Nikon F5/F6 comparison

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by william_mcnamara, Mar 3, 2017.

  1. Ladies/Gentlemen:

    Does anyone have experience with both of these cameras? I wish to either purchase a used F5 or a new F6 and am not sure which way to go. I used to have an F5 and an FM3A but sold both. I am a chemist and want to return to wet-chemical processing for mostly black-and-white, some color also, probably slides. Thank you for your interest and advice. William.
  2. I think of the F6 more as an upgraded F100 than a true successor of the F5. Though the F6 has the same (possibly updated in some way) shutter and film transport mechanism as the F5 stuffed into a D2X/H body sans the vertical battery grip (you can buy the MB-40 to make up for it and match the F5's 8fps). Since you owned an F5, you are aware of what a heavy brick it is; with the F6 you have the option to shed some bulk and weight at the expense of a much higher purchasing price. Only you know if any of the options the F6 offers that the F5 does not are important enough to you to warrant that additional expense. If you don't need some of the advanced features, then I would also have a good look at the F100. FWIW, I owned an F5 and there's still an F100 sitting on the shelf; never even handled an F6.
  3. Massive disclaimer: I've not even touched an F6. But the body size and handling aren't so dissimilar from the D700/D800e/D810s that I've owned. I do have an F5.<br />
    <br />
    The F6 doesn't have the same battery power in it as the eight AAs in an F5; I wouldn't be surprised if the film rewind is slower, and I'd certainly expect the AF motor to be less powerful (on the basis that the one from the F5 always appeared to come from a power drill) - this might matter on some older lenses like, say, the mk1 80-200 f/2.8 AF. It also doesn't have the full-time mirror lock-up of the F5 (no invasive fish-eyes) and you can't take the prism off and use it as a WLF (or actually pay a fortune for the actual replacement WLF). On the other hand, the F5's AF sensor is quite primitive in comparison (5 points, and you can't see them very well), the F6 can matrix meter with AI lenses (because you can tell it about the lens), the F6 works with i-TTL flashes, and the F6 is comparatively tiny. The F5's weight is helped considerably if you put lithium AAs in it instead of alkalis (I don't know whether you're supposed to). I'm not aware of metering changes between them. Theoretically you can get either adapted to pre-AI lenses, although I don't know if that's still possible. (If it is, I'd like to do mine.)<br />
    <br />
    Mostly, the F5 is a brick: it'll double as an offensive weapon. The F6 is much easier to hold and travel with, so long as you've got something else for banging tent pegs in with. I'd love an F6, but I absolutely don't shoot enough film to justify one; the F5 cost barely more than an F100 when I got it (in 2008). Mine's missing paint, but works just fine.<br />
    <br />
    If you're travelling (not with an army) with it, I'd say the F6 may be worth the premium if you're going to use it enough - although it's certainly not a light camera. The weight of the F5 may well annoy you. It may also be worth it if you want to matrix meter with AI lenses. If you're doing a lot of portrait orientation shooting, the F5 obviously has an advantage (although the ergonomics of the portrait grip aren't all that good); it helps if you don't need to carry it very far, or you're carrying so much stuff that the weight is irrelevant. For most, the F6 is probably the better camera - but you pay a big premium for it.<br />
    <br />
    They'll both handle like a slightly unrefined (especially for the F5) modern high-end DSLR. So absolutely not like the FM3A. Even with the smaller size compared with the F5, I'd bear that in mind before shelling out on the F6.<br />
    <br />
    I hope that helps. I'll hand over to someone who actually has some experience of them both!
  4. If you opt for the MB-40 battery grip, then it does hold 8-AAs but it is not quite clear if it reaches 8fps only with the EN-EL4 or any set of batteries then; 8-AA drive the F5 at a little over 7fps, the Ni-MH pack is needed to reach 8 fps. About equalizes the weight differences too and makes the F6/MB-40 combo taller than the F5 ( Attaching the grip to the F6 has the advantage of adding the command dials in the vertical position, something the F5 grip actually lacks (surprisingly and quite annnoyingly).
    7s vs 4s. Not exactly and earth-shaking difference.<br><br>
    If I really was into film and money was no object, I'd be choosing the F6 over the F5 anytime.:D YMMV.
  5. Technicals aside, weight and bulk are the glaring differences. F5 is 43oz + 8 heavy AA batteries. F6 is 34 oz + 2 lightweight CR123s batteries.

    Thom Hogan's review of the F6 contains some comparative data between the two (link).
  6. Dieter! The F6 is supposed to be able to do 8fps with the MB-40 and 8 AA. The F5 can only do 7.5fps with AA. 8fps with the MN-30 (which is difficult to find a good one)
  7. The F5 has Nikon's ultimate film transport mechanism. The film is pulled by the sprocket, not the take-up spool. Most cameras used the sprocket to meter the film while spinning freely. With the F5, you must release the sprocket before rewinding, a two-step process. At that point, rewinding proceeds at a blistering speed - a full roll in about 10 seconds. In cold weather and situations where the whine of rewinding would be a distraction, you have the ability to rewind the film manually. Suspenders and a belt. There is very little plastic in the F5. Even the back is cast aluminum. The 8 AA batteries power it for a very long time. With the F100, I would change batteries daily, after 4-5 rolls it seemed.

