Modern Classic SLRs Series
Nikon F - Camera Controls Part II


This section covers: Depth of Field Preview | Mirror Lock-Up
Lens Bayonet (Bajonet) Release | Prism Release

section covers: Film Transport Controls | Shutter Controls | Flash Sync Selector | Self Timer
Next section Part III covers: Film Advance Lever | Frame Counter and Film Load Reminder | Film Rewind Crank | Film Guide Rails and Pressure Plate | Serial Number and Film Plane Indication | Film Speed Reminder | Shutter Speed Dial | Shutter Release Button | Shutter Curtain | Camera Back | Tripod Socket

Depth of Field Preview

The depth of field (DOF) preview is the button on the same side of the lensmount as the self-timer (right side).

Located on the left side of the camera front scutcheon, the depth-of-field preview button enables the photographer to check how much background or foreground is in or out of focus. As the button is pressed, the lens diaphragm stops down to the preset aperture for a preview of the depth of field.

The depth-of-field control is independent of the shutter mechanism. The preview control button also serves to check the normal functioning of the automatic diaphragm in a lens.By pressing the DOF preview in towards the camera body, the lens diaphragm stops down to your preselected aperture and you have a rough idea of what will be in focus and what is not. Perhaps the best way to use this DOF preview is to start from wide-open and, with the button held down, slowly stop down one stop at a time until you acheive the desired DOF. Of course, if this works for you, your eyes are better than those of a bat, especially on the somewhat dim F finder.

Again, the lazy slob in me calls for an easier way, in this case, using the depth-of-field markings stenciled on every barrel of every non-AI Nikkor (please don't say that, having bought an F, you've gone out and bought the whizzy Sigroninatar 30~1000 f/8~22 zoom to go with it; pick up a decent used non-AI 50f/2 Nikkor-HC for about $50 US). Then you can do, manually, what every post-EOS 630 Canon can do, the DOF program: focus on the furthest point you wish to have in focus note the indicated distance on the lens barrel focus on the closest point you wish to have in focus again, note this indicated distance on the lens barrel line up the two distances with two lines of identical color on the lens barrel's DOF markings (they will be symmetric with respect to the focus indication line) now that you are set to the proper hyperfocal distance, set your lens to the aperture whose color matches the two lines you used in the previous step if you want to be conservative, stop down one more aperture set a shutter speed based on the aperture in use and take your picture.

I guess that automation is much nicer than this, but at least now you know what your friend's Rebel is doing when s/he sets it to the DOF program. On the other hand, you can always use your camera to drive the tent stakes tonight. Generally, this is much more effective for wide-angle lenses, when you want a neat "near-far" effect, and one of the markings will be set at infinity. On second thought, treat yourself to a 24f/2.8 Nikkor-N at around $200 US and make sure you get only what you want in the viewfinder.

Mirror Lock-Up Lever

The Reflex Mirror and the mirror lock up lever.

As the shutter release button is pressed, the mirror is raised and the lens-diaphragm, coupled to this mirror action, stops down from its maximum aperture to the preset "taking" aperture. After the moment of exposure, the mirror flips back to its precise focusing/viewing position. The mirror can also be locked up, out of the lens-to-film path, by turning the small lock button toward the red dot on the left side of the camera scutcheon, and then releasing the shutter.

Mirror lock-up (MLU) is accomplished through a dial on the same side of the lensmount as the self-timer (right side). To return the mirror to its original focusing/viewing position, turn the lock button downward until the black dot on the button lines with the black dot on the camera body. This should be done after the shutter is released - the mirror will not return to its original position until exposure is made.

On the F, MLU is useful mainly for fitting specialised lenses, such as all circular fisheyes f/5.6 and slower, and the 21f/4 Biogon-type or when the motor drive unit is mounted for a continuous sequence shooting at the speed of 4 frames per second. It is certainly possible to lock up the mirror for critical sharpness, although it really demands a tripod: cock the shutter by winding the film on compose your image turn the MLU dial counterclockwise so that the black dot on the dial points to the red dot on the dial's circular surround push the shutter release halfway; you should see the image black out in the viewfinder as the mirror flips up push the release all the way down, releasing the shutter if you are taking more than one MLU photo, repeat steps 1 and 5 as much as necessary turn the MLU dial clockwise to line up the dial's black dot with the black dot on the circular surround wind the film on, which should then drop the mirror lock

Selftimermlu.jpg Loading..
Can you tell what is the difference in this picture with the above illustration?

Incidentally, should you need to fit a mirror-lock lens, perform steps 1-4 above (well, I guess you don't need to compose again), put the lens on, and continue, taking the lens off after step 6. Some F's are floating around which have been modified (usually by private means) to perform MLU via a lever -- I believe that the Celestron-modified F's are similar.

If you find yourself needing to recompose between MLU shots, I would recommend getting a
Nikkormat or F2 (if you need a mechanical body) or an Nikon F3 (which has the smoothest operation I've tried in quite a while).

Lens Bayonet (Bayonet) Release

The lens-lock release button is located on the right side of the camera scutcheon. The locking device is designed for firm mounting and positioning, and easy removal of a lens.

To release a lens, press the release in towards the body and, grasping the lens firmly by the area between the focusing and aperture rings, rotate 1/6th of a turn (60 degrees) clockwise and then lift the lens straight out of the bayonet throat. To mount a lens, line up the black dot on the lens (usually on the milled ring between the focussing and aperture rings) with the dot on the lensmount, push the lens onto the mount, and rotate 60 degrees counterclockwise until you hear it click into place.

