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Nikon F4

by Philip Greenspun, 1995


After losing my 8008 and 6006, a friend of mine was kind enough to lend me his F4 (he never uses it, preferring the N90). Here is what I found after a few days in the woods:


  • Sunset. Chaco Canyon, New Mexico The camera is an ergonomic nightmare compared to the 8008/6006. Instead of the shutter speed wheel protruding a bit for easy thumb access, it is a small, hard to grasp dial. Turning the camera on, a simple slide switch on the 8008/6006, requires holding one little button and rotating a collar around the shutter release. Instead of shutter speed and aperture being displayed together at the bottom of the finder, your eye has to jump between the top of the finder and the bottom to see both. Operation is clumsy overall.

    [Now that I've switched to Canon EOS bodies with their top and back controls wheels, the F4's ergonomics seem even more primitive.]

  • One is constantly inadvertently knocking the metering mode selector on top of the pentaprism, moving the camera out of matrix metering into spot metering mode, for example. (Newer F4's have a redesigned mode selector switch that isn't so easy to knock.)
  • It is much nicer to have shutter speeds to 30 seconds (8008/6006) instead of just 8 (F4).
  • A self-timer that is fixed at 10 seconds (F4) is a lot less useful as a substitute cable release than one that can be adjusted to 2 seconds (8008/6006).
  • Nikon F4, 24/2.8 AF lens, Fuji Velvia, tripod. An F4 and a 50/1.8 is as heavy as a brick. Combine the F4 body with an 80-200/2.8 lens and you'll be dead before you've finished one roll of fashion photography, unless you are as big as Arnold. Plenty of medium format SLR bodies are lighter than the F4. Coming as I do from a large- and medium-format background, I'd always thought the whole point of 35mm was take anywhere, lightweight convenience. The F4 is not really in the 35mm spirit as far as I can tell.
  • It is impossible to check and see if the camera is DX'ing film properly, an operation that takes one second with the 8008/6006.
  • The camera is much more finicky about film loading than the 8008/6006.
  • The viewfinder is not as well organized as with the 8008, requiring more eye movements (top for aperture, bottom for shutter speed). However, having 100% coverage and the diopter adjustment is really nice (Point 1 for the F4).

Conclusion: if you don't have a very specialized requirement, Nikon's lower line cameras, e.g., N90, 8008, are much better user machines.


Text and pictures copyright 1991-1995 Philip Greenspun Notes on the photos: The chili peppers on top were done with an F4, 105 AF micro-Nikkor, Velvia film. The second picture is from Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, 24 AF lens, Velvia. See my New Mexico article for more.

Article created 1995

Readers' Comments


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Mpozi Tolbert , December 13, 1996; 08:43 P.M.

In switching from the F4 to the EOS cameras (EOS-1 to be exact) I found a more comfortable and reliable system. At first glance the F4 seems like a great camera. It's fast it's durable and you can use all the nifty lenses and gadgets Nikon has made for the past 20 or so years. But it can't compare in speed, efficiency and weight to function ratio (a very important consideration I think) to the pro EOS cameras.

The EOS system has allowed me to shoot almost as fast as my reflexes allow. No more fumbling around for a shutter speed dial near my viewfinder, no more "AF stutter" (my term for that jerky dance the F4 does with it's autofocus while you watch your shot dissapear) and also, no more ribbing (how ever good natured) from the AP staffers who finally showed me the light.

Canon allows me to do everything I ned to do without taking my eye away from the camera. So all i have to do is see and shoot. Isn't that why we got in this business in the first place?

Andrew Hathaway , December 22, 1996; 02:38 P.M.

I read this page with my tail between my legs. However, I would point out that the F4, with all it's faults is a tank of a camera. And, I know my that my forearm is stronger for it. I've owned mine for 10 years now and have never had it fail on me. Dropped it once from a height of 5 feet, something I don't generally recommend, and it survived fine. I think of it like an A1 abrahms tank: Full of gadgets and the defense department claims it can float in water but tank drivers steer clear of water, just in case.

Cory Williams , March 01, 1997; 08:08 P.M.

The F-4 with the MB-20 ( smaller battery pack) is a much lighter and smaller unit . I use this set-up and like it a lot. Most of my F-4s are used underwater in Aquatica housings. I find it to be a better investment than the Nikonos or older Nikons. I would like to hear from other Underwater photographers using the F-4.

zaheer Baber , March 31, 1997; 08:09 A.M.

I've been using the F4 without the massive MB21 battery-pack for about 8 years now, and have been pretty happy with it. The criticisms about the location of dials etc seem to me to be quite superficial. This is a solid picture taking machine designed to last and last. So far it hasn't let me down, and none of my subjects have disappeard due to any focusing problems. Since I don't take sports pictures, I'm pretty happy with the focusing ability of the F4, and it will make no difference if the motor fires at 8frames per second or more (as in the F5). The F5 may be lighter, but the non-removable battery-pack seems to be a bit too big and awkward. As for Canon EOS, I'm a die-hard Nikon fan, so have never really thought about it. For a reliable picture taking machine, that handles well and feels solidly reassuring, the F4 can't be beat. Especially when combined with an FM2.

John Gardner , April 09, 1997; 09:15 A.M.

Having been a fan of Phil Greenspun's excellent work on the web I was more than a little disappointed with his banal ramblings and his out and out slagging off of the Nikon F4. Come on Phil its nowhere near as bad as you make out, I was beginning to think you hadn't even picked up an F4 judging from your comments. Canon and Nikon will always leap frog one another in terms of new features and I'm sure both have their good points. For what its worth, here are a few of my thoughts on the F4.

I am a die hard Olympus fan. I started with an OM1 & 2 (the fathers of all 35mm cameras) many years ago and now can't really afford to swap systems. But hey, *no-one* has a spot meter as good as the OM4Ti and neither Canon, Nikon nor anyone else has a macro lens & flash system as sharp and comprehensive as Olympus. But I digress.

I mostly do wildlife and so I needed a bigger lens to supplement my Zuiko 350mm f/2.8 and the Olympus 600m is too outdated. When the chance to pick up a bargain Nikkor 600mm f/5.6 arose I took it and then bought a camera to go with it. I got an F4s and I've never regretted it. Years ago I remember seeing pro wildlife snappers with this and thinking what a big ugly thing it looked compared to my OMs, but now I know I was just jealous :)

In terms of handling it is big, but it is very ergonomically designed. I find that all the buttons just fall into place at the finger tips, such as the exposure lock, DOF button etc. The shutter release is well positioned and while Phil was right about the on off switch being slightly fiddley, its not exactly difficult to master. Once I have switched mine on it doesn't get switched off till I've packed up for the day, so its especially no problem for me. There is a secondary shutter on the base of the motor drive which makes shooting in virtical mode a dream.

I don't have any problems with the shutter speed selection ring on the top plate as I rarely use this camera in manual mode (I only own the Nikkor 600mm) and when I'm shooting nature I use aperture priority mode. I wouldn't have thought, however, that it was any worse than Canon's thumbwheel, as I thought that controlled everything. So in addition to the thumbwheel you would still have to press/prod/poke or switch something else to make the thumbwheel select shutter speeds. The exposure compensation dial on the F4 is positioned well and I can easily increment exposure while still looking throught the view finder.

It may be a heavy camera, but I find that an advantage. When using this with the Nikkor 600mm and its huge front elements, I find the F4 acts as a counter balance and it is an absolute dream set up to use. I've managed sharp images (of a short-eared owl sat on a fence) at speeds of 1/8th using the 600mm and a 2x convertor. Its weight and ruggedness are also a bonus if you happen to drop this camera. It will stand up to quite severe punishment. A friend was in a repair shop the other day and the guy was talking about how tough these Nikons were. He showed my pal a Canon EOS1 that had exploded on impact after being dropped from a not very great height.

As an aside, the F4 won't stifle my creativity by fogging my Kodak high speed infra red film!

finally, in answer to some of Phil's other wailings:

Loading the film is a piece of cake, if Phil finds this tough I can only assume he has webbed hands or something (go on admit it, you have haven't you, that's why you keep knocking the meter selection dial to spot metering). Rewind is a simple operation too and there are two versions of rewind so I can change film mid-roll without the film leader being completely wound back into the cassette. OK, so with the F4 you can't check the DX film speed, but I thought the idea of DX was that you DIDN'T have to. If you feel the need to keep checking the DX film speed, why use it? Set the speed manually, oh but then how would you check the camera was using the correct film speed then :) DX can be over-ridden too. The self timer may not be adjustable but this is a gimmick feature (IMHO). 10 seconds is about right, two seconds wouldn't have given the camera time to stop vibrating after you'd pressed the shutter release and unless you are Clark Kent it wouldn't give you much time to get into your picture. Why use the timer as a substitue cable release? There are already facilities for both manual and electronic cable release. How many more do you need?

Sorry Phil, but I thought your 'review' of the F4 not up to your usual standard (cf your rollei review). It sounded very much like you were trying to justify your error in switching to Canon :)

Duane Galensky , April 10, 1997; 01:21 P.M.

The reader should be aware that any comments in this vein are highly subjective and a strong function of shoting style and other factors.

My thinking is that it's a shame that Nikon succumbed to the Canon paradigm by burying all those camera functions behind a gaggle of non-descript dial and wheel thingys. My experience with Canon is limited to the A2 which I have struggled with frequently. The notion that one dial has a certain function in one mode and another function in another mode violates the cardinal principle of sound user interface design, and certainly has the effect of befuddling the beejeesus out of me at just that critical time when I need a fast and unambiguous response from the camera.

After waiting for years for the F5, now that I've seen it, I've gone out and bought an F4s. I hope to get another before they are relegated to the dustbin of history. The speed with which I can get done what I need to get done is a direct consequence of its clear and simple design. I find that the things which are harder to do (e.g., requiring two simulataneous actions) are precisely the ones I wouldn't want to have happen inadvertently (like changing the exposure compensation on the A2 when the much lauded rear control dial brushes against my nose...ugh!) The accessories are fantastic and varied, and access to used and new lenses unmatched. I like the 300/4 USM Canon lens, and they make a fine 1.4x converter as well, but when the Canon comes out of the bag it's autopilot and hope...with the Nikon I'm in full control and the results are predictable. It matches perfectly the way I make images, your mileage may vary.

John Fraser , May 02, 1997; 07:48 P.M.

Reviews like this are what make good deals for people like me. I owned an F3 since they were introduced in the US longer ago than I want to think. I really loved it, still do. Unfortunately age eliminated my ability to manual focus, even with glassed and high eyepoint prism I added about 5 years ago. I sold it with a tear in both eyes even though I got more than I originally paid. I purchased a used F4 (9+) last October with 28-85 AF Nikkor for $1200 from a fellow who had the same attitude toward the camera as you. The price was unbelievable!

I am not a professional, just a serious amature. However, I do use my camera in situations that lightweights could not tollerate for long. I travel extensively and pass through airport security areas that require xray. I work in harsh environments that punish equipment. Try that with your plastic body.

I recently returned from Madagascar with my F4 where we both went into country few people have ever visited...National Geographic kind of areas. I used the MB20, 4 battery pack. Yes the camera was large and somewhat heavy, but I came back with pictures with quality and sharpness that I haven't seen from my hands in years. Yes, I have used lightweights that are supposedly as good as this camera. THEY ARE NOT! I don't even miss my old F3 anymore.

Ergonomics, smirgonomics. All good cameras have switches all over them. I want something that you have to deliberately turn on and off. Slide switches can accidently be turned on and off. DX'g? This idea is to make film speed selection automatic. If you don't trust it, set the film speed manually! My only objections to the F4 are the plastic prism top and the fact that the F4 was only sold in the US with the usually unnecessary MB21 battery pack. I agree that combination was awkward.

Thanks again for the bad review. I got a very good deal.

John Fraser.

Walter A. Aprile , June 05, 1997; 04:17 P.M.

There is an interesting page with F4 advocacy, comparison to other Nikon cameras and specs at

http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/users/j/jnweg/html/f4faq.htm.

Look into it for some counterarguments to Phil's F4-bashing.

Michael S McLennan , October 02, 1997; 01:12 A.M.

I have written a response to Phil's article, comparing the same three cameras he compares. To check out an article from someone who has used the F4 extensively as well as the other two he refers to then please check out the following url http://www.lisp.com.au/~mmphoto/nikons.htm

john macpherson , October 05, 1997; 03:56 A.M.

I own and use regularly an EOS1n and an F4. they are two different beasts. The F4 has the best handling 'for what I wish to do with it' of any camera I have used. Used with my 500mmf4 lens it allows me to keep my left hand on the focus ring and change all the important rhs body controls such as meter settings, meter patterns, motor speed etc with the fingers of my right hand. This is something you CANNOT do with any of the N90/8008 models. To do it with them requires you to remove your left hand from the lens focus ring, lower the camera, press a button, whirl a wheel and lift the whole lot back up again.......and of course while you do that the otter/wolf/bear/nessie/sasquatch/lord lucan/elvis has disappeared! The EOS1 is different but excellent for what I do with it. Build quality? Anything will break if you abuse it enough.....try them both ...they have their strengths and weaknesses... and at the end of the day the most important piece of equipment lies 6 inches behind the camera! Good Luck!

Michael Mc Ardle , December 14, 1997; 07:20 P.M.

I'd been using my FM2 for a little ove 11 years before I purchased the F4s. I have always considered the FM2 to be an easy camera to handle, until I got my F4s! Now I use the F4s constantly, with no problems like those you have mentioned.I've almost forgotten how to use my trusty FM2!!!!

Geoffrey S. Kane , February 26, 1998; 09:50 P.M.

Having gotten a chance to handle an F4s at a local shop, I must say that I think that they laid out the controls of the F4 with F3 users in mind. One quick glance and I could find the film speed setting, exposure compensation, MLU lever, double exposure switch, etc.

I can see how the F4 must confuse users of the N6006, N8008(s) and N90(s), but it clearly wasn't designed for them. Whether one interface is better than the other is a matter of taste, but clearly the layout of the controls on the F4 was well thought out.

I'm almost suprised that Nikon stopped production of the F4 when the F5 was release --the two models don't really seem to be in competition (much like the F3 and the F4). AF is clearly the leading feature of the F5, and must rank about 3rd or 4th on the F4 (somewhere behind the meter, and the shutter speeds/x-synch).

Carol Keeler , March 09, 1998; 03:24 P.M.

I switched to Nikon from Minolta about 8 years ago. I began with an F4, then added an 8008s, and lastly a N90. My favorite is the F4 for its design and weight. The controls were closest to my old Minolta's. I find the weight an advantage to getting sharp pictures. I use the F4 for close-up and landscapes and the N90 for wildlife. The 8008s is just a back-up which usually has print film in it. If a petite female can handle two of these cameras, what's the matter with you gentleman? Each camera has its strengths and draw backs and it depends on how you shoot as to what's the most appropriate. Canon's a great system too with many strengths. I'd love an EOS with a 90mm TS lens. I think the F5 is super, but is just too big to handle and fit in a bag. I do use the smaller battery pack on my F4. Well, there's my two bits, if anyone's interested.

Stephan Shuichi Haupt , May 04, 1998; 03:22 A.M.

I have used F4 (and F4s) for some years now and agree that there is a host of features to be critical about, besides the problems already discussed. a) location of the cable release socket (....) b) lack of electrical release socket on the MB20 battery pack c) lack of vertical release on the MB20 There are good things to say, but that is natural for a "professional" camera (whatever that means). For me, the only reason to opt for the F4 instead of F801s/N8008s was the availability of the M type finder screen for microscopy...but just why Nikon failed to integrate metering modes other than spot into the body is quite a mystery - giving us another halfbaked camera (ok: the other AF bodies are crap because you cannot see the aperture setting of lenses without CPU in the finder - Nikon-style compatibility to push you to buy new stuff for normal convenience levels).

Sam Too , May 07, 1998; 07:51 A.M.

Being the owner of a F4S since its introduction, I was, of course, quite disappointed with your comments (or shall I say complaints?) about it. Yes, in certain ways it has its drawbacks in terms of its weight and other minor tweaks but one cannot compare them with the reliability and strength of the F4S system. Being a rather rough user of cameras, I have put mine through all possible inhospitable terrains that one can ever imagine. Yet, the trusty F4S has never failed me once. Now even with a nasty crack on the DP-20 view-finder, it is still giving endless satisfaction from this battle-proven workhouse. My only regret is that Nikon has stopped its production on an otherwise brillant camera.

Dennis Weeks , May 26, 1998; 02:41 P.M.

Having used a Nikon F-4 for four years, in the studio, on location, in the classroom and while traveling I have come to the conclusion that the F-4 is a precise and utterly reliable instrument capable of performing superbly and without fail. Outside the studio the 4 "AA" batterypack is best. The camera is as sturdy as a brick; but its well balanced design feels very comfortable after using it all day. The viewfinder diopter adjustment is great for eyeglass wearers because it reduces eyestrain while providing maximum sharpness. The bright image and clearly displayed info. offers me just what I want. A body is only as good as the lenses you can attach to it. The Nikon line offers me quality and reliability along with variety that I do not believe are matched by the competition. I enjoy Phillip's perspective and recommend his site to my students, but he should know that he did not give the F-4 an adequate chance.

Glen Widing , July 13, 1998; 09:46 A.M.

I have worked with Pentax, Canon and Nikon for many years. When it was time for me to upgrade to AF, I traded in my Canon T90s for Nikon F4. I agree that the AF is not as good as on EOS and I sure miss the thumbweel. Add the rewind mechanism and the plastic top - I would really like an answer from the makers on that. But.... I bought Nikon because Canon EOS has this plastic-fantastic feeling. The flashsystem stinks and is no way near Nikon4s, the lightmeter is not as good, and (in Norway) they are way behind when it comes to handling the customer. If I take my F4 to Nikons for a checkup, I have it back within a few days. At Canon, you have to wait for weeks.

I envy Canonusers the AF and the fast zooms, but nothing more. As long as you stay away from Nikon4s zooms (I haven4t tried the newest 80-200 2,8) and stick to the fixed lenses, this camera is on top. If you4re looking for fast AF combined with Nikon quality, buy F5.

Steve Fletcher , August 28, 1998; 04:09 P.M.

