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Nikon F100, N80 and B/W film
Old 02-12-2011   #1
Pfreddee
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Nikon F100, N80 and B/W film

I am wondering how well the F100 and N80 do with B/W film. I did run a roll of Tri-X through my N80 sometime back in the Jurassic Period, but I can't find the prints now. (Or the negatives, for that matter.) Are there any particular points to be aware of when using the two cameras? I usually meter in Matrix, since it works very well with film like Kodak's Ektar 100.

Any pointers are greatly appreciated.

With best regards and thanks to all who reply,

Pfreddee(Stephen)
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Old 02-12-2011   #2
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Stephen,

both Nikons you mentioned (and actually all other Nikon bodies, or, to go out on a limb, all other manufacturer's cameras) are more than fine for BW. You say you are happy with how the N80 metered when you used Ektar - BW film is more forgiving than Ektar, so you would have an even greater margin with BW.

Pricewise, these models are incredible bargains at this moment. The very capable F-801(s) (N8000 in the US-market, I think) could also be mentioned.

So, go ahead, and knock yourself (and us with your pictures) out! :-)

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Ljós
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Old 02-12-2011   #3
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Should be fine, just like nearly any other 35mm camera. The lens will make a difference, sometimes. The camera body, no.

Matrix metering should be fine at least 90% of the time for a reasonably forgiving film like Tri-X. Among color print films, Ektar is not forgiving so if you're getting good results with it, you should be good to go.
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Old 02-12-2011   #4
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Both the N80 and F100 are great, the N80 is lighter but not as rugged, a trade-off between the pro-build of the F100 and what you really want to carry around.

Usually they work fine even after sitting for years. Sometimes you need to wipe the contacts between the back door and the camera with alcohol so they make contact, as they can haze over with time.
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Old 02-12-2011   #5
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I don't have either but do have the F4 & F5 and I love the way the F5 does B&W...
I use it mostly for color but when I get the chance to run a roll of B&W through it I do like what I get...I'll sometimes use it to meter a scene when shooting with the 4x5...
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Old 02-12-2011   #6
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Both are good cameras. Frank is correct on the weight/rugged; worth considering, depending on your use. The N80 uses a CR123 Battery pair, while the F100 uses 4 AA cells. The AA cells are usually cheaper (may no longer be true) but the CR123 pair is a light weight source of power. The N80 has a pop-up flash, that's handy. I've seen prices on both of these cameras drop in the past year. A good N80 is around $75-100 while the F100 is usually around $175-250. Both of these cameras were much more expensive when they were current. If you decide on the F100, be sure to get a camera that has the up-dated plastic rewind fork. You might also look at an N90s - F90s, another good camera that is inexpensive today.

Last edited by PKR : 02-12-2011 at 14:48.
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Old 02-12-2011   #7
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So you have the N80 and are considering the F100 or you have both?
I have the N80 called F80 in some parts of the world and it's a great little camera but not very tough or well sealed if that sort of thing is an issue for you.

I would love an F5 and at the prices they are going for now i just might. even if she does need 8 AA cells !

Any of these cameras and their lenses will handle any film you care to throw at them, sometimes labs will mess the C41 colour prints but if you are doing B&W yourself you will be very pleased with the results.

We would love to see the results too
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Old 02-12-2011   #8
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The CR123 batteries are expensive in most stores but on eBay you can find them for a very reasonable cost. I think they are great, very powerful and longer lasting than the AAs, pretty amazing how well they do in a Olympus Stylus or Nikon N80 even using flash a lot. I also have a few LED flashlights that use them and they make a great small, powerful light.

