The Nikon F4s or The Nikon F5?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Andrew West, Feb 10, 2007.

  1. Andrew West

    Andrew West Member

    Messages:
    36
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2007
    Location:
    Northwest In
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I've been considering it for a long time, and finally I've decided to just go ahead with it.

    I'm ready to put down for a quality camera system; something that should last me some time. I've narrowed it down too, but I've never been good with decisions. Especially the little ones.

    And thus, I am here to share my burden.

    Both cameras are extremely rugged (after sifting through endless reviews, that much seems to be consistent). The F4 has its expansive lense compadibility going for it, whereas the F5 has the benefit of technology (faster autofocus, RGB metering, ect) though this isnt without added weight. My focus is documentary photography, so I need something that is reasonably fast and accurate. A lighter camera may lend itself more to walking and shooting, but I have no problem getting a workout if it's worth the added weight.

    I plan on buying from KEH (and becoming a repeat customer if they're everything I hear) and I'd like to buy an inexpensive (not to be confused with cheap) prime lens to test the camera out. I'm not yet familiar with Nikon's line yet, so any help there would be invaluable. Yes, this being my first Nikon, I have a long road ahead of me.

    Now, if you're still with me, I'd like to say thanks in advance for all the help and for sticking with film. Of course, it isn't as if we have a viable alternative.:wink:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 10, 2007
  2. Thanasis

    Thanasis Member

    Messages:
    392
    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2006
    Location:
    Sydney, Aust
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I haven't used the F4 but I have an F5 which I bought recently off ebay. This camera is the biz. 3 different types of metering (including RGB), Mirror Lock Up, Custom modes coming out of the wazoo and very fast autofocus. One downside is that with AIS lenses you lose matrix metering and it is heavy. What are you mainly shooting?
     
  3. Andrew West

    Andrew West Member

    Messages:
    36
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2007
    Location:
    Northwest In
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Something I've had in mind is a photo documentary cataloging the daily happenings of, and the various characters that make up a small town.

    So, candids, improvised portraits, ect. I suppose what I'm really looking for is a reliable camera.

    The F5 sounds like a nice, "little" camera to toy with. It doesn't seem to be a common problem, but I know a few people out there had an issue with the rubber covering peeling off. Have you ran into anything like that?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 10, 2007
  4. HerrBremerhaven

    HerrBremerhaven Member

    Messages:
    861
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2006
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Bascially, if you want to mostly use autofocus, you would likely be much happier with an F5. If you would prefer using manual focus, or using older lenses, then the F4 will allow matrix metering with non-chip Nikon lenses; something not possible with the F5.

    I picked up an F4S from KEh recently, in BGN condition. I was surprised at how nice the condition of this body was when it arrived. I did add the Dk-2 eyepiece, and later on I got a J screen, since I only use manual focus lenses. I found the prices better at KEH than EBAY.

    Ciao!

    Gordon Moat
    A G Studio
     
  5. mawz

    mawz Member

    Messages:
    281
    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Location:
    Toronto, ON
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    There's also the F6, which is the best of both worlds (Matrix metering with MF lenses and even better AF than the F5).

    But the basic difference comes down to 'do you want an AF camera or do you want an MF camera that AF's in a pinch?'. The F4 is a MF camera that AF's in a pinch. The F5 is an AF camera first and foremost.
     
  6. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

    Messages:
    2,223
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    Regina, SK,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The F5 is the clear answer for me (and I bought one so this isn't just lip service). It's 98% of the camera the F6 is and it's 1/4 the price.

    The F4 is cheaper and it's also a great camera but the motor drive is slower, the AF is a pale shadow of the F5's, and, by nature, is going to be older and more likely to be closer to needing repair. The only real advantages of the F4 to me are the matrix metering with manual lenses (not a big issue) and the out-of-the-box compatibility with non-AI lenses (also not a big issue). I have a few lenses that were once non-AI but got them AI modified. it's far more convenient since you get full-aperture metering on AI bodies and no impairment of function on non-AI bodies (if you even have any such bodies).
     
  7. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

    Messages:
    4,679
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2004
    Location:
    Italia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I know the F4 motor drive is slower but how many people need faster? If you're shooting shorter prime lenses are you really going to see a big difference in AF speed?

    OTOH it seems F5 prices have dropped to very close to F4 prices now.

    OTOH you could look at the F100 instead of the F5.
     
  8. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

    Messages:
    2,223
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    Regina, SK,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It's not a question of need, but yet another advantage of the F5. No one *needs* HDTV either. :smile:

    F5s are more than F4s, but the autofocus improvement alone makes the increment worthwhile to me.

    The F100 is a great camera (I've owned one for a few years) but so far I like the F5 better. The F100 is smaller which is occasionally good. Since I have both, it's not an issue for me. :smile:
     
  9. alien

    alien Member

    Messages:
    226
    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2005
    Location:
    England
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have owned an F4s since 1989, and added an F5 3 years ago.
    I sold the F5 again last year, because I did not like it.