I suspect Phillip's opening comments on a borrowed F4 were only intended to stimulate discussion, and were thus intentionally inflammatory. So, for a little balance, I'll point out that I strongly disagree with his review. After 5 years of F4s use, I continue to marvel at the quality and joy of use of the camera. Duane Galensky already said above quite elegantly what I would like to second, namely that the "analog style" interface used on the F4s is superior to the fiddly "digital computer type" interface on my 6006 (which I never use). In an urgent shooting situation (which ones aren't :-) the most important feature is to be able to unambiguously monitor all critical camera information. The F4s was designed from the start to do just this, I feel, and it does it well. As someone else pointed out, functions on the 6006-type interface that require 2 hands (one to toggle a mode switch, one to adjust ISO, for example) clearly place these cameras into the raw amateur realm. When I'm shooting nature, one hand stays on the lens focusing ring, the other does anything else that's necessary. Finally, F4s ergonomics are wonderful. It's heavy, but the moment I picked one up at a swap meet and ran it through on fast advance was the moment I knew I needed one. The fast, damped mirror action makes the difference between getting the catchlight in the bird's eye and missing it with a 6006.

Serious -- , September 10, 1998; 11:29 P.M.

I own 2 Nikon F4S. I`ve dropped each around 7 times. Both have been drenched dozens of times during assignments. I don`t think when using it`s functions. Both have never let me down in any way what so ever, even after dropping on concrete. Canon? I just don`t think so. Of course easy dials & light weight help when you are not good at handling a camera or generally taking pictures under pressure.

Dirk -- , October 24, 1998; 06:06 P.M.

I never really dropped my F4, but one day i had to spend $1000 on readjusting the camera mount. I don't take too much care using the F4, but it is definitely not inbreakable. Who ever said the F4 is top high tech?? it is the link between MF and AF Nikon's. No other Nikon offers you Matrix metering with AI lenses! Canon switched to a new mount system....sure, shutter speed and aperture are not nicely located in the view finder, but even 30 year old lenese aperture can be seen in the view finder. I gave up using the AF of the F4 it is too old...and slow and...but for my needs i am fast enough using MF, if you don't agree try first or look at the F5 this is the answer to all the high tech stuff people were missing for years, a little late, but great, but.....using old equipment on an F5, possible, but no Matrix, no aperture in the view finder and and and....and last but not least, the bare F4 is not too heavy for everyday shots, the F4s is maybe, but i really liked the commercial: big, heavy, complicated, expensive F4 the F4s combinde with the 2,8/80-200mm is nicely balanced and i am definnitely not Arnold! i like my F4 the old fashioned style.

Shimon Mor , December 02, 1998; 09:14 A.M.

Phil seems to be a fan of Canon's A2. It's funny, because I switched from the A2 to the F4 a couple of years ago and do not regret it. The photos which came out of the Canon were great--I can't see much difference between the Canon product and the Nikon product. However, the A2 was frustrating to use. No mirror lock up was a pain. The 2 sec psuedo lock up feature didn't cut it. I did like the dials controlling the aperture and speed, but I hated the little buttons you had to press to change functions. I much prefer the switches and dials of the F4. Changing from matrix to spot metering and back is easy with the F4. My biggest gripe was having to pull my eye away from the viewfinder to check settings. With the F4 I can keep my eye on the subject and change any function and verify it in the viewfinder. The A2's viewfinder lacked 100% coverage and exposure number. DOF preview is also easier on the F4. Plus, it's built like a tank. The A2 felt like a toy. I always felt like I had to be careful with it. I realize that these two cameras are not exactly in the same class (F4 is over twice as expensive), but the A2 is representative of the direction modern cameras are taking. I love my F4 with it's MF-23 and 105/2.8 micro AIS.

Edric Lawu , January 07, 1999; 07:33 A.M.

I have my F4E and F90x as a backup for over four years now. One or two years ago I had this vacation trip to Bali island in my country Indonesia. I was in heavy rain when i walked down for maybe 2 miles to my car after shot lots of rolls of a big traditional dance ceremony. When i got into the car, i immediatelly checked my equipment and all inside the bag were wet. i got 1 inch water because i forgot to zip the bag completely (Thats the stupid things ive done). The F4 was okay, so was the 80-200/2.8, 35-135, 50/1.4, 24/2.8, SB-26, but different story for the F90x ( its abolutely dead). I fixed it at local pro shop and it cost me 1/3 of the body price. Lucky me, my F4 still capable to get some nice pictures of the island. From my opinion, F90x is far better advanced than the F4, but if you dont want to care your camera like a baby, F4 is the choice. Ive dropped it four times, put it in water like it was an submarine camera, and it works perfectly like a tank, no messy problem. It only has two tiny weeny scratch in the bottom and thats it. It heavy though, but no plastic fantastic feeling ( I hate that). It makes you feel confident to take those great pictures in your mind. And the more you experience with it, youll have no problem with the weight.

Eric Newnam , January 16, 1999; 04:17 P.M.

I get tired of people complaining of the F4's weight. It wasn't designed to be a cute little point and shoot camera. F4's are usually mounted behind even heavier lenses on a monopod. I shoot sports with the F4, and find the weight (and autofocus) perfectly fine in these situations for it was designed. I also like the fact that all controls are a one step process. I do feel, however, that the construction might be overkill for one who simply carries it around for travel photos with a 50mm lens.

Chau Doan , February 07, 1999; 11:34 P.M.

After reading all of your posts I feel like the most unlucky person. I have used my F4 just for a studio work with clean and safe inviroment. But two days ago it lost its power suddenly. I can't belive it. I am waiting from the Nikon Sevice to find the problem. Anyone has similar problem? Chau Doan

Hoyin Lee , February 09, 1999; 01:53 P.M.

I have no problem with the F4's ergonomics, which, curiously, seems to cause extreme love or hate in the user. However, I can fully understand Philip Greenspun's complaint about the weight of the F4, for I often feel the same way when I'm carrying my F4s around for an extended period of time. Using the MB-20 battery pack does reduce the weight, but I much prefer having the vertical grip provided by the MB-21. To help carry this weighty beast around, I use an Op/Tech Pro Strap, which I sling diagonally across my shoulder rather than around my neck, and a handstrap -- not the Nikon AH-4 Handstrap, which is designed like a masochistic bondage device, but a cheaper Japanese brand that allows the hand to easily slip in and out of the leather hand piece. However, the weight of the F4s makes it a very steady camera to hold. This coupled with the camera's excellent mirror and shutter vibration control, help to reduce the chance of camera-shake. Despite my occassional grumble, I consider the weight factor a small price to pay for a camera that makes taking good picture (technically, at least) a fairly easy thing to do.

Rob Evans , February 17, 1999; 04:10 P.M.

After reading all your stories about F4s being used as hammers for several years without ill effects I find that mine is broken after three years of tender loving care. It persistently refuses to load film and seizes up. It makes me want to cry.

Kameron Flynn , February 26, 1999; 06:43 P.M.

I couldn't disagree more with this review. I don't actually own an F4, but I've borrowed the one my college newspaper's photo department owns quite a bit, and I've used it with an 80-200 quite a bit as well. The ergonomics are a big part of the reason I like it so much. It's a heavy camera, but there's plenty of room to hold on. The lack of space to hold on was my number one complaint about my N90s before I bought the MB-10 (with the MB-10, it's a great body, but I'd still rather shoot with an F4). This might not be an issue for people who drag out their camera once or twice a month to do some landscape shots, but if you've ever shot stuff like sports or theater, or anything where you have to hold on to a camera for a couple of hours at a time, it can get irritating to have a body that leaves you no place to put your pinky. That's not a problem if you're using a 50 mm lens, but anytime I've got an 80-200 on the camera, I find I need that extra grip just for the leverage. The vertical shutter release is also something that shouldn't be ignored. This is probably one of the most valuable features of this camera (I think it makes the MB-10 for the N90s well worth the cost). Again, this might not be something you appreciate if you only shoot three or four rolls a month, but if you get to the point where you shoot twenty or thirty rolls a month, it's a great feature. I also really appreciate other things like silent advance and the option to rewind manually (a fairly important feature if you shoot any theater or other such performances). At this point, I think those are the features I would have liked most if they were on my N90s (and I've shot with 8008s and 6006 before; I know the controls are essentially the same). The only reason I have an N90s instead of an F4 is the price. That's not to say I think the N90s is a bad body; I love it, but I would still rather have an F4.

Eric Edelman , March 18, 1999; 12:29 A.M.

After switching from Minolta, I decided to buy an F4s (in 1999). A few comments:

1) I've found the AF fine for everything I shoot, up to and including flying birds. I'm sure I'd get a few more "keepers" if I used an F5 to shoot birds in flight, but since this isn't a primary use, I can't see tormenting myself with an interface I don't really care for on the F5.

2) The weight of the F4s and a 80-200 f2.8 doesn't bother me. I use an Optech strap, and the camera is perfectly comfortable on a 5 mile walk. However, I can certainly see that the weight could be an issue for some people.

3) The ergonomics of the camera are terrific. I started out with manual cameras and find the controls refreshing compared to the LCD panels and overabundance of small buttons and switches.

4) Film unloading????? I haven't had a problem getting the film out of the camera. I don't have a clue where Philip was going with this comment.

5) Self timer as a remote release? OK, let me get this straight: You'll carry an F4, a lens, a tripod, and a ballhead. But you won't carry a remote release cord that you can stick in your pocket?

To sum it up, obviously I like the F4, and Philip switched to Canon. I'm sure that if Philip and I wound up standing next to each other, we wouldn't exchange any harsh words about camera choice, and I'm sure we're both happy with our choice of gear.

YiBien THAM , March 25, 1999; 11:33 P.M.

I don't find the F4s being heavy at all. In fact, I've tried out the F4E and I still don't find any problem with it. The metering mode switch cannot be any more convenient than that, click click click and you can switch between spot, center weight, and matrix in a split second! Besides, I don't recall EOS having any changeable view finder. Also, try to drop the F4s with an AI-S 300mm f/2.8 from shoulder length (unfortunately I had this experience), both items are still in working conditions after the drop. Care to drop a Canon EOS-1N or the EOS-1N RS?

Charles Koh , April 07, 1999; 04:55 A.M.

I have had 2 F4s since 1994 and in 1997, bought 2 F5. I just have to say that the F4s is by far the sexiest camera ever designed on this planet.

For anyone who has used it, it feels so good to the grip. And all those analogue style controls for program mode, shutter speed, compensation etc. I would say they are superior to the F5's command input style. Yes, we all can learn the new interface but given a choice, I would prefer the old style. Why ? Because you can remember and change the settings without having to look or press combinations of keys. I can practically change settings just by hearing the clicks.

If Nikon had retained the body of the F4 and updated the electronics inside with what the F5 has, I am sure there will be lots of people who would love it.

And weight wise, the 200 or so grams does not really make any difference anymore when you carry lens such as 80-200, 20-35 and 35-70 plus SB-24/25/26 flash and then there is a second body and maybe even a 300mm f2.8 with converters.

Unfortunately, production of the F4 has ceased and all those remaining units out there will be sold in the next 2 years. If I had lots of money, I would buy 3 or 4 more F4s bodies and use them as spares. At least it would hopefully last my lifetime since Nikon promised only to support it with spare for the next 10 years or so.

Davary Mehdy , April 13, 1999; 08:24 A.M.

Hi!

Bob Liu , April 28, 1999; 10:38 A.M.

I am a die-hard Nikon fan, I purchased F401, F601 before 7 years ago, and bought F4 four years ago, I enjoyed the system so much, unfortunately, after I used (and bought ) F5 , I decline use F4 . Big point is for its meter system, I wonder and amazing the F5 3D RGB system, I took brilliant picture which I never saw by my F4 , I use A and P mode for most of time, but I just want to I prefer F5's meter system than its focus. At least, most of Nikon lens have no motor ,so I can't feel any faster than Canon (except AFS lens). I honest to show my opinion, I disappoint that F100 's meter system is similar to F90X, so I don't expect F80 will improve much than F70.

mpozi tolbert , May 20, 1999; 02:10 A.M.

Wow! It's been four years since my last posting on this discussion group... But it's great to see the debate continuing potentially into the next century... I'm staffing (far and away from Philly- it's playoff time and my Sixers jersey is a big bullseye out here) for the Indianapolis Star now, shooting with the EOS 1n's, and as ironic as it may be, I was also issued an F4! Seems my preference for the 300 f.4 (all the magnification, half the conspicuosness) let the only other available 300 2.8 go to the pool cabinent for basketball, while I took an F4 and a 300 2.8 for emergency use... I kinda like having it for that limited purpose, generaly for compression shots, and the occasional spot news- also it frees up my two Canon bodies for other stuff . But one thing I found I liked was taking out some of the older Nikkor primary (read steel and glass- no plastic/electronics) lenses for quick walkabout assignments... I really loved the brightness of the non-compund lenses namely the Nikkor 35mm 1.4... I'd love to find another F2 in all honesty, kinda a poor man's Leica right? Anyway, it's nice to see this posting is still breathing... Keep responding!

Mpozi Mshale Tolbert (;=

(Former Philadelphia AP Stringer- "I came, I signed (the contract) I found myself another way to make a living...")

james moegaron , May 29, 1999; 04:48 P.M.

Sorry but the F4 is a jewel and will remain so until the last unit vaporises into thin air. I have used and abused this camera to the point where no EOS could ever withstand and still the measurements are precise.

Tom Murphy , July 21, 1999; 07:20 P.M.

MY F4 has survived two Safaris to Botswana without failure. I sold 25 shots from each trip. Made enough to pay for three F4s.Works for me!Plus, I see why all you are photogs and not writers. Please take a spelling course, or two. You ned to lern to spel gooder.Ok, fire back.

John Uitjens , August 02, 1999; 03:31 P.M.

Since last week I am the proud onwer of a F-4s. I was looking already for some time for a good camera I could also use compleet manually. After reading all the great things you all wrote about this camera I changed al my (manual) minolta stuff for this great F-4s....... Because I am used to work with manual camera's ( My point of view still only the real way of making pictures ) I would like to ask you all if there are some nice F-4 users who can give my some good tips and/or ideas for making nice pictures with this great camera........... , or maybe you know some other nice www pages to visit. So please sent some e-mails so that I can have the full experince with this F-4s.

Kirk Benson , September 15, 1999; 05:40 P.M.

I've owned my F4 for about a year now, having "graduated" from a 6006, which I use as a backup body. I can agree with almost all the pros and cons (weight seems the most persistent). The only problem I have with mine concerns film unloading. When I reload standing up with a strap around my neck, I find that the strap keeps the back from opening fully; hence the back wants to close, and I need one hand to hold it open. Since the "rewind lever" shaft has a tendency to fall back down into the film spool, I feel that sometimes 3 hands are needed to unload/load the film. Once the roll is inserted, film loading is flawless.

I just got back from a trip to the Angkor area in Cambodia, and my shots of the temples were fantastic.

Damian Tierney , September 16, 1999; 10:12 P.M.

I cant believe anyone could bag the nikon F4. I owned a F4s for 4 years and never had one problem with it. It is a vey solid tool. I now use Canon.(eos3, eos1n) Now the simple fact is the Nikon F4 is built like a tank and is an excelent performer. Everyone knows it is slow to autofocus but that is its only drawback (if you need it). It is heavy, but you get used to it. Had the F5 been released earlier I would have brought it for its faster autofocus.(sports photography) Instead I brought an eos1n and eos3. They dont come close to the Nikon F5 nad F4 in build quality. That is not to say that Canon make cheap cameras, Canon cameras are also very well built, it is just that Nikon go that extra bit futher in constuction. I love both Nikon and Canon pro cameras and believe they are both excelent systems. When it comes down to it they both perform at the same level. Some canon lenses are better than Nikon and some Nikon Lenses are better than canon. Its totally personal prefrence. In my opinion anyone that says either the F4,F5,F100 or Eos1n,Eos3 are not great cameras have never used these cameras or are just having them selves on. I would confidently use any of these cameras professionally.

Damian

Chien Shih , September 18, 1999; 06:34 P.M.

One tends to be philosophical after long years away from the subject. I had a Nikon 1969 F and also a 1974 F2, it was beautiful machines then and took the most satisfying pictures. One day, I got my F2 stolen with my bag of lens and the only thing left is my Nikon F and 50mm SC 1.4 lens, as long as I care to remember, I parted with photography and went into the "real" world to get my fair share of material things. Twenty years went by quickly, I now have an urge to revisit where I left off with my previous life and I bought a Nokon F4.

To my surprise, my twenty years plus Nikon lens can still be used with the F4, it still takes good picture, the F4 still has the familiar feel of my old true Nikon F which by itself still functioning fine after all these years.

I go into so much trouble to describe this is because I think Nikon is a traditionalist's camera, it takes pain and a self concious attitude to maintain your tradition. You will not have immediate gratification of the latest and greatest toy of the day, but after twenty years and begining of the graying process, you will know the difference.

franco pagliari , October 01, 1999; 07:04 A.M.

I own an F4s and I have only one resevation about buying this machine,If you need rear curtain synch for falsh photography,you have a choice of three discontinued flash guns (SB24,25,26).Nikon Japan have run out of spare parts for the SB24 so no chance of mending after spending precious bucks.Nikon recomend buying the SB26 as they have 5 years worth of spares,this is normal Nikon practice that once a flashgun has become discontinued,normal servicing and fixing of problems will continue for five years.I just returned from a trip to the philipines where I used an SB15 which blew on me and that was with careful use,only to find that Nikon Japan do not mend this Item anymore.It is clear that once the SB25 and SB26 spares run out there will be no flashgun to use with the F4 which will do rear curtain synch.The new line of Nikon bodies incorporate rear curtain and slow synch so no problem for those owners.I hope a third party manufacturer comes up with a gun for the F4.Does Nikon U.S.A. and Europe employ the same policy?

Timothy Breihan , October 12, 1999; 06:04 P.M.

I was recently examining a used F4 at a local dealer. The camera caught my eye because it was on sale for an unusually low price. Being a manual-focus user, I was impressed by the lack of computerization on this model. Granted, the autofocus is terrible, but I wouldn't use it anyway. This camera is truly the link between MF and AF, and if you wanted a rugged alternative to an F3 with shutter speeds up to 1/8000 sec. and multi-mode metering, the F4 would be an excellent choice, if you can put up with the weight.