I agree the N80 build is a lot lighter than the F100 but you can buy 2-3 of them for the price of a good F100. You can usually find them on eBay with a crappy zoom lens that you can pretty much toss, stick a 50/1.8 AFD on it and have a great camera. It feels so much better after using a DSLR ;-)

When you think about it design- and engineering-wise, the lowly N80 is the height of film camera design... the metering and other control systems are nearly flawless, the film transport is bullet-proof, the flash and everything else simply work well and the viewfinder is pretty much on par with the pro cameras (a world ahead of a APS DSLR)... and they are very reasonably priced.
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Old 02-12-2011   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Version Two View Post
When you think about it design- and engineering-wise, the lowly N80 is the height of film camera design... the metering and other control systems are nearly flawless, the film transport is bullet-proof, the flash and everything else simply work well and the viewfinder is pretty much on par with the pro cameras \
Totally agree with this. The N80 is totally awesome. I favored it over heavier "pro" Nikons when doing my last book, which was all film b&w. None of the bodies ever gave out even under very harsh conditions.
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Old 02-12-2011   #10
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Originally Posted by Frank Version Two View Post
The CR123 batteries are expensive in most stores but on eBay you can find them for a very reasonable cost. I think they are great, very powerful and longer lasting than the AAs, pretty amazing how well they do in a Olympus Stylus or Nikon N80 even using flash a lot. I also have a few LED flashlights that use them and they make a great small, powerful light.

I agree the N80 build is a lot lighter than the F100 but you can buy 2-3 of them for the price of a good F100. You can usually find them on eBay with a crappy zoom lens that you can pretty much toss, stick a 50/1.8 AFD on it and have a great camera. It feels so much better after using a DSLR ;-)

When you think about it design- and engineering-wise, the lowly N80 is the height of film camera design... the metering and other control systems are nearly flawless, the film transport is bullet-proof, the flash and everything else simply work well and the viewfinder is pretty much on par with the pro cameras (a world ahead of a APS DSLR)... and they are very reasonably priced.

I agree. It's likely the N80 is the best Nikon film SLR/price around. I may be wrong, but I recall the N80 actually being a bit more advanced (electronics for AF AE) than the F100. I still have a Kodak 14NX that is built on an N80 frame. I don't own N80. I may grab one as I have nothing motorized for film, and would like a camera to remote and pack that's light. Is there much trouble with AIS lenses? I know I won't get all the AF/AE features. I sold my, like new F100 a couple of years ago. The weight advantage of the N80 is very appealing after dealing with heavy weight AF DSLR gear. I won't put motors on my F3s.. had that kind of a rig for years and my back has recovered from packing heavy cameras..
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Old 02-12-2011   #11
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Originally Posted by Pablito View Post
Totally agree with this. The N80 is totally awesome. I favored it over heavier "pro" Nikons when doing my last book, which was all film b&w. None of the bodies ever gave out even under very harsh conditions.
It's interesting, how many of us put a serious amount of consideration as to camera weight when looking for a camera. I think that we who use cameras a lot realize that much of the current gear is just over kill and has features and other weight/hardware, we will never use or care about. I have a bunch of digital gear I use for work and just the pack of spare batteries i carry makes me want to look for lighter gear. The Nikon D7000 is a light weight digital option. Also, I use a grid screen in my F3 and have the grid turned on in the digitals. I think the N80 has a electronic grid? Another advantage.
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Old 02-12-2011   #12
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I used to have an N80 and now shoot with an F100 (I wanted a built-in meter with AI/AIS lenses). The F100 is great, but note that using AFS G VR lenses will eat up your battery pretty fast -- probably 6-8 rolls of 36 exp film from full-charge to empty, at least in my experience. With AIS lenses, the batteries last a good long time. Here's a sample image from an F100 and 17-35mm, Arista Premium 100.

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Old 02-12-2011   #13
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I used to have an N80 and now shoot with an F100 (I wanted a built-in meter with AI/AIS lenses). The F100 is great, but note that using AFS G VR lenses will eat up your battery pretty fast -- probably 6-8 rolls of 36 exp film from full-charge to empty, at least in my experience. With AIS lenses, the batteries last a good long time. Here's a sample image from an F100 and 17-35mm, Arista Premium 100.

I guess the loss of metering would be troublesome when using color transparency stock. All my AF lenses are zooms. I would consider buying a few AF primes. I generally use just 2 or 3 lenses for 90% of my b+w work. I could add a zoom to the N80, but then the weight issue is back. I had a 17-35 and almost never packed it because of it's weight. It's a (my opinion) a heavy lens.
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Old 02-12-2011   #14
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Thanks to everyone who has replied so far. I own both, an F100 and an N80. The more I use them, the more I find I LIKE autofocus (I know, I know, heard all of the arguments pro and con. My eyes at age 69 aren't what they used to be), and I also LIKE the Program and Aperture and Shutter settings on both of them. I never run Manual exposure with either one. I paid for the programs, so I use them shamelessly. I was curious if there was anything I needed to be aware of out of the ordinary with B/W film.

