Question on Nikon MD-4

Discussion in 'Modern Film Cameras' started by corysmith, Jan 12, 2018.

  1. So I just bought my self a Nikon F3 bundled with an MD-4 and 50mm/1.4 lens. Everything is working perfectly, but I do have a question regarding the usage of the MD-4 and I have encountered a very minor problem with it. Is it healthy for the camera to leave the motor drive on? Would I be right to assume that the drive leaves the shutter cocked, which isn't any good for the internals in the F3?

    The problem I am having with the drive is that it seems the battery check button does not work. The right LED seems to come on when the shutter actuates, though. As well as when the film counter hits 0. If anyone else has had this problem, could you enlighten me on any fixes? While it does not hinder the performance of the drive, I would ideally would like to have a fully functional machine.

  2. Vincent Peri

    Vincent Peri Metairie, LA

    The MD4 can't be "turned off." When you're finished using it, set the S-C dial to L (Lock). It is then inoperable until the next photo shooting.

    It shouldn't harm the F3 to leave the shutter cocked for extended periods. I've been using F3HPs since they first came out, and I've left the shutter cocked for upwards of several weeks at times. If it'll be a month or more before the camera gets reuses, to be absolutely safe, I'll fire the shutter manually from the camera's shutter release.

    As for the battery check button, it usually doesn't work on one of my MD4's. It doesn't bother me, though, since I bought it for only $25.

    Any more questions?
  3. Nope, that is it! Thank you for the insight.
  4. You mean when you push the battery check button, neither LED lights up?
  5. Vincent Peri

    Vincent Peri Metairie, LA

    That's right. When I shoot a photo, though, the right LED does blink like it is supposed to.
  6. Are you sure you have good batteries? The MD-4 will work with battery very low when the battery check button doesn't turn either LED on.
  7. I have the same issue as him. I put fresh batteries into the motor drive and I am still getting the same problem.
  8. Vincent Peri

    Vincent Peri Metairie, LA

    I put brand new Duracell batteries in. I should mention that once in a while, the battery check lights do come on. Like I said, I paid $25 for the MD4, so I'm not going to complain.
  9. I had power glitches with my MD-4 with all kinds of combinations of issues , lights, one light, then two, consistent, intermittent, then one day late in the game I discovered that the battery holder, or cartridge insert was cracked causing fresh batteries to lose their pressure in contact with each other and collectively with the internal contacts within the battery compartment itself. The battery holder probably cracked by my all to eager slamming the battery holder into the MD-4 as if it were a gun clip causing the failure. I found a good used one at KEH and the inconsistent power delivery is over.
  10. Like owning a floppy disk IBM PCjr. model 4860 (unless you're making an 80's film), who would practically put one in use?
    As witnessed by the plummet in value on the pre-owned market, these Winder/MD's are nothing more than glorified grips.
    Film & processing costs are simply too high to *rattle-off our valuable 'niche' film...

    *'Spray n' Pray' is for modern day digitals...

    Now this is a Motor Drive
    JDMvW likes this.
  11. I use my Nikon F3HP and its MD-4 quite often as I still use film. The F3 is my go to film camera although I have other Nikon like the F4s, F5, FM, FM2, FE, EM plus other brands.
  12. O.K. Gus, but the screaming sound of the MD-4 is just wonderful and nicely wakes up the 'digi's' in a crowd of photographers.
  13. Vincent Peri

    Vincent Peri Metairie, LA

    I never use my MD4s for continuous shooting. I shoot single frames only, then the film advances to the next frame without me jiggling the camera trying to advance the film manually. Makes for smooth shooting all the time.
  14. Sorry Gus, can't go along with you on this either. Nearly every camera I have has a grip or motor drive on it with only a couple of exceptions. The motor drive fit my hand the first time I picked one up and I use it for probably 90% of my work. M-D2 & 3, the F4s which is near perfect to me, MD-12 and grips on all of my digital bodies but one and I may call kEH and get one for that as well. Very useful as a grip and the motor drives give me one less thing to do.

