Expanding my Nikon System

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Wishy, Jun 29, 2009.

  1. Wishy

    Wishy Member

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    Hi All,

    I've had a decent clearout of cameras I'm not using enough these days with the intention of spending the money on expanding my nikon manual focus system.

    First, i have the following
    Nikon FE2, which is the best Japanese compact manual focus SLR I've ever used. So butter smooth, full control - but so effortless you barely realise its there. Couldn't be happier with it and don't expect to move systems any time soon.
    For it I have
    Nikon E series 50mm f1.8, which i like for its compactness
    Nikkor-O Ai-Converted 35mm F2, which is a decent lens, plenty sharp and nice and fast for easy focus. (Just don't point it near the sun). I also love its close focusing.
    Vivitar 28mm f2.5, BBAR MC, which I'm not too fond of, but can't quite put my finger on why.
    Sigma Super-Wide II MC 24mm f2.8, which i've yet to play with properly, wanted it over the legendary 24mm nikkor because it focuses close and is under half the price.

    And a completely seperate autofocus setup
    Nikon F90X
    Nikon D70, which I feel dirty using, and we'll speak no more of.
    Sigma 24-60, which is a nice focal length for me
    Sigma 70-300, worse lens ever, but i barely touch the longer focal lengths so it makes no sense to invest decent money here.
    Sigma 12-24, which i don't use enough. Also, its G, which frankly is trying to fix something which was ever broken.

    Limitations I'm not enjoying
    FE2's metering is better than any other compact manual focus SLR i've used, but still somewhat basic. I'm ok with exposure compensation, but matrix metering on the F90X seems to get it right a lot more often than the FE2 with me behind it.
    I've got only one body for each "setup", if I don't finish a roll, I'm stuck with it the next time I go out.

    I've been considering an F4 with MB-20 (I want to keep the weight down, I've got to carry it). 4 Frame per second limits aren't a concern, frankly thats £5-10's worth of film gone in 10 seconds, which is scary!
    Reasoning, its a good to excellent manual focus abilities. Its an "Ok" autofocus camera. So can be a reasonable second AF body.
    Matrix metering sorts my naff exposure skills.

    How much slower is the F4 than the F90 for autofocus?
    Is the F4 good for manual focus?
    Has the F4 got a horrible electronicy feel to it?
    How heavy is it compared to the F90X?
    I'm reading bad things about NIMH batterys in the MB-20, are they just rubbish?

    I'm also hankering after
    An 28mm f2, its faster and easier to focus, but a decent chunk of cash
    A nikon 50mm F1.4, want something that bit faster
    A macro lens - but i see nothing but warnings about the 55mm 2.8 Macro and oil problems.
    Any thoughts on these lenses
     
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  2. Mike Kennedy

    Mike Kennedy Member

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    If you enjoy the FE2..................Ya gotta get an F3HP.One beautiful camera!!
     
  3. AutumnJazz

    AutumnJazz Member

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    You know, I have my F100 in the classifieds...

    The F100 is a great camera. I love mine, but I like Canon lenses more. :\

    Many, many people speak highly of the F4 and F5.

    (I also have my 35mm ƒ/2 in the classifieds, which is a fine lens. Sharp. Not very different or special, though.)
     
  4. Wishy

    Wishy Member

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    The F3 has 80-20 center weighted metering, which isn't what I really want.

    From a bit of further digging, to really use the F4 for manual focus, i might well want a Type K viewfinder. If i go for this option, does that mean i can't autofocus?

    Presumably I can't replace the screens in the field.
     
  5. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    There are so many ways to go here, it's not even funny. :smile:

    The F4/F4S/F4E does seem to work for you though. Not only would it make a good autofocus body for your AF system, it makes a great manual body for your MF system because it supports matrix metering with AI Nikkors. (If I remember correctly it doesn't with AI-converted ones, though.) It's also a pleasure to use. AF is reasonable but not fast, comparable in speed to the F90x in a lot of ways but a little more inelegant (less sophisticated software, more powerful focus motor). It also supports AF-S and is the oldest Nikon to do so (the F90 was the first Nikon to "officially" support it, i.e. it was advertised as a feature and the lenses were intended to be out more or less with the release of the camera, but the engineers put the capability into the F4 too which is great.)

