Qu. Is the Tokina 100/f2.8 Macro the Best Nikon Lens?
>> Here I explain why I use the Tokina 100mm Macro lens more than any other lens on my Nikon cameras (Portraits)
Best Nikon lenses
When I used a digital Nikon D800 DSLR I enjoyed using the typical dreamy lenses like everyone else, giving that super shallow depth of field. Some of my best Nikon lenses / favourites were the Nikkor 50mm f1.2, Nikkor 200mm f2 and Samyang 85mm f1.4 (I prefer it to the Nikkor 85mm f1.4 D that I also have). All these lenses were manual focus but that was fine as most of my Nikon D800 photography was done with manual focus only. I just preferred having full control.
Nikon film cameras
One of my earliest film cameras was a Nikon FM. I then bought a newer Nikon F4 camera and more recently a Nikon F5. 35mm film to my eyes renders much softer than the 36MP Nikon D800 digital files. As such lenses like the Nikkor 50mm f1.2 wide open was now too soft for my taste on film. Perhaps it was because I had got used to the sharp Leica lens look now that I had moved to Leica. Regardless, I needed “better” lenses for the Nikon SLR film cameras if I was to use them. Macro lenses are usually regarded as some of the sharpest in a lens lineup so that is where I looked first. My first Nikon camera macro lens was a Nikkor 60mm f2.8 Micro and I was really impressed.
Tokina 100mm Macro f2.8
The Nikkor 60mm is nice but I liked the idea of a longer focal length to use for portraits. I settled on a Tokina 100mm macro f2.8 AF lens. It has been one of my most used Nikon lenses ever since. I love it and I highly recommend it to any Nikon (& Canon) users. Rather than try to praise the Tokina 100mm macro lens in words I think it is easier to show it with real photos. See below.
Grab yourself one before the price goes up!
I guess what I can do with the Tokina 100mm Macro lens, being a current product (unlike nearly everything else I review!) is give you a direct link so you can go and treat yourself to one. An absolute bargain when you consider that this lens seems to out perform nearly every other Nikon mount lens I use and seems easily on a par with my best Leica lenses. Get one before they put the price up! Amazon UK / Amazon US 🙂
Tokina 100mm Portrait Photos
Sorry if you have seen some of the images before, perhaps in film reviews. I use the Tokina 100mm lens a lot! Click any photo to see more details.
Leica CL Digital Camera Review (Buying a Leica CL!)
…The new camera is a digital Leica CL!
Qu. Ever dreamed of an affordable Leica camera? Considered upgrading from a Leica M? Tempted by a Leica CL digital camera, a Leica T or Leica TL/ TL2?
Qu. Can a crop sensor Leica + 18mm lens be used for portraits?
>> In this article I answers all these questions and show example Leica CL portraits from 2 model shoots.
Leica CL (Digital)
If a fellow Leica photographer friend had told me they had bought a Leica CL digital camera I probably would have replied “Oh nice!…???” to be polite. I would then need to Google it to see what it was. Perhaps I am a just Leica M snob (*for digital cameras only) but the Leica CL is not a camera I have read about.
Leica M240 camera upgrade options
If I looked to “upgrade” (more on that later) from my Leica M240 camera I had only considered the Leica M10, Leica M10-P, Leica SL, and more out of interest only the Hasselblad X1D (as I have an older digital Hasselblad camera too). I didn’t ever consider Sony such as the very well-regarded Sony A7R III (I say why later). I didn’t look at other mirrorless camera offerings either from say Fuji (X-Pro2 for example) nor larger digital cameras such as the Nikon D850 DSLR (even though I still have lots of Nikon lenses with my D800 past).
