Camera Geekery: The Nikon F2 Data


by Bellamy /

3 min read

Camera Geekery: The Nikon F2 Data
Amongst the rarest of Nikons, the ultra special Nikon F2 Data. As Nikon cameras go, this is one of them that you are not going to see very often. Very few of these cameras were produced and as usual with something of this age, it is more than likely that very few survive.

As for every collector out there, there are three people who care very little for the future of their gear, even with an item such as this. And this camera is special in that there are lots of little bits to go missing on it. So, lets have a look at the legendary Nikon F2 data.

Data unit
This camera is the precursor to the modern data backs that began creeping onto cameras in the nineties. The is really the ‘Grandfather’ of data imprint technology. The basis of the camera is an F2, but it was developed with scientific and/or industrial applications in mind.
At the time of it’s inception it was at the very forefront of camera technology,
There were several different configurations available, all based on F2 versions available at the time. The bases body is the same with all, but the difference could be found in the finders, the DP-11 (F2A), DP-12 (F2AS) or DE-1 (F2). Added to this there were two different data backs available, an MF-10 Databack for 36-exposure or MF-11 (with the MF-1 magazine) for 250-exposures.
The camera comes with three different ways to imprint data onto the film. You could imprint with the timepiece, the date unit or the memo plates. The memo plates leave an imprinted message of your choice on the film, making them perfect for recording important data.
Unfortunately since these plates are so small and fiddly, they are easy to lose or break, so when you see one of these cameras with the plates you know you are on to something special.

The utilitarian design of this camera is something that comes from a different era of camera manufacture. There was nothing in the way of ergonomics or style. This camera was designed by engineers to do a job and to do that job well.

The time pieces (made by Seiko) are not interchangeable and are slotted into the side of the imprint unit. This camera comes from a different era. So different in fact that apparently the dates on the date unit do not even reach the end of the 90’s. These cameras were so specialist that they were not even intended to be used for any great length of time.
When I checked this camera the date units only went to 1987! I was 10 when this camera was not longer commercially applicable.

I think one of my favourite things about this camera is that on film ASA rating scale on the back of the camera the legends Kodachrome and Ektachrome are clearly printed, with the setting that you should be using for that film.
Apparently each one of these cameras was handmade to order. Which makes you wonder who ordered them and for what reason. I would love to see that order book.This is the rarest of the F2 cameras and it was a pleasure to be able to find it.

I was very fortunate to find this camera, and I cannot see myself finding another one in this kind of condition any time in the near future, but that does not mean I shall not be looking.


7 comments on “Camera Geekery: The Nikon F2 Data”

    Anonymous January 31, 2012 at 5:57 am / Reply

    Sir/M’am, I discovered your site while searching for F2 Data info. That’s a beautiful camera you have. You note, “This (F2 Data) is the rarest of the F2 cameras…” Please correct me if I am wrong but I believe the rarest would be the F2H (High Speed). I don’t know have precise numbers but believe that for every H there were ten times (more?) as many Datas. The Data is rare, to be sure, but the F2H is extremely rare. Is that your understanding?

      Bellamy January 31, 2012 at 7:00 am /

      Well, seeing as the Data’s were only made to order I doubt very much that there are ten times more than the High Speed. It is also noteworthy that there are now very very few complete Data sets, as many got damaged or lost over time. It seems that there are a lot more High Speed sets left. But that is purely going on my understanding of the Japanese market.
      Thanks for the comment.

    G Parmenter April 14, 2012 at 4:14 am / Reply

    Bellamy, with all due respect, I am unsure of the source of your information but the F2 Data was not ‘made to order’. They were availabl on the open market. Anon is correct re: production figures; Nikon produced many, many more Data’s than H (Highspeed) models by a large margin. Mr. Sover Wong, regarded as an authority on all things F2, has production figures posted here, indicating 500 F2H and 5,000 F2 Data:

    Yes, beautiful Data model you have pictured here. Do you also have the F2H?

      Bellamy April 14, 2012 at 8:49 am /

      Thanks for your comments. The information that I was given was that certain models were made specifically for industrial clients to suit their needs in regards to dates in the clocks. But I really appreciate your input on this.
      I don’t have the F2H, but I have ready access to several.

    Jock June 1, 2013 at 9:38 pm / Reply

    Certainly a phenomenal camera, and the design of a bygone era!

    One thing though – I can find dozens of photos of the exteriors of the F2 DATAs, but I’ve not been able to find a single one showing what the data imprint actually looks like on the film. Would you happen to have any handy?

    Sam December 4, 2013 at 2:18 pm / Reply

    Thank you for sharing your F2 Data. I have an MF-10 in perfect shape (mated to a regular F2, with a DW-2 6x finder), and I have used it back in the 80’s for lab work (the date unit on mine goes to 1990).

    That being said, I think the MF-2 film back (750 exposure back) is a much rarer Nikon accessory. Some claim less than 20 were sold to the general public in the US. I am not sure about this number, but based on observation, it appears to be very uncommon indeed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.