Thank you to all who replied, again.

With best regards,

Pfreddee(Stephen)
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Old 02-12-2011   #15
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Originally Posted by Pfreddee View Post
Thanks to everyone who has replied so far. I own both, an F100 and an N80. The more I use them, the more I find I LIKE autofocus (I know, I know, heard all of the arguments pro and con. My eyes at age 69 aren't what they used to be), and I also LIKE the Program and Aperture and Shutter settings on both of them. I never run Manual exposure with either one. I paid for the programs, so I use them shamelessly. I was curious if there was anything I needed to be aware of out of the ordinary with B/W film.

Thank you to all who replied, again.

With best regards,

Pfreddee(Stephen)
I'm a little younger than you - not much, and I find the AF is an advantage with digital, as I think the plain of focus is more critical with a sensor than with film. I don't use AF with my film cameras. If i have an AF lens on the F3 it's of course in MF. I also will MF an AF lens in a studio situation as I'm usually better at critical focus once the focus is close. I've had the AF go nuts with striped shirts etc in portrait situations and just turn the AF off. I'm close enough for a 16 x 20.
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Old 02-12-2011   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PKR View Post
It's interesting, how many of us put a serious amount of consideration as to camera weight when looking for a camera. I think that we who use cameras a lot realize that much of the current gear is just over kill and has features and other weight/hardware, we will never use or care about. I have a bunch of digital gear I use for work and just the pack of spare batteries i carry makes me want to look for lighter gear. The Nikon D7000 is a light weight digital option. Also, I use a grid screen in my F3 and have the grid turned on in the digitals. I think the N80 has a electronic grid? Another advantage.
Depends on the project or assignment. I used the N80 bodies because I had to carry around 2-3 bodies all day, plus serious lenses, plus medium format for what I was doing. But if I were working on something where I could just arrive by car, I'd favor a body that showed the full frame in the finder.
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Old 02-12-2011   #17
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I the F80 could handle manual focus lenses it would be perfect but it's not really much of a handicap using auto focus only.
I focus with my left eye, it's not great but it's the only one I have so there are times when auto focus is essential.
I use a 50mm f1.8 and for most of what i do it's perfect, would like a 20mm or 24mm
The F80 has an on demand grid and i love it.
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Old 02-12-2011   #18
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Pfreddee...I'm your age and have been around the block with b/w using many cameras. Almost all will do a good job if you know what your doing (you sound like you do)....but....for me the key issue is the processing and printing. Exposing the film isn't the real problem. If you do it all yourself and you have had the experience in the darkroom you can create the results you want. If you use a lab, then find a good one where B/W film is processed and printed properly and the way you want it. There are many variables in the processing results, so don't condemn either the camera or your shooting skills if the results are not what you want. Look at the negatives and if the look good (not to light or too dark) and the results are bad, find another lab.

Right now I just use older Minoltas and some vintage cameras for B/W, but will be receiving an F5 soon. I did not know it takes 8 batteries and will probably use manual focus with it to save power. I'm not a fast shooter so the MF is fine with me, and will use a couple of prime lenses. I do mostly digital for color but prefer film for B/W. See my blog for a few examples of film photos as well as some converted from digital color images.

http://toddfrederickphoto.blogspot.com/

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Old 02-12-2011   #19
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Originally Posted by bgb View Post
I the F80 could handle manual focus lenses it would be perfect but it's not really much of a handicap using auto focus only.
I focus with my left eye, it's not great but it's the only one I have so there are times when auto focus is essential.
I use a 50mm f1.8 and for most of what i do it's perfect, would like a 20mm or 24mm
The F80 has an on demand grid and i love it.
You know Bob, this may sound a bit crazy to you, but think about it. If I had to buy a prime AF 20 (or a 24) for an AF camera. The camera would want all the electronic connections for AF and AE operation. If it were me, using an AF 20 on a N/F80. I would turn the AF off, as at F8 or smaller, most things are in focus. I tape the focus in place, so it doesn't get bumped off, and it's a point and shoot, with faster operation than AF will give you. If you need selective focus, turn the AF back on and open the aperture.