    As for other second AF body choices, there are tons. The F100 and F5 come to mind (I have one of each and they are my main AF bodies although the F4 gets a fair bit of use).

    For lenses there are a lot of choices. The 50/1.4 is a good one. I have the AF-D version and use it on AF and MF bodies. I also have an AF 85/1.8 that I use on both sets of hardware. The f/2.8 zooms are generally a pleasure to use in manual mode also. It seems wrong to put a 17-35/2.8D on an F3HP, but I do it anyway. The user experience is wonderful.

    The 105/2.5 is a legendary Nikon portrait lens and I love mine. Mine is AI. The Nikkor 28s are great. The AI-S is probably the best f/2.8 one and best overall but the AF-D one is a close second, especially if you don't do a lot of close-up work. The manual focus feel is decent enough that you shouldn't hate using it on your FE2. The 28/2 has a great reputation but is pricey.

    I don't own a Nikon 24 (I have it in my 17-35) but the Nikkor 24s are great. I don't think there is a bad one, whether it be f/2 or f/2.8.

    Don't be too rigid with your gear. Cross it up. Buy AF lenses with the idea that you will use them on your FE2 also. Buy interesting MF lenses that will supplement your AF collection. It is a nice experience using a 105/2.5 on an F4, e.g. I don't even mind using it on the F5. Focusing is not as easy as with a manual body with the proper screen, but I do not find it to be that difficult.

    The 55/3.5 Micro is a sleeper lens, probably not quite as good as the f/2.8 but cheap and reliable. The 2.8 is nice because it's fast enough to also use for general photography.

    Jim
     
  6. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Member

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    Which 24mm Nikkor is legendary? None that I'm aware of. OTOH, both the 28mm f2 (all versions) and the 28mm f2.8 AIS close focusing lenses are noticeably better than any Nikon 24mm.

    As for Macro - if I were you, I'd get a 90mm - probably either the Tamron 90mm f2.5, Tokina 90mm f2.5, or Vivitar Series 1 90mm f2.5. Those lenses are also superb general purpose short telephotos, something you don't seem to have in your arsenal.

    If you prefer 55mm, the f3.5 is at least as sharp as the f2.8, costs around 1/2 as much in the market, and doesn't have a problem with oily diaphragm blades like the f2.8 does.

    Nikon 50mm f1.4 AI is plenty nice.

    As far as your wide angles, I think you'd be happier with fewer, but better lenses. IMHO, a really top notch 28mm, either the f2, or the AIS f2.8, would cover most of the applications where you are also using 24 and 35mm lenses that are merely decent.

    And I agree that having one manual film body is a limitation. Nowadays, you can pick up a clean FE or FG for around $50 that will solve that limitation for you. I think you'd be much happier with one of these small bodies than a tank like the F4 - which, IMHO really is not a very good AF camera, but is a great, but huge, pro manual body.

    From a cost standpoint, you could get an F100 and an FE for the same cost as an F4, and you'd be getting BOTH a small, compact MF film body, and as good an AF film body as Nikon ever made. If cost were an issue, I'd get another N90s/F90x instead of the F100, again, those can be gotten now for around $50, and they are much better in AF mode than the F4 is.
     
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  7. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Consider the F-100 as a great addition to the F-90x. Use one for black & white and one for color. The F-100 is lighter than the F-5 and in the performance range of the F-5.

    Steve
     
  8. mikebarger

    mikebarger Subscriber

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    My favorite Nikon wide angle is the 18mm followed by the 24mm. Heck, 28mm is just a wide normal lens :smile:.

    On the long end, I think the 105mm 2.5 is the best walk around lens made. MY experience, 28 is always to narrow, and 90mm is always to short. I have a 200mm, rarely used and a 300mm used a lot on the long end.

    Anyway, choices and opinions are wide on this issue and you can't hardly go wrong with any manual focus Nikkor glass.

    Bodies, F3HP and EL2, retired the F's.

