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.
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.
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.
Andrew, the offer still stands...you will already have an F5 to compare against the F4s. Would not have offered if it would have been an imposition. These are the kind of folks here on APUG. The F4s was the first AF Nikon I owned and I will always treasure it, but it won't keep pace with the F100s. Again, though I can use all those delightful ai lenses with the F4s. Your decision either way.
I didn't read the entire thread, but FWIW, I have three Nikon F4's - two F4e's and one F4s. I've had all three since university or thereabouts. I love them. Just took one out lately for a nostalgic joy ride as I haven't really touched them since I bought my Hasey, Nikon D1X and D2X. All the cameras have MF-23 backs and I have four SB-24's and two SB-26's for them. I only have very fast AF-S lenses and I don't find the reports of slow focusing a problem with these lenses.
I've never owned an F5, so I can't compare. I'm sure it's a great camera too. One issue I do know is the rubber armour of the F5, like all the later Nikons - the D1's and D2's as well - have a tendency to fall off after a while. So I've heard.
It has arrived and, I'm happy to say, in perfect condition. It definitely feels sturdy ("built like a tank" as it has been claimed) , but I wouldn't describe it as overly heavy. Unfortunately, I can't comment much beyond that as I haven't had the chance to take it on a real test drive but I intend to do that within the week (new film is in the 'fridge). The only problem I have right now is the lack of a paper manual (or cheat sheet). Is there any way I can order the manual (not an eBook of the thing) without running through the gauntlet that is eBay?
I much appreciate all the help and feedback. I'll have to subscribe once I have those test shots; the gallery is a brilliant idea, I do believe.
Go to http://www.Nikonians.org best resource for Nikon owners on the web.