Enrico Pelos , October 21, 1999; 04:26 A.M.

Having just discovered your forum I have the advantage to read all about and so I am able to be more focusing on F4 pros and cons and beeing using an F4s since ten years now I like to give my small contribution. Here are some of my comments. I agree about the weight and many of the (small in my opinion) defects as reviewewd "Nikon F4 by Philip Greenspun for photo.net." (infact I think as - Zaheer Baber, March 31, 1997 Phil Greenspun's excellent work on the web I was little disappointed with his ramblings about the Nikon F4) but I also agree (Mpozi Tolbert, December 13, 1996) with tank comparison. I will certainly have some doubts in using it in fashion photo with a 300mm on, but using the equipment up in the mountains (and god knows about all the weight together with the lenses, with tripod and so on..) I'd rather want to be sure that (in many cases in places I will probably never go back) every shot is secure. Having to worry about kms of mountain paths, rain, sometime snow and ice, finding the right place, the right light, the right angle etc.. I do not want to worry about the equipment. In this respect I must say that I did not have one single failed shot. If it had happened was something of my fault or inexperience. The camera was always working very well. So I can easily forget about back cable release, 2 hands film loading and the whole lot of small so called defects As stated by Steven Keirstead, (April 23, 1997) Yes the camera is large and heavy, but when I come back with pictures the quality and sharpness is superb (ok ok it depends also by the film...) One negative point is that also in Italy after the introduction of th F5 the F4 is even disappeared from price lists but on the contrary who has one is keeping it very tight. Finally I hope -- james moegaron, (May 29, 1999) - will forgive my spelling as ... I am not english.

All the best to you all from Genova, the Christopher Columbus native land, in Italy.

Greg Jackson , October 28, 1999; 05:46 A.M.

I just bought an F4 on top of my 1992 FM2. I compared it to a friends Cannon in passing, and found that to be such a toy-like 'feeling' camera (plastick body and lens, what seemed like plastick viewfinder glass etc) that I did not even lock at the model number. Anybody that makes models like that is dead meat for me (even the N60 feels much nicer). Maybe Canon's AF is faster, but I love using my old 105/2.5 AIS, 24/2.8 AIS etc. for another 10 years. Granted, the power-on button of the N60/70/90/100 and F5 is much nicer + the F5/100 electronic DOF is great; but that's were it ends. I like a solid brick feel, for as little as $450 (FM2 new) or $695 (F4 used OK shape, both on Web recently). BTW: how does an LCD display (F100, F5 etc) work in Death Valley, at 12:00 noon in July: not very well for long I presume (LCD's heal when returned to room temp).

Lloyd Ator , November 03, 1999; 03:50 P.M.

I switched in 1991 from the Olympus system to Nikon AF because I found my ability to focus critically and quickly in the iffy light of weddings, receptions, etc. was not what it used to be. Chose the Nikon F4S over Cannon EOS without a great deal of thought. Bought, then sold, an 8008S as 2d body because I did not like fooling with the control knob or trying to read the LCD display--particularly in low light. Bought a 2d F4S body, used, and expect to use them until I quit doing 35mm photography. The F5 is terrific, but, you see, it has one of those damned little etch-a-sketch windows to read. I can set my F4s in the dark (and sometimes do), and verify settings with a glance in the studio with or without my glasses.

Second point: The new AF-S lenses focus as quickly as any on the market I believe. It's not the camera, it's the lens. AF with my original f 2.8 80-200 and 35-70 was, admittedly, awfully slow--even a reluctant groom being dragged up the aisle could be a challenge.

Third point: I use a couple of non-AF lenses with the camera (the 400mm f3.5 and the 28mm PC, purchased used or demo, with no problem). Ditto for the TC14-B and TC301 converters. As lens technology continues to evolve the attraction of being able to use older lenses fades, but there are some good oldies, particularly special purpose lenses, that can be used with the F4. Not so with the pre-EOS Cannon lenses.

The camera bodies are indeed heavy, and my briefcase-elbow aches after a couple of hours' work with them, but I find them extremely stable platforms for handheld shooting and extremely durable for a klutz like me.

I, too, sometimes experience failure-to-load on my first attempt to load film, but once you hold your mouth right you'll succeed. There is, of course, that funny but sad clip of a National Geo shooter covered with BIG mosquitos out in the jungle trying repeatedly to load his F4 in one of their NG photographers series, but it always makes me feel my troubles are easier to bear. (It's also a good idea not to be on frame 32 when the flower girl starts down the aisle regardless of what camera you use.)

And, Phil, I've even mastered the one-handed turn-the-camera-on or switch-the-function trick. Well, maybe not "mastered", but I CAN do it sometimes with the camera held at my eye!

Jean-Luc Orsi , November 15, 1999; 04:50 P.M.

I have kept and never sold all my Nikon bodies (14, from F to F4) and 25 manual lenses from 15 to 300mm. My wife is an EOS 1 happy photographer with many outstanding images made possible by (her eye)and the fastness and "natural" operating way of Canon great match between L lenses and pro body. Some time we switch Nikon with Canon and always we share our treasured Leica extensive M and R system. We are extensive travellers and have carried different cameras around the world from Antartica to the Sahara. Conclusions: F4 is good for me, autofocus is of great help for my difficult eyesight (diffrent glasses for long and short sight), dials are very traditional and do not require any adapatation for old time photographers, good (for japanese standards) old AIS lenses are usable with all metering modes, feeling with the heavy metal body is reassuring. Canon EOS 1: excellent L lenses, much better than Nikkors, speed of operation unequalled, plastic body is actually very very sturdy.

Nevertheless: if you have a young excellent eyesight, finger faster than any ultrasonic motor, throw all that japanese crap in the dustbin and get negs that once enlarged to 11x14 or more won't show the difference with 6x6 or even a 4x5: buy Leica.

Justin L , November 28, 1999; 03:08 A.M.

I read an earlier comment that "REAR" sync cannot be set on the F4. In Michael Huber/ Magic Lantern Guide for SB-28, 1999 edition, pg 98 states that this adjustment can be set on the camera. However, in his same book, the compatibility chart omitted this function for F4??

Could someone verify if this is true?

A T , December 01, 1999; 02:45 P.M.


NOW WE HAVE LEICA FANS!

Anyway, I have noticed that the entire line of Nikon cameras have always had a more sturdy and solid feel than their matching Canon counterpart. The F4 has an awesome solid feel that is a pleasure to shoot with. It has great metering and great compatibility.

By the way I do not agree that Canon L lenses are better that Nikkors.

If I thought I could justify the extra cost then I would dump my F4s and get the F5. The F5 is a better camera no doubt. It's meter is as perfect as you are going to find. With my F4 I often over and under-expose my shots just to try and bring out more detail that the meter was not able to account for. The problem with this is that I waste alot (and I mean ALOT) of film to get that perfect shot. This is a problem for those one chance shots. With the F5 you are guaranteed to expose the film perfectly. As for the F5's LCD becoming problematic in Death Valley: This is not possible with the temperatures in Death Valley. I was there in August and it was 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This is not hot enough to damage any LCD not even the LCD in the old F3. But it is hot enough to fry your Bbraein! I will say that the F5 does eat up batteries though.

Nikon's AF-S lenses focus very very fast, as fast as any! But for what I do the plain AF lenses focus fast enough for me.

The F4s is heavy but if you switch out the MB-21 battery pack with the MB-20 battery pack (which holds 4 AA's) then you will see it is a much much lighter camera with a still solid feel. It will still perform the same but the battery life drops by more than half.

The F4 is a world class camera that can compete against any of it's competitors and in my opinion exceed them.

Robert Mossack , March 12, 2000; 01:25 P.M.

I just wanted to comment that there ARE third party flash units that will work with the Nikon F4 in rear curtain synch mode. My Promaster is one of them, and I believe that most others (sunpak, sigma, etc..)should have this function too. Just one more note on the Promaster, it's not as versatile as a Nikon SB speedlite,(no fine tuning in ttl fill flash mode)and it's not as well built, so the SB 24/25/26 would still be the better choice.

Robert Mossack

Craig Zeni , July 06, 2000; 03:35 P.M.

To me, the beauty of the F4 is that its controls are very traditional...no thumbwheels or other fiddly controls. Each control does only one thing, and there's no tiny LCD screen chock-a-block with tiny unintelligible pictograms and icons which I find so infuriating on the F5 and Canon products.

Yes it's heavy, especially with the MB-23 that I use on mine. But it fits my hands perfectly, and feels excellent all the way around...

Nhat Nguyen , July 19, 2000; 02:34 A.M.

To each his own... that's my philosophy. Some find the F4's control layout a godsend and others find it to be an ergonomic nightmare.

I bought my F4 this year (feb 2000) and have not regretted it. The only feature that I wished it had was auto bracketing, but that solved this week when I finally tracked down a beaten used MF-23 back for only $150.

I came from manual cameras like the Pentax 67 and original Contax RTS... so the controls on the F4 were second nature to me and ideal. Yes I agree with the poster who made the comment about how the F4 seemed to be designed for those moving over from an F3. I never used and EOS or a Minolta, who's controls are more LCD based.

Is the autofocus slow? By all means yes when compared to today's top of the line slrs. However, the speed is plenty fine for my shooting style and subjects. I would hate to use my F4 for sports or fast moving swinging monkeys!

Is it heavy? Of course...it's a tank. and if one doesn't like the weight, then go with something lighter. The weight helps balance the camera very well with heavy lenses.

Having shot with a Pentax 67, Hassy 500c, and an older RTS for the past several years, the F4 has been great . All the modern features of autoexposure, exp comp, builtin motordrive, molded grip, removable prism for waist level, 3 modes of metering, and AUTO focusing! But I can understand why others who have shot with more automated SLRs are frustrated when they compare it's speed to say a Canon EOS 1...the EOS is a speed demon.

I enjoy shooting with my F4 and would encourage potential buyers to at least consider it. If it fulfills your needs, then don't be afraid to get it. If it doesn't fulfill your style then by all means get a new F100 or F5.

mike isidro , September 29, 2000; 07:48 A.M.

I just recently acquired a Nikon F4s for US $540. It had many problems. The viewfinder was full of muck, the eyepiece shutter is stuck, the ASA speed dial moved freely and wont fix, The depth of field button is stuck, R1 and R2 levers were stuck with mud, and as a whole, it didn’t look like a decent camera at all. But it was an F4. For the next few days I whipped out a cleaning cloth and a few drops of oil, soap, lens cleaner, armor all, dental floss, and gentle rubbing and cuddling. All the problems mentioned above were fixed and the camera looks and functions perfectly. Compared side by side to a newer F4s, there wasn’t much difference to spot the $540 camera to the $1450 camera beside it. The inside of the both bodies were pristine and very clean. I’m not sure if you can do this to any other camera, even to the F5 or Canon EOS3 or any LCD based bodies.

Michael King , October 07, 2000; 08:09 A.M.

Indeed a very interesting discussion. I am not familiar with the F4, or in fact any of Nikon's gear...so I guess I do not know what I am missing.

I do know this...I LOVE my EOS 3.

Darrell Young , October 16, 2000; 10:31 P.M.

Fellow photographers. I have enjoyed this long discussion very much, and I'm glad to be a part of it. I've had my F4 for a while now , and so far have found quite a bit to like. I have owned mostly Nikon equipment for 20 years or so, and have used everything from an FM, EM, FE, FE2, and an original F. Plus I do some medium format.

This is my first "professional" 35mm (other than the original F), and I must say....I LOVE IT!

Commenting on the weight...well, I traded in a Mamiya RB67 with a big prism finder for this camera, so it feels like a light-weight in comparison. I agree that compared to my FE2 with its MD-12 motor it is heavier, but to me that is a GOOD thing. One of the banes of 35mm photography in general is that aggravating mirror flopping up and down, just when I am trying to get that shake-free shot. This F4 weighs about as much as my FE2/MD-12 and the sandbag I threw on top to dampen vibrations on those macro shots. Now I don't need the sandbag! Plus, I read that the mirror is counter-balanced by a tungsten counterweight. Even better! And now I find a nice little mirror lockup control. Sigh!

Anyway, on control placement...I find, having come from other Nikons that the control placement is where I would expect it to be. I love the fact that this baby has so many controls. I count 12 controls just for the right hand alone, and eight for the left. As an avowed gadget freak, there ain't enough controls, give me some more please. Seriously though, the controls all have a solid click feel to them, and seem like they will be difficult to dislodge from the last setting. I don't find it at all difficult to use the controls. I can easily set the motor drive with one hand, for instance. The exposure and focus lock controls all fall right under my fingers, as does the mirror lockup and depth-of-field preview button. I don't have particularly large hands, but all these controls seem to fit me well.

I loaded the film easily. In the older Nikons, I had to stick the little leader in the little slot and manually roll the film forward a few notches, then close the back, and watch the rewind knob while winding to make sure it moves. Then I would take the slack out of the roll with the rewind knob. But...on this F4, I stuck in the film, pulled the leader out and dropped it next to the red mark, closed the back, and held down the motor button. It stopped right on frame one, ready to shoot. Could that be any easier? If a person wants anything easier, they should switch to an Advantix drop in film type!

I am a computer consultant by trade, so I appreciate a good hunk of computer equipment better than most. This F4 is a cool package in that respect too. It is very computerized...19 automatic multiple bracketing exposures with the MF-23 back. Matrix, center-weighted, and spot metering with an easy switch movement (Not too easy so as to move by brushing it, I tried!), electronic shutter, manual metering, shutter and aperture priority modes, standard program mode, and high-speed program mode. It uses analog controls very effectively to manipulate its very digital internal systems. I appreciate that. Everything feels so smooooth.

The one thing that could be improved is the viewfinder. I suppose that it isn't quite as convenient as my FE2's, but it makes up for it by giving me a light switch that lights the meter up at night. I don't like looking from top to bottom of the finder for metering info. But, I guess since this thing has multiple prisms available, I could find one that suits me better.

I have a bunch of old favorite Nikkor AI lenses that are still very functional on this F4. I like that a lot. I have one older 50mm F1.8 that is so sharp that it scares me. I can still use it on this camera. I've never had Autofocus before, so...I can't be a good judge here, but, I do like the autofocus so far. It doesn't seem at all slow to me. I point it at something and it seems to focus very quickly, much faster than my forty-two year old eyes could do alone, anyway. I put it in continuous focus mode and it seems to find what I am looking for very quickly. I noticed that it prefers lines to focus against, and not wide blank areas, but, man...I can't focus well on wide blank areas either.

Maybe Canon is faster, but I don't like plastic. I like this big sturdy aluminum frame. In fact, here in the Great Smoky Mountians in Tennessee, we are not allowed to carry guns on long hikes. I once heard tale of a fellow who used his F4 to fend off a big black bear. I don't know if I believe that tall tale, but...other than a big rock, I can't think of a better "legal" defensive weapon against bears, elves, pigmies, trolls, or other creatures of the night mountain air here in the Smokies.

So if you are ever in Cades Cove in the Smokies, and see a funny computer nerd guy with an F4, being chased by a bear...it'll probably be me, and I'll most likely have some great shots to show for my efforts too! It actually happened once, but that was with an FE, and is another story. Would you like to see some of the pictures?

Hey, if you like Canon, go buy one; me...I'm a Nikon guy, and my F4 is, as one of the local bears might say, juuuust right!

Magnus Lirell , November 14, 2000; 03:52 A.M.

I started out with an 8008 in -91, but when I got my first F4e the year after, the 8008 was used a lot less until it finally just collected dust in the camera-bag. Today I have two F4e's wich I love, it's a real workhorse. If the 8008 is so great, how come it doesn't take the newer AF-I / AF-S lenses despite the fact that it was introduced almost five years after the F4. Having said that, I wouldn't mind an F5, but at the time the F4 is more than enough.

/Magnus

alexander chr. zaforek , November 16, 2000; 10:26 P.M.

Hi! I'm a 21 year old student (biology & ethnology), I've started serious photography with an Olympus IS-3000 (splendid point & shoot !! more than 5000 pics. in 10 years -only once in check), than changed to EOS, purchasing an A2e (5) and an Elan II (50), which did a preaty good job at the beginning. I always had the feeling to care 'electronic-stuffed-toys' around, what I wanted was something rugged; I missed that 'metall-feeling'. What I missed too was a fully manual backup body. When I then went to Costa-Rica's rainforest (I've been in Peru's rainforest too & some 20 more countries whith my Olympus...), I hoped already on the flight, that my EOS-system will survive the job... the first 2 weeks, I must say that the cameras withstood even photographing in the tropical rain!!! But suddenly the lens-release button of my Elan II brocke off. I can tell you it's realy clumsy to change lenses like this; ( I must admit I did some press photography with it before -frequent lens changing included...). Quiet upset I had to find my A2e's integrated-flash not wanting to pop out anymore. Godsake I had some extra 540EZ & 380 EX ... The pictures quality was very very good ( I only use Fuji & Ilford) Home, I traded-in the poor rest of my EOS equipment and bought an Leica R7 & R5 (used!!!) and some sumilux prime lenses, finaly something rugged in hands... I'm very satisfied whith my Leicas, but something missed. So 2 days ago I bought an F4s (mint condition - <100 rolls-/ for ~ 866 $ !!) . I LOVE IT!!!!!!! I always hated these programs and sub-programs of the EOS' . If you dont carry the user manual(or at least a list) around, you'll never know which Custom-Function changes what!!! The F4 gives me everything I need: I always know what kind of settings I've chosen, I've even learnd the first evening to change settings whith closed eyes; it's SO SIMPLE!!!!! To mention the size & weight: it has exactly the same size as my R7 with attached drive and it's even lighter!!! It gives you such a superb feeling holding this body in hands; you'll never want to leave it again. When i press the shutter, it's like music! I have a Tamron 20-40 (f 2,7-3,5) zoom and I must admit, I thought AF was slower!!! Only thing I'm missing are those USM-Lenses (motor in the lens - an extra that costs you alot at Nikon), and that little on-screen light (red) that indicates when you've focused right (in manual mode).

