What's your favorite light Nikon SLR and why?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by straw_man, Jun 28, 2015.

  1. I am a big fan of Nikon SLRs, but the Nikon 5 (great camera) is about as light as an anvil. Even the F100 is quite heavy. I am pure
    amateur and don't do sports so frame rate is not important to me, nor is weather sealing. My picks are the N80 for autofocus lenses,
    great metering, the FE for non-AI lenses and the FE2 for AI lenses. I consider the Nikkormats as passé and heavy, with unreliable
  2. Nikon 5? U mean f5? I used 3 of
    those in weddings.

    I personally prefer the single
    digit cameras and 2.8 zooms. I
    just love the heft and
    weight/balance and feel in my
    hand. I cant relate to light and
    small haha
  3. The auto focus/auto exposure Nikon N70/F70 is my favorite light Nikon SLR because...

    1. It is my smallest and lightest Nikon 35mm SLR.

    2. It works well with all my manual focus and auto focus lenses. Even able to work in Shutter Priority and Programmed auto exposure modes with my Type G lenses.

    3. It makes a great available light candid camera with 50mm f/1.4 auto focus lens.

    4. It makes a great travel camera when carried with a 50mm f/1.4 auto focus lens and a 35-70mm f/2.8 auto focus lens.

    5. Its low cost makes it a great expendable camera when mounted with a low-cost and expendable Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Series E.

    6. It makes a good low-cost telephoto camera when mounted with a low-cost Nikon 75-150 f/3.5 Series E.

    7. It makes a great close-up camera for fieldwork because its built-in flash produces good fill light even at a 1:2 reproduction ratio with 105mm macro lens.

    8. Its exposure meter is very accurate.

    9. It has a rear curtain flash sync feature that is great for balancing room light with flash for large group shots. None of my other SLRs have this feature.

  4. The F5 is certainly not light, although lithium batteries help substantially. I don't have any other Nikon film bodies, but my Eos 500 (not D!) is impressively featherweight, especially with the "plastic fantastic" 50mm. I really wish Nikon had made (or licensed!) a body with the weight of an F75 but the compatibility of the F5. Not everyone who wants "everything" to work also needs a body you can hammer nails in with.
  5. I like the top of the line gear too for it's feature set and build quality and yes, size. My favorites are the F2/MD-2 and F4s. I also keep a pair of N90s bodies handy. They were excellent when new and still are, they help me focus quickly, they meter well, they have a good frame rate and handle well with or without the battery grip. They are easy to carry around as well with any lens I put on one and all of these run on AA batteries. Nothing I can't do with them. For the record I do have one Nikkormat which I like very much for certain things. I'll probably add one more to it. What can I say, I like two of everything and at these prices....I also notice that KEH is almost literally giving away some excellent bodies such as the 8008 series and the N55/65/70 camera bodies at prices under $75, often under $50. I got one of my N90's for $100 with less than 30 rolls through it and a second for $25 in great shape. I'll spend that again just on a new strap. It is a great time to be in photography.
    Rick H.
  6. Regular FE.
    I'm with Ken Rockwell on this one. Features include:
    Solid metal.
    8 Seconds on the speed dial. I use that.
    Virtual Mirror Lock Up.
    DOF Preview.
    Auto, for those rare cases my shooting style needs it.
    Match Needle Metering. I can't remember the last time I got a bad exposure on picky slide film.
    Shooting 38 frames / roll.
    I like the eye-finder shade on my F3HP, which is a minor shortcoming of the FE. I'll never use an autofocus camera, so I'm not going to be able to comment or compare once the universe progressed that far. I can count on one hand the times I've used 1/1000th of a second. I've never had call for the 1/4000th of an FM2N or FE2.
    They seemingly last forever. I have two that have no faults and no CLAs. My third has a sticky meter needle, which I suppose puts the only black spot on the model.
    The FE wins out in comparison to my F3HP which has slightly more features, but the weight and lousy LCD speed readout put me off. I need that Auto metering feature on occasion, which puts the FE ahead of the FM and FM2N. The FA is plasticky, but remarkably has no mirror shake / slap. I know the F4/5/6 are more competent, but I'm never going to carry anything so large unless I'm getting 120 film in them. I've never had ahold of the F2, which might be a nice compare. The EM is a girly camera (see its history), and the FG-20 seems like a good try, but I haven't acquired one yet. I know the FG-20 is supposedly a lower grade consumer camera, but for the main shooting features I use, it may serve.
    So there you go. My arguments in favor of the Nikon FE.
  7. For pure light weight, I have a F65. Not a camera I specifically love, but it works well enough. With a lens as the 50 f/1.8D, it weighs nothing, and is quite small. The viewfinder is terrible, though, and for manual shooting, it's not comfortable (I use it in A-mode near always, which works fine). Not a camera that will make it into the Nikon Hall of Fame, but for small and light it ticks the right boxes, and it's about the cheapest body you can find.
    But realistically, I usually accept the slightly higher weight of the FM2. It's a much nicer camera to work with, and I've got nicer AiS primes than I have AF primes so it's a more natural match to me.
  8. My FM was my "little" Nikon until the shutter jammed up.
  9. I like the N80. It's a very capable camera. Yes, there's a lot of plastic, but you don't get a truly light camera if it uses a lot of metal.
  10. The F3 HP doesn't weigh much more or take up noticeably more room than an FM(2) or FE(2), and is a much more capable camera. Add any decent medium to tele lens and the camera body weight becomes totally irrelevant - except that a heavier camera will balance the lens better.
  11. My favorite "lightweight" Nikon film SLR was the F4 (with small MB-20 battery grip) - more compact than FM/FM2 with MD-12 or F3HP with MD-4 - my first film SLR with built-in grip and motor.
    My lightest Nikon film SLR ever had been the EM - the less said about that one the better.
  12. I loved my FE2, but I don't think anything before or since matches the F100's combination of usefulness and ergonomics.
    It feels perfect in my hands. If Nikon would make an FX DSLR with exactly the same body I'd buy one.
  13. Dieter: By the time you get down to an EM (which I own), you may as well switch to the even smaller and lighter auto-exposure-only Pentax MG (which I also own.) Both are focus and shoot film slrs, but you may as well save a few ounces and millimeters with the Pentax.
    I keep the MG in my bike bag all winter long. Bike crash? No problem! The whole kit cost me $20. Soaking rain? I keep it in a Ziploc bag, and how much did it cost again? Exposure compensation? Tough! The little analog brain is going to just have to be enough. Shut up and compose and shoot already!
    (Sometimes, you can just forget the technology and features and work on the art in front of you....)
  14. EM and FG are the little/light guys.
  15. For compact and lightweight you can't beat the FE/FE2. I still use my FE2 occasionally but still go to my F4E for most of my 35mm work. With the MB-23, the F4 is pretty stout, but it is perfectly balanced and it fits my hand like a glove.
  16. That's a hard one. Not counting the D3200 that I'm using most of the time, which is nice but hardly a classic worthy of the thread, I have a great sentimental attachment to the original F, and will always have some notion of this as the Platonic ideal of "camera." And the F3 was great, felt good in the hand, and had many virtues, but in some ways, nice as it is, it's halfway between manual and automatic, and it has a few quirks. When I want film, the one I reach for is the F4. Huge, heavy, and utterly competent, it does just about everything and it does it well.
    Of course I may not be entirely qualified here, because there are still many models I have not tried. My wife has a couple of F100's, and would almost certainly disagree with my F4 decision. Those F100's are awfully nice. If you could get one with a flip-up AI tab, I'd probably vote for it.
  17. The F3 HP doesn't weigh much more or take up noticeably more room than an FM(2) or FE(2), and is a much more capable camera.​
    OTOH x-sync for the F3 is 1/80th sec and for the FM2n it's 1/250th. BTW I own both and consider the FM2n to be the Rolex of 35mm cameras. A perfect gem. YMMV
    Henry Posner
    B&H Photo-Video
  18. "BTW I own both
    Henry Posner
    B&H Photo-Video"