    I especially did not like the way the F5 handled. I prefer proper buttons and dials over push-button-and-dial operations.

    Faster autofocus was never a concern for me - I found out some time ago that no autofocus in the world does the trick for me. I am faster, more reactive and just as accurate focussing anywhere on the screen - providing the screen is bright enough.

    I have no real use for a motor either - I could just as well do with a film advance lever. The idea that I can take 20 pictures in a row to make sure that I have one that contains the right moment never worked for me.

    I did not like the Matrix metering on either the F4 or F5. My best results were made by spot-metering and using the cameras in manual mode. Again, I found that much easier to use on the F4.

    All this of course reflects only my way of work. Both cameras are absolutely phantastic - but if you prefer a camera that has no LCD display but proper buttons that show you the settings directly, the F4 should be your choice.

    In addition to that, the F4 is substantially smaller than the F5 when you use the small battery pack - and that can be a really big advantage.

    By the way, I sold all my Nikon gear last year and use Contax now exclusively - again, not because the quality or the results with the Nikons were in any way bad. It is just that after I have used the Contax RTS III and the S2 for a while, I found that I never used the Nikons again, just because these cameras accomodated my way of work much better.

    So - how do you work? Once you know that, you will know which camera is for you.

    Good luck

    Ansgar
     
  10. Thanasis

    Thanasis Member

    Messages:
    392
    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2006
    Location:
    Sydney, Aust
    Shooter:
    Medium Format

    Well the F5 is very reliable. Next time you get a chance I recommend that you pick one up to feel how it fits with your hands. I love it, but some don't.

    It can be quite imposing for candid photography. It stands out due to it's size.

    I got mine practically unused so I have not come across any unpeeling rubber grip.

    regards,
    Thanasis.
     
  11. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

    Messages:
    4,090
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2006
    Location:
    NYC or Copak
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I have the F5 (two of them) and love it. I've never used the F4 but doubt I'd be disappointed with it either.

    If the price difference is no issue for you, I'd recommend the F5 if only because it has to be newer (although a softly used F4 will probably be in better condition than a hard-used F5!).
     
  12. GraemeMitchell

    GraemeMitchell Member

    Messages:
    414
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2005
    Location:
    NYC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I shoot with f5s, and I almost always am wishing I had something smaller. It's a lot of camera. Consider a rangefinder or even a Nikon manual body.

    For me a fast motor drive and weather sealing were necessary.

    I feel for walking around street work you'll quickly be longing for a Bessa or something else minimal.
     
  13. Nick Merritt

    Nick Merritt Member

    Messages:
    421
    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2007
    Location:
    Hartford, Co
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I think you'd love an FM2n or FM3A or FE2 -- all manual focus, small, quite reliable and capable. Manual focus, of course, and only center-weighted metering. But based on your description of your project, I think AF isn't needed, or the fancy metering either. And truth to tell, the F4 and F5, though great cameras, are going to be pretty darn conspicuous. The cameras I mention above will be less likely to scream "press photographer" than the big Fs.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

    Messages:
    2,299
    Joined:
    May 10, 2006
    Location:
    Aurora, IL
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I think I am bias because I don't have an F4 but have both an F3 and an F5. I think that it's better to get an F3 or an F5 than the F4.
     
  16. bobfowler

    bobfowler Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,440
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2003
    Location:
    New Jersey,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I had both the F4 and (for a brief period) the F5. I sold them both and went back to the F3, and more recently, the F2. My reasons:

    1) I don't need autofocus (my only autofocus glass are my DX lenses for my D80)
    2) You can strip them down to a small body (take off the motor)
    3) Smoothest manual film advance EVER made (F3)
    4) Not battery dependant (F2)
    5) Meter with any lens Nikon makes or has ever made (except G series lenses)

    An added advantage to the F2 (especially with an MD-2 attached) is that you can use it as a blunt weapon in a bar fight, then take pictures of the aftermath! :smile:

    I haven't bothered with an F6 (and won't) because of the lack of interchangable finders. I actually USE my waistlevel finders quite a bit, and I love the DA-2 Action Finder for the F3.
     
  17. Kiron Kid

    Kiron Kid Member

    Messages:
    438
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2005
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Why not consider the F-100. Better than F5, in some respects and smaller. It, and my FE-2, can handle anything.

    Kiron Kid
     
  18. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

    Messages:
    2,223
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    Regina, SK,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format

    I agree that the F3 is divine to wind, but there is one other Nikon that is almost as good.

    Bizarre to think it is the...

    ... Nikon EM.

    Anyway, back to our Nikon F4 vs. F5 programming.
     