It seemed then that my future path was already well mapped out for me. In my last post I reviewed the “Leica M10 vs Leica M240” (link below). My conclusion was I didn’t think the Leica M10 / M10-P were a big enough improvement to pay out over £3000 for (over the M240). You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned the Leica SL yet. I think I never really considered the SL as an option for me simply because it is not a Leica M rangefinder camera with optical rangefinder. I rely so so heavily on this focusing system. Partly as I am confident and quite quick to focus a Leica rangefinder camera but probably more so because I should where glasses to see distance but I don’t (unless driving). It means using my film Hasselblad cameras or any SLR type camera where you look through the lens I struggle to see to focus. With an optical rangefinder it somehow seems easier. I line up the 2 lines and the photo will be in focus. Easy.
Unexpected need to buy a new camera
Less than one week ago I was not considering buying any new cameras. My last purchases were Mamiya 6 camera 150mm and 50mm lenses so they were keeping me happy and out of trouble for now. So why the sudden need to buy a Leica CL digital camera and why that camera?
Back up camera
Although I don’t mention it a huge amount I teach photography on request. Clients are often Leica photographers or film photographers but occasionally general “want to get into photography” requests. A model wants to switch to being a photographer and used to use a Nikon DSLR. To cut it short she bought my Nikon D800 DSLR camera off me as I never use it. I say never used but I took it with me for wedding photography bookings and left it in the car as a backup to the Leica M240 + Leica M8 camera setup I often use. Another model then approached me as wants to get into photography more for fun and needed a little starter camera where could learn to use manual settings but the camera not cost a fortune. I sold her my little Panasonic Lumix LX100 (aka Leica D-Lux 109). That was my pack light backup camera for model photography trips overseas. It was only last year that I bought the LX100 in Budapest when on a model photography photo shoot. I thought I had forgotten my Leica M240 battery charger so bought the camera to finish the photoshoots only to later find my charger! I tried to use the camera after buying but never really fell in love with it like a Leica M camera. It didn’t see much use.
No backup camera
So within the last few weeks I sold my two back up cameras. This is unusual as I rarely sell anything! I thought oh great, a bit more room on the camera shelf.. to move up one camera out the box below!
It then dawned on me I need a backup camera for Leica wedding photography. I also really need a small camera to back up my model photography trips abroad. I can’t spend weeks of planning a trip with 5-6 models booked in per day to arrive and the Leica M240 not work. Therefore I need backup. The Leica M8 is great but I don’t think it is suitable for every occasion as it is slow to buffer and not great in low light.
Need for a new small digital camera
I wanted a camera to “support” my main camera the Leica M240 rather than an upgrade. That means in my head it should cost less. If not then to me it would be an “upgrade” such as mentioned in the Leica M10 vs M240 post. First I turned to Panasonic Lumix cameras wondering if they had improved enough now to be used for professional work (for me). I have a history with Lumix with the Lumix TZ5 as possibly the camera that got me into photography then the brilliant Lumix G1 that taught me photography (using manual lenses on it via adapters). In more recent years after becoming a Leica photographer I bought a used Lumix G3 to use with Leica glass. I thought it would give me a nice small setup but it was far from a Leica M even with Leica glass. I sold it. Hence I had a brief hope that the latest Lumix cameras were better. As part of my research I watched a few YouTube reviews on the Lumi G8 and Lumix GX85. I liked their form and the reviews seemed positive. I watched a few more videos and there was a comparison between the best small cameras. In that video featured a Leica T!
Leica T camera
I watched this small camera review and the Leica T won for the best colours. I went straight to Flickr and searched the Leica T photos. The T photos looked like “proper” Leica photos to my delight! My lack of love towards Lumix in recent years is not the camera but the final image. Leica cameras render pictures like no other brand to me and I just struggled with the Lumix “look”. But this Leica T produces photos with a look not to dissimilar to the Leica M240 I use. I Googled Leica T and saw the price used. £350-£450! What!? My eyes nearly popped out on stalks! Why did nobody tell me you can buy a digital Leica with interchangeable lenses for under £500!? I went straight to the website of one of the London-based Leica stockists I use to buy. It was well after midnight (as usual) typing with one eye open and editing a photo in another window (I don’t get much sleep). I think I probably posted my photo to share on Flickr then forgot and fell asleep.
