Today I purchased a used Nikon F4 SLR 35mm film camera which was first released back in 1988 when I was only 10yr! I already own an older Nikon FM SLR film camera and have experience with digital Nikon cameras before moving to Leicas. I have owned a Nikon D90, Nikon D700 and still own and sometimes use my Nikon D800. My Leica M9 is my main workhorse camera now and has been for a while but the Nikon D800 is still a very capable camera.
I have a range of Nikon mount lenses, including Nikkor 50mm f1.2 AI-s, 24f2.8D, 50f1.4D, 85f1.4D, 135f2.8, 35-70AF and the mighty Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-S. I also have Samyang lenses in Nikon mount including the amazing Samyang 85mm f1.4 and some M42 Zeiss lenses which I love to use via an adapter, Zeiss Planar 50mm f1.8 and Zeiss Pancolar 80mm f1.8.
As I now enjoy mostly film photography for personal work and thought it would be nice to get another Nikon SLR film body to make use of these lenses. I looked at a range of options including Nikon F2, Nikon F5 and Nikon F100 but I settled on a Nikon F4. I wanted to try a 35mm film camera with autofocus so that ruled out the older F2. I like the idea of potentially buying a waist level finder so originally I had planned to get an F2 but then more recently I thought that if I start doing film only weddings a camera with autofocus might be nice for moving subjects. I then looked at the F100 and F5 but they both looked quite big and heavy. I preferred the Nikon F4 to the Nikon F4s or Nikon F4e as it is smaller without the extra battery grip.
I plan to use the Nikon F4 to compliment my Leica cameras. If I do a quick comparison with my current favourite camera the Leica M3 you can see some of the ‘advantages’ of the more modern Nikon F4 film camera body.
Here are a few points that are important to me rather than a complete list:
Nikon F4 vs Leica M3
- Flash sync speed:
- Nikon F4 = 1/250, The F4 will be amazing for my strobist work!
- Leica M3 = 1/50, not ideal for strobist work so I often use Bessa R3a (sync 1/125)
- Maximum shutter speed:
- Nikon F4 1/8000, removes need for ND filters
- Leica M3 = 1/1000, M3 requires ND filters on fast lenses in bright sunlight
- Autofocus option?:
- Nikon F4 = Yes, AF useful for moving subjects/ action.
- Leica M3 = No, can pre-focus focus or retain a set hyperfocal distance
- Long lenses:
- Nikon F4 = SLR works great with any lens, wide to telephoto like my 200mmf2
- Leica M3 = 50mm rangefinder. External finder for 50mm harder to focus
- Nikon F4 = Requires 4x AA batteries. Adds weight. Can add battery grip to take 8x AA
- Leica M3 = No battery needed. I do prefer cameras without batteries.
- Light Meter:
- Nikon F4 = Yes, Matrix, Centre-Weighted or Spot meter options
- Leica M3 = No light meter. Use external hand held light meter
- Film advance:
- Nikon F4 = Auto film advance. No manual film advance lever. Can work more quickly
- Leica M3 = Manual film advance lever (Single stroke or Double stroke models)
- Film rewind:
- Nikon F4 = Auto film rewind. Great in a time pressure environment like a wedding
- Leica M3 = Manual film rewind. Not ideal if needs to change film quickly
As you can see if you list the two cameras side by side the Nikon F4 should really compliment my two Leica M3s. I look forward to reporting back soon once it arrives and I get chance to use it.
Useful Nikon F4 Links
- An excellent YouTube Video of the Nikon F4 –
- Ken Rockwell’s views on the Nikon F4 with more camera details –