It was a still picture from the HBO series “Vinyl” with Olivia Wilde holding a Nikon F with an old 50mm lens attached which struck me. I’m not the fetish type of guy (except for helicopters), but the compelling picture of a woman being interested in a camera like this is something I just can’t resist. So yes, I confess, I am a weak man. Very weak. In everyday life, I don’t get to know many women with a sensibility for nice devices from the past. That’s okay, because I am married, and my wife’s attitude resembles mine in a lot of ways, except that she doesn’t like to take pictures, because she feels distracted and forced to consider the immediate reality on a meta-plane.
To cut a long story short: I bought a Nikon F2 from 1975, attached a 50/1.4 Ai on it and shot along. It’s not my first camera without an automatic exposure system. The Hasselblad 500 C/M is the most prominent camera in my collection in this respect, but there was also a K1000 which I liked and there still is the Agfa Isolette. But the F2 is special, because the mechanics are delicate – i. e. you can crank up the shutter speed to 1/2000, it has a Titanium foil shutter, the aperture reading for the light meter works with a claw system, attached into the “ears” of these lenses.
The Nikon F is too cumbersome for me, the F2 is almost the same, but only without the downsides of the F. The Nikon F3 never attracted me. But then, the Nikon F4 and F5 feel like family. My Nikon F100 in comparison feels like a distant relative, but the weight is a big plus. So I feel complete now, because I don’t feel the need for a Nikon F6.
Attaching the 50/1.4 Ai feels great, the viewfinder is bright, focusing is a joy and you let your mind decide if you compensate the metered light or not. It’s like riding a bicycle. Many decisions to make: balance, velocity, who is in front of you, next to you, maybe behind you, which way to go, is this a nice area, should I stick with the Hasselblad, what about the supplies for tomorrow, what about trying some of Thomas Pynchon’s novels in the German translation – many things you keep in mind while riding a bike – and everyone feels comfortable with it and sees this as an advantage: being able to slow down.
Two rolls of generic film (dm400 Paradies). Nikon F2, 135/2.8 non-Ai (one or two exceptions with a 50/1.4 Ai). Reflecta 10T scanner, Colorperfect, Photoshop, Lightroom – the color system of this film is a pain when it comes to scanning it.
The first are some sequential shots while bringing the girls to Kindergarten and shortly after. It’s fun to focus manually and if you have got children, you know how quick they are changing their positions and places. Good practice for your focusing skills – especially with a 135mm shot with an f-stop of f/2.8 😉
The second series is about the girls enjoying the playground as regulars in the park after Kindergarten. It’s a little world without too much distraction (so the F2 is my toy there). We hang out there often, eventually some mates are showing up, often we are on our own. Sun is setting, I am photographing the brutalistic rooftop of the church behind the trees and the pink clouds over the town hall. Thinking about aperture values, color grading and framing, the girls enjoying climbing after a stressful day in the Kindergarten. Simple things.
Pollux on 52rolls:
- Launch Status Check: Pollux [Intro]
- #1.0 Neopan 400 & Rodinal
- #1.1 Silvermax
- #1.2 The White Stripes
- #2.0 Fade To Grey
- #2.1 Pushing Silvermax
- #2.2 Know Your Gear
- #2.3 What Took You So Long?
- #2.4 Diary Shots
- #2.5 Compact 28 + Ultramax
- #2.6 On 400H
- #3.0 Hard Boiled
- #4.0 Film Noir
- #5.0/5.1/5.2 Remain In Light
- #5.3 My Personal Holga
- #5.4 The Exhibition Cam
- #5.5/5.6 Portra and 400H
- #5.7 A Peculiar Roll (1993)
- #5.8/5.9 Great Photographer, Wasted Film
- #6.0 Diary Shots, 135mm on the F4
- #6.1-#6.3 Purchasing New Material, Celebrating
- #7.0-#7.2 Concert
- #8.0 Helicopter
- #9.0 Tres Cosas
- #10.0 One Shot per Roll
- #11.0/11.1: Parklife (Nikon F2)
- #12.0/12.1: Silvermax, F2 (24mm) + F5 (17mm + 210 mm)
- #13: Diary with a Point & Shoot
- #14: Medium Format: The Rangefinder of ’51
- #15: Memories of Friendship
- #16: [Pollux]: Epilogue