Things get more expensive
I spoke to my contact at the Leica Mayfair London store first thing the next morning and said words to the effect of “Hi Jimmy, I see you can buy a Leica T for under £500! That’s amazing”. He replied in more detail that the Leica T is not perfect (which I had read about but tried to ignore because of the low-for-Leica cost!) which is why it is so cheap. He said there are two better alternatives, the new Leica TL2 or the Leica CL. The Leica TL2 lists at around £1,750 new and the Leica CL digital lists at £3,150 with a 18mm pancake lens. Bye bye dream of spending £500 for a digital Leica! I knew it was too good to be true!
Leica TL2 vs Leica CL digital
I knew of the Leica T/TL as I remember the annoucement. “The new Leica machined from one piece of aluminium”. When I researched the Leica T I liked the small size and smart phone like controls / display. My biggest worry/ dislike was no viewfinder but I tried to ignore that as it was “cheap”. With the Leica TL2 many of the Leica T “teething issues” were said to be resolved but it still had no viewfinder. A Leica TL2 is apparently aimed more at non photographers where it “drives” like a smart phone but still takes great Leica quality phones. The Leica CL digital is said to be more for keen photographers and has a built-in EVF (electronic viewfinder). (Leica T/TL/TL2 accept the hotshoe EVF module but it is extra). Time for me to review the Leica CL!
Leica CL digital camera – what is it?
So after some reading I found that the Leica CL digital is the “rebirth” of the old Leica CL film camera, a mini Leica M. The main difference is the Leica CL film camera was full frame and the Leica CL digital is a crop sensor. The Leica CL is a 24MP APS-C mirrorless camera with 1.5x CMOS sensor. It has the same “engine” as the Leica TL using the Maestro II processor. This means the photos will look very similar to photos taken with a Leica TL2 it just “drives” differently as has the EVF and different “cockpit” (dials, buttons, screen arrangement). The Leica CL digital uses the same lens mount as the Leica SL and Leica TL2 so doesn’t have a dedicated CL lens lineup. The Leica TL lenses are the go to lenses for the CL as they match the small form of the Leica CL but SL lenses will also fit. Like the original Leica CL the Leica CL digital accepts Leica M lenses too but via an adapter. The digital Leica CL was released in November 2017 so is one of the newest Leica digital cameras.
Leica CL digital spec
I wont go into the Leica CL digital camera specifics as there are already better more in-depth reviews online. I just cover the basics and write from the thought process angle as to why I considered the Leica CL.
Leica CL key features (for me)
Built in EVF
Accepts Leica M lenses (via Leica M-Adapter-L)
Smaller size than a Leica M camera
Cheaper than a modern digital Leica M (M240/ M10)
High ISO ability (better than Leica M240)
Leica look images
Closer focusing than 0.7M of a Leica M
Offers “something extra” to a Leica M (next blog)
WiFi (not a deal breaker but great to have)
Leica CL digital – ticks all the boxes (for me)
I went through my list of requirements above as to what I am looking for in a new backup camera for my Leica setup. The Leica CL ticked all the boxes and then some extra too. On paper at least I think I found my camera!
Leica CL used price
The same morning as I spoke to Leica Mayfair I found a camera shop listing a used Leica CL with 18mm pancake lens. It was cheaper than buying new so I jumped at the find and the Leica CL was shipped to me next day delivery. I thought at worst if I didn’t like it CL I can return in within a few days.
“Mini M!” Leica CL expectations
I had high hopes for my new Leica “mini M” camera but equally I thought it would be used as a backup. I expected it to be a lesser camera to my Leica M 240. Afterall it didn’t even have an optical viewfinder so how can I take it that seriously! Be realistic!
Buying a Leica CL – She arrives!
