A Photographic Journey - Part II

June 05, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Nikon F2 PhotomicNikon F2 Photomic with 50/1.4

Nikon F2 Photomic with Nikkor 50mm f/1.4

 

In 1975 I was in my third year of high school, I was working in the family business during school vacations and saving money. Money "burning a hole in my pocket" lead directly to the first camera that I purchased, a Nikon F2 Photomic.

At that time, the Nikon F2 Photomic was the finest 35 millimeter single lens reflex (SLR) camera made in the world. It was used by professional photographers for sports and fashion. News and magazine photographers used it. Nikons were, arguably, used by more professional photographers than any other 35mm SLR camera. And I was determined to buy one.

That camera cost about $600. Why that camera and not a more affordable camera? To this day, I’m not totally sure. By that time, I was sure I wanted to be a professional photographer and I wanted the gear for the career.  In retrospect, knowing what I know now, a twin lens reflex (TLR) shooting 120/220 film would have been better for teaching me "vision".  But a TLR was "old" technology, big, bulky, slow to operate, and most important to me - you didn't hold it to your eye.

I purchased the F2 with a 50/1.4 lens.  That was typical for the time, you bought a SLR with a "nifty 50".  I didn't even consider a zoom lens, they were expensive, soft, and slow.  Unlike today, manufacturers did not "kit" cameras, selling the body with a specific lens in a box. There was no reason that I couldn't have purchased the body with something other than the 50.

Within a year, I was bored with the 50mm and wanted something both longer for portraits and shorter for indoors. I ended up adding a Nikkor 105/2.5 and a Vivitar Series One 28/1.9 to my camera bag.  I also added a Sunpak 611 "potato masher" flash unit for indoor shooting. The bulk of my shooting was for the high school yearbook, they covered film and processing, which allowed me to burn through a lot of film. By the time I left for college I had added a Nikkor 300/4.0 lens to my collection for shooting sports.

In college I continued to feed my film habit by shooting for the college yearbook and shooting various dorm events. Shooting dorm events, I actually got paid.  

After a year of shooting college sports, I decided that I needed a motor drive for my camera so I could capture action better/faster. A motor drive for the F2 was out of the question economically, but Nikon had released the FE, a body that had a motor drive available.  The FE was Nikon's first camera with automatic exposure capability, and it seemed to fit my criteria perfectly.

Nikon FE with motor drive and 50/1.4Nikon FE with motor drive and 50/1.4

Nikon FE with motor drive and 50/1.4

Once purchased, the FE became my new favorite, relegating the F2 to a supporting role. I loved having auto exposure available and used it frequently.

My collection of photographic gear did not change for the remainder of my college years. With few exceptions, my images from this time are more documentary then artistic. The most memorable images came from a six week school trip to Kenya in 1978.


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