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Nikon Owner Issue 16
HISTORY OF NIKON Part XIII by Gray Levett
The Nikon F2 series of camera became the benchmark for 35mm professional SLRs between 1971 and 1980. They continue to be revered to this day.
Introduced as a successor to the Nikon F flagship model, the Nikon F2 entered the world stage in September 1971 and was a huge success.
Six different models of the F2 were manufactured between 1971 and 1980 (not including special application models). Commencing in September 1971 with two models, the Nikon F2 was an F2 body with the DE-1 eye-level (non-metered) finder whereas the F2 Photomic was an F2 camera body plus the DP-1 which is a TTL (through-the-lens), full aperture, centre-weighted exposure meter. (Hence the designation Photomic which means ‘performing light level measurement’). The meter read the brightness of the entire scene on the finder screen but concentrated most of its sensitivity on the central 12mm diameter area outlined on the screen. Complete exposure information was visible in the finder: over-exposure indication was registered by the meter needle. The display included selected aperture and shutter speed. The meter needle could alternatively be viewed in a window on top of the finder housing. One simply centred the needle in the display by turning the lens aperture ring or shutter speed dial.
Although the Nikon F2 remained practically unchanged throughout its production run with the exception of minor modifications, which were internal, the metering finders (Photomic heads) were updated as the technology moved ahead.
In 1973 the Nikon F2S Photomic was introduced. The finder (DP-2) did not feature a meter needle. Exposure information was gathered via light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which displayed over- or under-exposure in the viewfinder display.
In 1976, Nikon introduced another version of the Photomic finders, the DP-3. When fitted to an F2 body the combination was known as the F2SB. This was a magnificent finder and offered a very sensitive metering system courtesy of a Silicon Blue Diode. This new system responded more rapidly than its predecessor and featured an LED display.
The F2SB Photomic was discontinued one year later in 1977 to make way for Nikon’s new AI (automatic aperture indexing) system, thereby making it one of the most sought-after models in the F2 range by Nikon camera collectors.