The Leica CL digital / Mini M arrived and looked good! The little Leica Elmarit-TL 18mm f2.8 ASPH lens was tiny! Dream travel camera I thought straight away. Due to the CL 1.5x APS-C crop sensor the 18mm Leica TL lens equates to approximately 27-28mm on the Leica M 240 / a full frame camera. This means the Leica CL I bought is comparable to my Leica M240 + 28mm Leica Elmarit-M attached (but a lot smaller and lighter).
I tried the Leica CL EVF and it looked good! I wasn’t expecting an EVF to look good from other mirrorless cameras I had seen others using in the past. Autofocus was fast and snappy. The controls were very intuitive to use and the touch screen LCD was a nice addition. I’m impressed with the CL so far. After a mad few days and buying a Leica CL it is now time to test!
Leica CL Photos -Test shoot #1 – Portraits
I had already planned a photoshoot with Latvian born Sarmite last Friday. It was our third shoot together but only second in recent years so we had high hopes to up our game vs the last shoot. Sarmite is not a model so it is just a matter of building confidence to get the resulting photos we wished for. My Leica CL speedy buying process was partly so the camera would arrive in time for this photoshoot so I could try it out.
Before Sarmite arrived I thought I would try the Leica CL camera out with her but then switch to a proper camera (M240). Afterall the Leica CL was currently fitted with a 28mm equivalent “landscape lens”. No good for close up portrait photos in the studio, or so I thought. I think I took 5 photos on the Leica M24o and nearly 500 photos with the Leica CL digital (..and 1 one film photo with a Nikon F5!).
Here are some of the Leica CL portraits I took (DNG files batch processed in Lightroom and some finished in Photoshop). Sarmite received all photos taken within a few hours of leaving. That is how many “keepers” we had. (Generally I don’t click the shutter on any camera until I like what I see).
I will add more as I get chance..
Leica CL Sample Images #2 – Location Shoot
This shoot had been planned for the spring then kept getting pushed back for whatever reason. In the months I had to think about I had so many ideas in my head as to what cameras/ what photos we would do. The plan was mostly film with an emphasis on the 4×5 Intrepid camera (which I still need to blog about but want to get more photos together first). I was up til after 1am Friday night packing all the film cameras, Intrepid 4×5, Mamiya 6 + new lenses, Nikon F5, then the Leica M240 with some legacy glass (lenses) to play with and in the little space left in my camera back I packed the new Leica CL digital to try.
As always, everything I envisioned ahead of the photoshoot never plays out. I have the same for every wedding photography shoot too! I didn’t take a single film camera photo despite all the kit I’d carried. 90% of the photos were taken with the Leica CL and I only took our the Leica M240 so I could take some side by side photos with the 2 cameras. I can now do a Leica M240 vs Leica CL comparison blog with real images to compare. Thanks to Rebecca for being patient while I took 2’s of some photos! Here are some more Leica CL sample images from the shoot last Saturday.
Again I will add more as I get chance..
Leica CL digital – Images – First thoughts
As mentioned above, I expected the digital Leica CL to be a lesser camera than my digital Leica M240. I therefore automatically expected the photos to be sub-par vs the M240. I was wrong. Yes there are differences but I am really impressed with the Leica CL. My backup camera may well become my join main camera! I will certainly put the little Leica CL though it’s paces in the next few months and try it for more Leica CL portraits a Leica CL wedding and the Leica CL as a travel camera.
Leica CL review (so far)! Is it the best camera on the market?
With my glowing Leica CL review so far, you may ask is the Leica CL camera the best on the market today? Or is the Leica SL or the new Leica M10-P better? Well on paper and in practice too it is commonly regarded by most photographers (consensus from many online reviews it seems) that the “best” cameras are the Sony Alpha A7R III or the new Nikon D850. Technically yes both these cameras “blow the little Leica CL out the water”. But for me I need the “Leica look” and neither Sony nor Nikon offer that, not even as a preset! Perfect images are not always best. Leica rendering to me is far more pleasing to my eye that a pixel perfect image. That’s why I left Nikon to move to Leica originally. Even if a photographer currently owns a Sony A7R III or a Nikon D850 I would argue you would take more photos with a little Leica CL as it is small enough to carry everywhere (with the 18mm pancake lens)(for general photography). The Leica CL camera also has the image quality to compete with some of the best cameras on the market. I like it!
