F100, underexposure, cold weather - batteries? Lens? Meter?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by andylynn, Dec 17, 2010.

  1. Need a bit of help. I've never had any problems with my F100 but I just got back a roll I'd shot to test out a Vivitar 28-90/2.8-3.5 AI lens I'd bought used, and there's a stretch of photos that are way thin, quite underexposed. This stretch is from when, after crossing the Longfellow Bridge on a red line train, I'd seen the nice light and the river and felt inspired to get off at Charles St. and walk up the Esplanade and take some shots - for those who don't know Boston, it suffices to say that they were taken outdoors, and it was reasonably cold (high 20's). I don't remember enough specifics to be able to say whether the meter or something else caused the underexposure.
    I know an F100 shouldn't have any problem with slightly freezing temps, so either something's out of whack about my meter, or a Vivitar 28-90/2.8-3.5 AI lens doesn't work in the cold (but I can't imagine what about a lens in the cold would cause underexposure), or my Energizer lithium batteries are at a point in their lives where the cold makes them crotchety, with sore backs and ankles, and they don't want to put out current. (FWIW the battery meter reads full.)
    Now, tomorrow I leave for a trip to Chicago and I'd wanted to take my last roll of Kodachrome and shoot it, and of course that requires that my exposure work properly, and Chicago is frigid this time of year. Because of my lenses and flashes situation it behooves me to use the F100 instead of the F3 or a Minolta. Can anybody else who's seen such a problem tell me whether I can replace my batteries and expect it to work, or whether I can use a different lens and expect it to work, or whether I should forget the F100 completely, pack another camera and figure it out later? (Is an F75 any good if it's 10 degrees out?)
  2. SCL


    Hi Andrew - I never had a problem with my F100 in Chicago's winters, so what I'd suggest is putting in fresh batteries, if you've got them. My recollection on the F100 was that it also used standard drug store el cheapo alkalines, which are great for tests. Set the camera with the lens outside for about 20 minutes and then take a couple of quick shots with the lens pointed at a light source so you can observe the diaphragm in action. If everything works fine then I'd say you're set to go. If you still have doubts, bring along the F3 and a spare lens...I just shot my last roll of Kodachrome outside earlier this week with my F3 & everything seemed to work fine (I didn't do any shooting below 15 degrees though). The weekend weather won't be great, but you should have some good photo opportunities.
  3. The F100 with lithiums shouldn't be phased by those temps. For starters, was the previous slide roll from the F100 exposed properly (not print film)? You didn't inadvertently change metering mode to 'spot'? Can you compare meter readings of the F100 with a different body/known good lens combo (ensuring identical ASA settings)? Not to say you would see identical readings but they ought to be close. Assuming the F100 is not currently loaded with film, compare meter readings with a known good lens vs. the Vivitar. Check ap blades of the Viv to ensure accurate step-by-step closing-down as you turn ring from 2.8 to 22. I've used my F100 in sub-zero F temps without a hitch.
    Unless the mystery is solved I'd be reluctant to proceed with the same lens (assuming F100 is good) in a 'must have' scenario, such as a trip or the last roll of KR.
  4. Everything I ever shot on the F100 before came out perfectly, slide or print. Rare bad exposures were my own fault. And I haven't had the F3 long enough to be comfortable shooting it with a flash, so... different lens and fresh batteries, or old reliable X700 with 360PX flash and Rokkor glass... I'll probably put way too much thought into that :)
  5. SCL


