With one roll quickly fired through its shutters, my initial assumptions on this workhorse were somewhat off. I had first looked at it as an older F5 as it has all the features of modern auto focus SLR’s (arguably the first to do so). However, the F4 is actually more similar to the older F3, with the addition of some lights and motors. It’s hard to describe exactly why this is so you’ll have to try first hand (my F4 only set me back $280!). These ramblings aside, it’s a fantastic camera with a meter that is hard to fool. It also knows exactly what to do with matrix metered fill flash and is compatible with every single Nikkor lens made. Its next assignment will be the high altitudes of the Himalaya.
In 1993 National Geographic photographers shot 46,769 rolls of film which equates to roughly 1,683,600 images! However, only 1,408 made it past the editing room floor. Now that is allot of film by anyone’s standards. I consider myself lucky if I shoot more than a roll a month! *Figures taken from the August 1995 NG magazine.
If it were not for the modern rechargeable lithium ion batteries in today’s digital cameras I can imagine a world powered by AA’s (not a good idea!). As most of my gear is pre 2000, AA batteries were the only mainstream option. To give you an idea, My F5 takes 8, my F4 has 4, my P645NII uses 6, my SB-28 will take 4 and ask for another set soon after, and the MD-4 motor drive for the F3 will also consume 8! I’ve given rechargeable options a fair go over the years but they always seem to pack in just when you need them. Two small button cells used to be all that any camera needed…
My new camera has arrived! The Nikon F4, a very special single digit Nikon that sits neatly beside my F3 and F5. So why another and why the F4? Well, I needed a film camera to travel to Nepal with as I have decided to shoot exclusively on film. Having ruled out medium format this time round (the Pentax really does weigh allot!) I needed something reliable, rugged and good with manual and auto focus lenses. I also didn’t want to risk my inherited F3 and favoured F5. Hence the F4 stood out with its ability to give matrix metering with the older AI/AI-S lenses and came at a good price. Traveling light is also a must and I highly recommend the smaller MB-20 grip to any potential F4 users for this reason. I will be throwing a few rolls of film at this workhorse in the next couple of weeks to quickly learn its way of thinking and unique intricacies. Stay tuned…
New film images added to the gallery!
Yes. There’s a good reason why Nikon kept the majority of their lenses at 52mm. It meant you only needed one set of filters. You could go from the 20mm f/3.5 right through to the 200mm f/4 (some of the super telephotos had 52mm drop-ins) without changing size. Even the 50mm f/1.2 managed to keep the 52mm diameter! Whilst this may not seem as pertinent in the digital age or fixed by the use of step-up rings, I disagree. Good filters are just as important today. With in-camera effects and post processing replacing many of them, there’s still no substitute for the likes of a warming polarizer, an 81A, an ND8, a graduated ND (at least 0.6) and of course a clear UV for protection. In fact I’d never travel without my grad ND and have recently found myself looking at lenses based purely on whether or not their filter size is 52 or 77mm (the professional size). I recently passed up the new Nikon 50mm 1.4G for the older D type because Nikon decided on a non-standard 58mm ring.
More on Graduated ND Filters.
Galen Rowell’s Vision (The Art of Adventure Photography) is a full 288 pages of fantastic essays and pictures on immersing yourself in your surroundings with the single goal of capturing definitive moments in time. Its also contains plenty of technical fundamentals on film types and lighting as well as the remarkable differences between the way Nikon F3 communicates to its user as opposed to the intuition of the F4. A must read for those wishing to advance their art.
Mountain Light – Galen’s Website
Having been a while since my last roll of film, this latest set concentrates on the warm glow of both sunrise and sunset. Needless to say a few early mornings in the wind and cold were endured.