At least let me say that I would love it, if Nikon launched a new F4 (kind of F4n) , incorporating the F5 (also one of those Canon-like interfaces...) AF-chip , the color-3D-matrix , and a metall view-finder!!! If you think the same please E-mail me your name, I'm making a list I want to send to Nikon; maybe the'll heare us!

Take your F4', go out, and shoot!!! this camera needs taff situations!!!

alex from Europe -anotherone of those F4s addicted-

PS. someone selling a MF-23 data back??? please mail!

alexander chr. zaforek , November 17, 2000; 06:49 A.M.

Canon EOS is a superb system, if you don't leave your hometown and your expeditions go no further than your backyard. Since you want to try yourself in Travel-Photography, F NIKONs are the cameras of your choice! The F4s is the BEST camera (in userfriendly terms) Nikon ever produced. (I know what I'm talking about: I've used both systems... Canon is for people who like very feature-stuffed toys)

Good light! And many picture-valueing moments with your F4.

PS. the F4s is not heavy at all, I remember carrying 13-15 kg of EOS-system around...

-az-

Baybars Saglamtimur , December 19, 2000; 12:51 P.M.

Hi, I'am an advanced amateur photographer (for 12 yrs). I' ve been using two Nikon F4s bodies along with 6 different Nikkors ranging from 20mm to 500mm for 3 years.To make a summary: it colud be a perfect camera if it had F5's focussing system.I really do agree with the ideas of Alexander chr. Zaforek on this matter. But if you use it maual focus only, it is still the greatest of all 35mm SLR's. I usually shoot on the Mediterranean Coast in summer time where the relative humidity exceeds 90 percent. While shooting inside these conditions my cameras viewfinder(pentaprism)'s electronics made stupid things like shoving lots of numreals and/or incorrect data. I' ve fixed this problem by cleaning the viewfinder to camera electronic contacts (both the viewfinder's and the camera's) with a cotton tipped ear cleaning stick. Again the battery holder to camera electronic contacts were oxidized and I could solve the problem by scrubbing it with a N0:0 scrubber. But I have to remind that the working conditions were not favorouble so generally F4s's resistance to dampness is o.k. Resistance to shock is great for this camera. I carry it in my Lowepro MiniTrekker and usually climb on rocks, jump, run, and for one time dropped it to the rocks from 65cm height. F4s survived all these conditions. F4s's motordrive is very dependable. Itshoot up to 5.7 fps with MB-21 grip (6AA battery holding grip). For cold weather shooters winding the film wery slowly is a very important rule. Otherwise you can crack or cause unwanted blue spots or coloring on film. For these kinds of conditions you can use 1fps (silent wind)feature of this camera, and you can manually rewind the film at the speed you want. Ergonomics of the camera is really great. It handles like a piece of your hand (don't forget that the F4s design belongs to a Porsche designer, Guigiaro). I really like the camera has no LCD' s on its body (Except the viewfinder) and its traditional look. I can write a book on this camera but the space is limited, so I highly recommend this camera but likes and dislikes differs from person to person and nobody can discuss it. Baybars from Turkey.

Chris Groenhout , February 15, 2001; 01:19 A.M.

I own both an F5 and F4s and I have to admit I prefer the F4s in almost all ways. I don't have to hunt for exposure compensation or check shutter speed changes and everything is in the 'right place'. So much for ergonomics...

Yes it's big and heavy, but that's one of the reasons it's such a great camera!

Aaron J. Heiner , March 24, 2001; 08:55 P.M.

I have used everything from canon to Nikon, to Minolta and etc, and I have to say that from the first time I picked up the F4s, I knew this was going to be the last camera I would ever buy. I passed on the F5 based sheerly on the feel and control layouts of the 4. I for one am sick of multi-functional buttons that have to be entered in combo to do differant tast, and for one am glad to have an old-fashioned operating camera. As a photojournalist, the relaibility and durability of the camera comes first. And this monster has that. Yes the Canon is quicker and that is good for the wild life and sports guys, but I am hard and I a,m just too tired of killing EOS 1's left and right.

David kirk , April 01, 2001; 01:55 P.M.

Just reciently I purchased a nice F4s serial no 2538XXX, and Have put 40 films through it. In my opinion,, it is really easy to hold and use everything is in just the right place. It is also suficiently heavy enough to alow me to hand hold it near 1/10 sec, on a 70mm lens, and still be adequatly sharp. The only thing I have against it is thet bloody Jessops supplied it with the crappy MF22 databack, which, apart from being unusable, I feel is point less - I do not want the date printed on the picture. So I'm saving up for the MF23.

Jimmy Rhyne , April 12, 2001; 01:59 P.M.

I am not sure that Phil is totally fair when comparing the F4 to others. Yes it is heavy and large, however, I am a fairly tall man who weighs about 250 pounds. I like the larger camera and it seems to fit my hands better. If I was short and weighed 180 pounds, I can see where the F4 could be a real drag. As far as F4 versus F5, I will go with my F5. I loved the F4 but the F100 and F5 have made my F4 an expensive paperweight. I am ready to sell the F4 but it is such a wonderful camera that selling it is difficult! Yes the F4 is heavy but if you have lots of Nikon MF lens, the F4 with its matrix metering using manual lens is a dream!

Stephen Asprey , April 16, 2001; 07:17 P.M.

I have read the preceding comments with interest and I would like to add mine. I have been a devoted Olympus OM1md amateur user since 1978. The camera was a wedding present from my wife and we bought it for the same reasons that I have just invested in an excellent used F4s. These are consistent solid mechanical quality, supported by a dealer network of enthusiasts, a vendor who is in this business for the long haul and the access to a miriad of clubs and support networks. I have been used to OM fast lenses for landscapes and portraits and to me I was seriously considering Leica M6. Cost is not really an issue, but since I have started to take ballet shots in available light, AF became important. I looked at an new EOS3/30, a Nikon F100/80 and a Contax RTSIII. All have great lenses, some more expensive, with the EF EOS lenses perhaps with more choice. But once I got out and started talking to USERS, Nikon was the real choice if it was a private sale not funded by a newspaper etc. The consensus was that it does not matter if the EOS fails a lot because work with get it fixed or buy another. In that professional environment things like support and durability do not matter so much. If I am going to carry all the risk and expense, then perhaps an F5? Further enquiries resulted in information that said that an F5 is too electronic and if something fries like in an EOS, then is all over red rover. Also I needed to be able to buy secondhand fast lenses...all F2/2.8 or better, and the Nikon market is huge, plus they all work with matrix metering on the F4. The moment I took delivery of my F4, I knew that this was the platform to invest in for the next few years. I expect that I might buy a Leica when I can afford the fast lenses, but so far I am delighted with my "brick" and see it as a logical move from the OM system. The first dozen rolls of slide film have produced beautiful clarity rivalling the results from the OM and every time I get some back from processing I am even more pleased. The batteries are the original ones supplied with the camera from the dealer and they are still going strong (40 rolls). The 100% viewfinder is great, it's a bit noisy but that lets me hear that everyting is working. The AF is plenty fast enough for me. I am bracketing 2/3 + & -, I have corrected the viewfinder dioptre, I can use the spot meter for challenging portraits, The 20/2.8M is just right for my landscapes, and the focus tracking has allowed me to concentrate on composition much more for my ballet pictures. In short, I was very apprehensive at first, but not now...it is a great milestone camera and my choise has been vindicated already. Now has someone out there got a nice 85/1.4 for sale?

Keith Anderson , May 10, 2001; 06:31 A.M.

Well that's great a camera review from a Canon user on a Nikon Camera. Good one Photo.net.

I have had my F4 only a few months now buying a mint second hand one. Why the hell I didn't do it ages ago I'll never know. Everything is where it should be and it's really easy to see what your doing in the viewfinder. I love it.

By the way as I have no manual is it true it doesn't use battery power in B & T settings. This would be cool as I was thinking if getting a FM2 for star trails.

Jim Interlicchio , June 24, 2001; 08:27 A.M.

I shoot left handed, having a disability that prevents me from using my right hand fully. I use both the F4 and N90s with lenses as large as the 300f4. I love the heft and feel of the F4 and it balances perfectly in my hand. I have figured out ways to use most of the controls using my left hand alone while holding the camera. Obviously I have to work with limitations but the F4 has never given me any trouble either in handling or mechanically.I have to admit until recently I used the N90s as my primary camera (faster autofocus, ability to use slow flash sync). When I had some electronic difficulty with the N90s(the aperture ring and LCD Aperture readings weren't matching up) it was great to have the F4 to pick up the slack - so much so that I think I'll be using it more often.

Stephen Asprey , June 27, 2001; 09:20 P.M.

I recently upgraded to a pristine F4s with 24/2.8, 85/1.8 and 80-200/2.8 from a really nice OM1n system that I owned from new.I used to do landscapes and available light portraits but now I am doing ballet and dance so I struggled with the AF issue. I could have gone EOS but I am getting beautiful portraits and landscapes with the F4 and the servo AF and Ph program is great for dance. Just hit the button and aim it like a machine gun. Hell, 6fps is enough! There is a lot of beautiful glass out there and its all compatible. Yes its heavy, especially with the 80-200, but the results are there. This has to be the best combo, even for portraits. I thought about an F5 or an F100, but the F4 is easier to program change on the fly. I hope to keep it forever. If I want to get really picky for portraits, I'll go 6x7 anyway.

Darrell Young , July 02, 2001; 05:33 P.M.

After having read this lengthy and very informative review of one of the coolest cameras Nikon ever made, I am ready to add a few lines.

I have been a Nikonian for many years, and have worked my way through the entire line, all the way from an original Nikon F up to my new N80. I have used an F4s for some time now as my "quality image" camera. I carry the N80, with its built-in flash, and whiz bang features, everywhere I go. Sunsets and snapshots fall prey to my N80 with alarming frequency. The F4s is in my big LowePro AW Trekker backpack along with the big glass, for when its time to get serious about the images. Have you ever tried to put a small bodied camera behind a 500mm lens? I suppose you can, but it just doesn't feel right. Or, maybe you've put a big flash unit on top of one of the smaller cameras. They work fine, but don't feel balanced (top heavy). Neither of these conditions are a problem with my F4s. The weight makes the camera work very well with BIG lenses and BIG flash units.

Also, when I am doing close-up work with my Micro Nikkor lens, I find that the F4 is very superior. The extra weight and balanced shutter allows me to shoot fairly slow shutter speeds when I'm deep in the dark woods of the Great Smoky Mountains here in Tennessee. I have hand-held this camera successfully on a regular basis down to 1/8sec (with bracing) and still have sharp images. The body weight and tungsten mirror counterbalance makes the shutter flap unnoticable. I love the mirror-lockup, eyepiece blind, and shutter balancer for when I am really critical about the image.

I have both old and new Nikkor lenses. My F4s handles them all. The AF is slower on my F4s than on the N80, but not that much slower. I find that the F4 tends to search for the focus much more in low light than the N80, but not unacceptably so. The autofocus works nearly as well as newer cameras in bright light. When you look at the features that an F4s gives you, you will find that it is a well balanced camera for all types of photography.

Here are my favorite features:

  • Heavy body weight to keep down vibrations and balance out lenses and attachments.
  • Analog controls that become second nature. You can adjust this camera without ever taking your eye away from the eyepiece.
  • Uses older MF lenses along with new AF lenses. It can use the latest lenses as well as the oldest lenses and still use Matrix Metering. Not many cameras can boast that.
  • It has a real mirror lockup and eyepiece blind. This is really critical on waterfall shots, where my exposures may exceed several seconds. I meter the subject, close the eyepiece shutter to block out stray light, flip the mirror lockup lever, then fire the shutter. Excellent SHARP images.
  • Time exposures without battery drain. Try shooting a newer camera on a star trail shot that exceeds several hours. You can forget it. The batteries will be drained on most new cameras in about three to five hours.
  • I can manually rewind film at will. People are always marveling at how you can program the new cameras to leave a bit of leader exposed on rewind. Well, with my F4s, I just push the manual rewind button, and crank the rewind lever while watching the frame counter run in reverse. When it gets to less than one, I pop open the back, only to find a bit of leader sticking out. Hoo-hah!
  • Double-Exposures are fast and easy with the double-exposure lever.
  • Bracketing is very easy with the F4s. There is an exposure compensation knob right on top of the camera. I can set it up or down several stops in 1/3 stop increments. If I am really silly about bracketing, I can put on my MF-23 databack, and set it up for up to 19 automatically bracketed exposures.
  • With my MF-23 back, I can write exposure/date information between the frames of the film. This is much less intrusive than right in the frame of the images as with most other cameras.
  • If you just gotta, you can strip the F4s down into an F4, by removing the MB-21 battery pack and substituting and MB-20. The camera is about 40% smaller and lighter that way. It isn't much heavier than an N90s in that mode.
  • And finally, The F4s is MUCH sexier looking than ANY other camera Nikon has ever made. It is like a beautiful woman, all curvy and supple. Most people who don't know that the F4s stopped production a few years back think my camera is a BRAND NEW one. It still looks new. Best design ever!

In my humble opinion the F4s is the ultimate camera for the end of the film era. I just can't bring myself to spend $2000.00 for an F5, and the F100 has no mirror lockup. You can buy a good used F4s for about $800.00 on eBay these days. I just bought another F4s (1994 model for about $900.00). I have a fully professional camera, with all the needed features for superior photography. Don't let 'em fool ya! The F4s is still very viable and desirable.

Check out my Nikon site: www.planetnikon.com, and my family photography site at: www.darrellsimages.com. And, if you're into the coolest CAR on the road (or off) check out my Jeep® Resource Center at: www.gp4wd.com Thanks!

Dimitri Varias , August 14, 2001; 08:12 A.M.

I read all those interesting comments following the "interesting review" of the F4. It just takes me back 10-12 years when the big fight was going on whether Nikon or Canon was the correct gear (since Canon already had an Af camera in the market and Nikon just released theirs).

I don't pretend to be proficient enough to counter any of the reviewers comments but I can only tell you why I chose the F4s.

1. Its a Nikon therefore reliability is almost always guaranteed (there might be some duds if you are unlucky, but this can happen with any major brand).

2. All controls are set separately, and this is very useful for anyone used to manual cameras. I don suggest that buttons and dials cannot be set quickly, but then again why do most people prefer old fashion "filofaxes" to computer data agendas and the such.

3. You can set almost everything without removing your eye from the eyepiece.

4. exposure lock and AF lock can be set with one finger.

5. AF is quick enough (although not the best) for almost nay situation.

6. It is very well balanced camera and I think that the extra weight makes it more stable in low shutter speed situations.

7. Vertical shooting is "a piece of cake" with the extra button on the battery pack.

8. The viewfinder has 100% coverage.

9. Matrix metering (although not 3D) is perfect.

10. I like the styling very much.

By the way, I've had mine since 1989 or 1990 and have gone through over 600-700 rolls of film in that time (plus another 2-300 with a Nikon F3, Pentax Z1 and various other cameras) with no problems or malfunctions encountered so far.

Dimitri G. Varias

Amy Hoy , September 09, 2001; 02:33 P.M.

I love my F4s. I don't care about the weight, in fact it really doesn't bother me at all. Even if it did, I wouldn't trade it for a lighter model if it meant having to use LCD menus and thumb wheels of all the godforsaken things!

I guess that my tolerance for its weight comes from lugging around 30lbs of textbooks for years prior to picking up photography (and we were not allowed to use bookbags, we had to carry them in our arms), and then after that often carrying around my laptop and accessories which weighed about 17lbs together. Compared to all that, the F4 even with a couple lenses is fairly light. To me, heavy is when I packed my Nikon F4s + 50mm 1.4, Pentax K1000 and 4 lenses, 10 filters, my digital camera, my cardreader, and 2 thick photography books all into my Domke F2 bag. I recently took a 2 mile hike on the railroad tracks with my father, he with his FG and I with my F4s (he was very "impressed" by the F4s' weight). The weight did not bother me at all, and I carried it around my neck. More importantly, I managed to trip myself twice while not paying attention, and the F4s survived the drop onto the gravel with only another ding on its battery pack, while I, on the other hand, got large and painful lumpy bruises (yay hematomas!).

My point is: if you like the idea of using real dials and switches and things, don't worry so much about the weight... don't let it scare you off. Give the F4s a chance, it is a wonderful camera, durable if you're a klutz like me, and not really all that heavy considering.

Richard DeBari , September 21, 2001; 06:00 A.M.

Here's my two cents worth. I agree with Darrell Young and most of the positive comments on the F4s. I find the F4s to be the pinnacle of Nikon 35mm SLR film camera development. Rugged, beautiful design, reliable, compatible with almost every Nikkor lens ever made. Wanna put some zest into the AF on your F4? I've got the answer. Just attach an AF-I or AF-S lens. Sweet AF! Nikon please, please, please give us conventional knobs and dials on your new breed of SLR's! Not those confusing LCD panels and pushbuttons. My idea of the perfect design for the new Nikon F6? Start with an F4s body. Then stick the light meter and AF module from the F5 inside it! Then stick an F6 label on the outside, done. No need for years of R&D. That's all you have to do Nikon...

Richard Haines , October 22, 2001; 06:39 P.M.

Having used Rollei and Canon equipment for the past 40 years, I decided to change over to Nikon a few years ago when I picked up a new F4S and I immediately fell in love. The feel of this well built tank of a camera encourages you to run out every day and find pictures to shoot just for the enjoyment of handling it. I have since added many lenses etc. to my kit and just recently added a new N80 body. This is another story all by itself. What a neat little lightweight. I judge my equipment by how secure I am that it will not break when I am in the wilderness of Glacier Park or the back country of the Sierras.

marcus hockey , November 04, 2001; 07:05 A.M.

I own three F4's, Ihave an F4, F4S AND F4E I also own two EOS 1v's I believe the answer to all the comments on this page is simple a)do you like the camera you have and b) are you pleased with its results.Thats it! i like my EOS'S and my F4'S not one more than the other and both for different reasons.I photograph stainglass windows and gargoyles, really high up and often from cranes or having to absail up the side of cathedrals, my f4 is the only camera for this job, I know i wont get to where i want to be only to find that it doesnt work,I also shoot wild animals such as deer, birds of prey, my EOS is the only camera for this job as i dont want to miss the shot with slow focusing, and yet I know I could do both jobs with any of these two cameras and both cameras would give me excellant results.At the end of the day the shots will only be as good as the person pressing the button.

