Nikon F6 vs. F5

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by straw_man, Jul 13, 2015.

  1. I am a Nikon fan. I have every Nikon pro film SLR from the F to the F5, all bought used for a small fraction of the original price. I have
    most of the 2nd string also, the Nikkormats, FMs, FEs, F100, n80, n90, etc. I doubt if I will ever see an F6 in the $500 range. Is there any
    overwhelming reason to crave an F6? I have never seen one, let alone handle one. I am sure it is a super camera, but can it be that
    much better than an F5 or F100?
  2. Price and how good (or better) it is aren't always related; the F6 was never produced in the amounts that the F5 or F100 were, similar for the FM3a versus the FM2, for example. They are relatively rare, have the "historic" sense of being among the last of the mohicans... and hence prices are higher, mostly thanks to collectors as yourself ;-)
  3. I think "real" collectors doesn`t mind about quality... what if the F6 is not as good as the F5 or F100? Is the F5 as good as the F100? And viceversa?
    With a dozen cameras (or maybe more) on the shelf, how much often will you use them in the digital era? If they are better or not, it doesn`t matter.
    So just buy one, and feel the collectors peacefulness... :)
  4. That's right! For shooting it makes little difference to me these days whether I use an F or an F5. It's just a 35mm camera.
  5. I've never seen an F6 either, though I have an F5. The F6 has a much-improved autofocus system (the 11-zone MultiCAM-2000 from the D2h/D2x, rather than something similar to the 5-zone MultiCAM-1300 from the D1 series) and can matrix meter with AI lenses (because you can tell it the focal length, like DSLRs). It lacks the raw speed of the F5 (unless you add a grip), you can't remove the prism to use a WLF, and it doesn't support (I believe) the permanent mirror lock-up of the F5, which might bother you mostly if you have access to an invasive fish-eye. It's about 300g lighter than an F5. The F5 was one of Nikon's first attempts (the first?) at the two-dial control system which has survived to their modern DSLRs; I find it surprisingly familiar to use (alongside a D810, now) but the grip of the F5 certainly isn't quite as comfortable. By all accounts Nikon had polished the design a bit by the F6 (having got the F100 and F80 designs out of the way in the meantime).

    I'm sure the F6 is Nikon's "best SLR". I got my F5 partly because it was much cheaper than an F6 (as I understand it, F5s got bought by journalists; the F6 mostly got bought by individuals, because dSLRs had killed the film journalism market - especially in 35mm - by the time the F6 came out), partly to use the WLF, and partly for the extra compatibility - although I've not had my AI ring modified. I remain a little disappointed that Nikon never made an SLR that supports every F-mount lens fully (by which I include the coupling for the pre-AI bunny ears, the focal length prong, the AI-S divet and - for bonus marks - the DS-1/DS-2/DS-12-style pre-AI automatic aperture, although a controllable aperture lever kind of compensates for that). But I appreciate that only obscure collectors would care.
  6. The F6 does have a more advanced autofocus system, larger buttons which are much more comfortable to use, without the vertical grip it is more compact than the F5 and with the accessory vertical grip it has the main and sub command dials built into the vertical grip as well (unlike the F5 where the vertical grip was a nightmare to use because for exposure adjustments one had to go back to the grip used for horizontal shootings to access the controls). I don't think there is any question as to whether there were important improvements in the F6 but the issue was that most people in the market for this type of cameras by that time were using digital SLRs and the F6 was made for a smaller market.
  7. Maybe it could be said that the F6 is a film based D2X, on a D200 looking body.
  8. The F6 is 35mm format, not APS, so the viewfinder hump is quite big compared to DX.
  9. Thank you, Ilkka. There's always a pedant. (Usually, it's me.) Yes, the F6 isn't a Pronea - not that APS exactly matches DX (although Nikon's FX sensors aren't exactly 36x24mm either) and Nikon's in-house pre-D3 cameras were all cropped. Or were you just clarifying any APS confusion you might have caused when you said the F6 was "made for a smaller market"? :)