    With apologies in advance for using your well earned market position toward a humorous end:
    I expect you own not only BOTH the FM2n and F3, but virtually everything Nikon ever produced!
  19. Dieter: By the time you get down to an EM, you may as well switch to the even smaller and lighter auto-exposure-only Pentax MG​
    Not really an option if I wanted to use Nikon lenses. In any case, the only thing I would now do with an EM is finding out how far I could throw it ;-)
  20. Nikon F3/T, paws down. It has superb handling!
    Kent in SD
  21. I like my FM3a, with all the nce AI-S lenses.
  22. F90x (N90s in the US for some reason). For me, the best combination of up to date features and medium weight and most importantly, it fits my small hands perfectly, much better than F100 and F6, both of which I have as well. The grip seems to have its corners exactly coinciding with my finger joints making it very comfortable to hold.
  23. During the film era, FM2n's performed flawlessly and helped me to earn my living shooting weddings. These days a Df makes me happiest.
  24. I somehow missed the "light" in the thread title. I suppose on consideration that the F4 is a bit of a stretch for inclusion in the "light" category. Bummer. I'll have to steal my wife's F100.
  25. I have a Nikon F4 and also an F4s. I find the F4 much more pleasant to use. I appreciate some bulk in a camera to
    dampen my old age shakes. The Nikon F5 is perhaps the best of the Nikons (I have never seen an F6), but nearing age
    80, I simply can't carry one for too long. In any case, great kudos to Nikon for upward and downward compatibility with
    the F mount. I will never forgive Canon for orphaning the FD mount. The Canon F-1N is another great camera.
  26. I consider the current D7X00 range to be lightweight, which is my favourite...
    That is one of the advantages of having used a Pentax 6x7 for many years... Going from that to the F90 (N90) made me completely stop thinking about weight.
    While I agree that the Nikon FM2n is an excellent camera and in some aspects better than the F3, it does not have interchangable viewfinders.
  27. When I want to carry an SLR and still travel light I grab my Nikon FG with the 50mm f1.8. If I need more focal range I'll carry the diminutive 28-50mm f3.5 and 75-150mm f3.5 zooms. It doesn't get much smaller or lighter in the Nikon MF SLR world.

    If I want a lightweight SLR with AF I'd take my F80 with the 28-105mm zoom.

    In the digital SLR realm I have a D300 and a D50 and both are larger and heavier than the cameras mentioned above. I've handled a D3100 with an 18-55mm lens and that package seems smaller and lighter than anything mentioned above. I just don't care for the way it feels in my hand.
  28. FG. The best small Nikon ergonomics and feature set by a longshot. By comparison the FM, FE, etc are unwieldy tanks. The only camera with worse ergonomics than the FM is the Nikkormat.
  29. No longer shooting weddings, or doing portraits so its all about my pace, so I'm so content, and happiest with the FM3a with AIS lenses. There are times I wonder about moving on then I'll have a day as recently as Monday where the FM3a in the street, or along a coastal beach stroll, it all comes together. With eye in the viewfinder I can calculate overs, and unders with the needles as quickly, and simply as mind reading. With the proper diopter, focusing is a snap, pun intended.
  30. Straw Man, I own an N80, an FE, and an FE2, and I'm entirely in agreement with your choices, and for the same reasons given.

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