Nikon U2 35mm AF SLR Film Camera

Nikon U2 35mm AF SLR Film Camera

Nikon U2 35mm AF SLR Film Camera

'Camera Review - A look at the Nikon Nikon U2 / N75 / F75, an advanced and full-featured lightweight 35mm film SLR from Nikon'


Introduction and Overview

Nikon U2, View

The Nikon U2 (N75 in the US, F75 in Europe), the last consumer-level autofocus 35mm SLR camera manufactured by the Nikon, is a compact and lightweight AF SLR camera designed for the amateur and beginner SLR user market.

Simple as it looks, the U2 / N75 / F75 is actually an advanced and is a very capable camera, comprehensively developed to incorporated features and innovations that make the F5, F100 and F80 SLRs as the top cameras of the genre.

The camera was, however, hardly a noticeable figure lost among the pomp and pageantry of the digital revolution. When the U2 / N75 / F75 was launched in 2003, it was already a year into the introduction of the digital D100 (2002), which then continues over to the more advanced D70 in 2004, and on till where we are now. Slotted between the launch of the two, the U2 / N75 / F75 hardly had a chance to make its presence felt, and probably be accoladed. Production of the U2 / N75 / F75 was discontinued in 2006.

For the enthusiast and collector, the U2 / N75 / F75 is the déjà vu for Nikon analog SLR cameras, on one hand, and on the other, a completely competent camera capable of taking on even the newest and latest of Nikon's AF-S and VR series lenses, and doing it in style.

Nikon N75 Video Manual

Nikon U2 / N75 / F75 35mm SLR Camera

The Nikon U2 / N75 / F75 is a lightweight (weighs approximately 380/385 grams) but full-featured multi-program Nikon F-mount AF (autofocus) 35mm SLR camera. The camera is equipped with a vertical travel electronically-controlled focal plane shutter with speeds from 30 to 1/2000 second, film ISO rating of 25 to 5000 (set by DX coding only), a varied automated program and manual shooting modes, remote control sensor, and built-in Speedlight.

Metering is by a 25 segment Matrix metering pattern with five user control autofocus sensors, and a three-way switch plus jog dial on the film back for interactions of autofocus modes and focus points. The AF system works with every AF, VR, AF-I and AF-S lens ever made by Nikon, and in-focus confirmation dot with manual lenses.

Packed with the veritable choice of exposures modes, the U2 / N75 / F75 is designed to give you the best of any shooting situation or user experience level with the User Controlled selection of Auto Multi Program [P}, Shutter-Priority Auto [S], Aperture-Priority Auto [A], or Manual [M], or Point-and-Shoot options with AUTO, Portrait, Landscape, Close-Up, Sports, and Night Portrait shooting modes.


Basic Camera Features

More commonly seen in the chrome version, with the occasional all-black popping up here and there, the U2 / N75 / F75 was part of the trend of low-cost plastic bodied fully automatic 35mm AF SLR cameras of the 90s. The camera has a simple ergonomic design with features that include a simple and easy-to-use function dial and an LCD control panel. When powered to function automatically, the camera is light enough to operate with one hand and is almost the perfect point-and-shoot.

Nikon U2, Front oblique

The veritable control center of the camera, the top panel, which is rather clean and simple, is populated by a control dial on the left, the LCD panel on the right, and a camel hump housing the power and shutter button, and a couple of toggle switches for LCD illumination and Aperture/Exposure Compensation/Film Rewind functions. The built-in Speedlight sits on top of the pentaprism.

Nikon U2, Top

The control dial houses the Auto and PSAM mode selection setting, as well as the Vari-Program selection for Portrait, Landscape, Close-Up, Sports, and Night Portrait shooting modes. A small selection lever sticks out of the control dial for Film Advance (Single, Continuous) mode and CSM mode selection. The Vari-Program modes will let the camera determine precise aperture and shutter speed values automatically.

Nikon U2, Front

The front of the camera houses the proportionally huge lens mount housing, which almost fills the whole front of the diminutive body. The housing is fitted a depth of field preview button on its lower left, the lens release lock on the right of the mount, and vertically, the Flash Release Lock/Flash Sync Mode button, Auto Exposure Bracketing/Multiple Exposure/FIlm Rewind button, and focus mode selector (AF, MF) switch.

Nikon U2, Back

The back of the camera carries the AE-L switch, the Command dial for the LCD panel info, and on the film back itself, the AF Area Selector. The Quartz Date version of the camera will have the QD selection and setting gizmos located on the film back itself, partly integrated with the AF selector dial. The bottom plate is plain except for the tripod mount, and the 2CR2 batteries chamber cover.

