, below, or to the side of you.


Lens Compatibility

Nikon F2S

Front, Nikon F2S and 1975 Nikon 50mm f/1.4. enlarge.

The Nikon F2S requires manual aperture indexing, and requires lenses with a meter coupling prong. Therefore it works perfectly with all Nikon F, AI and AI-s lenses.

With Series E and AF lenses, there is no coupling prong, so you'll need to use stop-down metering. No worries; just press the depth-of-field preview button as you meter — or you could ask an authorized repair shop to install a meter-coupling prong!


Specifications         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More



35mm film.

24 x 36 mm image area.


Lens Compatibility

Nikon F, AI and AI-s lenses.


Focus Screen

Standard A screen has central split-image rangefinder with a matte screen.

The matte area shows the real depth-of-field, even for f/1.2 lenses.

Over a dozen other screens are available. I prefer the K screen.



Type-A screen, standard.


Light Meter


Heavily-weighted to central 12mm diameter circle.

Two light-emitting diodes ("LEDs") in finder.

Meter range with f/1.4 lens: LV -2 to +17.

Meter reads to 10 full seconds.



ASA 12 ~ 6,400.

Settable in sixth-stops.

Also settable to -1-1/2 to +1/2 stops beyond this range to compensate a focus screen if necessary.


Flash Sync Speed (maximum shutter speed with flash)

1/90 for electronic flash.

Any speed up to 1/2,000 for flashbulbs.



Nikon F2S

Nikon F2S Mirror Lock-Up Lever, Depth-of-Field Preview Button and Self-Timer Lever.

Horizontal Titanium-foil focal-plane.

1/2,000 to 10 full seconds.

Set in full stops, except that 1/2,000 to 1/90 and 2 seconds to 10 seconds are infinitely variable.

Infinitely variable self-timer, 2 to 10 seconds.



Two A76, S76, LR44 or similar cells.

They power only the meter. Everything else works great with no power.

Rated about a year of use.



Made in Japan.



152.5 x 65 x 110mm.

6.00 x 2.56 x 4.33 inches.



30.743 oz. (871.55g) measured with batteries.

31.523 oz. (893.65g) measured with batteries and 36-exposure film.

Nikon specifies 31.0 oz. (880g).


Optional Accessories

Prisms, motor drives, backs, focus screens, intervalometers — the whole works!


Price, USA

New: $3,925 list price with f/1.4 lens, corrected for inflation in 2013 ($961 in 1976 dollars.)

About $175 used in 2013.

See more at Guide to all Nikon F2 models.


Performance         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More


See more at Guide to all Nikon F2 models.



The Nikon F2S is a masterpiece. It's more durable and more practical than anything from LEICA.

It has a huge metering range, and just goes. There are very good reasons it was the world's top professional 35mm camera for years.


Lens Mounting

Unlike newer Nikons, one must always "index" a lens to the meter by flicking its aperture dial back and fourth from minimum to maximum aperture when mounted to the camera.

If you use a lens without a prong, the system defaults to read "f/5.6" and you must press the preview button when metering to stop-down the lens.


Loading and Winding

Flip-up and turn the key on the bottom to pop open the back.

Loading is the usual.

Film winding is fast, smooth and precise, with a ratchet for multiple strokes if you're in tight conditions — or trying to photograph without being noticed.

Rewind is the usual; push the button on the bottom and turn the crank.


Frame Counter

Nikon F2S

Shooting controls, Nikon F2S.

The frame counter reads frames 0 - 40 as big even numbers, with dots for the odd numbers.

Frames 12, 20 and 36 are in red-orange.



I use a K screen, which has a central split rangefinder with microprism collar and a matte field. The standard A screen has only the central split rangefinder.

The matte field is traditional, and will show the shallow depth of field of an f/1.2 lens correctly. This means that you'll see the difference as an f/1.2 lens is previewed at f/1.4, for instance, something that modern "bright screen" SLRs optimized for zoom lenses cannot do.

Nikon F2S finder view

Nikon F2S actual view through finder, K screen. bigger.

The f/stop and shutter speed are transilluminated from frosted windows atop the prism. They always look great, so long as you have light shining on top of your camera.

If you're shooting theatre from a dark audience, they'll be dark — but wait — they are also lit by the meter LEDs!

There's also a flash ready light, but as far as I know, it only works with now-ancient Nikon flashes with a separate ready-light wire that connects to the side of the finder.



The meter indicates via the two red +> and <- LEDs seen above. When both are lit, you're good. There is no "0" LED or any zone or bar graph indicators.

Since the shutter only goes in full stops at the slower speeds (like every other mechanical camera), it's difficult to shoot a lens exactly wide-open in the dark.

In daylight, the continuously-adjustable shutter speeds allow perfect exposure with telescopes or mirror lenses not possible with other cameras.

The meter LEDs are also visible on the top of the prism, so you can meter without having to hold the camera to your eye. The LEDs are too dim to see in direct sunlight; shield them with your hands.



The trigger pull is perfect: one smooth pull.

There is very little recoil; this a very smooth (and heavy) camera.

Green speeds infinitely variable from 1/90 to 1/2,000, and from 2 seconds to 10 seconds.



Ergonomics are great; everything is right where it's needed. The F2S was developed with years of experience listening to the real needs of professional photographers.

Not only is everything visble through the finder; one also can read the shutter speed from behind the camera and the meter from the top of the camera.



This is a big, solid all-metal camera. Even the take-up spool and sprockets are solid metal. The F2S makes a LEICA seem effeminate.

The only plastic is the tip of the wind lever.

The back has a dual-pin lock; it won't pop open unless you really sledgehammer the F2S.


Battery and Power

Two S76 or A76 button cells are rated for a full year of daily professional use.

In normal use today, the meter batteries will last for years.

The biggest problem is putting away your F2S and having the batteries get old and leak when you weren't expecting it.


Compared         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

The F2S is all about professional durability, and about using all the crazy system accessories like fast motor drives and interchangeable finders and screens.

For normal use, a Nikon FM does the same thing less expensively and with less weight.


Usage         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

See more at Guide to all Nikon F2 models.


Recommendations         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

The Nikon F2S is a superb 35mm camera, especially for use with manual-focus AI, AI-s and F-mount (non-AI) lenses.

The Nikon F2S is for photographers and professional newsmen, not for sniveling IT weenies who swarm all over anything digital. The F2S is a man's camera. When things get dicey while covering a protest, a good whack to a protester's head with the F2S has usually solved the problem.

See more at Guide to all Nikon F2 models.

If you've found all the time, effort and expense I put into researching and sharing all this for free, getting yours at link directly to them at eBay (see How to Win at eBay) is what keeps this site on the air. My biggest source of support is when you use those and these links, when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live.




More Information         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Usage   Recommendations   More

Nikon's F2 story.

Nikon F2S User's Manual.


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March-June 2012

RVP 04 March 2012 Sunday - logged with scans - 17 Mar 2012
Swami's Roll 4997