Last edited by PKR : 02-12-2011 at 16:50.
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Old 02-12-2011   #20
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I use XP2 exclusively in my F100 and have the lab scan to a CD. I use LR3 to prepare for printing or the web. I a even older than you and really value AF.

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Old 02-12-2011   #21
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Looking for a Nikon AF Film SLR I purchased a F100. But sold it in favor of the N70. With that you can meter with all the old AI or AIS lenses you may have on hand. And also have AF confirmation in the finder for these old manual lenses.
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Old 02-12-2011   #22
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Considering using manual lenses? Maybe it's easier just to buy an F or one of the other Nikons that use pre AI and Ai-s lenses.

Ken Rockwell has this chart for what works on what.

http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/compatibility-lens.htm
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Old 02-12-2011   #23
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I used to have an F80. Later I got myself an F100 and sold the F80 when I fell for an F5.

None of those cameras were power hungry with me. And I used AF-S glass on all of them (the plastic fantastic AF-S 24-85 and the AF-S 24-120 VR). Of course, they are the best there is to me, and if I used them consistently with E-6 film, I never had a doubt about their exposing conventional B&W film.

The F5 is, indeed, a monster, but it doesn't eat up batteries that fast... in fact, not fast at all. Neither does the F100, but as long as you make sure to load ONLY lithium or rechargeables for gizmos that demand high power, you'll do fine.

BTW, the F80/N80 and the F100 can be used with a Nikon battery grip (I cannot recall whether the MB-15 is for the F80 or if it's the MB-16), which allows the use of AA batteries.
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Old 02-12-2011   #24
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I shot a fair amount with an N80 and a 50/1.8 AFD. The exposures were always good (interestingly I had better luck with the N80 than with the F100 as far as AE goes) but the 50/1.8 was noticebly softer than the 35 CV PII that I was using on my M6 at the time. I was pretty disappointed in the difference.
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Old 02-12-2011   #25
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Originally Posted by bgb View Post
Considering using manual lenses? Maybe it's easier just to buy an F or one of the other Nikons that use pre AI and Ai-s lenses.

Ken Rockwell has this chart for what works on what.

http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/compatibility-lens.htm
My primary film camera is a Nikon F3 HP. You can get diopter correction (I use this) for the finder. And I believe the F3 HP to have the best SLR view finder Nikon has ever made.. ever. There are a lot of these cameras around, for a couple of hundred dollars. Repair parts are plentiful. A pair of SN44 last a year or more. It has a mirror lock up - which I use a lot, and with an E screen you get a grid, with fine focus in the center.. if you need AF, this is not for you. The N70 noted earlier looks interesting. They are certainly inexpensive enough to try with out making a big investment in an error.
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Old 02-12-2011   #26
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MB-16 battery pack for the F/N80 I love mine as i have big hands
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Old 02-12-2011   #27
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I shot a fair amount with an N80 and a 50/1.8 AFD. The exposures were always good (interestingly I had better luck with the N80 than with the F100 as far as AE goes) but the 50/1.8 was noticebly softer than the 35 CV PII that I was using on my M6 at the time. I was pretty disappointed in the difference.
The 50 1.8 non AF is a very sharp lens if not damaged. Often a lens can be bounced off of a carpet knocking the glass off axis, while not showing any exterior damage. I test my lenses regularly and always test anything i buy, new or used. Many fail to test well, if they are used and older. If you get a really sharp one, hang on to it.