Why did I drag out this Leica CL review?
I wanted viewers to think I was using a much more expensive or well-known camera that the little Leica CL. Flickr viewers were guessing Leica M10, Leica M10-P, Sony, Fuji.. but no one guessed a camera lower down the Leica camera tree. That is as I hoped/ expected. I would do the same if I view another Leica photographers pictures and knew they had bought a new camera. You only expect people to buy a ‘better’ camera than their current model I think. I would never have considered a Leica below the Leica M range but I was pleasantly surprised. Thanks to Leica Mayfair London for helping open my eyes.
Many more Leica CL photos and thoughts to come plus a more in depth Leica CL review once I have time to use the camera more. Below I listed some of the posts I plan to cover as soon as I get time!
Thanks for your patience! I hope it didn’t prove too annoying!
*All photos from photoshoot #1 & #2 taken with Leica CL + Leica Elmarit-TL 18mm f2.8
Tempted by the Leica CL? Treat yourself!
Check out the latest CL prices on Amazon! (UK) / (US)
Qu. Are you a Leica M8, M9, M240 owner? Like me are you very tempted by the new slim Leica M10 specs or even the super quiet Leica M10-P?!
>> In this article I summarise 9 major differences between the Leica M10 vs Leica M240, 3 extras features the Leica M10-P offers & explain my new camera decision!
The Leica M10 vs M240 debate!
As a Leica M240 owner currently, I have had my eye on a potential camera upgrade to for a little while now. I was immediately tempted by the Leica M10 camera when it was first released back in January 2017 and now the new Leica M10-P is here! I tried to compose a meaningful argument as to why I needed yet another camera. In particular, why I needed another digital Leica that was arguably quite similar to the M240 I already have.
Here is my Leica M10 review / Leica M10-P review vs the Leica M240 when looking to upgrade. (*When I write “Leica M10” below this also relates to the M10-P. The Leica M10-P specs then includes a few extra new features, 3 of which I listed separately).
Leica M240 vs Leica M10 review
Leica M10 Specs vs M240 Advantages (to me)
1) High ISO – The number one reason I would upgrade to the Leica M10 is the improved high ISO for low light photography, espeically wedding photography but also for model photography when I find myself in a dark hotel or apartment overseas. The high ISO of the M240 goes up to ISO 6400 but the Leica M10 high ISO is 50000! In real terms the M10 has 2-3 stops more usuable high ISO depending on taste and conditions vs the M240. This would be gratefully received!
2) Buffering – Another issue I have had with the M240 during wedding photography is buffering / camera lock up while buffering. The M240 could take 12 JPEGS during continous shooting before buffering / stopping but the new Leica M10 can take 40 JPEG photos before needing to buffer. I will never need more than that! (It is worth noting the buffering on the M240 camera is lightningly fast compared to my Leica M8!) 🙂
3) Larger viewfinder – The new Leica M10 viewfinder is 30% larger so can see more when composing AND it is more magnified making it easier for critical focus (great for when I use the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 for example). Viewfinder magnification of the M10 is 0.73x vs 0.68x for the M240 (vs 0.91x on the Leica M3 film camera). The new M10 viewfinder design is also better for any Leica photographer wearing glasses as less of the viewfinder view is blocked. I wear glasses for driving but not for photography so I have no problems using my Leica M240 viewfinder.
4) Wifi – The Leica M10 spec includes built-in WiFi. This means I can transfer photos straight from my camera to my phone to share images to Instagram / social media without needing a laptop. When I organise my overseas model photography photo shoots in Poland and Hungary for example, I travel light and without a laptop so this would be a great feature to have. WiFi would also work well for sharing wedding photos after destination weddings where I am without a computer.