    Edit: I think Ilkka edited that post while I was writing, or I had a brain fade, to explain that his APS reference was about the finder. So yes, the viewfinder on the F6 is bigger than on a DX camera. :) I'm still hoping Bebu will comment on why he finds the F5 finder better than the Df's - I guess the F6 is at least as good.
  10. It's that when you made the comparison to D200 looks I felt the F6 is quite different (due to format size mainly as well as build). I guess what you meant is some of the controls are similar because they're from the same period (and the AF is similar to the D2X but in practice again the usage is different due to the different format size; with 35mm the focus points cover a smaller area relative to the frame dimensions). With the D2X the main issue for me was that it was DX and still very expensive. I guess the F6 is similar to what an FX camera would have looked in 2005, had Nikon decided to make one with the technology available at the time. We seem to be doing too much editing at the same time, making it difficult to maintain coherence. ;-)
  11. Yes, I`m refering to the D200`s aesthetics, the D300 certainly look a later design. I think the D200 is even smaller.
    The build quality and AF system certainly reminds the one on the D2X, despite of the coverage. Obviusly, the focus points spread is different. When I use the F6, it takes me to the feel of the D2X era. The D300 seemed to me a much improved camera, mainly for the MultiCam 3500.
    I always found the grip on the F6 the best of all Nikons up to date, current digitals included. I know it is a very personal opinion, we all have different hand shapes. But ergonomics has been certainly improved over the years. Now, used to the D700/D800 type cameras, it is pleasant to use the F6 with its quite similar shape, but I can easily get disappointed with some outdated points. E.g., the back selector (the compass or cross type one) needs to be pushed too deep and it`s too soft in comparison, and the border protrudes too much to my liking. The AF-ON button is also not as ergonomically positioned as on later cameras, it is too much protected by the rim, so it is not as fast and obvious as on a D300/D700. The vertical control buttons on the optional grip have a not so great feel to my taste, maybe only the "compass" dial is the only good one to my hand, and not by much.
    Used to the big colorful back screens on digitals, the monochrome menu control on the F6 looks like a stone age thing, making me to refuse any change on the setting options. And the hystogram... no! It is a film camera!. And the batteries... the CR123 are good units, I think they were the right choice for the best grip, but together with my hand held meter, they are the unique devices I have that use them.
    I find the F6 screen as good as the D700 one, but it is not the same. For whatever the reason, the D700 show out of focus areas in a very slightly more diffused manner, while the F6 looks more "pixelated".
    Reality is that when I take a Nikon for film shooting, I always end with a F3 or FM2 on the shoulder.
  12. I also find the F5 viewfinder to provide better manual focus contrast than the DSLRs that I've used (but the viewfinder image is not as bright). The F5 has a different kind of focusing screen (thicker) and no LCD overlay (through which all the viewfinder light must go) which I believe to reduce viewfinder contrast and clarity in the DSLR cameras that have it. The difference between the D3 and F5 was quite shocking when I compared manual focusing with them. Just before I got the D3 I had purchased some manual focus lenses as I had expected a similar experience as with the film 35mm format SLRs, but I found I could not reliably focus manually with that camera. I wish Nikon would pay more attention to viewfinder clarity and manual focusing contrast and offer optional focusing screens in newer cameras. The D810 and Df do seem to offer improved clarity and easier manual focusing than the previous FX models but maybe not quite as good as the F5. I realize the LCD overlay provides some useful features but it's a compromise, and one that I would prefer to be without.
    I did not own the F6 myself so I have no first-hand information as to how its manual focusability is compared to the F5 or Df. I suspect the F6 may be more similar to the F100 than the F5 since the F6 and F100 both have thin focusing screens, but I have not compared them side by side. I would test it to see how it works for you. When it was a new model, the F6 viewfinder eyepoint was not quite sufficient for me to use with eyeglasses comfortably; I guess the increased thickness of the back door due to the "hump" in the middle causes a part of this problem for me; relative to the viewfinder ocular, the back appears to be at the same level but with the F5 the ocular is recessed compared to the surface of the back door also in the middle, which makes it easier for me to use the camera. So for these reasons although I liked the feature set of the F6, I didn't buy it. However, viewfinders are highly individual and subject to personal preference. I don't see any reason why someone looking for a high end 35mm camera today would not consider the F6 if they can afford it, but it's always best to check how the ergonomics works for you before buying. One of the things that Nikon advertised about the F6 was its quietness. For me personally that's an important characteristic and one that I look for in DSLRs as well.
  13. One of the things that Nikon advertised about the F6 was its quietness. For me personally that's an important characteristic and one that I look for in DSLRs as well.​
    Actually, I'll second that. My F5 does a credible machine gun impression, even if it's not quite as shocking as my Pentax 645. One significant factor in my upgrade from a D800e to a D810 was how much quieter the new camera is. I didn't think I'd care as much as I do. (But it's still not quite the "shuck" from a Leica, let alone the almost-silent leaf shutters on the Mamiya 7 or Rolleiflex.) Of course, I can't say quite how much quieter the F6 might be.
  14. Meant to say... thanks for clarifying re. the finder, Ilkka. The F5 and D810 designs are certainly different, but without the ability to put the same lens on both it's a bit hard to compare (besides, my F5's finder is hardly pristine). My understanding is that the D810 (and Df) got new prism coatings, but I doubt they make a huge difference. Having carefully looked at it under an LED light, the F5 finder certainly only has minimum interruption for the AF points - I have to assume the newer finders have a negative effect, like Ilkka, but I can't say how much. Never having seen an F6 finder, I don't know whether it's a whole-finder LCD like the newer dSLRs or still clear when the battery is out like the F5.
  15. One year, my wife bought me both an F5 and an F6 for various gift-giving events. I wasn't able to keep the F5 because it wouldn't focus to infinity. In comparison though, the F6 is in a class by itself. Solid, compact, and dense come to mind when using it. I don't have the battery grip so the F5 was a behemoth in comparison. The F6 will come down in price. The EOS-1V from Canon, a comparable camera, can often be had for well under $1K.
    For me the biggest reason I prefer the F6 over the F5 is size, but that comes with a price. The naked, non-batterygripped F6 uses small batteries and they won't last as long as the F5's twenty or so AA's :)
  16. "For shooting it makes little difference to me these days whether I use an F or an F5. It's just a 35mm camera."