Jake Haff , December 10, 2001; 05:05 P.M.

Talk about heavy, has anyone owned a Contax AX camera? The Nikon F4 feels light compared to that photographic tool. Yes, the F4 is not a perfect SLR camera, but what camera is (if you can design one you should, you'll be very rich!)? It all comes down to what you feel comfortable with and which body will drive you to pick it up off the shelf, dust it off and use it! In this case the F4 is my driving force. I am not a professional photographer, don't claim to be, but like to think of myself as an advanced amatuer. What I lack in skills and exposure experience to make me a so called pro, I make up for it with my experience and knowledge with various 35mm SLR cameras, and in that arena I have tons of experience. Let me explain. I have owned many cameras throughout the years, such as, the Nikon FA, EL2, FM2N, F3T, N6006, N8008s, N70, N80, N90s, F100 and the Contax AX, RTS, 167MT, S2 and the new Aria. I have some experience with all these cameras and my choice hands down is....you guessed it, the F4. Basically, I like to use a camera without having to take along a thick manual or a user's guide just to figure out how to operate it. You don't need a manual with the F4, it is laid out so well you can figure it out with one glance. Yes, the Auto Focus on the F4 is not as fast as the latest, greatest AF cameras on the market. Does anyone really know how fast is fast enough in every situation? The 5.7 fps is more than fast enough for 95% of all the photographers out there unless you're working for NASA getting paid to film a space shuttle launch. Get real! My advice to those looking to purchase a sexy looking, heavy duty, high quality AF camera that can go anywhere under any conditions and do any job....F4 is it!

Jake Haff

chris long , December 30, 2001; 01:06 P.M.

A few months ago I purchased a Nikon F4s. What a great camera! I guess what Phil finds annoying I find a joy. I had a Canon Elan IIE years ago (before I switched to medium format) and never felt very comfortable with it. All through school I used their A2E for assignments and again, never felt comfortable with it. I liked the autofocus and autoexposure but I didn't like the electronic interface. I was much more comfortable with the medium format cameras and for a while shot very little 35mm preferring to use the Bronica ETRSi I owned at the time.

In this last year I had the yearning to switch back to 35mm for a few projects I wanted to pursue and because it worked better with my vision of what I wanted (I often shot Ilford Delta 3200 in my 645 camera to get the grainy effect I wanted in 16x20 prints....so why should I even used a medium format camera in the first place) I also shoot better handheld. I like to move about my subject so the easier to hold and faster to use 35mm format looked great. After researching all the camera choices I had I found a great article on the Nikon F4 on the nikonians website. Wow...this looks like the perfect camera for me. I searched Ebay and found on in perfect condition and got it.

I love this camera. No silly LCD display on the top of the camera, no custom function for locking the mirror up or for multi exposures. There is a seperate button or switch for every function the camera has, its great. Can't check the ISO setting....who cares, set it yourself on the ISO dial. It would take the same amount of time as checking it on another camera. Need longer shutter speeds, well I have the MF-23 back so thats no problem, same with exposure bracketing. The control layout is great in my oppinion. I love having a traditional shutter speed dial and using the aperture ring on the lens. I know my film will never get stuck in the camera because of dead batteries because I can manually rewind it. The F4 has every feature I have always wanted in a camera layed out in a superb fashion.

I looked at the F100, the EOS 3/1N/1V, and the Maxxum 7 but the F4s was just what I wanted and chose it over all the others. I have since added a Nikon N80 for times when I do want to travel light. Its nice to have a small, light camera with a built in flash but I don't care much for the control layout compared to my F4 (Yeah, I could have gotten and FM2n or FM3A but I really wanted a built in flash for those times when you want to take the camera to the grandparents for the holidays, etc.)

I think all these reviews show what a strong camera the F4s is. As usual, you can't please everyone and the F4 deffinetly was not made for Phil. I can understand that, some people prefer the more electronic interface with dials, wheels, LCD's and custom function menus. I like simple, well layed out, and logical controls that each have there own function that you don't need a manual to figure out.

Don Doucette , January 04, 2002; 12:02 P.M.


mmmmmm, F4e

In the early 90's I owned two F4s, one F90, an FE2+MD4 and an FE+MD4. Before that I had also a F3+MD4.

During my ownership of the F4s bodies I was shooting fashion full time for two agencies and using the 80-200 2.8 and 300 2.8 almost exclusively.

A Canon representative approached me with a fancy kit of Canon's high end stuff to try, EOS1, 70-200 2.8, 28-70 2.8, 300 2.8, tilt+shift and a really wide angle. He left the kit with me for a week, I was quite excited because I had previously been a Canon shooter F1n, T90, A1, but when the time came to upgrade I opted for the legendary STRENGTH of Nikon Equipment.

I used the Canon stuff in and out of studio for a few days but rapidly became disgusted with the handling of the EOS1 and its damn manual I had to carry with me because of all the unlabled "CUSTOM FUNCTIONS" BAH!

Since then I had a nasty Divorce and lost all my equipment and I have been buying Nikon again! In fact just got an F4s the other day and I am in love all over again. Not an LCD in sight, WOO HOO. Within 5 minutes it felt as though I had never put this camera down, and I was shooting intuitively again like with my F3.

I will be buying key parts for this camera such as a couple of shutters, spare finder, motors, gear train, knobs/switches and some cosmetic pieces, in an attempt to keep this camera working for as long as possible.

In my humble opinion the F4 is the best damn all around camera ever made by Nikon or anyone for that matter.

Dennis Elliott , February 08, 2002; 04:13 P.M.

I read the very comprehensive postings with great interest. It only reinforces my opinion that the Nikon F4 is the finest camera that I have ever owned. Having owned and used many Nikons over the last 30 years or so, the things that impress me the most about the F4s are: 1 - complete dependability 2 - availablity of service anywhere on earth 3 - availability of inexpensive batteries anywhere on earth 4 - availability of the most complete system of lenses, and accessories bar none. When you just gotta get the shot, why trust anything else? Dennis Elliott

Olivier Koning , February 08, 2002; 11:48 P.M.

I recently traded my trusted Nikon FM2 plus a few lenses for a clean, used F4. Bought a 28-105mm zoom for it for budget reasons, and took it along on a 3-week journey to Vietnam without much testing beforehand (not recommended!). What impressed me the most about the F4 beside its looks is its solidity. Some people complain about its size and weight but for me it's a big plus. Maybe it's just a psychological thing but I immediately felt confident with the F4, precisely because of its bulky size and weight, like it's telling me "Go ahead and abuse me a little, I can take it!"... which I did! What about the results? For my first time ever, I photographed mostly on Automatic(aperture-priority) mode , not knowing what to expect and totally relying on the F4's Matrix metering. The results were beyond my expectations. I could not have done better with my manual FM2, and with half of the work! My biggest regret was not shooting more transparencies with the F4, my main camera being a medium-format on that particular trip. The F4 is a traveler's dream. Get a nice used one and have fun with it.

Greg Chappell , February 25, 2002; 05:28 P.M.

This is a great camera from a lens compatibility standpoint. I recently bought a very clean F4s which is just a joy to shoot. I did buy a 50mm f1.8 AF Nikkor just to try the AF capability (which ain't bad), but the main body of work will be shot with a set of Vivitar Series 1 zooms in AI-mount; a 35-85 f2.8 and flat field zoom 90-180 f4.5, and a fast Vivitar 24mm f2 manual focus lens (with CRC- just like the Nikon). The F4 is the ONLY Nikon autofocus camera that allows a non-cpu lens to be used and will allow for all three metering patterns to be used (spot, matrix, center-weighted). The ability to use these older lenses on such a modern body is just fantastic! 2/25/02 update- Now, having bought the smaller MB20 battery pack as well as 24, 85 and 80-200 AF lenses I have gone completely AF. The F4's ability to focus the lenses plus the added program modes afforded by the AF-lenses makes not using them a pain when it comes to travel photography. Just set everything to "Program High" with matrix metering and no worries with the F4- it's a GREAT system. Another plus is the traditional dials make it easy to see how all is set up without having to turn the camera on. NO OPTIONAL FUNCTIONS TO HAVE TO REMEMBER OR THINK ABOUT!

Tim King , August 04, 2002; 07:20 P.M.

I have read all the responses in this forum and feel obliged to give a brief comment. The arguement of Canon versus Nikon will always be there (as far as Japanese cameras are concerned). I've made good (sometimes great) photographs with Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Minolta, Fujica, Leica, and even Miranda camera equipment. As far as "modern" 35mm cameras go, the Nikon F4 is probably the nicest I have used. It's big & heavy, and I can use an old (mid 60's) 35mm f1.4 MF lens in matrix metering mode with superb results.

The Canon EOS cameras (the newer ones) are slightly faster to autofocus in lower light (so what). For those folks with a taste & yearning for an autofocus 35mm camera with controls where they should be, the Nikon F4 is perfect.

You immediatley enjoy it's logical placement of controls, it's solidity, and it's ability to utilize lenses made from 1959 to the present day. My one gripe: inability to use rear curtain sync with an SB-28 flash. Oh well. It's an imperfect world.

Hope to see this discussion grow for another 10 years.....

George H. Peters , August 05, 2002; 04:15 P.M.

Well, I’ve never been to the Arctic or in a steaming jungle, but as an advanced amateur I’ve been using Nikon cameras for almost twenty years. Starting as an absolute beginner with the FG, I soon graduated to the FE2 and FM2, which thanks to Nikon have found a worthy successor in the FM3A. Then I bought a F3 because I frequently use the waistlever finder for street photography. My F4s is only twelve years old, but I can say that it’s a reliable camera. The most important features are the viewfinder and the traditional design. It’s easy to switch from the MF bodies to the F4, and lately I’ve been using autofocus more frequently. My wide angle lenses are all MF, the telephoto lenses (85mm, Micro 105mm, 180mm and 300 mm) are AF. No trouble in using them in either focussing mode. The matrix metering with AIS lenses is a bonus, too. But most of the time I switch to centre-weighted metering, because then I know how to compensate by experience.

Still, I’ve been thinking of buying an F100, if only because of the VR 80-400 zoom lens.

This discussion reminds me of the discussions between Windows and Mac users. I wouldn’t trade in my G3 Mac, nor would I give up my F4. The best camera is the one you’re happy with and which is so easy to handle that you can concentrate on the picture. The F4 comes pretty close to this ideal.

William Nouaros , October 27, 2002; 04:16 A.M.

After using the F4s for about two years now. I have come to the conclusion that it is the most versatile and plain old tough system ever created. After seeing F100, and Eos 1v screens fog up in storms, or clogged with sand and other misfortunes, i believe more and more that the F4 was the only proffessional grade system ever created. For some this might be hard to understand, but look at it like a AK-47 gun, you can bury it under sand, stick in mud, underwater, run over it with an F-150, pick it up and keep on shooting. Surely some people view it's controls as an "ergonomic nightmare", but after only 5 minutes playing with it, you can master them. You can change every control on the camera, everything without taking your eye off the diopter. You get tough knobs instead of tiny buttons, and almost every control has a lock, for those unfortunate mistakes. It's AF although not the fastest is still pretty fast and works for most of us out there. For astrophotography their's simply nothing better. Another advantage compared to other brands is that it's a nikon, you can use an array of lenses dating from the 70's to 2002, plus 98% of the gadgets. Sure it's heavy, weighing over 3 lbs, but for a reason, try using a light camera with a very heavy lense, it simply won't work, and it doesn't feel right, but weight is something to get use to. If your in the market for a tough, and i mean tough camera, don't hesitate to check it out, i promise in no way will it leave you dissatisfied. In my own personal experience my F4 has practically been underwater. While covering a rare meterological phenomenon (one very mean storm, winds up to 70mph) on a small island in the south Meditteranean, i was shooting close to shore while i dropped my F4 and it was then covered by incoming water, and dragged about 3 feet away. After cleaning it myself(removing sand, and mud, it was ready to go in a matter of 20 minutes). Canon, beat that!

Eric Guel , January 18, 2003; 01:21 P.M.

I just bought a used F4s from Houston Camera Exchange about two weeks ago, and I just had my first opportunity to really put it to the test last night. I was shooting a wedding and I used the F4s and my N90s as my primary bodies for photojournalism related work. I loved the way the F4s feels in my hands, especially compared to the N90s. It's a solid, well-built tool and after using it I could easily see why so many pros over the years have used (and loved) the F4s. I'm still a big fan of the N90s, but it seems to have a plastic feel to it when compared to the F4s -- maybe that's because it is plastic!

As far as the F4-haters' main gripe, autofocus, I really had no big problems with it. It definitely doesn't "grab" objects like the N90s can (or the F5 or D1x, both of which I've used extensively though I don't own either of them), but its AF was certainly not incompetent, as so many critics suggest. I'd venture to say that under normal lighting conditions, the F4s can hold its own even against some of todays most advanced systems.

Once I mastered the controls, it became second nature to me and I stopped thinking about the camera I was using and started taking quality photographs. I think that's also the sign of a well-designed camera. I feel the same way about my N90s. I had a brief stint with the N70 back in 1998, and that interface was so confusing to me it almost made me write off Nikon entirely. The F4s, however, is built like a tank, a well-designed tank that fits suprisingly well in my hands.

I just wonder about the future of this camera. I know it's no longer in production (and the F3HP is, what's up with that?). I'll probably end up shooting with an F5 once the F6 has been released, and all of the F6 people will be complaining about minor problems with the F5 and why the F6 is so much more advanced...

Alex Lofquist , January 26, 2003; 06:43 P.M.

As a user of both an F4S and an F5, I would like to add that I think the F4 has a few advantages over the F5. For macro work, the F4 configuration (MB-20, 4 cell battery pack) gives a lighter setup and is more convenient with the PG-2 rack and pinion focussing device. I also prefer the manual compensation dial to the use of a command dial. I also like to use the F4S when I photograph with my 500mm f/4P Nikkor. For other scenics and general photography, I like the F5 for its seemingly better metering. Both cameras have good eye relief (better than the Canons), and bright imaging in the viewfinders. 100% viewing and mirror lock-up are assets over the lower cost models. I think that both cameras will be desirable for years to come.

Alex

Stef Karpa , February 21, 2003; 08:03 P.M.

I've just sat and read all the comments this review has generated... I have to say that the review doesn't match my experiences. I have had my F4s for over a decade, using it for work and pleasure. It is a solid workhorse that has never let me down. I used to work for the music press taking stage shots of bands - tricky lighting, stage diving audiences AND band members, bottles, neanderthal security, the works. My F4 was the business, it took the knocks and provided the images every time. I had no problems changing film in adverse conditions and the controls are perfectly placed for using intuitively. If you use this camera for any length of time you begin to see it as an extension of your body. That for me is the sign of a good camera.

The weight can be an issue at times (I'm not that big) but I've found it to be an advantage more times than not. It has allowed me to handhold shots at shutter speeds I'd balk at with a lighter camera.

I still use my FM2 when travelling as it is small and light but if it is serious shooting that is on the agenda, and money rides on getting the image then its the F4 everytime.

I've not wanted to get another 35mm camera since. That is how good I think my F4 is. :)

Greg Barnett , February 27, 2003; 06:19 P.M.

I have read through the comments here numerous times as well as many of the other reviews on the web over the past month. As such, last night I purchased an F4s after spending sometime finding the right one. This is to replace my F601 as I wanted features such as DOF preview and miror lock up, as well as everything else nice about the F4.

I haven't put any film through this yet, but already I am in love! :-) This camera has such a nice feel about it. Heavy yes, but oh so comfortable. And everything switches and moves so nicely.

But there is more than just the erganomic feel of this camera. This camera has a pyschological appeal that I find hard to explain. Short of sounding a little crazy this camera makes me feel more comfortable with the world. I feel that all sorts of things can happen to me but so long as I have my trusty F4 everything will be ok. :-)

Happy shooting everyone!

Greg.

Jim Horvath , March 02, 2003; 04:59 P.M.

All the critics can say what they want about this camera, it is still one of the best built, rugged, killer pro cameras ever built!! And I'm including the F5, that the Nikon clan loves to rave about. I owned 2 F4's and eventually bought an F5, and then swithched to Canon. I've had A2's, Eos 1n's, and Eos 3's, they're all fine cameras, but they all lack the unmistakable solidity of my beloved F4.

We all know the auto focus performance of the F4 is primitive, I think it was outdated when the camera was introduced in 1988, but I used the camera primarily as a manual focus body, hardly ever using AF, so its AF performance was never an issue for me.

I think the strong appeal for me is the fact that this will go down in history as the only Nikon F body with a built in motor, and all anologue controls,(Shutter speed dial, motor drive switch, film speed dial, ASA dial, aperture ring etc...), which I absolutely love!! No LCD panels here, which I don't like at all. The F5 is a superb camera with obviously superior auto focus capabilities, but for me, it just lacks a certain magical quality that the F4 had in spades!!

Now I'm trying to find a nice, clean F4. I can't wait to shoot with it again. A true classic to me, and certainly one of the greatest 35mm cameras ever made!!

James Ketchum , March 23, 2003; 06:12 P.M.

I just sold my Minolta Maxxum 9000 and bought a Nikon F4. I will update in the near future.

Bence Baumann , March 25, 2003; 08:44 A.M.

first of all: sorry for my english. I've been hesitating for months now, between F4, and F5. Which one should I buy? I've read so many reviews, talked with so many "experts", that I can't even remember my name. And yesterday I picked up an F4. Held it for a minute or so, and ever since, i can't put it down. I own an F90x, thought I have a "real" nikon. I feel sorry for myself. How could I survive the last 5 years without this great camera, the F4? Some says it's too heavy. Hah! Holding it, is like trying to pull back a horse. She wants to shoot. I love those controls, especially the lack of that annoying huge LCD panel, wich was introduced as the "next step" in photography. Ok, I still like my F90x, but it's for the past years, not the camera itself. It's like the first big love. But I marry my F4. :)) Can't say anything neither about the mechanism, nor the AF-skills, -I use MF lens, anyway- because still haven't take any picture with it. We're at the flower-sending stage yet... I would appreciate any advice for care, or neuralgic points of Her.. Bence

Tim Harris , April 27, 2003; 05:51 A.M.