    Mike
     
  9. Warren T.

    Warren T. Member

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    Regarding the F4, it's not just the motor speed difference when using the MB-21 vs. the MB-20. It's also ergonomically different. The grip part of the MB-20 is a little larger than the grip part of the MB-21, and the MB-21 also gives a vertical grip with an auxiliary shutter release. I think the added juice from the extra batteries also drives the focus motor harder too (more torque available). I like the MB-20 configuration because it's compact and lighter, but I enjoy the MB-21 (F4s) configuration more because for me it feels better in my hand.

    The F4 is a pro level body, so it is better sealed, has a more durable shutter, is extremely solid, and the shutter and mirror are very well damped (vibration free). It inspires confidence, and is the last of the pro film bodies with an analog interface (knobs and dials vs. control wheels). The downside for many people is that all this quality stuff causes the body to be large and heavy. If you're used to handling a Nikon FE, F90x, and D70, you may not like the experience of lugging such a large body. OTOH, you may easily fall in love with its design, performance, and handling. Its AF is usable for most purposes. You'll just have to try it to see if it's as slow as people like to say. It works okay for my needs when I use my AF lenses on it, but that's just me.

    You can easily change the focusing screen in the field as long as you're careful about avoiding dusty conditions. I prefer an "E" screen in mine.

    My F4 does well pairing with either my D100, or my F2 or F3HP (AF and MF).

    --Warren
     
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  10. GJA

    GJA Member

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    1) Its often called Nikon's best manual camera, the AF isnt great, but the metering is.
    2) ABSOLUTELY NOT
    3) It uses AAs, so you dont need to use NIMH. The best solution is to use single-use lithium batteries since they are very light and work well.
     
  11. nyoung

    nyoung Member

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    Not enough so you'd notice.

    The biggest thing you'll notice with the F4 AF is that it is single point - focuses on one point at center screen. Not a problem once you use the focus lock feature to focus-lock-recompose-shoot.

    As far as your lenses, upgrade to Nikon in any focal lengths you like.
    Another advantage of the F4 is that it will mount and shoot almost all Nikon lenses built from 1954 till now.
     
  12. namke

    namke Member

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    I own an F4s and an F90x; In my experience (limited - I've only had the F4 about 3 months, the F90x about 1 month) the F90x gives me more consistent exposures (generally using matrix metering), but is easier to carry about since the F4s is reallly solid/heavy. Having said that, using the F4 is wonderful - good viewfinder, and knobs for everything (actually, the F90x isn't bad in this regard either).

    The F4s cost me about twice what the F90x cost me... I'm not sure which I actually prefer. Although the AF on the F90x is better than the f4, I'm not sure I actually like using AF :smile: I really need to get a split-image screen, I have yet to find one :sad:

    [blasphemy, I know, but one of the reasons for me moving to Nikon was so that I can get a digital SLR some time in the future and re-use my lenses; so far it's proving to be quite expensive!]
     
  13. Wishy

    Wishy Member

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    So much food for thought! Thanks :smile:

    F100 - I don't really think I'll see the value from this, I don't think I'd take a second AF body out with me. The system (Including the zoom lenses) has been designed as a just one lens / camera system. If that makes any sense.
    A second AF body is just for the very odd occation. I see a second MF body being more use.
    Do take everybodys point about the FM and the FE being sold for penuts, especially if they're a bit battered. Probably worth looking at.

    PhotoJim - While i can mount my zooms on my FE2, the lack of any dampening to the focus makes them feel naff to use. I tend to keep the two lines seperate - using them in a pinch.

    I'll have a think about getting a decent 28mm, but I do prefer things a little wider.

    Thanks for the advise on the 90mm f2.5s, will have a look at them, otherwise a 55mm 3.5 might be order of the day. The 105 2.5 is a nice lens, but i rarely shoot portrait and have bought an 135mm for my previous outfits, only to find it just sits there while i use the 50mm all the time. (Except for architecture, which is a love of mine)

    When i said NiMH batterys, i mean low self discharge AA rechargable batterys, I realise there were some nikon custom NiMH and should have been clearer.

