o you own a vintage Nikon? One of the classic Nikons? Is your Nikon one of the Nikons that revolutionized photography in 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s? I would be referring of course to the Nikon F series which started a new era in photography. If you are like me, you loved your camera and may still have it, even today, a world of digital everything. If so, I think you will find this article of special interest. Now you can get your prized camera up to factory specs and have it look like the first day you bought it.
In 1959, Nikon introduced the Nikon F, the Single Lens Reflex (SLR) version of the Nikon SP rangefinder. The F was the workhorse for many a photographer in both the professional, news gathering, and semi pro field for years. When the F2 came out in 1971, the F was still going strong. The best part about having a Nikon F or Nikon F2 was the ability to just about interchange everything. I say just about because there were some fundamental differences. But for the most part, all your Nikkor lenses continued to work with the new F2. Even today, those Nikkor lenses you purchased in the 60’s still work on the new Nikon Digital Single Lens Reflex (D-SLR) cameras. Now that is a testament to the quality that Nikon has been known for and why there are so many loyal fans just like me.
What would you do if your beloved Nikon were to fail, to stop working? Well you could try and find a local repair shop and take a chance that they can fix the camera. Or you can do a search on the internet and see if you can find something there. Or… just take my advice and send the camera to Sover Wong, the prominent expert in all things Nikon F.
In February while I was in Afghanistan, I found a great deal on a used Nikon F2AS, a camera I used in the late 70s. I just had to have this F2AS for, if not a better reason, nostalgic reasons. Also for the fact that it is one of the best Nikons ever made. So I took my hard earned cash and purchased the camera. When it arrived, it was inspected by my wife and found to be in excellent condition.
Unfortunately when I inspected the camera, after returning from Afghanistan last month, I found several problems. The DP-12 finder on the camera worked but would not coupling to the Nikkor lenses I had. The coupler lever was stuck. Also found that the aperture lever in the body was bent. These would have to be fixed and fixed soon.
I contacted Sover Wong after reading a few recommendations on several photography forums and address my issues. I was hoping that these were minor issues that could be resolved by me. Unfortunately this was not the case. So Sover sent me instructions on how to send the camera to him and pointed me to his price list.
Much to my surprise, the pricing for repair of my camera was very resonable. Considering the value of a good F2AS, it was well within reason. And to boot, I had the camera back in just over two weeks. Not bad for someone in California to send a camera to England.
Sover is very detailed oriented. He takes pictures of everything that he finds wrong and sends updates. His explanations for what is wrong and what is required to fix the problem makes you feel like you are part of the process. Most places will take your item and then return it to you and you have no idea what was done. Not with Sover. I received no less than three emails with attachments outlining what he was doing with before and after photos.
This is what Sover found when he did his initial inspection after receiving the camera:
The DP-12 AI coupler movement was very rough (not just sticking) because someone damaged the internal lever. The DP-12 front plate was pressing against the front mechanism slightly, and that cause the AI coupler to previously stick slightly. The last serviceman only had to bend the front plate slightly to provide some clearance, instead he bent the internal lever and made the AI coupler movement worse.
The body was recently re-foamed, but the mirror housing sides were not done properly and there was residue from the old foam. The higher shutter speeds were also off. (see Word file below), which is common with a very lightly used and unserviced body.
Another email detailed some of the work performed and listed other problems he found after a detailed inspection of the camera. Here is his report.
The ring resistor has a long scratch made by the wiper, and many thin metallic fingers are severed as a result. This is surprising because this DP-12 is lightly used. (DP-12 has the best electronics but the weakest ring resistor, weaker than the carbon ones.).
He wrote me that he performed the following additional services:
Cleaned the ring resistor and moved the wipers to the inner rim, away from the scratch and refoamed the internal mirror. Refoamed the eye piece frame, cleaned the lens and prism. - Notice there are some small coating spots on the lens but they don’t affect viewing- Refoamed the base Calibrated the meter and checked it’s accurate to within 1/5 stop from EV5 (1s f8 200ASA) to EV15 (1/1000s f8 200ASA) in 1EV steps
After Sover serviced the DP-12 finder, he then proceeded to work on the body of the camera. Sover rated the camera as an excellent +++ and tried to convince me it was too good for professional work (nice try Sover).
Some of the problems with the camera and how they were corrected.
- The lens stop down lever was bent, he straightened it.
- The camera had not been serviced or opened since it was new. There was old glue on the front leatherettes was still the original and was coming apart from the body. He cleaned it and repaired it where necessary.
- The base, shutter, mirror and winding mechanisms were dry, he lubricated all of them.
- The last serviceman that worked on the camera replaced some of the foam rubber gaskets and charged for a full service
- Dust and debris inside the camera were removed.
- Replaced and cleaned the internal and mirror housing foams. Note: My last serviceman did not fully remove the old mirror bumper foam before applying a new one.
- Cleaned the internal flash switch contacts and the mirror
- Calibrated all shutter speeds to within 1/4 stop accuracy
- Checked flash sync is OK at 1/80s
- Checked B, T & 10s which were fine.
- Added a new battery, and checked the finder which was working.
I received my F2AS back from Sover and when I opened the box, it smelled like a new camera. I was just totally blown away with how the camera works. If I purchased the camera in this condition to begin with I think I would have walked away with a steal. This camera is now in a condition I am sure would be considered NEW if not for some minor dings on the body (usual wear and tear).
Sover Wong is a competent Nikon technician who understands and grasps the knowledge of Nikon F2 series cameras better than anyone I have ever met. He is thorough in his work and his communications about what he is doing along with photos keeps you, the owner, in the loop. Sover will not perform any work that does not need to be done and will contact you before proceeding. Sover will also work on other F series cameras but he should be contacted first. Sover Wong comes highly recommend and I echo this recommendation.
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