Ah, if someone had only told me this, I could have saved myself untold embarassment when I went to the camera shop to pick up my first camera, a Nikon F with eyelevel finder. For those of you with the oddball 21f/4, please see my questions page.

Lens Mount Flange

The broad lens mount flange (44mm in diameter inside the bayonet tabs) minimizes vignetting at the corners of the picture. A specially treated hard-wearing steel is used on the lens mount flange. The precise construction and machining of the flange ensures secure seating, correct alignment and accurate focus for every interchangeable lens offered by the Nikon system.

Prism Release
* (Click here to go to the FTn Finder for detailed info on operations)

The main prism release is the small silver button on the back of the camera, situated close to the top deck and between the rewind knob and the prism eyepiece. You, too, can try to injure your finger or fingernail trying to push in this rather stiff button. Unless you have a later F body, which has small cutouts to facilitate finger use, it is easier to use a pencil's eraser to push it in. Once the button is in, the prism will pop up slightly (unless you have a Photomic FTn head) and you can remove it by lifting straight out. If you have the FTn, there is an additional lever that needs to be pushed in (towards the finder) as the prism release is used; this releases the small claws which hold the FTn onto the bottom of the front nameplate. You can put on a finder by pressing it into the well; pushing the release button in is not necessary.

The prism release also acts as a screen release. By holding the button in and turning the camera over, the screen will plop out onto whatever handy soft surface it is over. The release button must be held in when putting the screen back in (you can see the two retractable tabs which hold the screen in place in the left side of the prism well).

This section covers: Depth of Field Preview | Mirror Lock-Up
Lens Bayonet (Bajonet) Release | Prism Release
Previous section covers: Film Transport Controls | Shutter Controls | Flash Sync Selector | Self Timer

Next section Part III covers: Film Advance Lever | Frame Counter and Film Load Reminder | Film Rewind Crank | Film Guide Rails and Pressure Plate | Serial Number and Film Plane Indication | Film Speed Reminder | Shutter Speed Dial | Shutter Release Button | Shutter Curtain | Camera Back | Tripod Socket

Main Reference map in HTML & PDF:
Body with FTN Finder | FTN finder | camera body |
External links for F & F2

| Back | to Nikon-F - Main Index Page
Michael C Liu's Nikons Classic Site

Other Nikon F Variations

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The Eyes of Nikon:-
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Lenses -
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Lenses - 300mm 400mm 500mm 600mm 800mm 1200mm |
Special Application lenses:
Micro-Nikkor Lenses - 50mm~55mm -60mm 85mm -105mm 200mm Micro-Zoom 70-180mm
Perspective Control (PC) - 28mm 35mm PC-Micro 85mm
Dedicated Lenses for Nikon F3AF: AF 80mm f/2.8 | AF 200mm f/3.5 EDIF
Depth of Field Control (DC): 105mm 135mm
Medical Nikkor: 120mm 200mm
Reflex-Nikkor Lenses - 500mm 1000mm 2000mm
Others: Noct Nikkor | OP-Nikkor | UV Nikkor 55mm 105mm | Focusing Units | Bellows-Nikkor 105mm 135mm
Nikon Series E Lenses: 28mm35mm50mm100mm135mm | E-Series Zoom lenses: 36~72mm75~150mm70~210mm
MF Zoom-Nikkor Lenses: 25~50mm | 28~45mm | 28~50mm | 28~85mm | 35~70mm | 36~72mm E | 35~85mm | 35~105mm | 35~135mm |
35~200mm | 43~86mm | 50~135mm | 50~300mm | 70~210mm E | 75~150mm E | 80~200mm | 85~250mm |
100~300mm | 180~600mm | 200~400mm | 200~600mm | 360~1200mm | 1200~1700mm

Tele-Converters: TC-1 | TC-2 | TC-200 | TC-201 | TC-300 | TC-301 | TC-14 | TC-14A | TC-14B | TC-14C | TC-14E | TC-16 | TC-16A | TC-20E


Nikon F
| Nikon F2 | Nikon F3 | Nikon F4 | Nikon F5 | Nikon F6 | Nikkormat / Nikomat |
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| Nikon FE/ FA | Nikon EM/FG/FG20 | Nikon Digital SLRs | Nikon - Other models

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Recommended links to understand more technical details related to the Nikkor F-mount and production Serial Number: by: my friend, Rick Oleson by: Hansen, Lars Holst

Modern Classic SLRs Series :
Nikon F - Index Page

Copyright © 1998. Michael C. Liu ®

Site rearranged by: leofoo ®. Credit: Hiura Shinsaku® from Nikomat Club of Japan for feeding some useful inputs on the introductory page. The great 3D logo by Kiasu; Ted Wengelaar®, Holland for his continuous flow of input of early Nikon bodies. Stephen Gandy's Cameraquest; Marc Vorgers from Holland for his additinal images on Nikon F Apollo; Hayao Tanabe corrected my Red Dot and Early F assertions. Gray Levett, Grays of Westminster publishes an excellent monthly historical look at Nikon products, from where I learned about the high-speed F's. Made with a PowerMac, broadcast with a Redhat Linux powered server.

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