I think someone has already said that the F4 is the best 'Manual' focus camera they have used.....but does everyone else find that the AF is very slow and seems to 'hunt' for focus continually. If anything is in low light or low contrast it doesn't seem to cope at all. Is that normal? Apart from that I love this camera. For anyone who wants to take real photos it couldn't be better!

Peter Harris , June 04, 2003; 01:30 P.M.

The Nikon F4 F4s F4e is going to be a classic camera Nikon will never make such a well built camera again, yes it is heavy if your body frame is on the small side, and yes the auto focus can not keep up with the latest cameras, but fit it with a silent wave lens and you have a camera combo that no digital modern camera can match for build quality, and it takes excellent photos too. I have a mint condtion F4e with 28-70 AFS 2.8 lens and would not part with it for the world why Nikon did not just add digital to this camera I will never know, just find one and pick it up you will know what I mean.

Harry K.S. Ho , June 07, 2003; 07:55 P.M.

There is no other built like the Nikon F4 as far as I am concerned. It is overengineered in every respect to meet the toughest demand. It is heavy, but that could be an advantage when balancing heavier lens. Need to make it lighter? Why not just switch to the MB-20 grip(if you can find one)! Sure, you lose the vertical shutter release and 6 frame per second speed, but you get a much lighter camera (about the weight of N90) but none of the capability of a pro camera. I have tried to use other "pro" grade cameras like Contax and Canon, but none gives me the confidence like F4. Also, I hate those command wheels!

Joe McDonald , June 18, 2003; 10:58 P.M.

I bought an F4 after years of using an old FT2 because at the time it was the only NIKON that offered A/F, mirror lockup, and DOF preview in one machine. I thought it was the king of all SLR's. A couple years after I bought it it developed an intermitant electrical glitch. I hit the shutter, the flash would go off at full power, the red error light would come on and the camera would lock up. I had to turn it off and on to get it to work. Big bummer. I took it to NIKON in Torrance, CA and they did a $135 service job. Did nothing for the problem. When it happened again, I didn't move anything, I set it on the seat of the car and drove over there. Anyway, the lead tech came out and examined it. I wish I had a video of this guy checking my camera. Kind of like watching Eric Clapton play a guitar. Really! Ends up they could not fix it so they shipped me a brand spanking new one from New York. It worked great, for a few years anyway. I bought an F100 when my (backup) FT2 finally expired. I shot about 35 rolls of supera 100 on my last trip to Thailand using both cameras and had them developed over there, then printed over here in the States. I didn't notice some of the negs were thin. Turns out all the flash photos from the F4 were underexposed, big time. I took it in, and $230 later they repaired an aperture lever, and a contact in the DP20. Never been dropped, only packed around a little roughly in planes trains etc. Only (fast) NIKON lenses and flashes are used. No aftermarket junk. Bottom line, I'm a little hesitant to call it "stone reliable, etc..." I once shot a beauty contest in northern Thailand (that was fun) and pulled off some textbook fill flash photos. The girls were holding umbrellas in the daylight. I do believe that it's easy to fool the metering system which is primitive by today's standards. But if it's used within it's limitations it is a great camera. I tend to leave my SB26 turned on most of the time when I'm walking around in villages capturing candids and the exposures have been very satisfying overall. I guess two incidents is not really enough to lay a bum rap on an F4, and in the end it really is a great machine but... I bought an F100 to go on the last trip and only did about 15 rolls so I'm not really qualified to comment on it yet. Fortunately they offer a user installable "E" screen, which I put in first thing. I need to get a little more used to it but I think I'm going to like that unit.

Bill Husted , October 02, 2003; 02:30 P.M.

The F4 has plenty of faults and a surprising number of virtues, especially considering the age of the model.

But no matter how valid the criticism, they miss the point. Sure, the reviewer is right, it's a heavy camera, especially when compared to the consumer models he mentions.

The F4 is a professional camera. It's made to last, to take abuse and to continue working. So it is big, heavy, even a little clunky to some eyes. But that heft is the result of a heavy-duty build designed to take the sort of abuse the camera was designed to face.

Gavyn Aaron , November 04, 2003; 09:32 A.M.

I used the F4 for many years, and finally made the transition to the F5. I can't help but think that Phil's criticisms of the F4 are the rantings of someone who is simply looking for something wrong with a camera so that he can support his own preference. I highly suspect that he judged the F4 before he ever even picked it up.

The F4 (and continuing with the F5) is an absolute tank of a camera. Yes, with various lens combinations it can be quite heavy. But that is it's strong point. This camera was made to last and survive in very harsh conditions (conditions that Phil's preferred camera wouldn't last very long in). The buttons seem to me to be well-placed and not at all difficult to handle. I appreciate the need to deliberately turn it on/off with no accidental bumping of the setting. I've seen batteries wasted by people who had cameras which would turn on with a simple brush of the button.

These Nikon bad boys are robust, and in my opinion the F5 that I now have is the finest camera ever made by Nikon or anyone for that matter. As a professional photographer, I would use nothing else.

Gavyn Aaron

K Michael , November 05, 2003; 03:51 A.M.

The Nikon F4 is big, clumsy and antiquated in it's performance. Yet on the othere hand, mine has never ever been in the repair shop. It's never been professionally cleaned. It's been dropped, banged and even submergerd in water! The camere will not give in. Forget about the 5 segment matrix metering. I use a hand held one. Do we really trust those reflective light meters? So maybe this camera isn't perfect. But I myself survived tumbling in a car only because I'm 6'2" and built like Arnold.

Ruben Navarrete , November 28, 2003; 04:21 P.M.

I Love my F4 !

This is an awesome camera for extreme conditions. I have fell over rocks (over the camera off course), been involved in serious mountain bike accidents (broken ribs, etc) with the F4 on my back and the camera has NEVER failed. Large knobs are specialy great when using gloves. I have exposed my F4 to extreme low temperatures and have never had a problem. I have even used it under the rain (no housing), never had a single problem.

Powerfull, easy to use, intuitive.

I had mine stolen early this year and replaced it by another F4, I tried several other lighter cameras but I believe that none of the ones I tried could resist what the F4 has resisted so far (yes... I also tried canons).

Yes... it is heavy... but it has never been a problem, I normaly take several lenses including 80-200 f2.8. If in need I prefer to leave home other things than protographic equipment.

Richard DeBari , December 10, 2003; 06:53 A.M.

I have two F4's and a mix of beautiful old Nikkor MF AIS, AF and AF-I lenses with teleconverters that I use with them. The Nikon F4 is the best 35mm SLR camera ever made period! I have had many images published and won awards in several contests with my F4's. I almost sold all of my old Nikon stuff recently to go fully Nikon up-to-date digital(D1x, AF-S "D" lenses, etc). However, I then came to my senses and decided to count my blessings. One recent afternoon of shooting with my F4 with the TC-20E 2x AF-I converter and 300mm f2.8D ED-IF AF-I attached reminded me how much I love this great camera/lens setup.

I said this before and I'll say it again. My formula for the perfect F6 for Nikon? Take an F4s body and controls. Insert the light meter and AF modules from the F5. Give it the ability to use matrix metering with AIS lenses. Presto, the perfect F6! One final update to that solution would be to offer a 12 megapixel full-frame digital back option for that new F6. But then maybe I'm just a dreamer...

ron west , February 28, 2004; 12:23 A.M.

Hi all,,,I am a 57 year young press photographer and do anything you can imagine to get pictures of what is happening NOW! I need cameras that can take a lot of abuse and stand up to all kinds of weather hot or cold. I used Nikon F-2's for years with a dozen lenses . They are hard to get parts for now and I was forced into a later model camera. I tried a lot of cameras from the big three with various results. I can say that the only camera I will use now is the Nikon F-4E or S. These cameras are for the most part manual but with a lot of options for me when I need them.From using Nikon F-2's for years the F-4 is a dream come true for me. Anyone who shoots fast action and had bullets going over your head doesn't want to be worried whether or not the camera you are using is still in one piece when you need to get a shot. By that , I meen that my cameras have to take a beating , banging into walls , being dropped , covered in dirt etc.,and still be able to take a picture and keep on working. The new digital cameras can not stand up to this torture and keep working. My friends agree that the digital cameras belong indoors where there isn't any dust or moisture to foul them up. Try changing a lens on a digital camera in a dusty place and you will be sending it into the shop for a few weeks to clean the CCD.My F-4's will keep on working through all of that and all I have to do is clean them now and then. I don't know any studio photographers but I can imagine that they are kind of worried about getting dirty etc. The reason I am writing this comment is because the average person won't ever have to take a picture in my conditions but they talk about the minor details like it is the most important thing they have ever dealt with. I think they are all a bunch of babies that don't go outside when it's raining or snowing . Nikon built these cameras for the ultimate worst conditions possible for PRESS PHOGRAPHERS to get a picture at any cost and we do. So why don't you people who bitch about the little things grow up and become REAL PHOTOGRAPHERS and worry about the things that are really important like how to get these pictures and stay alive at the same time.,,,,,,RM

I C , March 13, 2004; 04:33 P.M.

Last year I travelled for two months in South America with a Nikon F3 and FE2 (plus a bunch of prime MF Nikkors). When the shutter of my beloved 19-year-old FE2 tanked in the midst of the trip I shot with F3 for the rest of the way, knowing I would need to buy another MF body to replace the broken FE2 when I got home.

During subsequent camera shopping, I eventually limited my choices to a FM3A, F3 and F4. The F3 100% finder (as with the F4) was so much nicer on my eyes (and easier to manual focus as well) than the FE2 that I ruled the similarly spec-ed FM3A out. It was tough deciding between the F3 and F4. I certainly wouldn't mind another F3, but the F4 offered spotmeter (I use manual exposure most of the time), matrix metering with my MF AI-S lenses (which would come useful at certain times when automation is needed), an usable hotshoe with my SB-26 and easy-to-replace AA batteries.

And there was an extra plus: the used camera shops around my house a used F3 was selling more than a F4 of comparable condition, thanks to F4's declining popularity. All the better for me as I picked up my F4 for about $430USD.

And that was over half a year ago. I can say now I made the right decision: when I travel with the F3 and F4 and find myself using the F4 more often thanks to better metering modes and more extensive viewfinder exposure info. The weight increase of the F4 over F3 is acceptable for me since I mostly snap light MF prime Nikkors onto the body. And for the F3? I still use it when I need to be more discrete, but for now, the F4 is king when I shoot with MF cameras.

Davidde Stella , May 12, 2004; 05:06 P.M.

Up until relatively recently, a professional photographer could (and expected to) use the same camera system for years without worrying about "upgrading" -- and camera manufacturers generally understood that (50 years of Leica M Mount and almost as much for the Nikon F). However, with the advent of digital, one would be hard-pressed to find a pro photographer who is using the same digital system he or she used 3 years ago. Unfortunately, since digital technology has not yet "settled" and the major manufacturers have instituted a "planned obsolescence" program, photogs are "forced" by job demands, peer pressure, or just old-fashioned marketing to upgrade constantly. The Nikon F4 is the last of an era where durability mattered as much as the technology. 150,000 shutter clicks before service? 100% view with no dimming LCD overlay? Matrix metering with lenses over 40 years old? Even by 1989, Canon EOS's was boasting its plasticky, control-wheeled form. It's quite amusing when this board asks whether the poster has some insight that others will find useful "three years from now." People will still be using the Nikon F4 in 2007, but the question is whether anyone will still be using a D100.

Jan Habal , May 28, 2004; 10:08 P.M.

I must say, that comment by "Davidde Stella, May 12, 2004" is most intelligent one. I do agree with it 100%!

Dante Stella , July 12, 2004; 10:44 P.M.

Now owning both an F4 and an F5, I realize that the F4 isn't going anywhere any time soon. The F5 has its charms - mainly the ability to do off-center focusing, but the F4 is like a woman you just can't get out of your mind.

The F4's viewfinder is just... better. Although the LCD display is not as clear and concise as the F5, the clarity of the viewing system is better (presumably with no intervening LCD screen and no bleed for the 1,005 segment metering). Add that to the fact that you can get just about any focusing screen you want... and if you are handy with tools, you can install any F3 screen in an F4 frame and mount that -- I have a D screen in mine. The F5 screen system is totally incompatible and lacks such staples as the K and P screen.

The other thing is that if you like things like action finders, the F4 is a much more economical exercise ($250 for a used DA-20) than the F5 ($500 for a used DA-30). Canon would love you to forget that these things exist - they're not just for shooting with a helmet - but also with glasses.

The interesting thing that I'm just getting around to testing is whether the MB-20 with Lithium AAs is as powerful as the MB-21 with alkalines. I suspect it will be.

Walter Kraft , July 15, 2004; 12:38 A.M.

There have been so many excellent 35mm cameras made by Canon, Olympus, Minolta and others that you could spend a lifetime debating which is the best of them. Often those debates are interesting and informative since they appeal to our desire to know "which is better?" "what is the best? It is hard to arrive at a definative conclusion because the flagship cameras these companies have produced are very near each other in terms of their excellence...or at least near enough to make them debatable. This camera however, is out of that league entirely. The Nikon F4 is what you build when you are better at something than everybody else and you decide to demonstrate that to the world. Hold one in your hands, fire the shutter, turn a knob or press a button...it's Nikon's masterpiece, the camera all the other manufacturers wished they could have built but couldn't. The F5 is an amazing camera but thumbwheels, buried commands, LCD screens and lengthy documentation should not be a part of the primary user interface, these things belong in an ancillary capacity at best. For this reason alone the F4 is a better camera than the F5...it's simpler and more elegant to use, in a sense it is faster and more fluent. The F4 went to finishing school and it shows in its balanced poise and sensibility...its technology lurks within in seemless integration with what has classically gone before. Not so in the F5 where its technology is out in front of itself...you meet it before you meet the camera and that is where it falls short, regardless of how incredible it may be. Remember when the auto industry went to digital dashboard displays, the Corvette even in the mid 80's, but reverted back to analog gauges...why? Surely the colors were cool but in the final analysis you just want to see how fast you are going and you'd rather get that information by glancing at it instead of reading it. I suspect the very best photographers prefer traditional controls for basic camera function and feel that the wheel should not have been reinvented here...their time is best spent photographing rather than fondling and as a mere amateur I am in complete agreement with them. The person above who claims the F6 should be the amalgamation of the F4's layout and the F5's advances in autofocus and metering with the added option of digital megapixel backs is so on the money that I simply cannot believe Nikon would even avoid doing exactly that. If Canon or Minolta wind up doing it instead then well my hat would be off to them and I would be severely disappointed in Nikon. The oportunity to sell a new digital back every 12 - 18 months to countless professionals who would rather only upgrade part of their camera than relegate the whole thing awaits the manufacturer with the widest field of vision.

It is likely that if the F4 had been born a manual focus camera instead of autofocus it would have had a 20 year run instead of the F3 because it retains all that was superb in the F3 and adds a built in winder and spot meter with a flash synch at 1/ 250. Instead it had the shortest run of any Nikon pro camera to date, due only to the rapid improvements in autofocus, which when understood places the F4 in proper ironic perspective. It should never ever be judged by autofocus ability, which is quite acceptable even today, rather it should be judged on balance...and on balance it is the finest 35mm camera ever made. If you shoot action by all means go out and get yourself the newest and fastest thing, for just about anything else in 35mm the Nikon F4 is unequalled.

Shimon Mor , January 27, 2005; 12:56 A.M.

Well, I last posted on this "thread" in 1998 and I still can't let go of my F4! The digital SLR revolution is in full swing and I feel like the train has left the station with everyone on it except me. I can't bring myself to buy a DSLR because I love my F4 too much. I wish someone would come out with a digital back for my F4. I don't want lens correction factors, I want mirror lock-up, I want DOF preview, I want knobs, dials and switch not tiny buttons and beeps. My F4 feels like a professional tool not a plastic toy and I love it.

Landrum Kelly , April 03, 2005; 03:56 P.M.

The Nikon F4 is treated fairly comprehensively on the page below, which also has a downloadable PDF version of the manual. The site is neutral vis-a-vis the Nikon-Canon debate and even seems in general to be critical of Nikon, but it has plenty for everyone who is interested in these cameras and their lenses:

http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/hardwares/classics/nikonf4/index.htm

This is a complex site which is worth at least an afternoon.

Luis Saavedra , June 06, 2005; 01:07 A.M.

I purchased an F4s three years ago mainly to be able to use matrix metering on my 300mm f/2.8 AF in combination with the TC-14B and the mirror lock for slow shutter speeds with the big glass. I have been able to produce razor sharp images with this combination that are scary to look at. I was extremely impressed by how well this camera felt like a custom-made glove in my hands. I liked the solid construction and felt reassured by the reliable shutter mechanism. It is a camera that is definitely in its own league and will be producing images for me for years to come.

steve marino , September 03, 2005; 02:00 A.M.

I just bought an f4 on e-bay and have yet to receive it, so I won't say anything about the weight/autofocus/primitive aspects of this camera, but I will say this....I am on pins and needles waiting for it! I recently bought the Next New Thing-an N80 with the 28-200 G-ED zoom and couldn't wait to get rid of it. The tiny and dim view finder was just too much to endure. The lens was certainly light, but the distortion was not fun. So I sold it and took a long look at my old n6006, the first auto focus camera I ever owned (and until the f4 gets here, the only one). Gee, the view finder is BIG and BRIGHT! The camera is heavy, but nicely balanced. There is no depth of field preview, which is a lil problem. Looking at this old Nikon camera brought me to my senses because I was just about to get a D50 digital. I suddenly realized that dispite the convenience of digital, and it's lower operating cost, the quality of a great 35mm shot scanned in to a digital file was probably as good as it gets unless I want to go medium format, and I don't. So I finally bought the f4, mainly because I can now afford one since everyone and their brother seems to be going digital and the price has finally come my way. If this thing is half the camera it's supposed to be it will be my last autofocus film camera. It looks big and beautiful and heavy and maybe a lil slow on the autofocus, and it doesn't have a crappy led screen on top,and it takes all those great Nikkor lenses, and it's old and dead reliable......so what's the PROBLEM!!!?

Evan Zamir , September 03, 2005; 10:45 A.M.