Leica M10 specs vs M240 Disadvantages (to me)
1) Smaller battery – I find the Leica M240 battery life very good and never a concern. I use two M240 batteries and I have never ran out whether a full day of model photoshoots or an all day Leica wedding. Sadly the new M10 battery is smaller meaning less photos/ capacity per battery. This would mean I would need to carry two spare batteries instead of one. The smaller Leica M10 battery size also means I cannot use my existing spare Leica M240 battery.
2) Larger viewfinder – The new Leica M10 spec sees a viewfinder 30% larger than the Leica M 240 viewfinder. This is great except if you use a Leica M magnifier accessory for the viewfinder like me. I use a 1.4x viewfinder magnifier on my M240 but this will not fit the Leica M10. I would need to buy a new larger diameter Leica M10 viewfinder magnifier meaning more cost.
3) No video – Unlike the Leica M240 the new Leica M10 now has no video option. I used video extremely rarely on the M240 but it never hurt me to have it in the camera. Occasionally it could be fun to have but now on the M10 this is not an option.
A few more differences – Leica M10 vs Leica M240
1) Slimmer – The M10 has a slimmer camera body than the M240, similar to the Leica film cameras such as a Leica M6. The M10 is also very slightly lighter than the M240. The wider width of the M240 has never bothered me but the new M10 does look good a little slimmed down.
2) ISo Dial – The M10 now has a dedicated ISo dial on the top plate means rather than scrolling through menus on the M240. It looks good and woudl be well received but it wouldn’t make me buy the camera based on just that.
The new Leica M10-P vs Leica M10 compared
1) Leica M10-P Quieter Shutter – The M10-P has the new quietest Leica M shutter. Great for my Leica wedding photography!
2) Touch Screen – The M10-P now has a touch screen like a smart phone. I think we are all so used to swiping on our phones I think the M10P touchscreen is a nice addition
3) Leica Dot – The Leica M10-P now has a bare screw head showing on the front of the camera (normally covered by the famous Leica red dot). I think I prefer it covered up by the Leica logo but I can see why they did it.
Leica M240 vs Leica M10 vs Leica M10-P Price
(Camera body price at date of writing: 25th August 2018, Leica Mayfair London)
Used Leica M240 price: £2,850 (My camera value)
New Leica M240 price: £5,550
Leica M10 price: £5,850 (+£3,000 to upgrade to a M10)
Leica M10-P price: £6,500 (+£3,650 to upgrade to a M10-P)
Time to hang up the Leica M240
New Camera purchase! 🙂
So after much debating and what seems like ages since the Leica M10 camera was first announced, I just bought myself a new digital camera! I always feel a lot happier buying film cameras as I think I will lose less money if I ever sell them. That said, the film cameras are generally bought for fun and paid work is normally mostly digital photography. A new digital camera for me is bought as a tool to get the job done in the best way possible. I liked the idea of the Leica M10 / M10-P high ISO ability as I found that can be a little limiting with the M240 for Leica weddings. That was my main wish for my upgrade, better low light capability.
Leica M10 Review – Conclusion
After considering my above mini Leica M10 review, the problem have is I didn’t find the list of Leica M10 improvements over the Leica M240 worthy of the £3,000-£3,650 price tag. (Price based on upgrading from my M240 and the used price of my Leica M240). It was time to look elsewhere for possible new camera options. I did buy a new camera this week but it wasn’t the camera I expected to buy or had ever considered! Scary really when I thought of myself as only ever a rangefinder guy. It’s funny how we can adapt so quickly.
I will get a few more new camera test shots together and share the details soon. Hopefully tomorrow night or Monday (a public holiday in the UK so I should have more time for blogging).
– My Favourite Nikon Pancake Lensbe + 40mm Portraits
Nikon mount Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2
Qu. Looking for the ultimate small lens for your Nikon camera?
>> Here I recommend my Voiglander 40mm f/2 pancake lens & share some 40mm portraits
My Favourite Nikon Pancake Lens
As “Mr Leica” I use Leica cameras for my photography but I also enjoy other film camera brands too. For each camera I try to discover the best lenses I can and here I cover my favourite Nikon pancake lens. The Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 SL II that I bought to use on my Nikon film cameras.
