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!).
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.
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.
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.
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! :)
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.
Why not consider the F-100. Better than F5, in some respects and smaller. It, and my FE-2, can handle anything.
Originally Posted by bobfowler
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.
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.
Originally Posted by Andrew West
Originally Posted by waynecrider
This is absolutely correct!
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.