    The local news just said 4-6 inches of snow starting Mon. am during rush hour and extending thru the evening rush hour.
  6. The Vivitar lens may have sticky shutter blades.... Cold weather would not help much, as the lube (likely to be a old lens, right?) would become tacky with the cold temperatures.
    Just a guess.
  7. I've used an F100 in temps down to 42 below zero with lithium AA. No problem. My guess is the blades on the old lens are sticking as Jerry mentioned. And BTW, "high 20s" above zero isn't anywhere near "cold."
    Kent in SD
  8. Maybe its just the subject ? ( haven't seen the pictures so just guessing...).
    Water and snow are very reflective, causing a lot of lightmeters to get mislead ( they want to reduce everything to mid grey...). so I tend to do a stop of overexposing when there is a lot of water or snow in my frame ..
    Also some films get "slower" in cold environments , because its a chemical process, and all chemical processes slow down with lower temps.
    I'd say, if in doubt : bracket ..... ( better 1 in 3 pics ok than none ok..)
  9. If the lens had sticky aperture blades I would expect overexposure (insufficient stopping down) rather than underexposure. Further, if you didn't have full-aperture metering you would likely realize it when looking through the (darker) viewfinder. Carefully inspect the aperture stop-down lever on the Viv to determine if it is bent/misaligned and compare it to that on a good lens.
  10. Hi Andrew. I have to agree with Jerry here; the odds are that those 30 + year old aperture blades are sticky. I had a similar experience with my Vivitar 28-90mm, Series One ( Komine built) lens. After I had it CLAed, it worked fine. If I recall correctly, the Vivitar 28-90mm is prone to that problem. To check this, set the aperture at F16 and flick the lever on the mount side of the lens while looking at the response of the blades. The blades should move very quickly. Any hesitation is indicative of a problem. I have found the Vivitar S1 28-90mm to be a great lens, and worth the expense of a good cleaning. Cheers from Florida.
  11. Don't sticky aperture blades keep the diaphragm open giving an overexposure? And it wasn't snow (there was none, and I know how to handle snow) - there was definitely some equipment failure that only happened for that string of shots and not the ones before or after.
    Suppose it were battery current - don't lithiums keep their voltage longer, which could fool the meter into thinking it has more power than it does? Could my batteries be edging so close to a cliff at the end of their current-vs-time graph that a modest drop in temperature puts them over the edge? Is that reasonable? (Does current drop cause underexposure?)
  12. Was the roll that had the exposure problem neg or slide film? If it's neg film and 'thin', it would be underexposed. Sticky aperture blades would give you just the opposite because they wouldn't close down in time while the shutter opened.
    I had great luck with my F100 in the cold in the Chicago area and north. Pick up some Lithium AA's (silver Energizer, home improvement box stores have them) because alkaline won't handle the cold for long at all. I also had a battery carrier that held two CR123 lithiums, and they're cheap on ebay (or were at that time). When alkaline batteries gave up for me in the cold, the symptoms were just like any other instance of dead batteries with that camera - no exposure problem, the entire camera would just stop working.
  13. Sticky aperture blades could cause underexposure if the blades are stuck closed. If the batteries are on the edge of being drained, they could perform poorly in the cold and then better when they warm up (chemical reactions slow down in the cold). If your F100 is anything like my F75, then the meter will say that the batteries are fine right up until they run out. When my F75 said the batteries were at 1/2 charge, that meant that I had 1-2 rolls left in them before they would quit.
  14. "(Does current drop cause underexposure?)" No.
    If you are brave enough to try NiMH cells (those less than 1.5 volt variety,) and your Nikon F100 is one of the bodies that does not like less than 6 volts, you will see what happens when the camera has a little less power to operate with. It just sort of quits.
    The camera meter reads the light available through the lens: camera battery power is either enough or not. I don't recall my F100 ever not working, no matter what the meter did.
  15. Hmmmm, okay, blaming the lens. Thanks everybody.
  16. Hi Andrew. I have to agree with most everybody else who has already responded. I regularly use my F100 in temps that can reach -10F to -30F. As long as batteries are taken care of, the cold itself doesn't seem to affect my exposures. I vote for a problematic lens as well.
  17. Shine a flashlight through the lens. You might find fungus on an element which would cause this problem.
  18. I have an F100 and I have used it in temperatures as cold as single digit numbers Fahrenheit. I usually use alkaline cells in this camera, and they do lose power when they get cold. The reduced power has never caused the meter to behave badly, but the motor drive and auto focus perform very poorly under those conditions. I have tried to use the camera with NiMH cells and the performance with these batteries is completely unsatisfactory. Again, the metering is fine, but the motorized functions behave badly. This camera does not operate well when battery voltage drops. Lithium batteries do perform better under cold conditions, so you might want to use them anyway as a bit of insurance. I have an extra battery holder for the camera, and keep it loaded with fresh batteries in an inside pocket so I can easily swap out a cold set of batteries for a warm set with ease.
    I do not believe the lens is at fault since sticky aperture blades would not close down quickly enough, resulting in over exposure rather than under exposure. Checking to make sure that the aperture blades are operating properly by flicking the stop down lever on back of the lens is worthwhile, but it won't answer your question. No, I really do think that you've inadvertently made an error in metering,
  19. Timely post Andrew, as I just bought an F100 and expect to receive it early next week. I'm really looking forward to using it as the F100 and F3HP are the two Nikons I've lusted after the most from my perch on the Canon side of the fence for some time now. I see you also succumbed to the F3; how do you like it?
  20. The F3 is brilliant. I can't believe you can pick one up for $99, with just a bit of paint wear on the back.

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