    Think I'll have a good look at F4's next time i'm at a camera fair. I were lusting after an F5 but as soon as i handled it i decided it was bigger than i wanted, when the F100 was cheaper and nearly as good.
     
  14. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    Wishy,

    My 80-200/2.8 AF has very well-dampened focus. Try one sometime. (The newer two-touch zoom may not be as pleasant; I've not used one manually.)

    My 17-35 has looser focus than true MF Nikons but it's entirely tolerable. The amateur zooms tend to have much looser AF.

    I get over a year on a set of AAs on my F4 by the way. Unless you use the camera very heavily, NiMH batteries are not the best choice.
     
  15. Wishy

    Wishy Member

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    PhotoJim - they're the new style low self discharge AAs, so tend to have a higher capacity than disposable batterys and the self discharge rate is about 50% after a year. Just need to charge them yearly and I save the planet. (Because shooting film is so environmentally friendly, although i see a lot of digicams filled with precious metals sitting in landfills in a few years, hardly environmentally friendly either!)

    Anyway, been reading and thinking... I'm being indecisive, Help!
    The F4 seems a bit of a jack of all trades and king of none. If i want a second AF body I'll give the F100 strong consideration - don't like the weight of the F5. The matrix metering looks more basic than what I've used before, and i think i might trust it too much if i have it.
    I'm considering an F3 (Not the HP, my eyes are good, no glasses (Yet!)) - looks like a nicely build camera, my only question is what is this going to give me above the FE2? (Or indeed, an FE or an FM, which both make sense as a second body).
    If i go with an FM (the original model), i can see the limited shutter being manageable, how good is the match the led meter in comparison to a proper needle?
    One final choice, Nikon F601m - looks an absolute dog, but has matrix metering, is designed for manual focus and is cheap as you like. Can't find much info on it at all, anybody got any thoughts?
     
  16. SoSideways

    SoSideways Member

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  17. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    The F601m doesn't matrix meter with manual focus lenses, unfortunately. Other than the fact that it has manual focusing aids, there's no advantage to having it over an actual AF F601.

    The ENELOOP-style NiMHs are certainly much more useful. I'm tempted to try them myself.
     
  18. glockman99

    glockman99 Member

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    Get yourself an F4s, along with a MB20 battery grip to turn your F4s into an F4 when you want to go alittle lighter & shorter. The fact that you can use pretty much any Nikon SLR lens ever made is a big plus, and I really don't find the F4s autofocus all THAT bad. Also, with the F4s you get a focus-aide (arrows & a green in-focus dot) when using manual focus lenses, and that's a big plus. (As a side-note, I use the "K" screen in my F4s, and that give me the "best of both worlds" in both MF and AF.).

    As far as another lens goes, the Nikkor 105 f/2.5 lens is one to get as it's not just used for portraits.

    Get an F4s...Trust me on this.
     
  19. Wishy

    Wishy Member

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    Your right, although the logic of providing a matrix metering which only works with AF lenses on a MF Body is beyond me Strike the F601 off the list then, its not no other redeeming features.
    And yes, its ENELOOP style I'm using, they work great, and you can recharge them early, rather than "I know the batterys in the camera are going to die soon, but don't want to throw them away early, so I'd better carry spares"

    Glockeman - the K screen did look to solve problems, but they seem to be ruddy difficult to get hold of. Even with the MB20 its still a heavy camera.
    One thing i did struggle to find is any details on AF-S (Internal motor) lenses, and my "G" Sigma 12-24 will be a pain to use like it is on my F90. (WHY would you remove a perfectly good aperture dial? Even with my D70 i'd rather use a proper dial than the stupid command wheels - not that it gives me the choice)
     
  20. glockman99

    glockman99 Member

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    Yah, the "K" screen can be hard to find (it's very popular, I'm guessing), but the one I really want (the "P" screen) is REALLY hard to find.

    And yes, even with the MB20, the F4 is a pretty heavy camera, but even with the MB21, it's still not THAT heavy, as the ergonomics of the camera help with the weight quite a bit.
     
  21. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    If only a person could buy an MB-20 at a reasonable price. I've been looking for a couple of years but I don't really want to pay $100+ for one.