Small Lenses for Nikon Cameras
Are you looking for a small lens for your Nikon camera? Previously I used Nikon cameras before moving to Leica so I have collected quite a few nice Nikon F mount lenses, both Nikkor brand and other from other manufacturers. After getting used to the often very compact Leica M mount lenses, when I came to packing lightweight for a Nikon camera it was not so easy. My smallest Nikon F mount lens at the time was the Nikkor 50mm f1.4D. When I bought this Nikkor lens in my Nikon D800 period I liked the lens and used it a lot for wedding photography.
Leica M Mount Lens Effect
A few years later I bought my first Leica camera, a Leica M9. Having got accustomed to using various Leica M mount lenses and at the time none of the lenses were actually Leica brand I as couldn’t afford Leica glass! Instead I opted for Voigtlander and Zeiss Leica M lenses and loved the results. Coming from these lenses back to the Nikkor 50/1.4D lens, the 50mm Nikon lens on the D800 suddenly seemed too soft to use at f1.4.
The Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 Pancake Lens
After wanting to find a replacement for my 50mm f1.4 Nikkor I started my online research. I was looking for a small form decent optics Nikon mount lens in the ‘normal’ focal length range (usually around 50mm). After much reading I discovered the Nikon mount Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 SL II prime lens. It is a pancake lens so makes a Nikon DSLR / SLR look very compact when compared to standard lenses. I had a Nikkor 35mm f1.4 G lens which I had bought for wedding photography but it was huge in comparison. From day one I loved the super sharp results of the Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 lens, even at f2. The poor 50mm f1.4D has never been used since! Please note that Voigtlander lenses like the Zeiss lenses for Nikon are manual focus. Don’t buy a Voigtlander 40f2 Ultron if you are hoping to use autofocus mode.
Nikon Film Cameras
Although I rarely use the digital Nikon D800 camera now I do enjoy the Nikon film cameras. My oldest is a Nikon FM SLR followed by the more automated Nikon F4. My most recent purchase is the later Nikon F5 model (see F5 review posted yesterday). Owning these cameras means I still get to enjoy the Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 pancake lens. It is great if I want to pack light or perhaps want that slightly wider 40mm focal length.
Voigtlander Ultron 40mm Portraits
Digital Photos – Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2
Film Photos – Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2
If you are a Nikon photographer happy with manual focus and are on the market for a compact sharp lens, look no further! I rate the Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 SL II lens (and I use nice lenses from the likes of Leica APO/ ASPH, Zeiss, Fujion and others)
>> In this review I explain why I bought the Nikon F5 & why it is the Best Nikon Film Camera for me
Nikon F5 SLR Camera
I bought the Nikon F5 35mm film camera last (2017) year but I didn’t get a chance to write about it. I won’t write a detailed Nikon F5 review here as I will only be duplicting the work of others before me. (Check Ken Rockwell’s website if you want camera specifications). Instead I will focus on a few key facts, some of my thoughts so far and finish off with a few of my Nikon F5 Flickr photos to show what the Nikon F5 can do.
1996 Nikon F5 – Brief History
The Nikon F5 SLR (“Single lens reflex”) camera was released in 1996 and replaced my Nikon F4 that was first released 8 years earlier. The Nikon F5 was one of the last professional spec Nikon film bodies (the last was the Nikon F6 I believe) before they switched to digital. When I look at the Nikon F5 it always reminds me of a Nikon D4 or something of a similar pro level today.
Nikon F5 Pro Level SLR
The Nikon F5 oozes quality and is a fine-looking camera I think, even coming from the Leica camp (where people think we can only appreciate other Leica cameras)(Not me). The Nikon F5 is very different to a Leica but still built well build. I would say a Leica is more of a precision tool, which is built to last but needs more care. I think the Nikon F5 could survive a drop down a flight of stairs and still work (my Nikon F4 survived this and it is less rugged than the F5).