I too just bought an F4 on eBay for around $300. What a steal. It's such a great camera. I just couldn't justify buying a DSLR that doesn't have a full frame (35 mm) sensor. Canon makes full frame sensors, but they cost a fortune, and I already have a stable of Nikon AI-S lenses. Anyway, for someone like me, whose first and only SLR was a relatively pre-historic FE, I'm so happy to have a camera that can automatically re-wind film! Also, even with my manual focus lenses, the F4 AF can help me focus. It takes some getting used to the heft of the camera, but actually, I've found that the weight helps maintain stability. It also feels indestructable, unlike most of the now ubiquitous plastic digicams out there. If Nikon ever makes a well-constructed, full-frame DSLR with manual controls like the F4, I'll be the first in line. Until then, I'm going to try to make sure my F4 is operational for a long, long time.

John Narsuitus , November 13, 2005; 07:16 P.M.

Similar Products Used:

Nikon F, F2, F3, EM, N70, Asahi Pentax Spotmatic, Miranda Sensorex

Comments:

As a lover of manual/mechanical cameras, I was seriously considering the FM3a as a backup to my three aging F2 bodies (I have been using one since 1971). However, I changed my mind when I discovered that the price of film cameras had dropped so low that I could purchase a used F4 body in excellent condition for a little over $300 compared to the price of $500 for a new FM3a. The strongest feature for me is that, like my F2, the F4 can handle every manual-focus, auto-focus, AI, pre-AI, and preset lens in my inventory. Even though some people complain about the size and weight of the F4, I was surprised when I compared the weight of the F4 body with its built-in motor drive and add-on battery pack to my F2 body with add-on motor drive and battery pack. Even though the F4 felt heavier, it was actually lighter by 12 ounces.

Pros:

1. Well-built, heavy-duty, high-quality body

2. Seems to be durable and dependable

3. Woks well with my inventory of older Nikon lenses (from 18mm to 1000mm)

4. Provides good balance with heavy telephoto lenses

5. Works well with auto focus or manual focus lenses

6. Uses same motor drive cable connection for Quantum Radio Slave II as F2

7. Very quiet built-in motor drive

8. Reasonably priced (purchased on eBay for $325 in 2005)

9. Auto and manual exposure feature

10. Auto and manual focus feature

11. Electronic focusing aid

12. Exposure meter compensation feature

13. Spot, center-weighted, and matrix exposure meter options

14. Allows matrix, center-weighted, and spot metering with true AI lenses

15. Allows center-weighted and spot metering with AI converted lenses

16. Works in manual mode with pre-AI lenses

17. Works in manual mode with pre-set 28mm f/4 Perspective Control lens

18. Uses standard alkaline AA batteries

19. Has light to illuminate viewfinder information

20. Built-in diopter eyepiece correction

21. Built-in eyepiece shield

22. Mirror lock-up feature

23. Multiple exposure feature

24. Depth of field preview

25. Interchangeable view screens

26. Interchangeable viewfinder

27. Viewfinder offers 100% coverage

28. Manual rewind allows leaving the film leader out of the cassette

29. PC electronic flash connection

30. Uses same motor drive cable release as F2

31. 1/250 second top flash sync shutter speed

32. Quiet operation when compared to my motorized F2

33. Rail system for interchangeable viewfinder is more secure than F2 latch system

34. Accurate focusing is easy with electronic focusing aid

35. User interface not far removed from F2

36. No buttons located at the right thumb position

Cons:

1. Unable to vary the amount of time viewfinder turns itself off due to inactivity

2. While slightly pressing shutter release button to activate built-in light meter, it is too easy to accidentally press shutter release too hard and waste a shot.

3. Large size and heavy weight (however, smaller and lighter than F2 with motor)

4. Not an inconspicuous camera

5. Auto focus is too slow for fast action (but I do not shoot a lot of fast action)

6. Camera will not operate without battery power

7. Standard cable shutter release connects to camera in an unusual location

8. Unable to change viewfinder shutter speed increments from 1/2 stop increments to 1/3 stop increments or to full stop increments

9. Unable to change f/stop increments from 1/2 stop increments to 1/3 stop increments or to full stop increments.

10. No provision to store camera with an un-cocked shutter

11. Cannot use bulk film loaded in Nikon F2 AM-1 film cassettes

12. Cannot use F2 view screens

13. Unlike my F2, I am unable to reduce the size and weight of the camera by removing the motor drive and battery pack

14. Does not have the classic motor drive sound of my F2

15. With my right thumb, I can sometimes feel the vibrations of the film moving while holding the camera in my right hand

16. Difficult to manually focus using standard B screen (had to replace with a screen that had a split-image focusing aid)

17. Center of standard B screen darkens when shooting macrophotography

18. Inability to change size of auto focus area

19. Inability to change the location of the auto focus area

20. Continuous Silent Speed (CS) setting is not silent. It would be more accurate if it were labeled 'Continuous Slow Speed' because all it really does is lower the firing rate to 1 frame per second

Slavomir Musilek , February 02, 2006; 07:14 P.M.

Well, through my hands passed many camera systems, Olympus OM-3, OM-4, Contax, Eos1n,Eos30, Eos5, Nikon F3, Nikon F4, Nikon F5, Nikon F90x and much more... If you want to look cool, there's the Canon option. If you want equipment that never fails, there's the Nikon option. I've choosed Nikon and I am more than satisfied. You knoe what's the main plus of Nikons? Their simplicity. They got everything you need and nothing to distract you. My present equipment? One F4s, One F90x, one back-up F90x (well, you never know) and dozens of manual focus lenses. 24/2.8, 35/2, 50/1.4, 135/2, 300/4.5

I was working working on project about fishermans in South Bohemia, my F90x covered in sport-tape (the black textile tape used in hockey sport) accidentaly fall to the water. I grabbed it back immediately, but it was fully under the water. To my suprise, only problem was the lens (that time Sigma 17-35). AF was not working and front element of the lens was somehow full of water. But there was nothing wrong with F90x!!! Just kick of remaining water, change lens and carry on. That's what I call a camera performance.

WJ Lee , March 07, 2006; 08:04 A.M.

F4 for me is the best 35mm camera that has been made in any era. Of course F5 F100 have more features but that came with the advance in technology. The reviewer seem to complain about the layout but that's probably because he's started with a modern electronic cameras which I find, as the reviewer found F4 awkward, rather gimicky. Heavy yes, but it can be steadying factor on handheld shots with longish sutter speed. Everything about F4 is perfect, considering when it was released, with everything in right place and nothing unecessary added, it just becomes the natural extension of you. If it's too heavy for you, then it can be used as a mantle piece as this surely has to be the most beautiful camera, aesthetically, ever made.

Only wish would be for Nikon to do a Digital reincarnation of this camera with better autofocus, metering and compatibility with modern lenses. One can only dream...

Daniel Bayer , May 24, 2006; 05:08 A.M.

I have owned the F2, F3, F4, F5, FM2 & F100. Up until I switched to full frame Canon digital, I used the F4 for nearly 14 years. It was for me, the very best 35mm pro sized SLR ever. I just received a mint condition one today, looks brand new and was only $330. Along with my two FM3A's, it will be helping me to start a historical tribute to a famous film. I have purchased an Aquatica 4 underwater housing for it used ( along with one for my Hasselblad Xpan, for the project too ).

I have thousands tied up in a full Canon digital system, but still would only trust Nikons for this special once in a lifetime project.

Before I sold my old F4, the one I bought in 1989, I had it serviced by NPS, LA. The tech called me to tell me that he was amazed that my camera shutter had over 280,000 cycles on it.

In my professional opinion as a photographer who uses AIS manual and AF Nikkors lenses side by side, the F4 is the most capable pro-build 35mm camera ever made.

On a digital note, too bad Nikon can't come out with a full frame digital camera that uses Nikon glass the way it should be used. I guess that is why I have such a huge 35mm system......

Stephen Masiello , June 07, 2006; 11:00 A.M.

My photo history before the F4 goes something like this. Got a kodak point and shoot (110 I think) from my grandfather and then at 16 moved up to a pentax k1000. To be honest I didn't really have a clue how to use it properly, just adjusted speed and fstop until the meter was in the middle. But for travel and everyday shots I didn't want to carry it around so picked up a canon sureshot to put in my pocket. I loved it for biking and general travel and it took decent pics. Then I got a package deal of an F4s, 6006 and some nikon glass for a very low price. I knew the F4 was high end but wasn't sure how high. As far as the 6006, I thought it might be a good backup and liked the built in flash feature. It took me weeks to figure out all the features of the F4 and in the process I gave myself a crash course in real photo technique, like reading about what fstop actually does. I now feel quite confident in my ability to use the F4 and am limited only by my "eye" which is still in training, thanks in part to this site. Through all this the 6006 stayed in the bag mainly because I didn't feel like spending money for the special battery it takes. I prefer my F4's NiMH AA's that I recharge. One day I read the manual for the 6006 and while I like the features that it has, it just seems like a menu nightmare to navigate. Just by rotating my F4 in my hands I can give all the knobs a quick scan to make sure everything is set right, no menus and multiple function buttons. I'll probably end up trading the 6006 for an mb-20 for the F4 if I can find one. Yes it's heavy but it's solid and after a k1000 ANY autofocus is welcomed. I've used my father's d70 once or twice and even though it's great the weight makes it feel like a toy. Instead of another big slr for digital I opted for a coolpix7600 which I love for its portability and size when I'm out biking. Hey 7 megapixels in your pocket is nothing to sneeze at. Anyway I am thrilled with my F4s so far and no matter what new technology comes along I know it will always have a special place in my gear bag. Like me, I think those who love or hate the F4 do so because of their history. Those who have the latest and greatest feel like it's a step backwards but people like me with humble beginnings treat it like they just graduated from a Fiat to a Lamborghini. To each is own but I know I've never been happier. The only problem is that by having an F4, I know greatness is possible. So if my pictures come out looking like garbage it's nobody's fault but mine. Can't blame the gear, not that I ever would.

Nelson Cheung , June 30, 2006; 01:36 A.M.

I bought my F4s & SB25 14months ago, and then a battery MB-20. This year I bought a SB-26 and MF-23. I took ~ 30 rolls film. I think I will buy some more accessories for my F4, like the 6x finder DW-21 and Polaroid Back.

Why? Because only F4 offer below features to me:

#1 100% view: very important

#2 Changeable viewfinder: Although I don?t have other than DP-20 now, I can do the metering and then remove the finder for low angle photos. Nice feature

#3 AF: It is fast enough in most situations except fast moving subjects. I cannot get sharp focus picture when my little daughter running around me. Missing focus selection point makes me think again and again F5 and F6 is better.

#4 5.6 Fps: with MB-21, film advance is fast enough for me.

#5 MF-23: timer function no longer available in F6 or D2 series. Only F4 and F5 have this.

#6 Light weight than F5: with MB-20, weight is reasonable. More comfortable with MB-21 but heavy like F5.

#7 Unique body & button design: F4 is beautiful. You cannot see much difference in new body design like D200, D70s, D2hs, D2xs, F6.

#8 Simple workflow: Just take photo, D&P a roll of film and I have my photos in one hour. I really don?t have time to do selection & adjustment if shooting in digital.

#9 Durable: F4 already proof herself is durable and capable for over 16years. You still can find earliest serial no. in very good condition available in ebay. My one is #256xxxx, bought in good condition. Quite dusty and some sticker stuck on the back when arrive. After cleaning, I appreciate Nikon?s design is durable, it looks clean now. The plastic housing indeed is better then metal body in used camera. No dent, no paint peel off.

#10 Low cost: I considered D50 / D70 one year ago, however, I don?t think they need no repair after 1 year. For a professional body F4, even it dead in 1 year and I need to repair or buy another one. The price is lower than the low end DSLR. Better to have professional camera and film to get the best result.

#11 Viewfinder: Still Ok. I have F50, its viewfinder is brighter than F4 by one stop.

Really have fun with F4!

Robert McCann , October 04, 2006; 07:08 P.M.

I stumbled across this review and thought I'd add my 2? worth all these years later. As a nature stock photographer I shot three F4 bodies, almost always on a tripod, and must say that I believe it to be the best 35mm tripod camera with modern functions I ever saw/used. Assistants would have the latest Canon wonder but I never needed to wake the camera up to see what the settings were. The F100 was always going to sleep just as I was ready to make the next adjustment for bracketing- which would entail tapping the shutter release again, making the adjustment, making the exposure. It was always an annoyance. The F4's simple, clear and always readable controls are one point in its favor. As well, the bulletproof-ness already spoken about. True as can be. After countless exposures through my main body (named Red, for the red spots on the strap, the one with the Velvia 50 in it, later E100VS) it still functions as ever, with one CLA over the years. I got that first F4 well used, and worked it hard for many years, it could go for many more at the same rate I'm sure. The other two bodies got less use, but I never thought one of them was less reliable. Exposures were dead on, and I don't remember ever moving the metering switch accidently. I did forget to move it back from spot mode on occasion, but the lcd in the viewfinder would remind me after a shot or two. Add a 100% viewfinder, AA batteries, a standard cable release.

The F4 also can take just about any Nikon lens that isn't a 'G' type. Ai, Ai'd, Ais. I had quite a pack of old glass that would beat the pants off any of the newer lenses. Nikon has cheapened much of their lens line over the years in my opinion, and the 1962 55 Micro or the Ai'd 28/2.0 I had worked as perfectly on it as the 105 AF/DC. In contemplating a move to digital to stay with stock shooting I found that most of my old trusted lenses wouldn't allow for metering with a new body! Sad.

I highly recommend the F4 to anyone looking for a reliable SLR. They come cheap nowadays, and will outlast most of us. I can't say the same thing for a D-100 or D-200, nor even a F5.

-Robert

Paul Conrad , November 07, 2006; 05:09 P.M.

Long live the F4.

Mine is as old as the hills but I still love rapid firing the ol' film through it.

Semper F4

luke rutherford , March 13, 2007; 10:53 A.M.

Iv'e just joined photo.net so thanks to the owners for this fine resource. I recently bought an F5. It is a marvellous machine. I just can't get used to the fiddly controls. I know others have had the same problems. Do people customarily get used to them or do they remain a pain forever? It seems irrational to switch to an F4 for that kind of subjective reason. Ergonomically the F4 seems so much more intuitive. What do others think? I don't shoot sports but I do shoot a lot of, often highly energetic, children. Could I end up missing F5 fast aotofocus for that kind of application. Some dealers have told me that the f4 is maintaining an unusual robustness in second hand value. Finally I have a range of manual focus lenses which would be more fully compatible with the f4; how happy are users with the f4 multi segment metering?

Thanks in advance

Luke

Ryan Youn , April 27, 2007; 07:29 P.M.


guruma .. my cat

I've been using F4 for now almost 5years with my Fujifilm S3Pro D-SLR. F4 is the most reliable film camera I have used. Recently I want to use DW-20 view finder for the low angle job and since I'm feeling F4 is getting heavier and heavier to me, so want to buy MB-20 for a little lightness. However, I couldn't find any web site selling DW-20 and MB-20. None. Is there ANYBODY who has one of these or knows where to buy? PLEASE!!! May THE F4 be forever with me.

Send me an email : ryan_youn@yahoo.co.nz

Fred Latchaw , July 04, 2007; 02:03 A.M.

I'm a looooong time Canon user and fan; FTb, F1, T90, EOS 1N-RS, 5D, and so on. I recently submitted to some strange urge and bought a very used F4s, and picked up a wide angle zoom to go with it. This thing is indeed an ergonomic nightmare, and I had to spend a whole DAY with the manual trying to understand all the little buttons, levers, switches and such. After shooting with it for a couple of months I've come to the conclusion that I really love this camera. Yes, it's kludgy, yes, the strap lug bites into my right hand when I'm shooting, but the F4 is an absolute delight to play with!

Nothing on earth could part me from my Canons (I still have and use them all), but the F4 has a permanent place in my camera bag.

Cheers!

Andre Sainderichin , August 10, 2007; 09:37 A.M.

Listen, listen, listen.... The Nikon F4 is not the best SLR ever made! That was the Nikon F3, and stupid idiot that I am, I sold mine several years ago. The F4 is just the closest thing. It's a fantastic piece of machinery, with looks to die for. I don't understand the comments about ergonomics: maybe there's something wrong with my own physical configuration,but I never could fault the F4. There you go. That being said, the Leica M is still unbeaten when it comes to ease of use. But then, it has other limitations, so I think at age 54, an F4, a Leica M and a Hasselblad 5xx is all it takes. And yeah, I own a digital camera. A Canon Ixus 800. It's OK. But it's digital... Cheers, Andr

Michael Bonomo , September 06, 2007; 11:25 A.M.

I was a long time Minolta user and switched to the F3HP and F4 cameras just recently (thank you E-Bay!!). Good grief...are people that feeble that they can't hold up this camera???? If so, there are always those disposable cameras they have at Wallmart. :-D The Nikon lives up to it's reputationan as a professional's camera. It's built rugged because it was made to be carried in WARS, not just to the local picnic with the family.

John Anyon , October 20, 2007; 06:01 P.M.

I would like to add a rather smug footnote to the F3 verses F4 question. As a professional press photographer in the UK for 15 years I, of course, now use digital, BUT, I recently bought a totally mint F3HP with MD4 and an almost unused F4S from the states on e-bay for less than ?500 incl postage !!! I don't care which is best 'cos I have 'em both !!!!!!! To be serious, if you are careful and check out as many cameras as you can, you can get pro Nikon film cameras for prices we could only have dreamt about 10 years ago !!! Who needs an F6 ??!!

Marian Deaconescu , November 24, 2007; 01:08 P.M.

Best camera 35mm camera I put my hands on - I'm using one since 1995 and I bought a second, unused body three years ago, at a ridiculously low price, from a wealthy amateur who thought that digital will produce by itself better pictures.

And yes, camera is super, but *film* sucks! Film sucks, period (except in b-w and extreme contrast situations). I'm using now a punny d200 and it's given me much better results than film. As many others here have said: a digital F4 *body*, with 35mm normal sensor, a bit doctored inside (sort of minimalist digital body) would surely be a success for Nikon, if offered at the right price.

F4 is probably the best possible camera you could get these days if you want to quickly progress in photography: the mistakes will cost you dearly (in film and processing prices) and therefore the learning curve is quickly getting level. I still believe that film is the cheapest way to *learn* photography - because is becoming so expensive.