    Rick H.
  15. I don't like the motor drive as a grip. I never use the continous mode. I use the motor drive because I need to be able to take the next shot as soon as I take a shot.
  16. Yeah?

    I'll see you and raise you with one of the first SLR motor drives, some say the very first: :)
    Gus Lazzari likes this.
  17. I'm like Rick: if a motor drive was made for a camera I like to use, I'll get that motor drive. The one exception so far has been for my two Pentaxes that take motors -- the LX and MX. Motors for the MX are rare as hens teeth and, while motors for the LX are somewhat more common, typically I find only the motor for sale and not the battery pack. So I've had to make do with winders for both these cameras.

    I like motor drives for two reasons. Same as Rick, I like the way most motor drives fit my hand. It makes for easier shooting having that grip to hold on to. But just as important I like using an MD so that I don't have to remove my eye from the viewfinder to advance the film. I can keep my eye on the subject and there's just one less distraction to deal with when the MD is handling the film advance chores. Once I've sort of gotten into the rhythm of how the drive operates in the "C" position, I will usually leave it set to "C," although I'll still be squeezing off single shots. But I like leaving it to C in case I see something very interesting and/or dynamic unfold while I'm following the action, in which case, I may hold the button down briefly so I can fire off a quick 3-or-4 shot set.

    Some motor drives add a lot of weight to an already heavy system. Me, I don't care. My original Canon F-1 takes the huge Motor Drive MF, my Nikon F2s take the just as huge and just as heavy MD-2/MB-1, and my Canon NEW F-1 takes probably the monster of them all with the AE Motor Drive FN. The Motor Drive MF and MD-2/MB-1 each take 10 "AA" batteries, but the AE Motor Drive FN takes twelve!

    I bought my first motor drive for my Canon A-1, a Motor Drive MA, shortly after buying my A-1. The Motor Drive MA is actually a pretty cool unit. It powers the camera up to 5 frames per second, has a vertical shutter release, and is not nearly as heavy as the drives for the pro models. I can still recall the first time I used my MD-MA. I had owned my A-1 for only a few months and was out looking for suitable subjects to shoot with my new drive, and stumbled across a go-cart race. A perfect event to try out the motor, I thought. I had a lot of fun with it -- for about maybe eight or ten seconds before things came to a sudden halt. At that point, I realized I'd just burned through a 36-exposure roll of slide film. I think I'd only brought a couple rolls with me. I recall setting the drive to "S" for the remainder of my time at the go-cart track. But what really cinched it for me was when I got my slides back. I might have had one or two keepers from that entire 36-exposure roll, but none of them were good enough to go into my archive. The rest of the exposures were either blurry or poorly composed. Yep, I had a lot to learn. Ever since then, while I might have my drive set to "C" I will rarely shoot bursts of exposures because, more times than not, it's just being wasteful. And nowadays, it's a needless waste of money.

    My Old School Set (except maybe for the LX):

    My not quite so Old School set:
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2018
  18. Having used an F3 starting in the late 80's, and adding an MD-4, I must say, that even with weight considered, they've become mandatory for my photography. Electronic film advance won me over with my Pentax SF-1. Before that the film advance lever was a subconscious hindrance, but the value in not having to remove your eye from the finder is immeasurable.

    I'm enjoying a resurgence of film shooting, and I use Nikon, Pentax, and Canon. They all have motor drives, or power winders. Not only do they help me in maintaining concentration on the subject, but in many instances the additional weight actually helps me balance the camera/lens better. My medium format Mamiya M645 Pro-TL always has the power advance on it.

    Now, if I could just figure out a way to engineer a motor drive for my Super Graphic and my Cambo SC... ;) ;) ;)
  19. Back in the early 80's I used the F3 with the MD-4 only. I never used it without the MD-4. I don't have problem advancing the film manually and keeping my eye in the viewfinder. I just like the motor drive back then. Today when I use the F3 it's without the the MD-4. More fun that way and so If I use a super graphic and the Cambo I wouldn't want to have motor on them.

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