Nikon before Leica (My history with Nikon)
I used digital Nikon cameras before I discovered Leica cameras and owned first a crop sensor Nikon D90, then a full frame Nikon D700 camera and finally a Nikon D800 that I bought on pre-release. It was not until a few years later that I bought my first Leica, a Leica M9. Having come from having digital Nikon cameras I still own some very nice Nikon F mount lenses. I can now use all of these lenses on the Nikon F5 so I’m glad I kept them. I also own two other Nikon film bodies, a Nikon FM and the aforementioned Nikon F4. I will compare my three Nikon film cameras in a separate article.
Nikon F5 Review – Top 3 features (for me)
1. Nikon F5 – Well built
As mentioned above it feels like the Nikon F5 is built to last and feels less fragile than a Leica. (By this I mean the Leica rangefinder calibration can be knocked out of alignment if easily if the camera is knocked). The Nikon F5 is not a light camera with the camera body alone weighing 1.2kg (without the 8 AA batteries) A Leica M3 bodies weighs less than half that of the F5 at 580g (and it still feels quiet weighty for it’s compact size). The added weight of the Nikon F5 gives a good solid sturdy feel but doesn’t suit packing light for overseas trips and model shoots!
2. Nikon F5 – Fast autofocus
I bought the Nikon F5 specifically as the Nikon F4 auto focus is unusable for moving subjects (for me). The F4 is so slow I missed almost every photo. I can focus a manual focus Leica much faster than the F4 autofocus. In addition to this, I wanted to enjoy using telephoto autofocus lenses on the F5. One example lens is the Nikkor 180mm f2.8 AFD which I bought in my Leica ‘era’. Using an SLR camera and long lenses is a different photography experience to using a Leica camera. With a Leica I tend to use shorter focal length lenses, often 21mm-90mm. My eyesight is not good enough to use a long lens without AF at a distance on an SLR camera so I appreciate the fast auto focusing of the Nikon F5.
3. Nikon F5 – Bright viewfinder
Lastly I enjoy the modern looking big bright viewfinder with focus confirmation. I use manual focus lenses on the Nikon F5 too so it is great to confirm if I have a subject in focus and can see accurately enough with just my eyesight.
So.. Is the Nikon F5 the Best Nikon Film Camera?
The answer is it depends on what camera features are most important to you when you think of the best Nikon film camera. If for you the smallest lightest Nikon SLR is best then you would prefer the Nikon FM (from the cameras I use). Perhaps you want your Nikon SLR camera to have autofocus and you mostly photograph static subjects then the Nikon F4 SLR offers autofocus in a smaller lighter camera body (vs the F5). If however you need a film camera to photograph fast action photography such as motorsport then the Nikon F5 could well be the best Nikon film camera for you. It is not small nor lightwight but it the Nikon F5 shoots 8fps vs only 4fps for my Nikon F4. Not only that the Nikon F5 focus seems much advanced that the Nikon F4, focusing faster, hunting less and seems to nail focus regularly. So for me yes the Nikon F5 is the best Nikon film camera when size is not an issue (even though I shoot portraits, fashion and weddings and not motorsport!).
Nikon vs Leica
I wrote a lot more for this review (over double the length) but it was going off topic comparing Nikon to Leica rather than the F5. Instead I have cut this post here and will share the less Nikon F5 specific part another time. On to the Nikon F5 photos!
Nikon F5 Flickr photos
*(Click any photo to see the lens/ film used)
Nikon F5 Colour film
Note – Nikon F5 Review
I appreciate you probably didn’t learn anything new from this Nikon F5 review and I only cover perhaps 1% of the Nikon F5 features. Hopefully the sample images will give a taster of what the F5 can do using the most basic F5 camera setting. For me the final image is the reason I buy a camera.
The 2 comparison posts to follow will help cover more of the specifics and will help when deciding between buying a Leica or a Nikon and a Nikon F4 vs Nikon F5 (for example).