    I agree. Even though I have a D200 and D7000, my newest film SLR is an F2. I generally prefer manual focus for most work, the center-weighted meter on my F2 is just fine and even though I have the motor drive I don't always use it and never need the speed of even 5 fps let alone anything faster. Borrowed a friend's F5 once and kept it on pretty much full manual, so it really didn't do anything my F2 couldn't do, at least not that I made use of. So for me, no need of either an F5 or F6.
  17. Well, my first "proper" camera was a DSLR, so the F5 is much less painful for me than an older Nikon would be. (Not that I have one, but I have a Bessa R which is very similar to the FM but with a rangefinder instead of a mirror and prism.) I have to say the speed of the F5 or F6 is unlikely to be of any appeal these days, since the cost of film is at the stage where you can see you bank account emptying as you hold your finger on the shutter. (If an F5 drops off a rear car seat, it can blow a roll of film before you can pick it up again...) Still, having the matrix meter on the F5 is valuable to me, and I do use the autofocus, such as it is. I agree about the merits of AAs, especially since lithium AAs make the F5 so much nicer to use.

    Patrick: Impressive gift-giving. Shame about the focus though - I'd really have hoped that could be fixed.

    I mostly use film for bluebells these days, where the metamerism makes them look odd on digital; even so, 35mm colour film is pretty shocking image quality compared to a modern DSLR, and I prefer the transparencies from a 120 roll. (Heads up anyone who hasn't noticed that Fuji are about to put their prices up and discontinue a few films, by the way.)

    I'm not sure about the 1V comparison. I've been waiting for the F6 to become affordable for an awfully long time - though now I look, there do seem to be some (relatively) cheapish ones being auctioned from Japan. The 1v still seems much cheaper - possibly because it came out earlier than the F6 and competed against the F5 for the last of the press market (and when Canon were showing more obvious autofocus advantages) so more were made. I'm always amazed how long it took Nikon to catch up with Canon's 41-point autofocus system - though the same could be said of Nikon's metering.
  18. Agree... both F and D series cameras has been made to focus and shoot fast, so usually the latest the better, but the convenience and specially, the much lower cost of digital storage have converted the film ones in "nonsensical" cameras for the task.
    Nowadays, I find older non AF cameras more appealing, smaller, sometimes lighter and more friendly for the current film approach, and if AF is needed, better to go with equally good tools like the F801, F90, F100 or even a F4.
    Nothing against your choice Andrew... the F5 is a wonderful and sexy object of desire (can be said in English this way? :), so I suppose you shoot film for fun (like I do) so every camera has its own enjoyment. I found always interesting that it is the only F with a built in battery grip.
  19. Although I keep the digital gear for a lot of work I am finding my way back to film for a lot of things so I appreciate a good film body. F2 and F4s are favorites and I like the F5 a lot just never owned one but I keep looking at the damn KEH web site....I'd like an F6 as well, if it is like every other top of the line Nikon it is superb, noticeably better than the second tier units. Nikon has always been that way. The FM's FE's, the N90s and F100 are all good but the F4,5 and presumably the 6 are way ahead as they should be for the price. I recall paying $2200 or so for an F4s in mid-90's dollars, a lot of bucks for a camera but it was worth it. I have two of them now that just keep rocking along. And 2 N90's, and two F2's...
    Rick H.
  20. It's probably bad that this thread has made me want to go looking for a 1v. :) (I always vaguely wanted an Eos 3 to play with the ECF, but my eyes are weird enough that I'm not optimistic.) My F5 choice was very price-centric - it was about the same as an F100, and I chose to go with the more flexible camera, especially since even the F100 is hardly light. Give me a two-dial camera the weight of an F75 and I'm more tempted. If anyone wants to give me an F6, I'm unlikely to turn them down, even though my interest in film has dropped off (especially since Kodak discontinued HIE, which is another reason I own an F5 and an Eos 620). I do see the appeal in something like an F4 or FM3a. Sadly, money and space are always limited...
  21. I still have an F6. I liked it when I used it - oh it seems so long ago.
  22. If you use a lot of flash, the F6 supports the Nikon CLS flash system with an SB800 (I am not sure if it works with later Nikon flashes) while the F5, F100 do not.
  23. I have seen (at another online forum) and have had an opportunity to purchase a very clean F6 from a very trusted seller for $800. I almost bought it just for the sake of owning the last and best AF film SLR ever made, but a reality check got the better of me. Some one else picked it up within 5 minutes.
  24. The F6 should be fine with the current flashes like the SB-910 - it's a proper i-TTL camera, the only film camera that qualifies. The cool thing about the SB-800 is that it will work in TTL mode with pretty much anything, film or digital, including both the F5 and F6.

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