Nikon U2, Bottom


LCD Panel Info

Nikon U2, LCD Panel
The LCD panel on the right side of the body is the command control, firstly a menu system with which you customize the camera's setting, and in shooting mode provides you with all relevant shooting information, such as how many shots you have taken (taken, not number remaining), shutter speed, aperture, metering mode, and flash settings.

To customize the camera's setting first rotate the Custom Setting Selector of the top left of the camera to CSM, next use the Command Dial at the top back of the camera to run down the menu list, which ranged from 1 - Beep Sound, to 12 - AF Assist Illuminator activation.


Viewfinder Info

Nikon U2, Viewfinder info

The viewfinder, with approximately 89% coverage, is rather clean and uncluttered (no microprism display of course), displays a central a 12mm reference circle for Center-Weighted Metering, five focus area indicators, and a couple of icons for film status and battery power indicator.

Nikon U2, Side front
An LCD bar below the screen displays the Focus Indicator, Shutter Speed setting, Lens Aperture opening, Exposure Compensation value, and Flash Ready light.

Exposure Compensation, which is available PSA and Vari-Program modes are adjustable by pressing the Auto Exposure Bracketing/Multiple Exposure/Film Rewind button located on the left of the lens mount (just above the Lens Release lock) and rotating the Control Dial to the amount required.

Note: Page number indicators on the illustrations above refer to the pages where the info is located in the Instruction booklet, which you can download from Buktus.org.


AF Area Mode Selection

Use the Green Box genie of AF Mode Mode selector, located on the film back itself, to let the U2 / N75 / F75 to selectively pick the area sensor, and inform you of the selection by lighting up the relevant rectangle in the finder, or set the selector to the middle dot to use only the middle sensor. The lower crosshair setting lets you select which sensor to use with the compass-point thumb-control of the rotary switch.


Lens Compatibility

As mentioned earlier, the U2 / N75 / F75 is completely compatible with every AF, VR, AF-I and AF-S lenses and flash systems made by Nikon. Manual focus lenses can only be used in the Manual shooting mode, with in-focus confirmation dot, but with no metering.


Film Handing

A unique change from most other Nikons is how the U2 / N75 / F75 handles film loading. The camera winds all the film out when you load the film and then winds it back into the canister frame by frame as you shoot.

Nikon U2, Film box

The logic here is that if there is a mishap and the back is opened accidentally, all is not lost on the shots that you have taken since they have been rewound into the film canister.


Battery

The U2 / N75 / F75 requires a pair of CR2 batteries to operate, rated for 40 36-exposure rolls without flash, or 12 rolls with flash half the time.


Using the Camera

I felt a few guilty moments with my first try at using the camera (without going through the instruction manual beforehand) when nothing seems to work. All was well, however, once I set the aperture dial on the AF Nikkor 50mm 1.8 D to it's minimum at f/16. Things couldn't be better after that. Focusing on the AF 1.8 D lens is extremely fast, the mirror flip, shutter click, and film rewind is neither loud nor resounding, and exposures are all but spot on.

Nikon U2, Top control
I would not recommend shooting in Auto mode, though, as in most situation the first press on the shutter release will also release and set the Speedlight on if you have not set the auto-flash mode to off as soon as you power up the camera.

You do this (disable the Auto-Flash mode) by pressing the Flash Lock release and using the Control Dial to set the system to off.

Remember, the film roll that you have the camera loaded with is already wound back into the film canister at the end of the reverse roll system. You can rewind the film mid-roll, though, by pressing the Auto Exposure Bracketing/Multiple Exposure/Film Rewind button, and the Aperture/Exposure Compensation/Film Rewind button on the lower part of the hand grip camel-hump.

Going further, you may also be interested in Ken Rockwell's review of the N75 where he carries a section on how to adopt a manual focus lens to the Matrix metering system on this camera.


EndNote

The U2's compatibility with everything of Nikon's AF, AF-S, VR and all the flash systems since 20 years ago, it's light plastic construction, and easy handling does make the U2 (N75, F75) an incredible introductory film camera especially for Nikon digital enthusiasts who are keen to have a look back at film photography.

If you are already endowed with the lenses, then the cost of this setup almost negligible. This is the same as what I am saying of Sony full frame camera users, where you can use the A-mounts on the lightweight Minolta Alpha Sweet just as well as the Nikonians can do it with their AF, AF-S, and VR Nikkors.



Resource Links:
Nikon N75: Midrange Marvel
Nikon N75 (aka F75 or U2)

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