  19. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

    Messages:
    2,294
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2003
    Location:
    Floriduh
    Shooter:
    35mm
    For your subject matter I would have thought of other cameras, one being a Leica M model and maybe the other being anything in a smaller/lighter body. I have noticed over the years that large black cameras and lenses draw a lot of attention. If I walk around with anything that looks to professional, especially if it has a honking big lens on it, everyone sees me. If I walk around with an old small camera hanging around my neck no less, that does not look very new, most people ignore me. I think for documentary people photography, the best bet is to know your light and be prepared to shoot without having to rely on a do it all electronic camera that gives you too many possibilities, or more to the point, too many options to screw up. Let's say for an example that you've got the camera set to program where it chooses the shutter speed and aperture. In many instances I wanted a different aperture or shutter speed. In situations where time is of the essence, looking into a viewfinder reading small diodes and thumb turning a wheel, (which one, on the front or back? and which way?), takes my attention away. But knowing my light and walking into the scene, or watching the scene evolve, with the focus mostly preset on a manual camera allows me total attention involvement. All I have to do is raise the camera at the right time, maybe make a small adjustment in focus and snap. Now, if your using a long long lens to practically stalk people it's another deal. But you might want to take a lesson from the masters of the past, they choose small quiet cameras for a reason and they learned how to operate the camera without the camera operating them. Knowing your light is the other important point.
     
  20. alien

    alien Member

    Messages:
    226
    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2005
    Location:
    England
    Shooter:
    Multi Format

    This is absolutely correct!

    Ansgar
     
  21. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

    Messages:
    4,090
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2006
    Location:
    NYC or Copak
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Aw geez, all the OP asked for was a comparison of the F4 and F5.

    Why try to steer the thread into a battery/electronic etc. battle?

    There are all kinds of cameras for all kinds of purposes and pleasures.
     
  22. unohuu

    unohuu Member

    Messages:
    476
    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2004
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Test Drive

    How about a true test drive Andrew? Then you could decide for yourself? I don't have an F5, but you are welcome (in the spirit of APUG) to borrow my F4s and decide if it is a camera you like. Maybe someone will offer an F5 for a test as well. I am not offering it for sale. I like it. I have this and 3 F100s, 3 Minolta X series and the two ancient but well working Mamiyas. I would not miss the F4s if it were not available for a couple of weeks or even as long as a month. Let me know if this interests you.

    Luke
     
  23. sepiareverb

    sepiareverb Subscriber

    Messages:
    584
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2007
    Location:
    VT
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The F4 is the finest tripod SLR hands down. I shot stock with F4s for a long time, nearly always on a tripod. The meter is excellent (not the stunning color meter of thhe F5), the backward compatability with older nikon glass is excellent (about the same as the F5 I suppose), but it is in ergonomics that the F4 wins hands down. All the controls are traditional dials, the cable release can be a regular old threaded one, the camera doesn't need to be woken up to see what your settings are- the exposure compensation is a real dial with numbers you can read, just like the shutter speed. I always hated the F100 for the lack of readouts without tapping the darn shutter release over and over again. Plus the readout always went out between the time I made one exposure and went to set the exposure compensation for the next image. If you can handle both of them do so, but if not I'd steer you toward the F4 if you hhave any thoughts of using a tripod with this purchase. If you're going to be doing a lot of flash, the F5 might be the tool for you.
     
  24. Andrew West

    Andrew West Member

    Messages:
    36
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2007
    Location:
    Northwest In
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I was little weary posting here at first, but I'm happy I did. It would seem that there is a genuine desire to help strangers here and I truly appreciate all the replies.

    I also appreciate the recommendations and advice as far as MF is concerned. I'm sure I'll be coming back to this thread at some point in the near future, depending on how much of a craftsman I turn out to be. I have two, nonworking Minolta bodies and I'd like to see if I can salvage a working camera out of them.

    That's an incredibly generous offer and it definitely interests me, but I couldn't ask that of you. I ordered an F5 from KEH.com that should get here sometime Monday. I figure, if it's what I'm looking for: I'll know. If it's not, I'll return it and continue down the list of possibilities (KEH seems to have a wonderful selection for such a thing). I just wanted to say that the offer itself is much obliging.

    The fact of it is, the camera comes in a distant third after the photographer, film, and development in terms of importance to the photograph. Or, this is my humble opinion of it. Either way, I'll keep posting; even if it requires I use a computer.
     
  25. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

    Messages:
    2,223
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    Regina, SK,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Weary (tired, fatigued) or wary (cautious, careful)? :smile:

    I think you'll be very satisfied with the F5. I sure like mine, and I haven't had it very long.
     
  26. Andrew West

    Andrew West Member

    Messages:
    36
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2007
    Location:
    Northwest In
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Probably a little bit of both at three in the A.M. Thanks for the assurance and the clearly needed proofreading.