And F4 , as its predecessor F3, comes as *system*, not just a camera - this is important if you want to jump on some wagon (any wagon for that matter). Pitty that Nikon doesn't live up to its glorious past and doesn't deliver what it used to in terms of a *system* to match a professional camera like D3, for example.

If I were in their shoes, I would team up with Zoerk (as an example) to find ways for offering *real* solutions to copy LF capabilities on 35mm digital. This is the future, for it's very hard to find these days outlets developing 4x5inch or 6x6cm Velvia for example. Even in large size cities.

It's not such a hard-to-believe prediction: the days of medium and large format film are also numbered (perhaps in the thousands, but not many): you simply don't have the speed and convenience (in lenses and postproduction) you have in 35mm digital. And the prices for quality medium format digital,even if they drop significantly (it won't be the case for 10 years at least) still couldn't make up for the variety of solutions in lenses for the smaller formats.

So, enjoy the "beast" F4 before film will become a thing of the past for all practical and sensible purposes. And if you (as I did this year) finally decide to jump on the digital wagon, make sure you have exhausted all your film supplies, for you'll seldom (well, never say never!) go back. Not if you shoot F4: 35mm *film* sucks and the divine machine is using it...

John Tran , November 30, 2007; 07:21 A.M.

I look around and see all my friends are using Microsoft PowerPoint to present their SlideShows everyday. However, they never have any slides. Some don't even know what a slide is.

When thinking of pictures, they only see what is on the paper or on an LCD monitor. If I need to send a picture by email, I often use my DSLR because I don't think a scanner is good enough and I never can get a really clean scan

If I want to capture my visual memory I always prefer to use slides. That is why I have to use film cameras. I don't think the paper or LCD monitor can have the same dynamic range(feel free to correct my terminology because I am not good at it)

I have tried so many 35mm SLR, some of my favorites are XE7, Maxxum7, XD11, KX, ESII, FM, OM1, OM2, SA7, Canon EF, F1 New, FM, F3 and even an F5. I like the F4 the most and mine is an F4E

I don't really care about AF because it's never good enough for me. I don't really care about Auto Exposure much either because judging the light with my eyes is good enough and I rarely make any wrong exposures except when I am distracted by the pretty lady in the pictures. More often is Wolf cameras developed my films wrong. My brother told me to develop it myself but I have no time and room for that. I mostly use M mode but I am really impressed with the Auto modes and Matrix system of the F4

I know the switch R2 is for Auto Rewind but I don't even know how it works because I never care to use it, the rewind crank is good enough for me. My eyes are not 20/20 anymore and everytime I pick up an SLR with diopter adjustement, I turn it to +1 right away. I can use my F4e without putting my glasses on and off all the time. That is also why I like a databack like the Maxxum 7 and hate the LCd of a digital camera.

I just want to share my two cents hope not offend anyone.

Sam Coyle , December 22, 2007; 11:18 A.M.

I have Nikon N90s and F4 bodies and have been shooting weddings with film for over 30 yrs. and digital for over two years. With either system there will always be problems because of human error. No matter what you use, if not enlarging more than 8X10, 99.99% of people viewing will never know what you use. So, the bottowm line is cost and personal preference as a photographer. I shoot both for security reasons. In today's technical market, who knows what electronics can or cannot do or what will happen. I know of someone who lost everything because of the push of the wrong button using digital. I suggest to continue to use film.

I have so many film cameras that I need to move some but will always keep something as long as film is available. Anyone have suggestions for moving these other than Ebay?

Image Attachment: nikon F4.JPG

Oliverr Twist , March 16, 2008; 06:34 P.M.

Wow.

'What comment or alternative perspective would you like to add to this page?'

That's kind of aggressive, folks, don't you think?

In any event, my two bits: I've owned pretty much everything under the sun except for a blue leather Alpa, and for my taste the F4s I just got my hands on simply rocks. I don't love it; I adore it.

Any chance anyone out there knows of an underwater housing for this baby? I just got a Hugyfot housing for Contax in a trade with a friend and I wonder if the same company also made housings for Nikons.

Thanks for listening.

Paul Conrad , May 08, 2008; 05:16 P.M.

I recently took a trip to San Francisco and shot with my F4s/MB23 combo and missed how it felt. It is a bit awkward but I quickly got used to it again. I loved it.

I've been shooting digital Nikon (D1H, D200, D300) since 2000 and the F4 is definitely a tank compared to those. I bought it for 500 in 1998 from a friend while I was in college. Three years ago, I had it cleaned and checked by Nikon and it sat in a drawer since then. When I took it out, the first thing I did was fire a few dozen frames to hear the motor. Ahhh. Heaven.

It's one of the most durable cameras I've ever owned period. I'd rather have that camera in a riot than some of the later/newer model digitals. It can be used as a weapon.

I will be taking it out for film runs now and then to keep it running good.

Joe Grodis , November 02, 2008; 06:39 P.M.

Sorry, I love my F4 to death! There is NO substitute.

-Joe

L.M. Tu , November 22, 2008; 11:55 P.M.

Wow, why even bother to take the time to write such a shoddy, half-arsed, intellectually lazy review. I know this was written a long time ago, but I just know the reviewer has got to be better than what is published here.

Russel Harris , December 13, 2008; 12:23 P.M.

Well now I'm looking to buy one; just curious to know if I buy an F4S can I remove the battery pack and slip it down to F4 size?

Anyone?

zlight B , January 08, 2009; 10:06 P.M.

i commented on this disappointing review by Philip Greenspun in 1997! still using the F4 and enjoying enjoying it.

Sergejs Semjonovs , February 03, 2009; 05:14 P.M.

Wow! More then 12 years we are reading and writing posts here, Most of us (me too!) are still using our beloved F4 cameras - is it really great?

I do not remember another topic over Internet, which could have such long life!

Vivat, Nikon! You have made such wonderful cameras! I am in love with my Nikon F4!

Steve Fisk , February 18, 2009; 08:25 A.M.

Well, after dreaming about an F4s for some time, I finally found one for a steal! $300 US for Body, Mb-21 and MB-20, and an MF-23 back and all in great shape. In the early 80's I had an F3 and a few lenses and have missed the pro Nikon feel and ease of use ever since then.

I've also had Olympus OM-2 system, and a Maxxum, and currently have an N70 that has donated it's lens (28-200 AF) to the F4s. All I can say is that, for someone who has used 35mm SLR's for over 30 years, the controls on the F4 just feel right... Everything is where it always has been, and the sound and weight let you know this camera is here to stay.

I dislike the controls on my N70, I'm constantly having to take my eye from the viewfinder to check settings or push a button and rotate the thumbwheel. Not at all intuitive like the F4. I've even set up my darkroom again after almost 20 years!

Yes, I know film is a dying (slowly) medium, but even the 2,000 dollar and up DSLR's don't have the quality controls and layout of the F4. Not that I wouldn't love to have one if I could afford it. But the other downfall to a Full Frame DSLR is you have to buy the latest (and more expensive) lenses.

For me, I love the feel and controls, and there are tons of great deals on older AIS and even early AF lenses. The F4s is indeed the finest 35mm camera I've ever used... And no doubt, with it's workhorse legacy, it will be the last film camera I ever have to buy.

Sergiy Podolyak , March 13, 2009; 05:22 A.M.

F4 shutter sound in .AIF format

The sound of F4 shutter from http://www.freesound.org/samplesViewSingle.php?id=16071 (registration required).

Stephen Asprey , May 27, 2009; 07:21 A.M.

To me my F4s with MF23 back is as good as any current offering, but I love the dial for everything/no menus of the F4. The finder is the biggest and brightest ever. I have been offered 3x what I paid for it and will never do so.

Michael Deeley , August 19, 2009; 11:19 P.M.

I agree, the longevity of this F4 thread is truly remarkable and a great reference source for prospective purchasers. Today I purchased my second F4s. The first was in 1988/89 for a John Shaw workshop in Florida. I have primarily used Nikon digital SLR's for the past ten years and occasionally the FM2 for film. I put a roll of film in the F4s and strolled around the Toronto Brick Works site today with just a 50mm f1.8 D lens and polariser in 30C degrees heat carrying it in my hand. What a treat! Didn't need a manual, everything important is manual and logically placed. Also relieved to find that at 75 years, my memory is still functioning. The shutter sound is beautiful and very smooth. Superb engineering. Reminded me of the sound of a Rolls Royce car door closing; and of course the F4 body weight precludes any signs of shutter vibration. Will try my AF300 mm f/4 lens tomorrow to see if I remain as impressed. I also noticed that my 50mm AF-D lens snapped into focus much faster than with my D200. If it does the same with my old AF 300mm f/4 lens I will be even more impressed.

zlight B , August 26, 2009; 08:04 P.M.

wow! this thread is still going strong. yes, i do have a D300; but when i want to treat myself, i carry my F4 or F4s with me!

Janine Quigley , September 24, 2009; 02:31 A.M.

My friend owned an F4 and he regretted trading it for an F5. Partly due to his influence, and partly from reading this thread, I bought a "Like New" F4 with MB-20 and MB-21 grips. It's absolutely fantastic and fits in my hands perfectly. I marvel at its backwards- and forwards-compatibility. I can use any of my pre-AI, AI, AF-D and newest AF-S G lenses, though VR doesn't work. It works with the TC-16A AF converter. Quite simply, it's just a truly remarkable piece of design and engineering.

Gary Moore , November 04, 2009; 09:12 P.M.

I found this discussion today while searching the topic of MLU (mirror lock up on F4) I too am a long time owner of the fabulous F4. A few evenings ago I took off to a local wildlife spot near sunset with the F4 and a few lenses. I got there too late for the herons or egrets as the sun had just set on the hill. As I turned to leave a gold moon was coming up through the fall colors. I put the F4/300mm on the Bogen and used the self timer to take a few shots. Then I thought (should have used the MLU. Well to keep this thread going a little longer.... I bought the F4 because its a great camera and I still like film (although the D700 is looking tempting.) But the most compelling reason is its the most compatable body in the Nikon line for Lenses. I have a bunch of old and new glass and it works with all of them.

Scott Murphy , March 13, 2010; 05:41 P.M.

Philip, whimpering like a little girl does not become you.

The author of this "piece" is comparing apples to oranges. The N8008/6006 are consumer level cameras. The F4 is a professional level camera. Of course it's heavier, it's built to withstand the rigors of professional use. Professional level use would beat an N8008/6006 into a unuseable paperweight in fairly short order. And by the way, he's incorrect about the longest shutter speed. In aperture priority, you have from 1/8000 to 30 seconds, not the 8 seconds he reports.

Although I have smaller hands, I have been using Nikon F2's with MD-2/MB-1 motors since 1973 and still use them to this day. The F4 is a dream to use, in every facet of the word. I LIKE its heft, it is very easy to hold, especially with the MB-21 battery pack. The vertical shutter release on the battery pack is a long overdue feature. I used to use the screw in attachment for the MD-12 back when I had an FE-2 and loved it, but it protruded almost an inch from the front of the motor and was always getting caught on stuff. Compared to the latest plastic digital cameras and lenses, it's AF is slow and cumbersome. Since I own nothing but AIS Nikkors, this is a feature that I don't even use. I have used it along my F2's for long shoots that would probably leave the author gasping for air and been fine. I actually find my D700 feeling a little light for my tastes. For 35mm film, my F4 will still be my go-to camera and will be until film is no more or I am too old to see.

At 5'9" and 150 lbs, I am certainly no "Arnold" but I have never had a problem with the F4's heft. I will lug it around with an older (non-IF) 300mm f/4.5 Nikkor and TC-14B or 600mm f/4 Nikkor and the TC all the time. I guess the author is just a 90lb weakling, let him stick with the consumer puppies on the porch while us pros run with the big dogs.

Shadforth Stephen , November 06, 2010; 02:28 A.M.

I'm even smaller than Scott and I made by F4s even heavier by adding the MF23 data back to give me shutter speed and exposure imprints between each frame. I have an FM2s and also an FE2 in my film kit and a D300 as well. I like using the F4s. Its just such an "authority camera".

What do I love about the F4s? Its bomb proof and I take heaps of shots in the outback and its dust and waterproof. The finder is huge, bright and uncluttered. Even though it only has one AF sensor, it seems to do the job really well. I have an AF D 70-210 and the AF is almost instantaneous. Its like they wetre made for each other.

I also like the fact that there are no menus...there is a dial for everything. That means it you are in a hurry , one glance at the top deck tells you all your settings and a quick change is easy.

The batteries seem to last forever and and there is no passive LCD to power etc. They don't go flat if you don't use the camera. This is also the case if you leave the on/off switch to on.

It has presence. Amongst the parents on the rugby sideline, the crowd parts when you arrive and fire off a quick half dozen shots on C(h). The noise is there though unless you choose silent mode, which lowers the noise to about the same  as an ordinary SLR.

Its so well made, you feel really good about using the F4s. Yes... its heavy, noisy and AF is a bit primitive in this era of dozens of focus points, but it was designed to be a 100%  reliable, pro workhorse news camera, and in that role its still up there as far as I'm concerned. 

zlight B , June 18, 2011; 06:21 P.M.

like this thread, my two F4's are still going strong!

andrew shannon , October 20, 2011; 05:01 A.M.

Ladies and gents, I collect, repair and use, 35mm,120,4x5", 5x7 film and dabble in tin plate and shortly glass plate photography, I have approximately 45 cameras from 1896 to 2006.

To date the camera that my daughter and I absolutely love the most, is the indomitable F4!

If you get a chance, buy a Kodak 1A (circa 1911) put a B&W film in it and use a camera at its most basic,

Then re visit the F4 and marvel at the technology, engineering and design- it is truly a work of art.

By the way, I think the rumors of films' iminent death are grossly exaggerated.

Andrew Shannon, Australia

Ray Butler , September 13, 2012; 10:49 A.M.

I wonder if Philip Greenspun still keeps an eye on these threads...?

Well Philip, today is 2012 September 13. Your favourites as per your review, the Nikon 6006 and 8008, are for sale on ebay Buy-It-Now (BIN) for as little as $15 (yes, fifteen) and $25 respectively, for a working and clean/EX body.

 

Meanwhile, the F4 starts at $200 BIN for a VG condition body (there's a cheaper one at $150 BIN but it is in severely beat-up condition). The more elevated pricing isn't due to rarity - there are literally dozens of them on offer.

 

Philip, if the 6006/8008 are soooo much better than the F4, how can this be?! Why do people pay 10 times more for an even older camera which you say is so inferior?

 

I'll park the rhetoric and answer the question myself: it's because of all the 35mm cameras ever made with full modularity and purely analog user controls - two things that some photographers really value -, the F4 is still the finest and most sophisticated. It tops that category in the film world, and there never has been anything like it in the digital world. That means that it has, and always has had, some USPs (Unique Selling Points). The 6006 on the other hand? It's so far from having a USP that even at the price of a new paperback novel, people turn up their nose at it!

andrew shannon , September 13, 2012; 11:44 P.M.

Well said Ray!

This post just keeps on going....17 years and still kicking!

Live and die by the F4!

Peter Smith , August 03, 2013; 05:45 P.M.

I have owned two F4s since its very introduction back in 1988 if memory serves... First one got stolen, second one is still going strong.

I also happen to have used the 8008. To even dare compare the two would be like comparing Bugatti Veyron and VW Golf. The first one can be described as a "gas guzzler", "heavy", "hard to use", "terrible in snow" and one could find probably tons of other areas where its lowly sibling would beat the Veyron. But we all know those comparisons are useless. The former is a beast, the latter is an amateur's toy.

How about things that most people don't even know about Nikon F4? For instance, did you know that there is no (practical) lower temperature limit at which Nikon F4 will operate? How's that you ask? Because there is NO lubrication in the camera WHAT-SO-EVER. I know it, because I had to check that with Nikon service before my trip to Canada where temperatures were going to be below the one at which the above mentioned Canon stops working (which is lubricated btw). It is simply such a precise piece of equipment that it requires no lubrication.

Or how about it's shutter stability and balance? One of the most important points about film camera image sharpness is its shutter; the vibration coming from shutter will destroy even the best focused image taken with best lens. F4 has a balance that reduces that to a minimum. With the mirror locked up, in tests I saw, it compared favorably with LEICA. Yes the venerable Leica which earned its reputation precisely for this reason - no shutter/mirror vibration. Other cameras don't have that.

Or how about the fact that all contacts in F4 are pure gold - to prevent them from ever rusting.

Or how about that one time when I dropped it from 8 feet on a concrete floor... my heart stopped, but camera continued working. Later, I took it to Nikon to have it inspected. A service guy let me in his lab, where I could see all the laser equipment which they use to adjust focal plane and just told me - "If there is nothing visibly broken (like shattered glass), the camera and the lens are fine". Then he proceeded to test it, and everything was within spec. Just perfect. Try that with ANY camera, even today. (Although I did fall in love at first sight with Nikon D3x I would make sure I don't even bump it against a door frame).

The only "disadvantage" that I see with F4 is that I got so used to it handling just perfectly well, and that I never needed to really do much about stabilizing myself - it was so perfectly balanced and right weight that  I could easily snap hand-held shots with a 300mm 2.8 (what a lens that was!), that now I find it hard to do the same with newer cameras. Again, D3x almost seems to be the closest thing, but every time I get my F4 in my hands, it just feels so right... every dial, every button exactly where it should be, and everything always working perfectly well.

Now if Nikon only built cars...

Nikos K , October 14, 2013; 05:41 A.M.

The eyepiece shutter in my F4 is stuck (open thank God!). Is there an easy way to fix this?

Chris Lovdahl , January 20, 2014; 12:49 A.M.

The F4 is the only professional camera I have ever owned, and the heft, presence, simplicity and picture quality absolutely blow me away. I own a D80 and do use it a fair amount, but it does not give me the satisfaction that shooting my F4 does. I also recently picked up a Nikkormat Ftn (my 2nd) on that auction site for $10. While the Nikkormat is no match for the F4, its all-metal construction and purity of function is attractive. I think I am an analog anachronism stuck in a digital age sometimes. I believe that, just as vinyl records are making a comeback, film will never die. Long live analog. Long live the F4.

 


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