    The downside is probably the viewfinder. It is LCD based, so the markings show as a darker shade of grey on grey.

    I bought an F5 a year after my F100. The rubber coating on the F100 has turned sticky, while the F5 is as good as new. I used it for about two years before going digital, and haven't used it since.
  8. All nikon F series cameras the rewinding is a 2 step process.
  9. On a serious thought! The OP had the F5 and FM3a which are two very nice cameras. He sold them both. So I am thinking he should buy either the F5 or the F6 based on which one he would lose the least money when resell.
  10. Get another FM3a.
  11. I never used the F6 but have handled it. I used to have the F5 and F100. Things that I didn't like about the F5 include the AF-ON buttons which require quite a pronounced press of the button due to it not perturbing enough above the surface of the camera. This is corrected in the newer F100 and F6. Also the F5's vertical grip doesn't have a separate AF point seletor and main and sub-command dials whereas the F6's vertical grip has these controls replicated. The F5's viewfinder is excellent for manual focus although it feels a bit dimmer than that of the F100 or F6. I didn't like the F6's viewfinder's lower eyepoint compared to F5. I imagine the decision between integrated and accessory vertical grips divides users; personally I can work with either but an integral vertical grip without exposure controls is useless to me since quite often I find myself adjusting exposure. I did not buy the F6 because it had reduced eyepoint and I was expecting to use more digital in the future.

    The F6 is quieter than the F5. I have only briefly tried using the Multi-CAM 2000 AF system but I felt it was very snappy and secure in focusing (in the D2X) and I assume it has similar performance in the F6. I felt Nikon took a step back in some sense when they introduced the Multi-CAM 3500 in the D3 as it had only central columns with cross type AF points and this lead to some difficulty in vertical shots of people in my own applications as linear points do not pick up facial detail as securely as cross type sensors. This is now rectified in the D5 and D500.

    The F5 eats those 8 AA batteries very quickly in the cold, with alkalines I only got a few rolls of film through in winter before having to replace them. AA Lithium batteries however handled cold weather very well, but they were quite expensive. I don't know how the F6 battery handles cold weather or how relevant it is to you.
  12. All nikon F series cameras the rewinding is a 2 step process.

    <br><br>The F5 is unique in that you have to unlock the sprocket, unlock the take-up spool then rewind the film, manually or electrically. The F3 you push a button and go, as with the F100.
  13. Alkaline batteries handle cold weather very poorly, so are rechargeables. Lithium supposedly handles down to -40F. F6's CR123A are lithiums.
  14. Right, but they are very small.
  15. That hasn't been my experience at all; the F5 chewed through them very quickly (and not only when it was cold outside). That was one reason I purchased the (quite expensive) Ni-MH battery pack and dedicated charger (both come with their own set of issues). I can't recall, but believe that Li batteries weren't available when I was shooting with the F5. All in all, purchasing the F5 turned out to be one of my more costly purchasing mistakes.
  16. Even though the transport system is different in the F5 (and AFAIK identical in the F6), the manual rewind operation is no different from that of the F3: push a button and rewind with the handle. The motor-driven rewind requires two buttons/levers to be pushed (in sequence for the F3/MD-4 combo, F4, F5, F6) or simultaneously (F100). Nothing unique on how film is rewound in the F5. IIRC, then the F5 was the cameras most heavily loaded with interlocks though (which wasn't necessarily a good thing).
  17. While the F5 is a good camera it was also my single biggest mistake. I paid about $2000 for it in 2002 only to find out I actually like the F3 much better. The big hype about the F5 were its flash system, the color matrix metering and the AF. All of them turned me down. The TTL flash system constantly underexpose and by varying amount so compensation can't be made. The same for color matrix which would work great for slide worked very poorly with color negative which I used most often at the time. The AF was good in its time but I found using AF meant focus and recompose and I don't like it.
    And as I have told Andrew many times the controls on the F5 really slows me down.
  18. SCL


    I can't speak to the F6, but the F5 I had was a very versatile camera, which I really liked, until it became too heavy to lug around on nonchalant jaunts. I switched to the F4 for a little relief. However, like others mentioned, once I got my hands on an F3, I was almost in Nikon heaven. IMHO its only drawbacks for me were the flash system (which I circumvented) and it seemed pretty slow autofocusing, especially coming from the F5. I had also owned previously an F100, which was a good camera, but lacked the interchangeability features of the F5. These days I've compromised and sold all but the F4, mostly because I still have a bunch of pre-AI lenses and it seems that I got better prices for the others than I would have on the F4...probably because a lot of people think it looks ugly. Returning to the F5/6 discussion, it seems to me that the F6 became mostly a collectors item rather than a user, as its features weren't significantly different from the F5, which if it didn't weigh so much would have been my forever Nikon Film body. I don't honestly think the premium price for it has ever been warrented...notwhen the F6 was released, and certainly not now.
  19. I used the F5 for a number of things but it didn't make me want to trade in my F4s bodies which I still have. I have never even seen an F6 but suspect I'd like it immediately. The problem I have is that I grew up on the F2 and wouldn't be without one. Or two.

    Rick H.
  20. I had F100s, then F6. Then I bought a mint condition F5 and found it relatively cumbersome. But many people swore by it and so I had no problem selling it to a happy customer.

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