The Nikon F
I like the Nikon F because it is a brute of a camera. When the user picks up the conglomeration of leather, brass and glass that make up the Nikon F, there is little doubt that this is a piece of equipment built for serious use. It is a strictly manual camera, yet in today's fast paced course towards becoming obsolete within six months of a camera's introduction, the Nikon F remains one of the toughest, most durable, and versatile cameras ever built.
I like the chunky clunky look of the Photomic viewfinder on top of the Nikon F camera body. It is antithetical to the organic lines of modern camera equipment. Even though the light meter in my Photomicws are long worn out, I never really used them anyway. The viewfinders of the Nikon F are able to be removed and exchanged for different styles, from waist level finders to huge "action" finders for diving and sports, to a simple pentaprism, or even the poor man's waist level finder, no viewfinder at all.
Although the Nikon F appears to be a brick, it feels positively a part of your hand, an extension of yourself, while holding it. The unique feel and handling characteristics of the Nikon line of cameras is is one of the oft stated reasons many people prefer them. That, and the ability to continue to use lenses the photographer already owns. My old pre-AI lenses of the Nikon F era are some of the most precisely made equipment I own.
I don't know why I accumulated the collection of 35mm cameras I did, but I certainly had an affinity for the Nikon F and Nikon F2. I have used some of them, but others have not created a single image in my hands. A few were simply purchased to get the attached lens in a package deal. Although some are battered, all still function in the manual mode, without batteries. Imagine that.
Most of my old Nikon cameras were saved from a trip to the dumpster as people felt the need to upgrade their equipment. I suppose I don't need a logical reason for accumulating them. I just like them. They are reminders of a time that the photographer had to wait until he was in the darkroom to know for certain if his work was good. Reminders of a time when a camera was little more than a tool for the photographer, a time that the photographer's gray matter was also the brain for the camera.
Since I began shooting images again, I have gone digital. Auto focus. The new technology is great. It allows the photographer to concentrate more on the image. The ability to collect hundreds of shots, immediately viewable for disposal or preservation has transformed photography. I have heard several people say that 35mm film will eventually go the way of the dinosaur. In today's consumer driven camera market, I suppose it will. At some point, my old 35mm cameras will be as obsolete as a Polaroid One Step or a Kodak Disc. But even then, they will be a solid reminder that the photographer is the master of the camera, and the beauty of photography cannot be purchased with the next generation of electronics. That is a good enough reason to keep the old leather, brass and glass on my shelf.