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Nikon F2 DATA

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F2 DATA Body with F2AS finder, MF-10 Back, MD-1 Motor

The F2 DATA is one of the rarest Nikons.  It's difficult even to find information about it.  Before the age of cheap electronic data backs, Nikon turned out this mechanical answer to imprinting data on your film.  Two versions were made: the MF-10 back for 36 exposures and the MF-11 back for 250 exposures.     As ungainly as the MF-10 looks,  the camera with back and motor is actually very well balanced and easy to handle -- thanks to the anatomical grip built into the rear of the data back.

F2 DATAs were all  black bodies with "F2 DATA" engraved beside the serial number, sold with either the F2 Prism finder, F2A finder, or F2AS finder.     An electronic flash built into the DATA back exposed your chosen date on the film.  F2 DATAs  imprint a clock with the time along with the date, or any hand written data of your choice.       A special Type S focusing screen (similar to a type A) outlined the film plane data mask's  intrusion into the film gate on the left hand side of the frame.   The recordable data area is 3x10mm.   Usable films were B/W ASA 25 to 1600, color ASA 25 to 640.

The removable Film Plane Mask is often missing on F2 DATAs.   It's a little metal mask which fits into the right hand side of the film gate, to cover portion of the left hand side of the frame (the image on the film is upside down).  While the camera will imprint WITHOUT the film plane data mask on darker backgrounds, the film mask is needed to make the imprinted data visible on lighter subjects.     The film plane data mask was removable to use the camera as a normal F2.    I talked to an English chap who has six DATAs but only one film plane data mask.  I suppose the thing could be made by a good machinist, but you need an original to make the copies.

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  MD-2 Motor, MB-1 battery pack.  

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Some sources say F2 DATA cameras start with a serial # of 77.  This one starts with 75. The dial on the back changes the aperture of the internal 10mm/1.8 lens optical data imprinting system to match the ASA of the film.   Missing from this example is a double ended male flash sync cord.   It connects the camera's flash sync to the data back--necessary due to the miniature electronic flash used to exposure the data information.

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The photog can WRITE information on the little insert in the left pic.   Those funny things that remind me of bank vault locks are the Seiko clock and the data/date imprinter.   They   could imprint the time, the date, or a numbered sequence.   Nikon designers had the foresight to make sure the clock and data inserts fit into non-interchangeable slots,  a gift to the not so technically  inclined photog.  The date settings cover a 11 year period, 1-12 month period, and 1-99 day period.  This unit spans a range from 76 to 86.   Another owner reports 81 to 91, other ranges may exist.    Hmm.....maybe they foresaw the coming digital age........nah.


The F2 250 DATA Back  MF-11

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You can change the 36 exposure F2 DATA to the 250 Exposure F2 DATA by interchanging the necessary parts -- swapping the 36 and 250 back doors and by adding/removing  the  standard 250 Magazine Back MF-1.  The 250 DATA back (without the MF-1) was sold separately as an accessory to the 36 DATA.   Likewise the F2 DATA could be turned into a regular F2 by substituting a normal back.  Both data backs were designed to work ONLY with a motordrive.    Operation with the DS-1/2/3 AE units  was restricted to shutter speeds 1/15th and faster.   An ideal application for the 250 Exposure DATA was combining it with the F2 S/SB/AS finder, the DS 1/2/3 EE aperture control unit, and the MT-1 Intervalometer timer for fully unmanned photography.   

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The left hand pics shows the covered PC connections.  The MF-11's flash unit is triggered through the camera's sync circuit.  A double ended flash cord is required to connect the camera's PC connection to the white coded PC connection on the MF-11.  The  other connection, coded in red and labeled "EXT" is to connect a flash unit.  Although operated by the camera's flash sync circuit, the data imprinting works at all shutter speeds. The right hand pic shows the AA battery compartment for the four batteries powering  the data imprinting flash.  The batteries were rated to provide about 1000 data imprints, fired at 1 second intervals using alkaline batteries.  An external power source could also be used with the External Power Cord MC-6.  315 V (plus/minus 15) DC is required.   Also visible in the right hand pic is the on/off switch for data imprinting.

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Shown here is the MF-11's pressure plate, with the aperture for the data imprinting.


It's a safe bet to say that most Nikon collectors have never seen a F2 DATA, much less used it.  I have been unable to find any published production numbers, though I would guess less than 1000. 

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Revised: November 26, 2003 Copyright  1998-2002  Stephen Gandy. All rights reserved.    This means you may NOT copy and re-use the text or the pictures in ANY other internet or printed publication of ANY kind.  Information in this document is subject to change without notice.  Other products and companies referred to herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or mark holders.