1st and 2nd Generation Autofocus Cameras

Discussion in 'Modern Film Cameras' started by jdm_von_weinberg, Dec 13, 2012.

  1. Well, I did get a Pentax ME-F, and will try to get to a report on it sometime....
  2. Hmm, well, this is the first I've seen of this thread and I managed to read most of it up til this moment in time. I appreciate your dedication to the subject. Me, I was much more spotty in my absorption of autofocus tech. You know, when I bought my first interchangeable lens camera -- a Canon AE-1 -- one of the things I liked most about it was the power I had over image focus. To me, this was one of the funnest aspects of my newly found hobby. This attitude remained unabated even after Minolta announced their earth-shaking Maxxum 7000. And when Canon announced they were abandoning the FD mount for the EOS mount, I was pretty bummed. But I soldiered on for a few more years. At which point, I jumped ship to Nikon so that I could maintain a viable upgrade path. Ironically, my first AF camera/lens was an EOS! Which I bought less than a year after switching from Canon FD to Nikon. I didn't buy my first AF Nikkor until a few years ago.

    There's no denying the usefulness of AF, but I still don't entirely trust it. There is still the occasional moment when I've zeroed in on a subject only for the lens to rack from close to far focus and then stop somewhere in between, then give up. By that point, the moment I was hoping to capture is gone, so any advantage I might have had because of AF has long since vanished. True, this sort of thing doesn't happen very often, but it seems that it happens at that moment when I'm hoping to capture the moment that will make for a brilliant shot. And of course, that's when it decides to nut up. These days if I'm taking an AF camera with me, I will always bring along an MF backup, preferably a mechanical manual one -- just in case.
  3. Great write up, I learned a lot, thanks!
    I price cameras for a charity shop occasionally, and an F501 came to me recently in pretty lousy condition, but the glass was good ( I forget which lens it was but I would have given it a quick google to check it wasn’t anything particularly valuable). I put in new batteries expecting it would be dead, but lo and behold it fired up and seemed fully functional. Inside in poor light it hunted around quite a bit, but for my kind of pictorial shots, I’m sure it would have been fine, and I was tempted to play with it a while. 4 no. AAA batteries were quite something at a time when most previous cameras ran off LR 44 s or similar, and the ‘power grip’ now ubiquitous in SLRs was also a bit of an innovation, that I must admit I wasn’t keen on for some reason that defied logic. The early autofocus cameras passed me by largely, having a bit of a hiatus in my camera fixation between about 88 and 93, and buying a Nikon F50 about the end of that time, thinking this autofocus thing was the doggies doo-daa’s ( that’l be doo-dads for most of you). My Yashica FX-D went into early retirement for a few years until I came to the realisation that the crazy button system for aperture control was inferior to the tried and tested lens mounted ring ( and better than the modern wheels in my opinion), at which point I succumbed to a Contax RTS which took me back to my comfort zone.

    My limited experience with cameras similar to the F501 that have come my way in the charity shop bags is that they more often than not still work, but that I’m not tempted to buy any of them!
  4. Thanks for the good and informative write-up.

    I'd be interested in your opinion on the Nikon F4 as compared to the others you've listed. I know it definitely seems a lot faster than my 4004 and 8008, although the 8008s is close.
  5. Welcome back to an old old thread long forgotten. With regard to the Nikon F4, I have one of these, and though it's hardly state of the art these days, I got it a few years ago, before getting any AF digital stuff, and was pleasantly surprised. It's much better than the Maxxum 7000, and not far behind the F100. Most of my use of it has been with manual lenses anyway, but the AF was sufficiently accurate and fast to be useful - something one really could not say about the Maxxum most of the time.
  6. I've never used the F4, but Matthew has his take on it just above. As I suggested in my earlier reports, most of my subject matter is sessile, so even the Maxxum and earlier AF cameras work fairly well for me.
  7. I ask because I actually have two of them- an F4(4 cell battery grip) and F4s(6 cell). I agree on the AF being surprisingly good for an early AF camera. It can really pick up if you stick a fast focusing AF-S lens on it.

    The biggest flaw I've found in it is that the AF doesn't have the low light sensitivity of newer cameras. It will sometimes give me an "X" where something like an N80 chugs along-albeit more slowly than the F4 can get there in good light.
  8. The original Maxxum 7000 seemed so good because there wasn't anything directly comparable (AF motor in camera). When Canon and Nikon entered the race Maxxum didn't keep up in some areas. My best experiences were with the 8000i (using central sensor) and the 9xi (again just using the central sensor). The Maxxum 5 wasn't bad, but the viewfinder began to suffer some separation (color patterns near extreme edge). I have a Canon EOS Rebel K that focused well too. Not sure what generation AF that is. I think the 8000i was second generation IIRC.
  9. SCL


    As a longtime RF and later MF SLR user, in the late 1980s I began also to look at AF systems, and acquired a few popular P&S models and was impressed with the results. For me, though, the "aha" moment came when I discovered the Tamron Adaptall 70-210 AF/IF lens which could be used on virtually any SLR with an adapter. Although the lens performance was only mediocre, and it hunted a lot, its versatility was what fascinated me to the point of experimenting. Several years ago I posted on this site one of my experiments, mounting this lens on an RF body (Leica M4), using the RF frames for composition at the extreme ends of the focal length spectrum for this lens and thereby having autofocus on the kit. I eventually sold it to somebody who had seen my post, but it still is a great reminder of the early ideas in the realm of autofocus. Thanks for the writeup. Tamron AF a.jpg
  10. Back in 1989, my wife wanted a new camera, and thought AF was a nice idea, so I figured to look for a birthday present. I first tried the Maxxum 7000 in a store with its native 50/1.7 lens. It's hard to imagine nowadays, but I bought it for a reasonable price at a K Mart store, where a rather nicely equipped camera section existed, and this hot new model was there to try! The fast lens and the presence of plenty of vertical edges in the store made it seem pretty decent. It wasn't until some real world use occurred that it became clear that it required that fast lens and well defined edges and plenty of light. I rather suspect that the system itself was not bad, just not sensitive enough. As an MF camera the Maxxum worked a treat.
  11. I picked up a somewhat similar Vivitar zoom a while back, albeit 35-70(I think) and in F mount. I'm too lazy to find the post, but I wrote it up(on a Nikon F) not too long ago.

    It's fun to stick it on an F from ~1960, press the button, and see it snap into focus.

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