As for the AF lenses, I can remember testing my 17-35mm Nikkor. It was very sharp at 35mm. At all other focal lengths, where I had primes to compare, (28,24,20) it didn't come close to matching the performance of the primes. i would test at almost all F stops. Most Nikkors are sharpest about 3 to 4 stops down from wide open.
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Old 02-12-2011   #28
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It's certainly a whole different thing to shoot with a late AF film camera versus the experience with an M or F3 (or anything earlier). I think if you go with a modern AF camera you should go whole hog with the modern lenses too, and really learn how to exploit it. Or go full retro, as a F3HP with AI glass is also a great experience. The only Nikons I don't care for are the popular FM-FE style bodies, I used them a lot for ten years and now their shutters just sound awful tinny and cheap to me (although never had a problem with the results). OK I am not a fan of the plastic AF primes build-wise either... but they do shoot well.

Jim I sold you my N80 and 50AF. I didn't think it was soft at all and I've had the VC Leica 35 too.

If anything the Nikon lenses are harsh sharp compared to the M-lenses I've used.

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Old 02-12-2011   #29
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It's certainly a whole different thing to shoot with a late AF film camera versus the experience with an M or F3 (or anything earlier). I think if you go with a modern AF camera you should go whole hog with the modern lenses too, and really learn how to exploit it. Or go full retro, as a F3HP with AI glass is also a great experience. The only Nikons I don't care for are the popular FM-FE style bodies, I used them a lot for ten years and now their shutters just sound awful tinny and cheap to me (although never had a problem with the results). OK I am not a fan of the plastic AF primes build-wise either... but they do shoot well.
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I'm generally in studio flash, servo motor (AF sounds) land, all day long when working. I really enjoy a simple camera and a roll of film and non AF. If I didn't have to use all the photo gear i have, to pay my bills, I would get rid of about 70% of it. i would have some kind of digital camera.. but prefer film for having fun. My favorite thing about the newer Digi - AF gear is Nikon's CLS lighting. That's a lot of fun and I use it, and all the high tech stuff that's needed, when working for $$.
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Old 02-13-2011   #30
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Looking at all this... If I want
- AF
- Metering with AI/AIS lenses
- VR, and
- Works with G lenses

Then, my choices are very limited:
- F100 -or-
- F5, F6

N80, N65, and N75 come close, but won't meter AI/AIS lenses

And, for the OP, yes, the Nikon bodies are all great for B&W.
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Old 02-13-2011   #31
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The viewfinder on N80 is pretty dim and it gets worst if used with Ai lenses and the lens is stopped down. The Af is also pretty weak when it comes to N80.

F100 is heavy and noisy but it has a better viewfinder and Af speed is very fast.

Both of these cameras have the matrix metering which is great for slides but produce flat b&w negatives.
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Old 02-13-2011   #32
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... will be receiving an F5 soon. I did not know it takes 8 batteries and will probably use manual focus with it to save power. I'm not a fast shooter so the MF is fine with me ...
Use the 8x lithium double-a's and they will last a very long time. I usually get 30+ rolls through my F5 on a set of 8 (rough cost=$20).
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Old 02-13-2011   #33
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Just to round it out, the N90 will AF, meter with AI, is partially compatible with G lenses (S, P only) and will NOT work with VR.


Quote:
Originally Posted by RichardKarash View Post
Looking at all this... If I want
- AF
- Metering with AI/AIS lenses
- VR, and
- Works with G lenses

Then, my choices are very limited:
- F100 -or-
- F5, F6

N80, N65, and N75 come close, but won't meter AI/AIS lenses

And, for the OP, yes, the Nikon bodies are all great for B&W.
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Old 02-13-2011   #34
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I've been following this, and can remember when the F100 came out. The Nikon Pro reps were very excited about this camera as it solved a lot of system legacy problems in a lighter weight camera. One of the big differences in the F6 is that it is compatible with the CLS lighting gear. As I look through the models listed, I can see the evolution of the backward compatible lens mount. It's interesting. Lots of choices and options in the legacy depending on ones needs. The introduction of VR reduces the choices for those who need it.

Last edited by PKR : 02-13-2011 at 12:17.
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Old 02-13-2011   #35
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So it looks like little Nikons are created equal after all

It would seem that the F100 is better than the F80 and the big daddy F4 and F5 are better than them all, of course there are compromises with any camera.

So as a humble F80 user should i spend some money on and F5 and live happily ever after? The size and weight are not an issue as I'm a big guy.

How do we go about testing lenses PKR?

The suggestion of using modern lenses with modern cameras and saving the Ai for the F3 make sense to ... thanks.
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Old 02-13-2011   #36
barnwulf
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I had a couple of F100 bodies and I absolutely loved them. Fantastic cameras with a fantastic meter. Jim
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Old 02-13-2011   #37
PKR
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bgb View Post
So it looks like little Nikons are created equal after all

It would seem that the F100 is better than the F80 and the big daddy F4 and F5 are better than them all, of course there are compromises with any camera.

So as a humble F80 user should i spend some money on and F5 and live happily ever after? The size and weight are not an issue as I'm a big guy.

How do we go about testing lenses PKR?

The suggestion of using modern lenses with modern cameras and saving the Ai for the F3 make sense to ... thanks.
I do a couple of tests. One that's kind of controlled well and another, more real world - for lenses that are new to me.

For the controlled test. I use a large sheet of news paper with "all type" on the pages. I check the type to see that it's sharp and not smeared (you could use a lens test target). I light it with two flash heads, at 45 deg (this could be done outdoors in natural light). On a sheet of paper - I detail what I photograph - as I do it. At a fixed, repeatable distance - so the frame is filled with the type - and showing as much of the paper as possible - I carefully focus (using a hot light if necessary) on the type. I then begin at the max f stop - and with the mirror up and using a cable release or the self timer, I begin to go through the range of f stops. I place a small post-it note showing the lens and f stop info in the corner of the news paper, changing it with each f stop change (so I can see the lens and f stop info in each frame later). I usually use a fine grain film like Acros. I may also do all of this on a 14 MP digital camera that will work with all of my nikon system lenses. When I'm done I evaluate the results with high magnification on a light table (use the enlarger) or on a big monitor. I look at both the center and the corners. I recently found that a favorite zoom, that I've been using for several years has a sharpness problem in one corner. This is likely do to a mechanical impact it received - I have no idea when it happened. It's only seen in big enlargements. it will need repair.

Note: the camera is on a tripod for the "controlled" test.

A new or used lens when purchased is put through this test. After passing the first test, I do some real world testing with different kinds of light and with - and without hoods and filters, looking for sharpness, flare, contrast with color.. and to see if I like using the lens. I've found over the years that I will pick favorites if I have a choice. I, for instance almost never used my 17-35mm f 2.8 zoom. It was heavy, not as sharp as my primes and I didn't like the feel when holding it. On a tripod, the weight was such, that I thought it needed a lens fitted tripod mount as it was (I thought) a stress on the camera's lens mount. So, it stayed at home. I would grab a smaller zoom and maybe a 20mm prime.

With my current testing, and my personal issues with camera weight and batteries - and all the other gear i have to travel with - I'm using DX format digitals more.

Test your zooms. They are subject to greater damage from a bump than a prime. I favor the better (higher quality) plastic exterior Nikkor zooms. I think they take physical bumps better than the cheaper plastic models and are likely as good (physical strength) as the metal housings. And they are much lighter weight.

i hope this is helpful. I try to test my most used lenses (I use 3 or 4 a lot) regularly - at least once a year. I've found new in the box lenses to vary; some being much better than others. This may be a QC issue or more likely, damage done during shipping or poor storage.

When you find a good sharp lens, take care of it and hang on to it.

Last edited by PKR : 02-13-2011 at 16:13.
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Old 02-13-2011   #38
bgb
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It sure does help thanks very much.
I dropped my 50mm f1.8 onto the carpet from a low height and it rolled ok so no damage but i guess i had better check
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Old 02-13-2011   #39
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bgb--size and weight ARE an issue!!!
The F5 is SIGNIFICANTLY heavier when you carry it around all day.
A very big difference, expecially when you have a big zoom attached.
Even those straps that are supposed to absorb the weight don't help.
I'd suggest you try both for a few hours before you decide.
While the N80 can't top the F5 in autofocus or matrix metering--I'd suggest you'd find the N80 more than adequate for most purposes. Of course---YMMV and all that.
Paul
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Old 02-13-2011   #40
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Thanks for the advice Paul I'll do the walk around test before i lay the $ down
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